So, here we are…five days away from the start of Keith Raniere’s trial.
An event that many have been awaiting for quite a while – some much longer than others.
An event that many thought would never happen.
An event that will be the turning point in many lives – none more so than for Raniere himself.
Media outlets are already running – or preparing – “curtain raiser” stories in anticipation of the upcoming trial.
Just yesterday it was The New York Times that ran such a piece.
Written by the esteemed Barry Meier, the Times piece provides a nice overview for readers who may not have been following all the details of the story of Raniere and his NXIVM sex cult.
The opening paragraph of that story also captures the irony of the situation from Raniere’s perspective:
“It seems a fitting final act to a strange saga: On Tuesday, Keith Raniere, who once led a cultlike group in which women were branded and taught to idolize him, will face trial alone, abandoned not only by the women he subjugated and abused, but by those who served him loyally for years”.
Meier also makes it clear that the trial is likely to include some rather graphic evidence and testimony:
“During his trial in Brooklyn federal court, which is expected to last six weeks, jurors will hear testimony that will be prurient, bizarre and nauseating, court filings suggest. Among the graphic details: Prosecutors plan to use pictures of a naked 15-year-old girl in Mr. Raniere’s bed to prove that he exploited underage women”.
Today, it was Courthouse News that had a comprehensive story about Raniere and NXIVM.
And according to its overview, this case is being watched all over the country.
“As a federal trial dubbed the biggest cult case in decades kicks off next week in Brooklyn, experts and lawyers across the country are watching closely to see how it shapes the prosecution of cult leaders and the public perception of their organizations”.
One of the interesting issues discussed in this article is whether the prosecution’s attorneys should bring up the cultic aspects of the NXIVM operation. Some commenters suggested they should avoid doing so while others thought they should make it part of their case.
This coming Sunday, May 5th, The Times Union will also be running a “curtain raiser” story by Brendan J. Lyons, the Editor of its State Bureau and its Investigations Division.
The TU story is expected to focus on the witnesses that may be called to testify during the course of Raniere’s trial.
That will be an interesting list to peruse.
The New York Times and The Times Union have been instrumental in bringing Raniere – and other members of his criminal enterprise – to justice.
The TU ran numerous stories about Raniere and NXIVM – including an award-winning series entitled “Secrets of NXIVM: The untold story of Keith Raniere” by James M. Odato and Jennifer Gish.
But despite all the documentation and records that the TU amassed – and shared publicly – about Raniere’s numerous criminal activities, no investigation or prosecution was ever undertaken in the Albany, NY area.
And so it was that Raniere and NXIVM continued to flourish – and to expand their criminal enterprise
Until Barry Meier came along – and wrote the story that finally spurred federal law enforcement officials to undertake an investigation.
“Inside a Secretive Group Where Women Are Branded” was a front-page story in The New York Times’ Sunday edition on October 17, 2019.
And it featured the now infamous photo of Sarah Edmondson exposing the brand of Raniere’s initials on her pubic area.
Shortly after this story was published, federal law enforcement officials in the Eastern District of New York began a far-ranging investigation of Raniere and NXIVM.
And now, a little more than 18 months later, here we are with five guilty pleas in hand – and Raniere about to be the defendant in a trial that could result in him being incarcerated for the rest of his life.
There are still a few more things that need to be done before the start of the trial – but none that will likely result in any sort of delay.
The pool of 55 potential jurors still needs to be winnowed down to the 12 who will serve on the jury – and the 6 alternates who will be ready to jump in should any replacements be needed. That will take place on Monday, May 5th.
The prosecution still needs to provide Raniere’s attorneys with a list of the witnesses it expects to call on Tuesday, May 7th (The deadline for doing that is 5:00 PM on Friday, May 3rd). Thereafter, for the rest of the trial, the prosecution will need to notify them of any other witness it intends to call at least 48 hours before the start of their testimony.
And U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis still needs to make decisions on these four issues:
(1) Will the prosecution be allowed to introduce the pornographic images of Jane Doe 2 that were taken when she was 15 years old – and that expose her vagina and inner labia?
(2) Will Rhiannon – the woman who claims she was repeatedly raped by Raniere when she was 12-13 years old – be allowed to testify about those incidents?
(3) Will the NXIVM Corporation – which is currently being run by Clare Bronfman, Lauren Salzman, and Omar Boone – be able to prevent the prosecution from introducing certain evidence because doing so would violate the company’s attorney-client privilege rights?
(4) Will Raniere’s victims be required to disclose their full names in open court – or will they be allowed to use just their first name or a pseudonym?
The long wait for justice is almost over…
The time for Raniere’s denouement is drawing near…
Viva Executive Success!
There is a long list of other people who have helped in the battle to topple the evil empire of Keith Raniere and his followers – and, from my perspective, Frank Parlato is at the top of that list.
Update On Kathy Russell
Judge Garaufis has approved the request that was recently submitted by Kathy Russell’s attorneys. As a result, Kathy will be moving to a location in Georgia where she has relatives – and getting rid of her ankle monitor – sometime between now and June 1st.