MK10ART's portrait of Marc Agnifilo

Marc Agnifilo is pretty good

It is spectacular to see Keith Alan Raniere finally at trial. He sat at the defense table between Paul DerOhanesian [on his right] and Marc Aginfilo [on his left] looking like a little schoolboy.

 

MK10ART’s lovely painting of Keith Alan Raniere – who, of course, claims he is being framed.

Raniere was animated, often taking notes, leaning forward, sitting back. He wears no suit and tie, but rather a cardigan. On Monday, it was grey, on Tuesday, blue. He looked quite alert, never smiling and not frowning either.  Just eager and attentive like a boy on his first day at school.

He was often seen leaning sideways to whisper something in the ear of his attorney, DerOhanesian – and, less frequently, to Agnifilo. Whispering very softly so as not to interrupt the proceedings.

Behind him in chairs against the wall behind the defense table sat two men in plainclothes. My guess is that they are US marshals, assigned to watch him and ensure that he does not make a break for the door or the judge or a witness. One final last act of desperation for a ruined Vanguard.

At trial, Agnifilo is doing all the talking for the defense so far. He is good. A lot of people have been critical of him but I think he is very good.

He gave his opening statement to the jury and, from what I could tell, it was spontaneous. He had no notes. He paced a little, stopped and he spoke. And it is hard to tell what impression he was making on the jury. I would think it was reasonably good considering he has such an odious client.

Tanya Hajjar’s opening statement for the prosecution was much shorter – less than half as long – and she went right to the sex – the manipulating criminal pervert that Raniere is. Hers was a more accurate description of the monster.

Agnifilo tried to undo that and spoke all over the place – trying to reduce the “ick” factor – of which with Raniere there is just about as much as anyone can imagine.  Agnifilo quoted Churchill and Atticus Finch; he spoke of morality and law as not one and the same.

He said he was going to fight to prove Keith’s good faith. His lack of criminal intent.

And he said he was going to examine how people changed their minds – they gave consent to what they now complain of.  That people – women too – had to take personal responsibility.

Something [i.e. Nxivm/DOS] could have been wonderful and then be all evil because you changed your mind  – but you initially gave consent.

If you gave up control  – you consented to it – and the man did what he was asked to do – then you cannot come back later and say you withdraw your consent – and he was criminal – for controlling you when you asked to be controlled – you asked to be a slave. So you could get better inside. Be badass.

The women asked for Raniere to control them. They gave their collateral voluntarily.  This is Agnifilo’s argument.

He made it pretty well and while I can’t agree with him – for Raniere tricked women into consent – and coerced them – and used women to trick women – and coerce them – I have to admit Agnifilo is excellent.

He is not a fool. Forget that he has probably billed and been paid more than $1 million dollars for his work – he is not a fool. He acts sometimes a little like a bumbler – a little like the character of Columbo – not coming down hard – not offensive, quick to apologize as he makes his points, thoroughly and methodically.

He was good with Sylvie’s cross-examination. Slowly – not rude but dogged and determined. He presented text after text she sent to Raniere – texts that seemed to show she wanted to be under Raniere.  He had her read them and asked her why she wrote what she did – in praise of Raniere.

And he kept hammering away at how she consented to do the ugly things she said she was forced to do. Sending naked pictures, not sleeping with her husband, overtraining. And sending texts to Raniere saying she “dreamed of him last night” or she was so glad he was in her life.

Sylvie turned it around pretty good when she said, as a DOS slave, she was required to give tribute – but it is hard to say if there was reasonable doubt about coercion. It is not illegal to give naked pictures. Or train six hours per day – as Raniere commanded.

I doubt it will be enough. Not with Sylvie – and not with the parade of witnesses to come.

I can’t imagine Agnifilo can overcome the sheer weight of evidence against Raniere.  But that doesn’t mean he isn’t good. He has a winning way. The jury might like him – much more than Raniere.

This was the hand Agnifilo was dealt. So he brings up Atticus Finch and “personal responsibility” and in that early, first impression phase of communicating with the jury – the opening statement – he makes a stab at inspiration – at normalcy – at how he fights for a man [like you would want to fight] for a man of good faith [even if he’s different, or even kinky] and to keep his freedom – even if morally we can’t quite agree – with polyamory, and abortions and even branding – [but if the men can do it – why can’t women?].

Overall, Agnifilo is pretty good, and Raniere, like any other defendant, has the right to a good attorney.

It won’t avail him much. He is likely to be convicted on all counts and spend the rest of his life in prison. But that’s not Agnifilo’s fault.  Raniere brought himself to where he sits today.

Sitting there at the defense table, trying to act like a little, innocent boy – hour after hour – while attorneys and witnesses talk about him – just him. He is the sole topic of this trial; its only star.  He is The Vanguard.

One of the best things Sylvie said about Raniere is that, when he made his public statement that he had nothing to do with DOS – that it was a women’s sorority that he barely knew about, she said she thought it was an act of cowardice, for she knew he was her Grandmaster and was preeminent in every part of DOS.

Raniere’s whole life has been one long, continuous act of cowardice – but that, all by itself, is not a crime. What this trial is about is marshaling a few of his many crimes – and through evidence try to persuade 12 people that there is no reasonable doubt that he committed these crimes: racketeering, sex trafficking, and forced labor.

He did that. Even if he got texts from frightened women telling him how wonderful he is – along with naked pictures from women who hated sending them but felt they had to.

And now he is going to pay.  And all the lawyers in the world – even the best, like Marc Agnifilo – aren’t going to save him.

Marc Agnifilo leaves court on May 8, 2019. Photo by Village Dianne

 

About the author

Frank Parlato

Frank Parlato is the founder of the FrankReport, publisher and editor-in-chief of Artvoice, The Niagara Falls Reporter, Front Page and the South Buffalo News.

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  • How can any prove someone else’s intent? Agnifilo is just making up what Raniere’s intent was and trying to sell it to the jury. He’s have to crawl into the mind of Raniere and walk at least a couple miles in his skin to really know his intent.

    Every jury member would have to do the same to truly understand what Raniere’s intent was.

    If the DOJ didn’t have solid proof of crimes Raniere committed Raniere would be a free man today. Agnifilo is going to have to work harder than he is go prove that Raniere was “just trying to empower” people

  • Agnifilo is smart going for the intent behind the crimes rather than focusing on the crimes themselves. The prosecution is doing a very good job reining all that charming stuff in and returning the jury to the real reason they and Keith are there. He is a monstrous criminal.

  • The two men are also there to protect Raniere, in case one of the court attendees goes after him. Not that anyone hates his guts so much that they would do such a thing….

  • “A little like the character of Columbo” but nothing even close to Columbo’s character.

    Columbo would have been ice cold with his lazy eye dead-focused on this one.

    This would be a good one for that era when his wife bought him that fancy trench coat lol XD

  • If ANY DOS slave actually gave prior consent to being branded, I’m pretty damn sure that they would have withdrawn their consent when there was no anaesthesia and the pain started. But they then had no choice because they were being held down.

  • I should trot out Marc Agnifilo’s so-called legal “arguments” the next time I am stopped by a police officer for speeding.

    “Mr. Police Officer, I didn’t INTEND to commit an act of speeding, it was entirely accidental. Therefore, I am exempt from receiving a speeding ticket”.

    Are the legal arguments that this so-called lawyer spouting off to the jury something that is actually being taught in law schools today?

    • Intention is critical in this case because the prosecution is asserting victimhood. Your choosing to speed was a result of your own agency. Keith’s agency is being attacked in the name of victimhood; that is what Agnifilo is helping the jury to understand.

      • Keith’s agency is being ‘attacked’ because Keith’s agency in this context (courthouse, having been arrested for v.ugly crimes, in which many were made victims, as per evidence revealed to a jury etc.) is criminal.

        Good luck with your unilateral redefinition of Morality, Ethics, Physics, oh, and of course, Law.

  • I was thinking that Raniere’s sweater outfits were intended to make him look like a professor, but after reading this I wonder if the intended impression isn’t more that of a philosopher. Hopefully the jury won’t be fooled. I’m actually surprised that he didn’t clean up his look more when he was leading NXIVM – it was very professional, and probably put some potential customers off, though of course he was just revealing his actual grungy nature and that may have warned some more perceptive people off from wasting their money or even more of their lives.

    His claim that “you cannot come back later and say you withdraw your consent” is actually one of the illegitimate points that I think Raniere tried to use as a tool of manipulation and enslavement, and is most vulnerable to be exposed on. If that were true, indentured servitude would still be allowed – there are good reasons it was abolished, and that society and law are now going after more subtle forms of human trafficking and bondage, as well. That even goes against the norms of consensual BDSM among adults, another comparison Raniere’s lawyers have tried to make that will also fall apart scrutiny.

    And as I noted in a response to another comment, it’s interesting that Agnofilo seems to be wielding some of the same tools of influence as Raniere did, including “re-framing” which is a technique in NLP.

    • ..although “reframing” is just a lawyer’s job in any case for some of these issues – it is all about persuasion and showing people the other side of things.

    • Who is running the show? Raniere knows how to exploit others by concentrating on individual weak spots. This is sociopathic radar at work.. Who knows what Agnifilo believes and doesn’t believe about his client? Agnifilo already moved for a mistrial day one of the trial, and this is Raniere’s (and Bronfman’s) method of doing business. It depends on how endlessly Bronfman’s money supply is going to be used to “attack and never defend.” The struggle to victim-blame and to elevate Raniere to some kind of altruistic “wiseguy” is nauseating.

      Is Agnifilo doing a good job? Maybe it would be more realistic if he wore a court jester’s cap to court.

      • Raniere never exploited anyone. People consented to participate in organizations that had certain rituals and behaviors that are acceptable. Cultures across our globe are no different. I don’t want to perform painful body alterations, but that is normal in many cultures. I don’t want to go to temple and chant things that dead people made up. Some people do. I make my own decisions and am accountable for them. If I find out new information that troubles me, I can walk away.

        • Glib nonsense. Sadly for you, we are here at this point because Raniere and his cohorts committed crimes for which they are being held accountable. Your other-worldly reasoning is cult-like, but, i guess, under the circs, to be expected.

    • The defense chose the clothing to make him appear acceptable to the range of jurors.
      The jurors are likely a range from poor to very well off so the defense wants him to appear nice to both groups.
      If you were on the jury you may think holy cow that could be me (except for all the bad things the prosecution are saying).

    • The point behind “coming back later” is legitimate. Picture two people having sex. Close to orgasm, the person on the bottom says, “Hold on, who are you thinking of? Are you thinking of me?” The person on the top hesitates. The person on the bottom says, “Okay stop, I am disgusted you would think of someone else.”

      Is it rape if the person on top pulls out instantly? In 1 second? 2 seconds? 5 minutes later? Where do you draw the line between withdrawing consent for an activity already in motion?

      Sex, and tattoos and branding, are difficult to stop once permission has been granted.

      • —Sex, and tattoos and branding, are difficult to stop once permission has been granted.

        No they’re not. NOT AT ALL.

        The point of no return in orgasm is since unconscious physiology has taken over.

        Sex is not. Tattoo and branding aren’t at all.

  • I wonder what would happen if Raniere were to get acquitted, but Bronfman ends up going to prison for a year or two? Would Bronfman rejoin her vanguard, or would she seek revenge on him? And what would the Salzmans do?

    • If Raniere is somehow able to get acquitted the five that plead would regret their plea.

      The defense attorney was trying to get the best deal they could for the client, they seem to have done a very good job.

      Way too risky to go to trial, they got good deals, two or three years in prison then on with their life, like Martha Stewart.

      It may be like bait and catch, at some point they should have come to their senses and run like hell.

      Prison may help them to be better people, what they did was evil, some time to think, reflect and be better.

      • The people accused, and the people featured on this website, have had their lives permanently stopped by the media attention. People have been threatened and attacked (including physically) as a result of Frank Report and general media coverage vilifying anyone associated with NXIVM. So, while it is easy for all of you “armchair lawyers” and “peanut gallery” residents on Frank Report to say “too risky to go to trial”, what in actuality is happening is that people’s real lives are being threatened and stopped _before a verdict is even turned in_. This is trial by media – Keith has been in prison over a year with no trial. Regardless of how you feel about branding or sexual morals, really stop and think if that is justice.

        • It is Justice. We want this NXIVM Cult-life to be ‘permanently stopped by media-attention’ AND the Law. The verdict when it comes will reflect the scope of NXIVM crimes, and punish the Agents of those crimes.

          Given Bronfman’s sweetheart deal, all the other soft pleadings, I’d say you were all being treated very lightly, too lightly! I hope some recompense for all this generosity to agents of chaos, comes in sentencing.

          Cheer-up! Go get a turmeric latte and pray.

  • The descriptions of DOS remind me of a story a friend told me about someone who answered an ad in a magazine for a cockroach trap that was guaranteed 100% to kill cockroaches. It cost 19.99. If it didn’t kill cockroaches 100% of the time, money was absolutely refunded.

    So they ordered it and about 3 weeks later a package arrived. Upon opening the parcel they found two pieces of 2×4 attached with a hinge and a black circle was drawn on on piece of wood with the words: “place cockroach on dot and slam shut quickly!”

    I’m pretty sure that the women who joined DOS with the belief they were going to be empowered, were not expecting a cockroach trap. But I think that is what they ended up with

    • And collateral was equivalent to the fine print saying “that by accepting this device you agree to receive one further device every month, until you can prove the device doesn’t work”.

    • The majority of women who were in DOS got a lot out of it and are glad they joined. What you see portrayed in the media is a small minority portion of women who amped up entitlement and decided to imagine they were victims of their own choices.

      • Look forward to that ‘Majority”s evidence – How will they ever fit so many happy contented women in the courthouse?

  • Maybe this is one of those ‘you had to be there’ situations. I read the transcript of Agnifilo’s opening statement. It was word salad at best and largely non-sensible. I really tried to read it all but just couldn’t. You keep saying Agnifilo is good, so it must be his acting because the script was incomprehensible.

    • Same here. I gained the impression that all the defence has is theatrics, powers of persuasion, they must do their best to create doubt concerning R’s illegality, reframing certain illegal acts as merely morally reprehensible or leastways something the courts don’t have jurisdiction for, is all they got. Is saying ‘pretty good’ the same as saying, ‘quite good’? As we do this side of the pond?

  • Frank

    You have captured things pretty well here. Marc has re-framed the conversation and is attempting to bring some understandable essence to Raniere’s behavior. He’s re-framing it within the context of the grand existential themes of 20th century Western Civilization: personal responsibility and personal freedom.

    Also, you are correct that he recognizes the hand he’s been dealt. He’s fighting a mountain of evidence and a mountain of witnesses. Climbing Everest with little equipment except one’s wits is almost impossible. “Frankly”, he’s depressed about it but he fights on. If I were in his place I’d suggest he keep doing what he’s doing: stay patient and calm, keep Raniere’s body language calm, continue to bring up discrepancies in witness testimony, paint Rainiere as someone with good intent to help others despite discrepancies in his moral behavior and occasionally circle back to the foundations of Western Civilization and the basis for law within our culture; responsibility, consent, freedom and intent.

    Marc’s job would be easier to present if he were a woman but I’m not sure about his partner, Teny Geragos readiness to take on this trial. She’s a very attractive and seductive presence however I don’t know her well enough to know if she has the combination of empathy, heart and strength to cross examine these witnesses. And, get them to admit they made the choice to follow Raniere not because of blackmail rather because they chose to on their own accord. If she were able to, she could be a force.

    • Personal responsibility and freedom isn’t an open ticket to be deceived. That’s why there are laws against fraud.

      Words have meaning. If you are figuratively or literally sold something because you’ve convinced to believe in what it entails, then what you reasonably expect to receive should be concordant with the product or service offered or the meaning of the term. If it doesn’t meet such expectations, then you’ve effectively been cheated.

    • Keith sees how he created his situation. That is why he is not angry. That is why he is calm. It is not a show. It is truth. Keith operates from a place of ethics – he cares deeply for everyone in his life, and owns his choices and opinions. Many people share them, many do not. He doesn’t force his view of the world on others, including all who are testifying against him. In fact, he honors all people regardless of your position.

  • Frank

    You have captured things pretty well here. Marc has re-framed the conversation and is attempting to bring some understandable essence to Raniere’s behavior. He’s re-framing it within the context of the grand existential themes of 20th-century Western Civilization: personal responsibility and personal freedom.

    Also, you are correct that he recognizes the hand he’s been dealt. He’s fighting a mountain of evidence and a mountain of witnesses. Climbing Everest with little equipment except one’s wits is almost impossible. “Frankly”, he’s depressed about it but he fights on. If I were in his place I’d suggest he keep doing what he’s doing: stay patient and calm, keep Raniere’s body language calm, continue to bring up discrepancies in witness testimony, paint Raniere as someone with good intent to help others despite discrepancies in his moral behavior and occasionally circle back to the foundations of Western Civilization and the basis for law within our culture; responsibility, consent, freedom and intent.

    Marc’s job would be easier to present if he were a woman but I’m not sure whether his partner, Teny Geragos, is ready to take on this trial. She’s a very attractive and seductive presence; however, I don’t know her well enough to know if she has the combination of empathy, heart and strength to cross-examine these witnesses. And, get them to admit they made the choice to follow Raniere not because of blackmail, rather because they chose to on their own accord. If she were able to, she could be a force.

    • I think you’re right about the “re-framing” – a term even used in NLP. What struck me was that, ironically, Agnofilo is trying to ply some of the same tricks of influence, and changing peoples’ perspectives, that Raniere himself used.

      I think that ultimately some of the themes of 20th century Western civilization will work against him and his client, particularly natural law and human rights, with the growing recognition that persons cannot be owned, indentured, trafficked or or controlled in a truly free society.

      • Frank

        You bring up 2 good points: Marc’s use of NLP and the rights of the inalienable rights of the individual to freedom of expression..

        Slavery and forced servitude officially ended in 1863.

        • Slavery is restricting a person’s ownership of the results of their own effort. No such act was ever committed by Keith.

          • Viva Executive Success!!! Which highly successful Nxivm business did you crawl out from?
            I’d say contracting to hand over your own house deeds, children, earnings, spouses in return for
            grace or punishment now and in the hereafter is slavery!

    • I think most people do not understand responsibility or freedom. Keith is not depressed – he sees his situation as unfair (it is) and non-ethical (it is) and unjust (it is). If you think through those concepts, you will see that Keith is fighting for his life and his character, which has been assassinated by the media including Frank Report in a way that cannot be undone or repaired.

      • Kieth Raniere has an appalling, criminally dangerous character. He is also a prize idiot, yeah? definitely several sandwiches short of a picnic. Most people understand responsibility and freedom and exercise that without setting up cults to enslave others for their own benefit. As an obvious cult member yourself, you will have problems understanding this. YOU are not ‘Most People’ – WE are.

    • Yolanda:
      It’s so good to hear from you.
      I agree that Marc Agnifilo is earning his fees.
      Yolanda, could you please help me with my Spanish.
      My Spanish is a tad rusty.
      What is the Spanish word for lawyer?
      And the Mexican PAN party, what do the initials P.A.N. stand for?
      And what does the word Maricon mean in Mexican slang and why should you never call a Mexican man a Maricon?

      Oh, and by the way, Nicki, I mean Yolanda, how is the weather in Albany?
      In Chicago it is cloudy with frequent rain.

  • Does anyone know if the prosecution brought up in its opening statement the money laundering, tax evasion, and identity theft of a dead woman?

    I am mentioning the other charges because those charges I just mentioned have the best chance of sticking, and the jury agreeing with the prosecution that Raniere is guilty of felonies under RICO.

    If the prosecution bases its case on DOS one or more of the jury members may feel that the DOS members acted out of free will and not coercion.

    • The prosecution seems be in the phase of showing Raniere and the organization are evil.
      At some point they will switch from this to providing evidence of the crimes committed.
      The strategy may be to show he is evil first then evidence he is also a criminal, linking the two together.

      • I think the prosecution believes it has a solid case and is using the media to build momentum. The case has holes everywhere, as will be born out by cross-examination, and Keith will be found not guilty. I assure you that will be the outcome.

        • All the prosecution needs is the hard evidence provided by, created by, the agents of said nxium crimes.
          Good luck with the blame-game. the victim-hood. The broken dream.

  • “Behind him in chairs against the wall behind the defense table sat two men in plainclothes.”
    Perhaps these are nxivm groupies waiting for a break in the proceedings to get an autograph from the leader.
    On with the show …

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