Mark Vicente is a sterling individual and a brave man for bearding the monster in his lair.
I have heard him compared with Luke Skywalker in his epic fight with Darth Vader – the student rising up against teacher – and the comparison is apt.
In Mark’s case, he became one of the leading forces against the Vanguard. Vicente was one of the few “but-for” causes of the Vanguard’s demise.
But for him – and a few others – the grotesque and insane Keith Alan Raniere would be branding women and blackmailing them into 10,000 “acts of care” and 1,000 nights of enforced and fearful “sexual tune-ups” where women [with collateral] tell him they had orgasms, perhaps to pacify the monster and stop the grotesque and flaccid one from invading their bodies with his diseased tongue.
Others like to talk big about their role in taking down the cult – but Mark is for real. He actually did something giant. Not only did he do this thing behind the scenes, he went out front and public by putting his name out on the line with the New York Times.
This was an incredible act of bravery. This was before there was an investigation into the devious Raniere. This was at a time when the ugly one, Keith Alan, that cross-eyed, squat, despicable, hairy, and malodorous monster, was riding high in Clifton Park, with the vicious and stupid Bronfman sisters’ money at his command and 100 slave women.
Shortly after I broke the branding story in June 2017 on the Frank Report [and Artvoice] – the New York Times was putting together – or trying to put together a story.
Barry Meier – that most thorough and spectacular wordsmith – a man who can in 1,000 words destroy a cult – was seeking to find people to go on the record. Naturally, I was willing. But who was I? Just an indicted guy – indicted by Bronfman lies – who wrote a salacious blog condemning Raniere and with every justification to get back at them – maybe with lies.
What proof was there that this insane story was true? Meier needed other people on the record to write a story about the secretive group that branded women.
Now you all know the wealthy Bronfmans’ propensity to litigate. You must realize that the New York Times has to survive on its credibility and, if you put these two facts together, you will realize how hard it was for the Times to actually publish this story – and the only way it was ever going to be published is with ample sources on the record and complete vetting.
So who was going on the record? Almost no one. The only woman who was branded – and this was bravery if ever there was bravery – who was willing to go on the record [and actually show the world the brand] was Sarah Edmondson. But I doubt she would have done that if Mark had not been there first, willing to go on the record – putting himself on the line.
Mark had his picture taken – him and Bonnie, his wife – for the New York Times. He was then and there declaring war on Raniere.
And, again – let me remind you – there was no investigation by law enforcement. He was far more likely to be investigated himself by law enforcement in the Northern District of New York. Keith and the witch-like Clare Bronfman were almost sure to go and file some false criminal complaint against him.
Clare Bronfman, from artist Marie White’s “Round the Branding Table.”
This is the photograph that appeared in the New York Times of Mark Vicente and his wife Bonnie Piesse. You see him now on the witness stand and think that someone just magically called him up there from out of thin air – from a large contingent of victims.
No. He started this thing.
Keith Raniere cheated him and cheated women and Mark, brave defender, took up the fight. Without him, this fight might have had a far different outcome.
You must also know that it was David against Goliath. A poor man – a talented man, yes – but poor against the incredibly wealthy Raniere. [Don’t be fooled by Raniere’s bluff of being a renunciate. That he has no assets. He was rich. He had all the money and women doing for him what the wealthiest men could only envy. You tell me where a guy could have two heiresses spend millions on him at the drop of a hat – on whims and caprice, on vengeance and foolery – and lose it all and never care – and he did not even have to do the accounting. And more: He had 100 female servants, many of whom would drop everything at his call – just to be with him. They would fight to do his laundry. They would compete to run his errands. Or get him food. Or spread their legs for him.]
The High Rank of Nxivm: Nancy Salzman [standing] Mark Vicente, Alex Betancourt, Karen Unterreiner, Clare Bronfman, Lauren Salzman, and Emiliano Salinas – all wearing their sashes indicating rank. And Mark had no money; he had a wife and mother. They had all been working for Raniere for years so none of them had any money. He was a former student – a man who used to love Raniere – or not Raniere really – but what he thought Raniere was. He loved the ideal that Raniere pretended to be and this dead-broke man went up against the Bronfman fortune and the selfish one’s hatred and desire for vengeance. He went up disillusioned and broke.
He did not know where he would get money to pay the rent. His income was gone. He could hardly get a job somewhere in his field – filmmaking. Or even life coaching. He was shattered both by the fallacy and finances. [No one who ever worked for Raniere ever got money. You might have had it when you came in – but you would always have less when you got out – if you got out.]
Mark had no money when he left Nxivm. Yet Mark spoke on the record with the New York Times. And we all know what that story led to – the investigation into Keith Alan Raniere by the DOJ in the Eastern District of New York and six months later his arrest.
This is one way that Mark was critical to the takedown of Raniere. Even before that – when the Frank Report was the only source for news on the cult – people who were thinking of getting out – based on what I was reporting – during the summer of 2017 – the time in between my reports on the branding in early June and the report in the New York Times in October – during that interval – many people were undecided. Should they believe the Frank Report? Or the assurances of the noble Vanguard.
Everyone who knew Mark in Nxivm knew that he was an honest man and he cared about people. He was far closer to the ideal that Vanguard pretended to be than Vanguard himself – who was actually the antithesis of everything he claimed for himself.
Nxivm members – and those on the fence – knew by Mark’s defection that the branding was real. He and Sarah Edmondson were able to assure Nxivm members from around the world that Raniere was branding women and, hence, he was not what he seemed [Raniere publicly denied having any role in the DOS ‘sorority’] and that, yes, the stories on Frank Report were true.
When it was more likely that law enforcement would do nothing to stop Raniere – when it was more likely that a whistleblower would be indicted rather than Raniere – Mark was on the front line.
Then, when we learned the blessed news that the US Attorney’s Office and the FBI were investigating Raniere – prompted by the story in the New York Times – Mark provided the feds with real evidence of Raniere’s crimes. Not talk, not blather. Mark is smart. Super smart. In fact, Mark is quite likely smarter than Vanguard. And he provided the feds with the best overview of the cult that intelligent agents and prosecutors could wish for. He understands how to deliver information in a concise and useful way.
There are all kinds of people who provide information or act as witnesses. Some of them are all over the place and it takes hours of careful vetting and interrogating and questioning to get at essential elements and winnow out useful information. Mark is not like that. He can explain things easily and in the language of the people he is speaking to. He was not all wrapped up in his victimization that he babbled.
Mark – I can well imagine – I was not there – and Mark never told me a single word about his interactions with the Feds – [and I never spoke to anyone from the DOJ] but I know it because this is the kind of man he is – he cut to the chase and I think he delivered in court too.
First of all, in court, he used his full name. For the world to know. He didn’t just use Mark. No. He came out like a lion. And I doubt anyone could have explained to the jury what a shit show Keith Raniere’s Nxivm was on the inside – regardless of how it appeared on the outside.
I don’t think anyone could have explained it better or shown it better – how an intelligent man could have been fooled – and that he was fooled – and how good Raniere was at fooling people.
And Mark even wept on the stand. He wept, maybe not for himself. But for the fact that so many people had suffered and that he – a good man – a man who strove to be noble and do noble things – had a hand in this thing that hurt so many and he did it unwittingly.
You don’t want to think you’re stupid. Not when you’re bright. You don’t want to think your judgment is ridiculously flawed and that you’re a born fool – but how do you avoid the nagging, haunting voice in your head that mocks you or chides you – ‘you did what? You followed a man who you believed was wonderfully good who was amazingly bad – and he fooled you into being his dupe – and you did it all with good intentions and yet aided in the harm of many?’
Talk about a cluster fuck. Talk about being grandly mistaken – making a blunder on a giant scale – and then going up on the stand – with your full name – with the worldwide media writing it all down – and then reading the mission statement you read aloud 1000 times with pride and hope – not a bad mission statement – not something evil in and of itself – and realizing that this thing you read had been devised by the man you loved and followed – for the sole purpose of ruining people – and gaining for himself – and that everything in the mission statement was meant as enslavement and not empowerment.
Imagine reading that before a jury and a judge and the world – and it hit him. He wept, not for himself, but for the mistake, for the humanity of our mistakes. That an intelligent and good man could be so wrong when he strove to be right. So he wept. And then he went on – in his own name – and told the truth about the monster.
I know that Mark did this because he was genuinely horrified at what had happened and how he had been part of an organization that was led by a criminal. I honestly believe Mark did not know about the criminal aspects. This is the great art of the monster. We must give him credit for his fabulous ability to deceive.
Charlie Manson might have gotten 100 kooks and displaced hippies to follow him and it lasted a few years.
But Keith Alan Raniere did something most wonderful – something unheard of – he got multiple hundreds of good people – [not just the wicked Bronfmans or Salzmans] but really good people to follow him and kept it up for 20 years. Some he corrupted, like Allison Mack, but some like Mark and Sarah Edmondson and really hundreds of others, he got them to stay and work for him and pay him – and they were never corrupted.
They – most Nxivm members – are about the kindest and best people you’d find anywhere and want to be around any time – and he never corrupted them – not really – he fooled them into thinking they were doing good.
Let’s praise Raniere. He could get intelligent and good people to gradually get sucked into his cult. Some he turned evil, some he got to commit bad acts slowly thinking it was not so bad – that the ends justified the means, and some he got them to work without even knowing he was rotten to the core, got them to think and believe and dedicate their lives to his cause, thinking the whole time it was a great cause, it was in the cause of humanity and that he was a great and good man.
This is what the monster could do. And it was Mark Vicente who found out, and, on the stand, he explained it to the jury – that no matter how the monster [or his lawyers] might try to trick you [and they can trick good people] – Keith Raniere is a monster.
In a contrast of light and shadow, with rational statements, bold moves, fighting fear, and holding back and then letting go of tears, Mark Vicente proved it.