Day #1 Raniere Trial [May 7]: Agnifilo’s Opening Statement – “I Will Defend’ Keith Raniere’s ‘Good Faith’

Marc Agnifilo

THE COURT: Please be seated. All right. Mr. Agnifilo, how long is your opening?

AGNIFILO: Longer than the Government’s opening. I don’t know how long. Maybe 45 minutes.

THE COURT: 45 minutes?

AGNIFILO: Maybe 50 minutes. I don’t know.

THE COURT: I see. All right. …. Mr. Agnifilo, you may proceed with your opening…..


I certainly agree with one thing that my colleagues with the Government said, you are going to hear the truth. That’s what this trial is all about. You’re going to hear the truth. You’re going to hear the truth from witnesses that take that witness stand. You’re going to hear the truth through documents that you’re going to be given to consider, through e-mails, text messages, and the like.

But I submit to you that you haven’t heard much about the truth so far. What you’ve heard is you’ve heard a lot of conclusion. You’ve heard a lot of slogans. You’ve heard a lot about the names of certain crimes, but you haven’t really heard what you’re going to need to know to reach the truth. And this case is not about slogans or conclusions that are imposed on you.

They’re certainly about conclusions that you reach on your own after listening to the evidence. But this case isn’t about labels. It’s not about jargon. It’s not about headlines. This case is about two things, really.

When you break it down, this case is about two things and two things alone: It’s about all of you. It’s about the jury, because you have an amazingly important and difficult job in every case and very much so in this case. You are all that matters. You are the judges of the facts. You will listen to these witnesses and I can say anything I want about them. My colleagues with the Government can say anything they want about them; it’s what you think, what you think matters. So the first of the two things that matter in this case is all of you.

The second of the two things that matter in this case is that man, my client, Keith Raniere, because everything that you consider, the evidence you consider is all about him.

He is on trial. He is on trial for his life in a very important, very significant case. And what you’re going to be doing is you’re going to be evaluating the evidence, you’re going to be understanding the evidence, and you’re going to be passing judgment ultimately on Keith Raniere. So the two things that really matter in this trial are all of you and Keith Raniere. And everything else in this trial, the parties included, even the Court included, everything else that’s not all of you and Keith Raniere is here to help you understand, evaluate and judge Keith Raniere.

How are you going to do that? Right now you know nothing about him. Right now you don’t have any evidence. Right now all we have is conclusions because the evidence hasn’t started coming in yet. But here’s what I am going to ask you to do as the evidence is coming in, I’m going to ask you to look at the evidence from his point of view, through his eyes, because ultimately at the end of the case, His Honor, Judge Garaufis, is going to instruct you on the law.

What the Judge’s instructions on the law is is that’s it, what the Judge said in the preliminary instructions, that is the law.

One of the things you’re going to hear is intent, a concept called criminal intent. There is only one  criminal intent that is worth anything in this case that matters at all and it’s whether he has it. That’s it. No one else’s intent, no one else’s motivation, no one else’s good faith or bad faith matters a lick. It’s all him. So one of the things you are going to be doing as the evidence comes in is you are going to be looking at it through his eyes, what does he think about it? What is he doing? And why is he doing it? Never forget to ask why. I’m going to talk about that in a minute.

Probably the single greatest thing, at least in my humble opinion, that’s ever been said about empathy and looking at the world through someone else’s eyes was said in the book To Kill a Mocking Bird. It became a movie and now I understand it’s on Broadway. And To Kill a Mocking Bird, Atticus Finch is talking to his daughter Scout. Now, the whole premise of the book is Atticus Finch is a defense lawyer, and he’s defending someone named Tom Robinson. And he says to Scout, you know, you can’t really understand a man until you crawl inside his skin and walk around in it. And one of the things I’m going to ask you, and right now as you sit here you might be saying I don’t want to do it, but I’m going to ask you, you need to crawl inside his skin and walk around in it. From the jury box, you will walk through Keith Raniere’s life. You will hear a tremendous amount about his life. You will hear how he started NXIVM with another person a little over 20 years ago.

Now, the Government says that, well, a lot people believe in NXIVM and now they don’t. A lot of the Government witnesses I think are going to take the witness stand and say NXIVM was wonderful, NXIVM helped me. And how did it help? Here’s what you’re going to hear in the evidence. The first thing is I know my colleague with the Government said somehow people are isolated in Clifton Park, New York, outside of Albany. It’s going to be described as idyllic. It’s going to be described as beautiful. It’s going to be described as serene and wonderful. They had barbecues and they played volleyball and they did all these things and I think people are going to say it was really fun. That’s what they’re going to say: It was fun. I didn’t feel isolated. It was fun.

The other thing they’re going to say is they got a lot out of it. They got a lot out of NXIVM. Let me tell you what they’re going to say they got out of it. They’re going to say basically — and there’s going to be a lot of content on this, but let me give you kind of the basic, if I had to dumb it down, NXIVM for dummies, whatever those books are called, is basically this: What makes people happy? And the premise of what makes people happy is when they develop a theory of their own ethics, when they have a strong sense of their own ethics. You want to be happy? Keep your word. You want to be happy? Do what you say you’re going to do. You want to be happy? Live up to your responsibilities, because you get a form of self-confidence when you realize you’re being a good person.

On the other hand, happiness is not material items. Happiness isn’t really oh, I have a nice car, I have a nice house. Those things are conveniences. They’re luxuries. Those are not the things that make us happy. And a lot of what you’re going to hear in the NXIVM curriculum is around this topic area, what makes people happy. And that basically — I don’t know that Keith Raniere invented it. I have no idea if he invented it. I would imagine someone along the lines, someone else said, you know, all this stuff in my life is not making me happy. How am I going to be happy?

Maybe I’ll try to be a better person. I mean, religions tell us that, a lot of things tell us that. A lot of philosophy tells us that. So I don’t know that anything you’re going to hear in this case is brand, brand new. We’ve had civilization for a long time. A lot of people have come up with a lot of ideas, so I don’t know that any of this is earth shattering and new, but the fact is that you’re going to hear that 17,000 people took NXIVM courses, all sorts of successful people: CEO’s, executives, actors, actresses, and they took them not because they were all bamboozled and fooled. They took them because they got something out of them and you’re going to hear this not from me, you’re going to hear this from the witnesses who testify on the stand.

Now, one of the things you’re going to hear a lot about, and then I’m going to segue into something else, is satiation. There’s going to be in the e-mail are you being satiated. I’m going to explain it because this is going to come into evidence. The idea is everybody is different. And listen, everybody is different and I don’t know who this is true for; I think it’s true for a lot of people. Rather than like working on yourself, rather than like making yourself a better person, you know, I don’t know, I feel a certain way, I think I’ll eat; I’m not really that hungry, but I just want to eat. That will make me feel better. Or I’m going to drink, or I’m going to go shopping. I don’t really need anything, but I’m going to go shopping because I need something to do and it takes my mind off the other stuff. And what you’re going to see, as the evidence comes in, is that’s not seen as a good thing with NXIVM. I mean, I’m not saying you can’t go shopping and stuff, but that’s not really being on point.

And a lot of what you’re going to see, a lot of what I think — people are going to come here and say, look, Raniere is abusing me. That’s what they’re saying now. That’s not what they said at the time. And you know they’re not going to say it at the time because you’re going to see the e-mails. This is an odd case in one very important respect and let me tell you how.

It’s sort an odd case when the defense lawyer says pay attention to the e-mails, look at the e-mails, look at the text messages. That’s your reality, because a lot of things have happened between 2017 and today and I’m going to get to some of them in about 20 minutes or 30 minutes, that people have a change in perspective. And one of the things you are going to see about this case, a lot of it is about perspective: I liked it at the time. I was having fun at the time. These were my best friends.

One of the things about NXIVM, people are going to come in and say these were my best friends. We were in a beautiful place. I was with people that I love and these were my best friends. They’re going to come in here and they’re going to say — I don’t know what they’re going to say. They can’t say it wasn’t a beautiful place, they can’t say they weren’t best friends, so they’re going to try and say Raniere was hard on us, but that’s what they wanted.

Now, one of the things that my colleague with the Government talked about was control; he’s controlling people. So I want to talk to you about control for a few minutes because this is a very important theme in the evidence too.

Every downhill skier who won a gold medal was controlled by some ski coach. Every 18 year-old kid who comes from Biloxi, Mississippi or Hauppauge, Long Island who becomes a marine, is controlled by a drill instructor. The issue isn’t the control; the issue is the intention. The issue is always the intention, and this is going to be a theme that I come back to again and again. The issue isn’t the control; the issue is the intention.

What’s behind the control? Control can be very, very bad. Control can also make marines. Control could also bring gold medal winners. What’s behind the control? So when I said in my first few minutes always ask the why, always ask the why. Is he being controlling? Well, a lot of times he is, a lot of times he is. Ask the why. What is happening?

Why is he doing this? And what you will see is you will see this is something these people signed up for. They are not there to go shopping and eat cake and do these things. They’re there for a reason and they are there to make their lives better and they have signed on to this.

One of the things that’s going to occur to you at some point during the evidence in this case is what about personal responsibility. What role does one’s own personal responsibility have? You heard a lot about someone got recruited and then someone, you know, did something they didn’t want to do and then somehow someone got forced in to do something. And as you’re listening to the evidence, sit here and think what about personal responsibility? What about saying hey, I don’t want to do that or I do want to do that or whatever it is. It’s going to be one of the major themes in this case.

Now, there are a lot of things that you’re going to see in the evidence that are unusual. Okay. That’s why we had that jury questionnaire that you guys spent all that time on, all right. So I want to talk to you about some of them because there are going to be very important things in the evidence. There’s going to be evidence of branding. I’m going to talk about that in a few minutes, but that’s an unusual thing. It’s not unheard of, there are certain sports figures that are members of fraternities that get brands.

Sometimes you watch a football game and you see a guy who has a big brand on his arm. The branding here, though, was done only of women. So, I don’t know. I mean, you can’t want a brand. You’re going to see. You’re going to see a video, I expect, of a branding. And I’m going to talk about that in a minute. But one of the things I want you to look for, see if  anyone seems forced, see if the women seem forced, or they’re doing it because they want to do it because, in their own words, they want to bad ass, their words.

Another thing that you’re going to see a lot of in this case is you’re going to see a lot of naked photos. So I want to talk to you a minute about them. One of the themes you’re going to hear a lot about in the trial, in the evidence is vulnerability, the importance of vulnerability and how vulnerability is not a bad thing and how it can be created and how it can be destroyed. Now, when we think vulnerability, I think a lot of people say, hum, that’s a bad thing.

Vulnerability is bad. We don’t want our country vulnerable to attack. And, so, I don’t want my home vulnerable to a burglary and, so, I don’t want to be vulnerable. Vulnerable is bad. The definition of vulnerable is something capable of being wounded, something capable of being wounded. And anybody who I think is or has been a child, or a lover, a parent, a sister, a friend, we all know absolutely 100 percent each and every one of us is capable of being wounded. I’m not talking physical wounds, I’m talking emotional wounds. It’s just a reality, every one of us is capable of being wounded. It’s not something — I don’t know, maybe guys don’t think about it a lot and that’s going to be one of the themes that you’ll hear in the evidence too; how men think as opposed to how women think and I don’t think that, at the end of the day, you’re going to think it is sexist. I think you’re going to think a lot of it is accurate, but certainly men don’t like to think I’m wounded, I can be wounded but, yes, we can, and we  are all the time. We are all the time. We love somebody; they don’t love us, that’s a wound. As a kid I didn’t get something I really, really needed, that’s a wound. What happens when you’re wounded? You close down. You close down. I open myself up and I got wounded and I’m now closed down.

And what happens, it’s a natural thing that that should happen, but what’s the result? You’re lonely.  You’re not with people. You’re not as engaged, you’re not as open, you’re not as out there. So one of things — and you’re going to see this theme, which is why I’m bringing it up now in the opening statement — one of the things you’re going to see in the evidence, time and again, is sort of lessons in how to be vulnerable. And why? Not to be weak, vulnerable is not weak; vulnerable is strong if your insides are strong. If you’re insides are strong, you can love, you can trust, you can do those things because you might get hurt. You might get hurt, but if you do, you’re fine. You’re fine because you’re insides are strong. And a lot of what NXIVM teaches is don’t put a shell around a soft core, make a strong core and be vulnerable.

And here’s where the pictures come in. The pictures, you will hear — and what I mean by the pictures, there are naked pictures and there are going to be a lot, are about vulnerability. One of the things that you’re going to hear in the evidence is no one had pictures taken without their knowledge, that would totally defeat the point, but idea is that men and women — but for the time being I’m talking mostly about women because the pictures tend to be about women, speaking in generalities — sometimes have issues with their own bodies. I don’t want to think about my body, people don’t like my body, I’m very happy to just cover my body with clothing. Is it shameful? Is it bad? Should it be covered up? Is there anything wrong with the body? No, of course not. Especially not your own body. Why would anyone dislike their own body?

Now, to make the point, there’s a part of the curriculum called Möbius and Möbius is sort of a reference to Augustus Ferdinand Möbius — you will hear this from the evidence — who was a German mathematician from 200 years ago, and here is what Ferdinand Möbius did, here’s a piece of paper, right, I fold it over. There’s an inside, right, and there’s an outside. There are two sides to my little thing here. If I fold it 180 degrees, there’s one side. You can do it; go back in the jury room when you’re deliberating and do it. There is one side, it doesn’t end; you can run your finger along the edge and it never ends because there is only one side. Here, you can’t do that. You would have to do it once, take your finger off and there is another side. What’s the significance of it?

The significance of it for NXIVM isn’t the significance of it for Mr. Möbius, the mathematician. The significance for NXIVM is that your insides are your outsides, there is no distinction; it is all one side. It is all one side and one of the lessons that they teach in Möbius is something along the following lines: If I was a person doing it, I’d be looking into a mirror, okay, and there would be a person next to me and they would say tell me something about your face that you don’t like. And I would look in the mirror and I would say I have bags under my eyes and I’m self-conscious and, so, part of the reason I wear glasses is so people doesn’t see them. And the person next to me would say but aren’t those bags part of your identity, don’t they mean that maybe you worry, you worry about your children, you worry about your life. Maybe it means that your father had bags under his eyes and so you are your father’s son, so you have bags too. You should be proud of them, you should embrace them, they are not shameful. If you want to wear glasses because you can’t see, wear glasses, but don’t glasses to cover up those bags under your eyes because it’s part of you. And people get paid to do this. The photographs are the same thing. The naked photographs are the same thing, there’s nothing wrong; there’s nothing wrong with your body, there is nothing wrong with you, there’s nothing to be ashamed of and it should be celebrated. It’s not sexual. And when you look at the pictures, look closely, look at everything, looking at the lighting; there’s nothing that changes sort of the simple fact that this is just a body. That’s all it is; it’s not sexualized, it is none of those things. It is just a body, a natural body in its natural state. That’s what you will see.

All right, let’s talk about DOS for a little bit. DOS was created by Keith Raniere. No doubt about it, it was created by Keith Raniere. He created DOS to be a sisterhood. He created it to be a woman’s organization, yet he did create it. And let me tell you a little bit about what you’re going to hear about the evidence on DOS. The idea is this, it’s a secret society of women. From the beginning of this country, men have had secret societies; get a dollar bill, turn it over, look at the other side and there is a pyramid with an eye as homage to the Freemasons, who had a major role in the creation of this country. All men. All men.

Keith Raniere thought that women should have a secret society of their own. Now, did he create it? Yes, he created it. He created it and what he did, though, is he wanted it to be a sisterhood, he wanted it to last forever, and so there are vows, there is something what they call collateral. Now, I think some of the witnesses are going to say I was intimidated by the collateral, I was coerced by the collateral. I don’t think those are conclusions you’re going to come to, but why collateral? Why collateral? Because it backs up your work, and I was trying to think of an example of like collateral in a place where you wouldn’t expect collateral, and I thought of one.

When I was a kid, if I said to somebody I swear to you I climbed that tree to the top, they will say no, you didn’t; and I would say cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye. I don’t know if people still say that, but they said it when I was a kid. Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye. What are you talking about? It’s a silly way of saying basically no, no, I did do it, I’m standing by my word. Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye? No one is going to stick a needle in my eye, I don’t hope to die. It’s a way of showing that I mean it. Sort of a silly example, but it isn’t. And the collateral is the same thing; if you mean it, put something behind it, put something behind your word.

And you’re going to hear that collateral didn’t start with DOS, collateral started way before DOS. It is a very mainstay concept in a lot of the NXIVM teaching that Raniere then applied to DOS. It is very simple. I mean let’s say, for instance, I was a guitar player and I wanted to lose weight and, you know, I come to one of you and say, you know, what I’m having the hardest time losing weight, you know, I’m just not doing it. And you say to me, you know what, I’ll tell you what, you don’t lose two pounds in a month, give me your guitar. That’s collateral, that’s all it is. There’s nothing more than that. It is a way of basically backing up my promise to something I want to do, and you’re going to hear this; it doesn’t have a bad intention, it has a good intention.

Now, one of the things I think is important, none of collateral was ever released all this time. You know, some of the women are giving naked photos, some of the women are writing things about, you know, family members that are false or true or whatever. None of it was ever released ever, not a single bit, not a single time. You know how they say never say never? I’m saying never, it was never released. It what that means is they never had any intention of releasing it. You can take the fact that it was never released and backfill it to what they were intending to do and it was never released because there was no intention of it ever being released.

Now, there is going to be a lot of talk that this was sex trafficking because women were bringing women into the group. Let me tell you why as you hear the evidence this isn’t going to make any sense to you. These are best friends.

These women love each other. They trust each other, they’re best buddies. For you to believe the Government’s core premise on this, you would have to conclude, somehow, that these best friends, one of their hearts darkened to the other one and rather than being their best friend, rather than looking out for their self interests, rather than doing this out of love and because they love each other and are close and are best friends, something else entirely, something inexplicable is happening and instead they’re looking to hurt their best friend. It’s like they become a vampire, you know, now they are looking to harm their best friend; we are not really best friends anymore, now I’m looking to hurt you. You know what? You’re not going to believe it. You are not going to believe it because it doesn’t make any sense.

And all of this will make sense. You will listen to all of this, step by step, and if it doesn’t make sense, if it doesn’t make sense, it probably means it didn’t happen that way. One of the rules of trials, you can accept it or not, if it doesn’t make sense to you, it probably didn’t happen that way. And one of the ings you will conclude doesn’t make sense is that these best friends would darken on each other and look to hurt each other. It doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t make sense because it didn’t happen that way.

As my colleagues with the Government mentioned, there was a family that came from Mexico. It was Dani. There was Cami. There was Marianna. There was Adrienne. And there was the dad and the mom. The first one to come was Dani and the Government said that Dani is going to testify and so let’s talk about that for a second. Dani, you will likely conclude — and there is certainly other evidence of this – is unusually smart, maybe even brilliant. And she took a NXIVM class in Mexico. She loved it. She had opportunities to study in Switzerland on a scholarship because she was that smart. And she said, you know what, the only thing I ever really kind of took to is this NXIVM and I want to leave Mexico and I want to go to the Albany area and I want to take classes because I really believe in it.

I don’t know how old she was, she was 16, 17, she was young, she comes to Albany and she was working in the administrative office, and she is not doing really intellectually challenging work. It is kind of boring and one day there is a lecture and Keith Raniere throws out like a brain teaser of some sort, and it’s a very difficult brain teaser. Okay, she gets it, she answers it because she is unusually smart. And she and Raniere start a friendship, it starts out as a friendship. He has a lot of respect for her, she has a great deal of respect for him.

What I think you are going to hear on the evidence is that, a week after her eighteenth birthday, they do have a sexual relationship. And, you know, I just want to be up front about it, I mean, he was in his forties, she was eighteen and it happened. I’m not saying it’s good, bad, or indifferent.

I’m just putting it out there, it happened. I think what you will find is that their relationship was not abusive. Their relationship was mutual, their relationship was consensual and I think their relationship meant a lot. I don’t know that that many people in Dani’s life really took a special interest in her and said, you know what, you’re really smart. And I think she was greatly complimented and it made her feel good that Raniere saw her that way.

Now, as soon as a 40-something year old man is with an 18-year old person, I suppose you could spin that all sorts of nefarious ways and this is where I’m going to ask you to look at the evidence in the details. You know, don’t stop at conclusions. Don’t stop at broad brush, you know, labels or things like that. Look at the evidence, you know, in detail.

One of the things that Dani does at one point, you know, while she and Keith are in this sort of relationship of trust, in a moment of frustration I suppose, she steals money. She works in the administrative office and she steals several thousands dollars and a few days later she tells Keith I stole several thousands dollars. Keith gets angry; we don’t do that had in this community, you can’t steal. You can’t steal here. And he is mad at her and things start to change. Dani is a little bit of precocious person and some of what she does sometimes is she steals; not only that time, other times too; not because she necessarily need the money, almost just as an I can get away with it, you know. And she also starts a relationship with another person.

Now, she and others will explain to you that there are ground rules, so let’s talk about them right now in the opening statement. There are ground rules for women having a relationship with Keith Raniere so let me tell you what they are.

Ground rule number one is, if a woman want to be with Keith Raniere, she can’t be with anybody else. You want to sign on to that, you’re in; you don’t want to sign on, you’re not. Ground rule number two, that rule doesn’t apply to Keith Raniere. He can be with multiple people. He can be with whoever he wants. You don’t want to sign up, don’t go. You want to sign up, that’s the rule.

Dani breaks the rule. That’s it. Dani breaks the rule and she’s kind of in trouble, you know. And what starts out as what’s supposed to be a temporary thing — and she is living in a house with her family. You know, when we say she is in a room, when the Governments points out the room isn’t locked, it’s because the room isn’t locked; she is basically in her family’s house in a bedroom with her family there, okay. So two days goes to two weeks, goes to two months and ended up being 20 months or 21 months that she is in the room and she is in the room because she is refusing — there’s letters every day between her and Raniere and you’re going to see a lot of them. You know, there’s quite frankly, I think, I mean, hundreds of letters, hundreds of letters. She writes a letter every day, or every other day, for the entire time she is in the room.

And she is talking about sometimes I do want to be here, I don’t want to be here. You know, this is good for me, this is helping me, this is not helping me, this is driving me crazy, and you will see it all and you will reach your own conclusion as to whether she is a captive. I mean, I’m not saying it is an easy situation, but it is a situation she could have dealt with differently if she wanted to, but she didn’t want to.

What ends up happening, to make this situation even more unusual, at one point her mother decides, you know what, I’m going to go into a bedroom too. And so, for a period of time you have Dani in one bedroom, you have the mom in another bedroom, and they are both basically, you know, in the house.

Unlocked doors, but in the house. One of the ways that Keith and Dani got close is that Dani, at one point, confided in Keith it seemed like her parents were headed for divorce and that was a subject of conversation. I think she is going to tell you, on the witness stand, Keith helped her with that.

She went to him with that. At one point, the mother has some kind of relationship with an Argentine singer named Facundo Cabral. Facundo Cabral is kind of a famous Argentine singer and Facundo Cabral dies on July 9th, 2011, and the mother says, you know what, I’m going to go to his funeral. He is shot to death in Guatemala, there’s going to be a funeral, and she leaves the room. After she leaves the room, Dani realizes she wants to leave the room and she leaves the room. My point is, when she wanted to leave the room, she left the room. And her father, her father drove — with another woman, drove her to the border where she crossed over the border because, at the time, she was illegal and she didn’t want to get caught — drove her to the border, she crosses the border and then meets up with a business colleague of the father and is fine.

So when she wanted to leave, she left. So you’re going to hear a lot about life back in the day, life in Clifton Park, 2001 to 2017, all right? So what happened? This was going along fine. Everybody was fine.

Everybody was happy. Everybody was, you know, playing their volleyball and having their picnics and doing. So what happens? So here’s what happens and here’s what the evidence is going to show you what happens. There is a woman who recruits a DOS slave. And there’s something called “Abrahamic Tests” and you’re going to hear about this in the evidence.

And for all of you that know your Old Testament, Abraham was given an assignment to take his son Isaac and take Isaac to Mount Moriah and offer him to God. And Abraham being a man of faith endeavored to do it and at the last minute God says, You showed that you’re a man of faith, you don’t have to do it. And Abraham — Isaac is spared and Abraham becomes a hero in a sense. He’s a biblical hero. He’s the ultimate man of faith.

So one of things that happened in DOS is the women are given an assignment to seduce Raniere. Seduce him. They can be very clear that the assignment was not to have sex with him. The Government said the assignment was to have sex with him. That’s not the case. Let them describe it, okay? The assignment was to seduce Raniere.

This one particular young woman, her name is India gives the assignment to a second person named Jessica, and Jessica misunderstands the assignment. And I think this is what the testimony is going to be. Jessica thinks the assignment is ‘I have to sleep with Raniere.’ Jessica says, ‘I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to do that. That is not something I want to do and I’m not going to do it.’

Someone named Mark Vicente finds out about this and you’re going to meet Mark Vicente in the next few days and you will size him up the way you size him up. He loses his mind. He goes off the rails. This is a terrible thing. He goes to India’s mother and does what I am going to describe as, “He pushes the mom button.” He goes to the mom and says, ‘Your daughter is in grave danger. This is really serious. You have to do something.’

And there’s this huge groundswell because of this to basically obliterate DOS, NXIVM. And what you end up having is you have this schism. You have this sort of schism in the family, okay? There’s one big happy family, now it’s not. Now, it breaks into two.

And I expect that a lot of the people on the Vicente side of the ledger are going to come here and testify and they’re going to talk about what a horrible time they had, I suppose, in NXIVM, and how they were coerced and abused and all these things are terrible. But you guys will have the e-mails. You guys will have the text messages. You guys will go back in time before their perspectives changed and you see will see the truth because this is the truth.

Now, there are a lot of controversial aspects about this case and I don’t want to lead you to believe for a second that I don’t recognize it, all right?

There’s going to be evidence Keith Raniere had multiple intimate partners over a very long period of time. He had some intimate partners for 30 years, for 35 years, 40 years. He had some for a couple of years. And basically, what you’re going to see, though, is you’re going to see – do me a favor, evaluate each relationship for itself. You’re going to have to. This is where we have to look beyond kind of a why. And you’re going to say, I don’t like that. I would never do that. I think it’s morally wrong. You are absolutely entitled to that opinion. You’re absolutely entitled to the opinion, I think it’s morally wrong for a man to have multiple intimate partners. And that’s your opinion.

One of the thing that you’re going to find that’s not charged. That’s not a charge. That’s not one of the charges.

You’re going to find that he had sex at one time or another in which each of the three sisters who came from Mexico, Dani, Cammy, and Mariana. You’re going to find he has a baby with Mariana. You might say that’s terrible. For my personal ethics, I think that’s morally wrong. Absolutely you should feel that way if that’s your personal ethics and I get it. Not charged with that. Just not charged with that.

You’re going to hear evidence that he was having sex with a fair amount of people. Some of them got abortions. You might say, I’m against abortion. Abortion is killing. Abortion is wrong. Abortion is repugnant, it’s morally wrong. I get it. He’s not charged with that. I don’t have to defend everything. I don’t have to defend every part of this case.

Parts of this case you’re going to find distasteful. Parts of this case you’re going to find are inconsistent with your own morality and that’s okay. I’ll tell you one thing I am going to defend. I’m going to defend his intentions. I’m going to defend his intentions to my last breath in this courtroom. I’m going to defend his good faith. I’m going to defend his good faith to my last breath in this courtroom.

So there are a lot of things that look bad for me, let’s be honest. You know, there are a lot of cosmetic parts about this case that are difficult. I acknowledge them. And I was thinking, is there an example I could think of — and I only have another few minutes and I’m going to sit down — that I can talk to you about that kind of sums this up. And the thing that I thought was this.

In 1940, in late May to June the 3rd of 1940, okay, the British get stuck in the north of France and they commit a tremendous military blunder and literally the Germans marched them up to the ocean in a little town called Dunkirk. It’s famous now because there have been a couple of movies about all of this in the last year or.

So the British are stuck up in Dunkirk, and famously, British citizens take their boats and go across the channel and save a lot of the soldiers, but  it is a military disaster for Great Britain and it’s a year and a half before the United States would enter World War II. So there’s a real fear that there’s not going to be an England. There’s a real fear that England is just going to lose and be overtaken by the Germans.

And on June 4, 1940, Winston Churchill goes into Parliament and he gives one of the great speeches of the 20th century. And when he says to Parliament: In the face of fear, in the face of what seems to be overwhelming force against him, he says, We will defend our island home. We will defend it on the shores. We will defend it on the seas. We will defend it in the air. We will defend it in the cities and in the towns.

And I will defend my island home in this courtroom and my island home is that man’s good faith. My island home is that man’s good intentions. And I will fight with my every last breath until this trial is over, until all the evidence is in, until the shooting is done. And, at the end of all of that, the flag of freedom will be flying above my island home because I will have successfully defended it.

I don’t have to defend everything. I don’t have to defend everything to win this case. But I will defend his good faith. And, at the end of the day, if you find that he had good faith and, look, look hard, look hard, examine it. Don’t take my conclusions, don’t take my word for it, you guys study the evidence. Study the text messages. Study the e-mails. And ask why, why did he do it? Why did he do it? What’s going on here?

If you do that, you’ll conclude that at the end of this case that I have defended my island home and he was acting in good faith. That is all I have for you at this point.

Thank you.

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Frank Parlato


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  • It is ironic that the lead defence attorney uses Atticus Finch as an example who had exactly the same job as Marc does.

    Marc is very subtle here when he says he has empathy. Those same questions asked by Atticus’ daughter might have been asked by Marc’s own family and the answer is that Marc always believes in the good of people.

    The Churchill reference is the subtle correction though as other than the second world war, of which he was the right leader at the right time later in his life, he wasn’t short in his career of doing things in power that lead to a lot of destruction, poverty etc prior to this. Here we would seem to have Marc’s correction.

    He might very well have a soul.

  • ROFLMAO. 🤣. Good comments. AgnoSTEALIO can kiss that “Island home” in Fiji, Adios Amigo, good bye.

    • His job is to keep his morals hidden. And what does that say, ultimately, about the morals we have come to uphold-

  • This long and rambling opening statement makes me think the defense’s position is desperately weak. Digressing about the the German mathematician Augustus Möbius- What the hell was that- Agnifilo seems bent on wasting everyone’s time, which will not endear him to the jury or the judge. A judge he irked by requesting a mistrial.

    This trial is about two things, he told the jury. It’s about you, the jury and it’s about the defendant. If I were on the jury, my immediate reaction would be, wait– what about the victims- The prosecution just got finished telling the jury extensively of how Raniere’s victims suffered. Did Agnifilo not understand how callous he made himself look- This also made me realize Raniere’s error in having a male attorney speak on his behalf. This trial looks to be centered on sexual abuse. A male perpetrator, women being branded, women being held against their will, women blackmailed into having sex with him, explicit naked pictures of women including an underage girl. A trial prosecuted by a woman DA while his male defense attorney paints himself as callous. Imagine how it’s going to look when Agnifilo cross examines the victims on the witness stand and bullies them into tears.

    I can scarcely believe Agnifilo said what he did about the ‘ground rules’. Rule number one, the women have to screw only Raniere. Rule number two, Raniere gets to screw whoever he wants. Thus having established his client’s bad intentions, his bad faith, Agnifilo concludes his argument resting his case on Raniere’s ‘good intentions’ and his ‘good faith’.

  • Difficult casqe for the defence so they had to put forward all the bits juries will hate – that some people do choose freely to be branded, to be in BDSM and D/s relationships, to cede all power etc etc, that many women particularly want a power based weighloss scheme of various kinds with penalties. Even so it will be a hard case to defend because he went beyond that – because of the sex in the US with the young mexican(s). It is always the peripheral issues that catch out the cults – FLDS underage girls (rather than having 3 + wives), food stamp schemes used wrongly, child labour, Lev Tahor child food hygiene and under age (in Canada) marriage etc etc….

  • Oh my gosh! What a bunch of word salad! A bunch of crap meant to distract and hypnotize the jurors. How about we address the real issues Mr Agnifilo– We are not discussing NXIVM and what SOME got out of it but we are discussing how KAR was using NXIVM as a way to attract women to him so that he could get control over their lives and onjectify them for his own sexual pleasure. Of course, NXIVM had some good! We do not attract flies with vinegar but with honey! That is so basic! So let’s get to it! Is it normal for a man who wants to be perceived as the most ethical and noble human being to exploit women- To have sex with underage girls- To keep one locked in a room for 2 years- To have sex with 3 sisters- To have sex with a mother and daughter- To pretend that he is not involved in a women-only self help group for which he truly is the grand master- To blackmail people with collaterals etc etc… those are the real issues and Agnifilo! I can see that you are using KAR’s strategies of using diversion and faux arguments but this time it will not work! KAR you have hypnotized many of us in the past and this for many years but the we have awoken! Time you too awake to this blind siding reality!

  • If Keith acted in good faith then he must be mentally ill. Entirely possible he sold himself on his own lies. He needs serious help. But don’t expect the rest of us to accept his twisted reality.

  • Bahahahahahaha,

    What the heck bubba, down south we’d have you squealing like a pig for saying such bullshit about a child molester.

    I thought you said we’d hear the truth. How ’bout you try starting with it.

    Hoping them NY city folks can see that fancy lawyers bull pucky.

    Must of taken the night crew hours to get that there court room cleaned up after all of horseshit that came out of Mr fancy pants I want a dismissal Marc Agnifillio ass yesterday.

  • No mistrial for you Mister Keith! A very Churchillarious result indeed!

    How I have enjoyed Agnifiglio’s endless comparisons of Keith to figures of cultural importance, there’s been Socrates, Atticus Finch, now, if you don’t mind its scenes from history – Dunkirk, and How Churchill galvanised the Americans to enjoin and WIN WWII.

    This is indeed a fair thumbnail sketch of a pivotal historical decision but

    WTF has that to do with Raniere, or anything concerning the NXium racket-!!

    This some deep absurdist humour, some surreal sh*t. I cannot wait for the next one..

    • Luke, you are an idiot. You have to still be brainwashed. Is Vanguard your father or WTF dude.

      I can be the best person in the world but if I pick up a gun and shoot someone because they raped my wife, I just became what’s called a murderer.

      Anything Raniere did that had good in it, was covered by his self serving criminal shit. Your daddy is going to PRISON.

    • Really- The trial is about the jury- Invoking Churchill and the Evacuation of Dunkirk- I get the impression that he was grasping for straws because he doesn’t really have a good defense available.

    • +1

      Taking the high road from Mockingbird to Churchill is the way to go. Agnifilo might have seemed long winded but he is educating the jury. A long, slow trial favors his approach as it gives him the time to slowly teach the jury to view matters from a libertarian viewpoint empathizing on Western historical values such as freedom of lifestyle, personal choice and personal accountability.

      • ‘Taking the high road from Mockingbird to Churchill is the way to go. Agnifilo might have seemed long winded but he is educating the jury. ‘

        Your membership of NXIVM has muddled your brain. The comparisons are visible.

  • Wholly eff. It’s just like I just took another Intensive. Also, I didn’t really hear any defence. It was Word Salad Supreme. This should actually be evidence how any unknowing person can be brainwashed and programmed a la Voldemort.

  • What a bunch of gobbly-gook. This attorney is an embarrassment! Let’s see, Olympic coaches aren’t holding nude pics of their athletes as collateral to get them to train harder. Nor is collateral and blackmail used in military basic training. I sure hope these jurors don’t fall for this word salad crap this attorney is spewing. His comparisons about real-world scenarios to what was happening in DOS and NXIVM are not apples to apples at all.

  • Agnistealo definitely drank the NXIVM juice. I highly doubt the Jury will. It is evident that Angistealo has spent entirely too much time with Vangone

  • Ironic that Churchill (AgniSTEALo) is now defending someone who claimed all of his inner circle were Nazis in their past lives.

    Sounds, smells, looks like BS to me

  • When reading Tanya’s opening statement, I got the feeling that I was listening to facts and truth. It was well presented and very coherent. She connected the dots so that anybody could easily understand how Keith operated.

    When reading Marc Agnifilo’s opening statement, I got the feeling he was trying to ‘brainwash’ his listeners.

    I got the feeling he was slowly ‘cultivating’ them into believing that ‘up is down’ and ‘black is white’.

    If I was a juror, I would have been insulted by his attempt to bend my mind into a warped sense of reality.

    I got the feeling that Marc was trying to put lipstick on a pig.

    Marc gave so many inappropriate analogies that I got the feeling he was throwing a Hail Mary pass.

    FACT: Keith got to fuck, humiliate and control every good looking girl in NXIVM — yet Marc was saying it’s no different than the ‘control’ that Olympic coaches use to create champions. LOL.

    He did the best he could given the facts of this case, I don’t fault him for that, but Marc is already WAY behind the government on the scoreboard.

    Tanya bested Marc.

  • “Dirty Jobs was a TV series on the Discovery Channel in which host Mike Rowe was shown performing difficult, strange, disgusting, or messy occupational duties alongside the typical employees. The show, produced by Pilgrim Films & Television, premiered with three pilot episodes in November 2003.”

    This piece of work could be on TV’s “Dirty Jobs”: Defending Vanguard as his lawyer.

    Who would want to be known for taking on such a role, regardless of how much you were paid-

  • I want to punch Agnifioi’s smug lying face. Way to twist the truth asshole! Have you no heart- No conscience- No morals- You know what Raniere has done – how do you sleep at night defending one of the earths lowest-

  • Amazing. That’s such a big load of manure you could probably use it to fertilize every farm in the country with it.

  • What a load of crap. I can’t believe this big shot lawyer is laying his reputation on the line spitting out these words.I can only conclude that Raniere wrote this load of bull. It makes no sense….it’s like listening to Nxivm videos. The only good is I firmly believe justice will be done.

    • This kind of opening statement happens all the time. It’s all about the money, Marky-Marc is just doing his [extremely well paid] job. Stop being so sanctimonious.

  • The judge denied the request for mistrial.
    Defense says the procedure makes it look as though Raniere is guilty.
    Gee Whiz, I guess the prosecution didn’t get the memo.
    The show will continue.

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.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

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.

IMDb — Frank Parlato,_Jr.

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083