Massive civil lawsuits may be looming right behind the criminal – for Clare and Sara Bronfman

She's been skiing high wide and handsome for many a year. But the worm has turned.
I never thought very much about how many lawsuits could be brought against NXIVM and the Bronfmans by just about any ex-member of the cult. Or maybe even anyone who took a course from NXIVM. If Clare [and Sara?] Bronfman is found to be guilty with regard to the acts of the cult – and that’s, in essence, what the result will be if she’s charged and found guilty – there is going to be a real feeding frenzy by people trying to cash in. Not just the branded women – but virtually everyone who was ever disaffected by NXIVM.
If ex-members of Scientology are winning claims against that cult, there’s a high probability that ex-members of NXIVM will be able to do the same.
For readers who are looking for legal representation in relation to various wrongs done by NXIVM, there are lawyers ready and able to discuss the matter with complete confidentiality and likely to work entirely on “spec” which means the lawyer does not get paid unless/until you collect.

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Frank Parlato


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  • Request for Frank — please stop posting pictures of Clare Bronfman. This woman looks really awful, and the pictures constitute an assault on my eyes. It is like looking at the Wicked Witch of the East.

  • All that collateral, all those directly little secrets, in the possession of the FBI.

    Decisions. Decisions.

    Can you say class action lawsuit?

    “I’m smart!- Fredo BEAR

  • “It wasn’t supposed to be like that. I’m smart! Not dumb. Like everyone says. I’m smart! And I want respect!”- Fredo BEAR

    All that collateral in the possession of FBI?

    DECISIONS Descisions.

  • If the feds add tax evasion charges or fraud charges against Raniere & Co., then it’s unlikely that former members victimized by the group in some way will get any recovery out of the rubble that’s left after the implosion’s dust settles. If tax evasion is involved, the Feds will get the assessed amounts plus penalties and interest for 20 years of bad behavior. Nobody will be able to disupte the amounts the IRS claims because the books are probably lost or the feds already have them.

    Also, if they were running cash across borders, failure to declare has a 6-year statute of limitations and carries civil penalties that involve forfeiture of the money plus a penalty up to the amount of cash on top of losing the original amount. I’m not clear where it becomes criminal, but at some point, there are circumstances where failure to declare cash can result in jail time. I’m guessing it would be if someone engaged in a concerted campaign to have a bunch of “smurfs” bring in cash a few hundred grand at a time, like Raniere may have done.

  • My non-lawyer two cents: There is no sense in suing a person or entity civilly, unless there are attachable assets. I bet NXIVM will be gutted and stripped soon if it hasn’t been already. The Bronfmans, of course, are another story. I also suspect the feds are or will be seizing all kinds of assets and funds connected to the criminal cases.

    In suing civilly, you also have to be able to quantify the economic / emotional distress damage done to yourself, and prove that it was caused by the person or entity you’re suing.

    I for one would be hesitant to sue Raniere himself, because 1) he “has no assets”; and 2) – MORE IMPORTANTLY – I would never want to give him the opportunity for excursions out of jail to attend or give depositions, hearings, etc. He THRIVES on that type of thing, and the trips would be a welcome break in his currently miserable routine. I am much more happy to see him sitting where he is. I bet it really, really sucks, and he richly deserves every minute of it.

    Of course, I am curious about the fate of Cafritz’s/Raniere’s $8M bank account.

    • Clare and Sara obviously have the most assets and the deepest pockets.
      But some of that money might be locked up in trusts or spirited out of the country.

      Pam Cafritz’s assets would also make a tempting target if they haven’t been frittered away.
      Perhaps Allison Mack has some assets but if she needs help in paying for legal expenses, it’s unclear how large those assets are.

      And NXIVM’s assets might be seized by the government.
      NXIVM’s real estate might be encumbered with pre-existing mortgages.

      The victims might sue and basically discover that there are not enough assets to make the effort worth while.

      Civil lawsuits might be another way to extract justice from NXIVM and its principals.

  • I’m surprised Claire isn’t running to Ramthas lawyers! They are like the mafia! Ever heard of Virginia Coverdale who defected from them? Probably not as Ramthas minions shut her down.
    These group control cults need to be exposed and shu down. They are just money fleecers.

    • A warning I made about class actions in my original comment.
      “But there are downsides to class action lawsuits where settlements might be less than if Clare and Sarah are sued one by one by each separate victim.”

    • Is this because in a class action all complainants would have to have a very similar complaint against the same defendant? Would there be too many variations of complaint and multiple defendants that would make a class action inappropriate ?
      I’m only taking a guess, so I could be completely wrong.

      • The main disadvantage to a class action lawsuit would be that each individual plaintiff loses control over his or her case.
        And the recovery would certainly be less.

        The advantages are that legal expenses are less and that the recoveries by the plaintiffs would be more evenly distributed.

        Common Advantages of Class Action Lawsuits
        Lower litigation costs.
        Greater uniformity of recoveries among similar plaintiffs
        The opportunity for all plaintiffs to receive damages.

        Common Disadvantages of Class Action Lawsuits
        Lack of decision making control.
        Cases almost always settle for financial compensation, coupons for future services or rebates
        If the plaintiff’s attorney does not argue effectively or the class representatives do not have strong claims then the legitimate claims of other class members can be hurt.

      • Correct. Exception would be Class Action against NXIVM University, just like the Class Action against Trump University…

      • Interesting – especially since what I cited was a picture of a coffee cup with the words “Don’t confuse your Google search with my law degree”. The so-called article that followed the picture was focused on the concept of legal marketing – which I strongly believe in.

        I’m all for people doing their own legal research so that they understand what’s going on in a given situation. My objection is when someone likes you thinks that a 15-minutes Google search gives them license to comment – and preach – on issues you simply don’t understand.

        “”Class action lawsuits” are a great example because just about everything you’ve told people about them is incorrect. And why is that? Because the law has changed – and the drivel you’ve been citing is no longer applicable.

        • The article was about educating people, not just marketing. You said you didn’t have enough time to educate, and nobody was trying to replace a lawyer with a google search, you brought up that topic. I didn’t say hardly anything about class action lawsuits and didn’t even comment on the google search, so you don’t know what I know about class action lawsuits.

  • I’m not a lawyer, but I believe even if Bronfman skates on the criminal case, civil cases can still be brought forward (a la O.J. Simpson)

  • Many lawyers will work on a “contingency fee” basis.

    If the lawyer believes your case has merit and the defendant has deep pockets, like Clare and Sarah certainly do, then the lawyer might take up your case without asking for a retainer up front.

    And when there are many plaintiffs with similar claims there is also the possibility of a class action law suit.
    But there are downsides to class action lawsuits where settlements might be less than if Clare and Sarah are sued one by one by each separate victim.

    Payment Arrangements

    Contingency fees. A contingent fee arrangement means that your lawyer gets a percentage of whatever money you receive as resolution of your case. If you receive no money, then your lawyer collects no fees. However, you may owe charges for court fees, copying, and hiring expert witnesses. If you have very little money to pay hourly fees, it may be appropriate to negotiate a contingency fee with your lawyer. But before agreeing to a contingent fee, consider that:

    The size of a contingency fee, usually a percentage of any money you receive to resolve the case, is always negotiable. Sometimes you can negotiate a sliding scale fee (for example, 30 percent of any recovery up to $10,000; 20 percent of any recovery up to $50,000, etc.). Remember that there’s no particular percentage of a consumer’s recovery that constitutes a “standard” or “official” fee.
    The size of the contingency fee should reflect the amount of work that will be required by the attorney. Some cases are straightforward; others can be novel or uncertain. You may want to ask whether the case is likely to settle quickly and whether government agencies will gather significant amounts of evidence. A fee arrangement sometimes can be negotiated with a lower percentage for a quick settlement and a higher percentage if it goes to trial. Be sure you know exactly what is covered in your agreement. Your state also may have rules about maximum contingency fees; check with your state’s bar association.

    Happy Hunting!

  • In California, if the tort, defect, or malfeasance is hidden (and then revealed at a later date), the statute of limitations starts from the revelation of the defect. Not when the incident occurred. But when it was revealed to be defective or hidden.

    So, if NXIVMers took the courses in California, and Clare is found guilty, you could argue that the SoL (Statute of Limitations) starts from the date of Clare’s guilty verdict. Not from when the classes were taken.

    Thank you, Cal Supreme Court!!!

  • Awesome Frank! We are on the same wavelength. I noted the same think in the last post.

    It will be very hard for Clare to defend any lawsuits, if and when she has been found guilty.

    Potential claims include: false arrest, negligence, emotional distress, business interference, harassment, stalking, personal injury, defamation, fraud.

    It depends on the state where the courses were taken and which claims New York recognizes as intentional torts.

    If there were members that took the course in California, California law (much more victim friendly) might apply also.

  • Most of the civil lawsuits will get filed after the criminal lawsuits have been concluded. That’s because the results of the criminal lawsuits can be introduced as evidence in the civil lawsuits (The reverse is not true). The only factor that might move up that timeframe is if some of the civil claims are going to fall off the table because of statute-of-limitations issues.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” He also appeared in "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM, and was credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premieres on May 22, 2022.

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