This might well be the final nail in Keith Raniere’s coffin.
In a ruling that will could have a major impact on the outcome of Raniere’s upcoming trial, U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis has ruled that the images of the 15-year-old girl that were found in a hard drive seized from Raniere’s sex lair at 8 Hale Drive may be introduced as evidence by the prosecution.
The ruling – which is contained in a detailed 8-page Memorandum & Order issued earlier today – means that the jurors who will be deciding Raniere’s guilt or innocence will be seeing a collection of graphic nude pictures – including two that are of “a juvenile nude female exposing her vagina, including one in which the minor victim’s legs are open and her inner labia are visible”.
Raniere – and his lead attorney, Marc Agnifilo – have been desperately trying to keep the jurors from ever seeing the images of the 15-year-old girl.
But despite all the filings in which Agnifilo had tried to convince Judge Garaufis that the photos in question had to be suppressed, the judge has ruled that they are admissible.
As has been true of all the recent rulings in the case, this one is quite detailed – and likely designed to withstand the inevitable appeal that will be filed after Raniere is convicted.
In response to Raniere’s argument that the photos in question fell outside the scope of the search warrant regarding 8 Hale Drive, the judge carefully reviewed the circumstances that led to the hard drive being seized.
Those circumstances included the following:
– On March 26, 2018 – the same day that Raniere was arrested – Magistrate Judge Daniel J. Stewart of the Northern District of New York signed a Search And Seizure Warrant permitting agents to search a house at 8 Hale Drive in Halfmoon, NY “including any locked and closed containers and closed items at that location”.
– The warrant also authorized the seizure of certain items that are “evidence, fruits and instrumentalities” of certain offenses – sex trafficking, forced labor, extortion, and racketeering involving Keith Raniere (“the Subject Offenses”) – that occurred on or after January 1, 2015.
– The items listed in the warrant included “Computers or storage media used as a means to commit or facilitate the commission of the Subject Offenses including to store ‘collateral,’ as described in the [government’s] affidavit”.
– The affidavit described explicit photographs and videos from DOS “slaves” as collateral – and noted that the collateral had been given to Raniere and would likely be found at 8 Hale Drive.
– The government’s complaint against Raniere – which was attached to the affidavit – alleged that Raniere collected similar nude photographs of DOS slaves in connection with sex-trafficking and forced-labor crimes.
– On March 27, 2018, the government searched 8 Hale Drive – and seized, among other things, the hard drive in question.
– The government provided a copy of the hard drive to Raniere and his then-co-defendants on October 5, 2018.
– While searching the hard drive on February 21, 2019, FBI agents found two digital images of a nude female whom the agents believed to be under the age of eighteen.
– The agents recognized this female as a DOS slave who they believed had sex with Raniere when she was fifteen.
– The photos’ metadata indicate that they were taken on or before November 2, 200, a date on which the DOS slave in question was 15 years old – and that they were taken on a camera seized from 8 Hale Drive.
– On February 22, 2019, Magistrate Judge Peggy Kuo authorized a warrant to search the hard drive for additional evidence of child pornography and sexual exploitation of children.
Judge Garaufis then went through each of the arguments that Raniere and his defense attorneys had advanced in their attempt to keep the jury from seeing the images of the 15-year-old girl.
First, he ruled that Raniere’s Motion To Suppress was filed on a timely basis.
Next, he ruled that the photos were within the scope of the March 26, 2018 Search And Seizure Warrant.
Lastly, he ruled that even if the photos weren’t within the scope of the warrant, they would still be admissible because they fall within the “plain view” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirements regarding warrants.
Given Judge Garaufis’ ruling, Raniere will have the whole weekend to think about the likely impact of the pictures of the 15-year-old-girl will have on the jury.
Because although those photos are not evidence of Raniere’s guilt with respect to any of the charges he is currently facing, they will most definitely have a profound impact on at least some of the jurors who will be deciding Raniere’s fate.
It might be a good idea for Raniere’s lead attorney, Marc Agnifilo, to use his 10 peremptory challenges to exclude as many parents as possible from the panel of 12 jurors and 6 alternates.
Especially any who happen to have young daughters.
It is amazing – and fitting – that the “smartest man in the world” is, once again, being done in by his own arrogance and stupidity.
First, he decided that he had to take pornographic photos of at least a dozen members of his harem (Many of these women were photographed in the exact same poses).
Then, he had to decide that he had to have similar photos of a 15-year-old girl.
Next, he had to decide to hold on to all those photos for the next 13 years.
And lastly, he had to decide that it was OK to leave those photos behind when he fled to Mexico in order to avoid being arrested in the U.S.
It makes you think he probably cheated in order to get that 2.26 GPA in college.
The photos of the 15-year-old girl will also be the basis for the possession of child pornography charge that Raniere will likely face in the Northern District of New York (NDNY).
Assuming, of course, that for the first time in 20-years, the NDNY actually does something to stop Raniere and his criminal enterprise.