Court Sidebar: Defense & Prosecution Attorneys Discuss Orgasms…

Keith Raniere specialized in taking photographs of naked women - but this is not one of his photos

We’ve all watched televisions shows and movies involving courtroom scenes in which the attorneys for both sides huddle with the judge to discuss some important point that they do not want others to hear.

These “sidebar conferences” or “sidebars” usually take place near the judge’s bench – and away from the witness stand and the jury box.

Some courts now utilize “white noise” technology to ensure that sidebar conversations cannot be overheard by anyone other than the participants. That technology is, in fact, being used in the trial of the U.S. v. Raniere.

Even though this trial just started this week, there have already been several sidebar conferences.

One of them took place immediately after Sylvie was done testifying yesterday – and before she was cross-examined by Marc Agnifilo, Raniere’s lead attorney.

Marc Agnifilo and Paul DerOhanessian

The first topic of the discussion concerned how Agnifilo was going to question Sylvie in terms of whether she had an orgasm when Raniere performed oral sex on her.

Moira Kim Penza, the lead prosecutor in the case, was concerned that Agnifilo would try to establish that an orgasm implies consent (That concern may be related to Raniere’s oft-repeated claim that some women can only experience an orgasm when they’re being raped).

Moira Kim Penza and Keith Alan Raniere

In any event, Penza stated that there is no scientific basis for claiming that an orgasm implies consent – and that Agnifilo should be prevented from trying to establish one with respect to Sylvie.

Agnifilo indicated that he never intended to try establishing any such link. Instead, what he wanted to do is elicit from Sylvie whether she told Raniere that her sexual encounter with him was the first time she had ever had an orgasm – and that the experience had been pleasurable.

After Penza agreed that line of question would be acceptable, the presiding judge, U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, indicated that similar questions for other witnesses would be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Interestingly enough, a quick review of the transcript from his cross-examination indicates that Agnifilo never asked Sylvie any questions about her one sexual encounter with Raniere.

Which raises the question of why he said what he did about that topic during the sidebar.


Another issue that was discussed at the same sidebar concerned the 275 pages of evidence that Agnifilo had not previously turned over to the prosecution.

Much, if not all, of the material in question came from Raniere’s cell phone – which, according to Penza, he left behind in Mexico.

Included on that phone were all the messages – and all the naked photos – that Sylvie had sent to him via WhatsApp (For several months, she sent him at least one picture per day).

Penza objected to having the messages introduced as evidence on the grounds that it amounted to hearsay.

Agnifilo argued that he did not intend to have the messages admitted as evidence – but, instead, just wanted to use them to establish whether Sylvie had actually sent them to Raniere.

The judge ruled that Agnifilo could show the materials to Sylvie – and ask her whether she had actually sent the messages she was seeing.

This is how he was able to get Sylvie to admit that many of the messages she sent to Raniere had heart emojis in them – and included what would, by any objective measure, be considered to be words of affection.


There were several other sidebars regarding various evidentiary issues – but none as interesting as the one concerning Sylvie’s first orgasm.

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K.R. Claviger


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  • Ive been living vicariously through the Frank Report because I couldn’t do what he did. Ive taken on monsters in my life but none the likes of Keith and Company. Thank you for all your due diligence.

  • Everything Raniere does is a twisted, cheater, cheap shot. Claims he’s not putting on a defense, not admitting any evidence — just innocently read some texts aloud into the record in front of the jurors — just to confirm that’s what the victim wrote. HA!!

    KAR and AgnoStealio – a match to ignite the fires of Hell.

    Pay attention youngun’s before you click an emoji on a lark or as part of a seduction assignment. That’s permission to be robbed, raped, branded, tortured, owned by a fiendish madman.

  • Raniere is a monster manipulator of women and a sociopath, unfortunately, the government has to prosecute and finally nail him for the crimes that really stick, namely RICO. This sexual cult stuff is only the first part of the trial to warm the jury up against him. We have still at least 5 weeks to go and many many charges to present…

  • Do all along what Keith did was to create an entire system in which he would get exactly what he wants while still being perceived as the victim and not the perpetrator! What a houtzpa! And this after preaching the notion of “Always exploring our responsibility” of “commitment”  of not playing the blame game and “taking things on the chin”. Seriously what a coward he is!

    • You will find that Raniere had no shortage of willing and consenting sexual partners over the years.
      He did not need to use blackmail or coercion to get sex which makes the whole DOS scheme even more perplexing.

      • Older women, yes. But younger women were largely not interested (for obvious reasons). That’s why he hatched the whole DOS scheme.

        • Save your time, Mary. The fact that shadow is still perplexed (clueless-) by this, goes hand in hand with him continuing to douse over-the-top blame on the females

          • Nutjob,

            Shadowstate and I were raised by are parents to be like the early pioneers or the first Caucasian(white people) settlers in the New World. We raised to be God fearing folk, respectful to are elders, and if women were raped or sexually assaulted they probably did something to deserve it……

            ……..of course I am not serious……

            ……..Shadowstate1958 on the other hand is bat 💩 crazy……

      • raniere et al didnt need the blackmail or coercion but i bet the powertripping of it all was intoxicating

    • Interesting how you now see that Mr. “there are no ultimate victims” while actually playing a sort of victim himself. It’s typical of these sorts of groups that the leaders and gurus are hypocrites, and act and live the opposites of what they try to impose on their followers.

    • Yes. Ask any child who has ever been sexually assaulted to orgasm how they feel their body betrayed them. It did not. It is a chemical response related to stimulation and nitric oxide, just as a body will GASP for breath when choked, it will orgasm when stimulated. The idea that consent was given by a body function is just another sadistic trick of the manipulator.

  • I wonder if Toni Natalie is going to testify. Even though her time with Raniere is prior to Nxivm, she has a lot to say about being raped by him, and manipulated through ESP by Nancy Salzman. By the way, if you are being raped, you are being raped, orgasms are no justification.

  • Heart emojis don’t always connotate love and affection. Especially when it comes to one’s rapist who continues to wield a great deal of threat, real AND implied over his victim for months and years after the rape. Every woman, with exception to Clare and the female pimps who controlled DOS slaves for Keith was terrified of what Keith could do to them, or order be done to them – not to mention using the collateral.

  • With modern America’s highly sexualized culture, if Raniere is portrayed by testimony and evidence to be a wizard at getting women in touch with their sexuality he will be harder to convict.
    Most of Raniere’s sexual activities were with consenting adult women.
    Some women won’t like to admit this fact but it’s obvious that sex was the hold he had over the women who followed him religiously.

    Just look at the popularity of movies like “Nine and a Half Weeks” and “50 Shades of Gray”, both of which appealed to women far more than men.
    And New York City is one of the most liberal communities in the country.
    Only San Francisco would be more liberal.

    • I think these early witnesses are the setup for the real crimes that are going to be brought out later. The DOJ just wants to put a putrid taste in the jury’s minds before they get down to the criminal activities. They want to demonstrate Raniere was in control, and then bring the hammer down.

    • To being with, I think it remains to be seen whether it was really about the sex, or whether that was just the most obvious outward sign of a deeper dynamic. In the example of stranger rape, it’s well-known and well-documented that it’s really more about power and control than sex. And as was discussed in the piece about the “collateral” photos, that too may well have been more about control, including humiliation, than erotic gratification. In the specific case of Sylvie’s recent testimony, the lure of sex with Raniere or having his “avatar baby” wasn’t at work as it was with some other women, and only one oddly non-intimate act occurred at a relatively late stage.

      And, Shadow, I’m afraid that once again you have fallen into inaccurate generalizations, if not even cultish thinking.

      The sort of sexualization that Raniere exploited has historical precedents in the “sexual freedom” movement of the 1960s (which actually began in the 1950s), and the progressive and “flapper” era (when, for instance, nudist camps became popular). Further back, the Victorian era actually produced a lot of written pornographic classics, and its physical and mental health movements were often strangely sex-obsessed and even cult-like, frequently with a focus on women’s “hysteria” and orgasmicity – in ways that almost presage Raniere’s practices.

      I was just exchanging some e-mails with an old friend who has a lot of experience with the BDMS and polyamory communities, discussing issues of consent. One thing that happened to come up, is that one of the curious secrets of such communities is that a surprisingly large number of participants are “conservatives.” And if you wanted to look for examples of polygamy outside of Clifton Park, the prime spots would be “conservative” places like Utah, Arizona and Texas – where local and state political establishments have long looked the other way if not even been tacitly supportive.

      In the end, the real issues have nothing to do with the ideological spectrum. Fanatics at both ends tend to do similar things – including, in these sorts of cultish groups, promoting ideas that sex with underage girls is somehow justified. The us-against-them mentality is used as a tool by manipulative leaders and organizations that want to distract their followers from their own failings and foibles, while seeking power.

      • Excellently well written comment….very articulate….seriously….I enjoyed reading it. Thanks Annoy Maker

  • Isn’t it a major issue, that the defense has all that evidence from Raniere’s cell phone that they’re now trying to introduce in court, that they haven’t turned over to the prosecution-

    • I would think so, but perhaps the judge is impressed with Raniere being so unattractive physically yet got a lot of women in the sack. Raniere is Bill “Slick Willy” Clinton reincarnated.

    • You would think so. It should have been handed over ages ago to give the other side time to go through it.

  • This argument is bogus and this is why. I remember Keith during a Jness intensive, explaining how there are many cases where women experienced their first orgasm while being raped. And that because of the tension in the body experienced during a rape. Basically, the mix of fear and pleasure creates conditions that favor the burst of an orgasm. So my advice to Keith is before you advise your lawyers compelling arguments they should offer for your defense, make sure you have NOT first contradicted yourself on camera years prior.

  • Sylvie having an orgasm with Raniere is a worthless and pointless question.
    I will explain:

    If oral sex is performed long enough that on a woman, over an hour, a good majority of women will experience orgasm.

    I am speaking from experience. If you perform oral sex for over an hour your tongue will get purple blotches from bruising.

    One of my ex girlfriends had a hard time having an orgasm. She had her first one with me after oral sex for over an hour.

    My tongue had ridiculous looking purple bruises for almost week. Nobody else I dated had that issue.

    Trust me a Sylvie having an orgasm from Raniere had nothing to do with sexual attraction or lust.

    I am writing this comment to shoot down any male commentators or males having prejudicial opinions about Sylvie.

  • What does Keith – a short, troll like creature with small arms who smells like swamp – know about female orgasms- I doubt he’s been able to give almost any woman an orgasm. They are probably counting the seconds until it’s over and once done, I’m sure the women would take a long shower to get rid of the stench. Why isn’t Keith’s hygiene on trial- No one can dispute that he’s guilty of not showering. And why isn’t he on trial for using some of the worst lines in history for picking up women- His sleazy “game” was the stuff of legends. In actuality, there’s no way this pitiful little man walks from these charges. But let’s not forget for a second all of the ways that he’s a gross, vile, stupid human who is both physically and mentally deficient and he has to live with himself. Hopefully he rots in jail for the rest of his life.

    • Exactly. And in her testimony, she said, (according to Newsday) — “I remember feeling like it was going on for a really long time,” she said. “…. I made sounds to make it stop, but I felt like it went on for a really long time.”

      It sounds like she was trying to fake it to make him stop.

      Also, the number of texts and heart emojis were already established as something she was required to do. Nothing she wanted to do.

      Rolling Stone– “Sylvie’s admission into DOS also required her to fulfill “assignments,” the first of which was to seduce Raniere. The first time she heard about it, “I laughed in shock,” said Sylvie, who was not attracted to Raniere and was already married. Nonetheless, she complied, sending him a WhatsApp message telling him he looked “hot” in his glasses. His response was, “You’re gonna have to do better than that,” Sylvie testified.

      The texts were not sincere. I don’t know why Agnifilo is trying to perpetrate like they are. They were obligations. Assignments. It doesn’t matter what she put in them! And whatever she did put in them, it’s clear that she was instructed on what to say and how to say it.

      Cowardly Keith had it all worked out. He was probably so used to being rejected– especially by younger women, that he came up with an idea where they would have to pursue him.

      What a women hating transparent piece of shit.

      • It’s hard to believe that he could get any sort of personal ego validation out of involuntary seduction in a “being sexually wanted” sense unless 1) he is a sociopath, lacks empathy, and only cares about the end result for himself, i.e., sexual play and/or satisfaction 2) it is all just a game to him to get a woman to do what he wants even though he knows she doesn’t want to. Neither seem ethical or fulfilling to those who are empathetic.

        Statistically, it’s been proven time and time again that the most fulfilling emotional heterosexual relationships are monogamous, equitable, love-based ones, rooted in the real nature of the sexes, as such partners have sex more frequently. You typically don’t do things more frequently unless you have to, e.g., eat, or because you want to because you enjoy it.

        Keith is just not a physically attractive guy – though he must be somewhat charismatic to some women – but he has grandiose expectations that aren’t concordant with who he really is. He’s already up there in age and is no longer attractive to the type of females he desires. Not to mention the supposed lack of hygiene that he keeps. That’s why he has had to concoct this myth around himself, e.g., the smartest, most ethical man in the world with all the enviable abilities he’s claimed of himself, etc., and use manipulative techniques to subconsciously “program”, coax, and coerce the women into desiring him, either via himself or through his flying monkeys.

        He’s an ethically lost individual. It’s pretty sad if you think about it and you would feel some pity for him if he wasn’t a grifter and didn’t do all the bad things he did.

  • Seemed to be a bit thin on coverage. Not only here but with all the other news outlets. Was Vicente a snooze fest or is it a matter of writers befuddled by what to pen- The biggest morsel of news thus far from Vicente is that NXIVM is evil to its core, something we already knew.

    • “Marc is a street tough dog, he is too much for nice Ivy schooled lawyers”

      And in a place like Brooklyn a street tough dog will come across better than an Ivy schooled lawyer.

      • Brooklyn is a yuppie community these days Shadowstate1958. A modest 2 bed apartment/condominium probably costs more than your house, unless of course your house costs 3/4 of million dollars or more.

        • There are still plenty of poor people in Brooklyn and neighboring Queens.
          New York City, like many American cities, has been hollowed out.
          The Middle Class can no longer afford to live there because of taxes and rising real estate prices leaving behind the wealthy for whom price is no problem and the poor who live in public housing.

  • I’m sure Allison had the same experience. “Omg he must be my perfect supreme master Vanguard! He made me cum! Shouldn’t these women have given themselves an orgasm by then-

  • Damn, was she really in his face as depicted in that sketch-

    Ms. Penza, I may have said some untoward things to get an idea across…I do apologize.

    I’ll go ahead and flatter myself by saying maybe my comment pissed you off enough to make you do that :D. You’re a badass…definitely 500 cal material there young lady.

  • He is no sex guru. He just found women and girls who hadn’t been pleasured before and exploited that.

    • No. He just got women that would lie to his face and flatter him that they’d “never had an orgasm before”. Bull shit! He’s just got such a weak ego that he needed to surround himself with people that would lie to flatter his fragile little self.

  • “he was able to get Sylvie to admit that many of the messages she sent to Raniere had heart emojis in them – and included what would, by any objective measure, be considered to be words of affection.”

    These text messages with heart emojis appear to be a win for Raniere.
    I hate to say it but many of Raniere’s sexual activities, as bizarre and perverse as they are, were done with consenting adults.
    Just read the past articles in the Frank Report where women at V Week were lined up to have sex with Raniere.
    Or Catherine Oxenberg’s book “Captive” where she describes how many women lined up to be French kissed by Raniere.

    These women have to ask themselves why they were so mesmerized by Raniere.

    • Raniere didn’t do it by himself, he was built up by his female underlings. In MLM, it’s called edification, building up the upline to a prospect so that by the time they meet them, they already think they are someone special. Raniere first learned that technique when he was in Amway and honed it with Consumers’ Buyline, and applied it to his sexual conquests as well.

    • —-Just read the past articles in the Frank Report where women at V Week were lined up to have sex with Raniere.

      misleading hyperbole. I don’t recall anything approaching this, and just second hand rumors of “some” sex.

  • Good God, she really had her first orgasm being licked by Keith- Wow. Women are suppressed. I could’ve given her hundreds before that.

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.” Parlato was also 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 premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

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