By Dianne Lipson
Trial notes for the morning session of court, Wednesday May 15.
There was no ruling for the record on yesterday’s evidentiary matter concerning whether Kristin Keeffe will be required to testify as part of a trove of documents seized from Nancy Salzman’s house which the prosecution hopes to introduce through a law enforcement agent.
As for today – Mark Vicente continued his testimony through much of the morning. Cross examination did not start until around noon.
Mark testified about how he split from Raniere.
He began by telling about Sarah, only her first name was used. [Everyone knows – from New York Times readers to CBC listeners that this is Sarah Edmondson. While Frank Report is honoring the first name policy for most victims – including some rather well known victims – the case of Sarah Edmondson and Catherine Oxenberg are different. After all, Catherine wrote a book detailing the story and Sarah Edmondson starred in a CBC podcast and will appear in an HBO series – on the same topics discussed here.]
Vicente testified that Sarah was sent to try to talk some sense into and influence Mark’s wife, Bonnie, who had left NXIVM. Vicente himself was having doubts about Raniere and had a conversation with him.
Referring to something Raniere taught , Vicente said, “You could be a psychopath and say the same words.”
Keith said, “Yes, I could.”
Vicente suggested to Keith that it was time for Vicente to move on.
Keith said, “You are the person I’d like to take my place [the next Vanguard].”
Vicente told Keith he wasn’t interested in that.
Vicente said he had been trying to resign from the executive board for two years, but was held back from doing so because he was told it would be damaging to Nxivm.
Vicente began to be concerned that the secret society [DOS] might blow up. [That was prophetic].
During some of the testimony, Judge Nicholas Garaufis told the jury not to worry about the truth of what Vicente was saying but that rather his state of mind.
Vicente brought up to Sarah his concerns that there was a secret society.
Sarah said if something like that existed, the person involved wouldn’t be able to talk about it.
This comment from Sarah didn’t register with Vicente right away.
Then in a discussion with Kayla, someone observed on Allison Mack’s computer that Mack pledged [collateral] that if she was ever to leave Raniere, she would give up any children she had and surrender all of her possessions to him.
Vicente finally asked himself the question he was terrified to ask: In Nxivm, you always have to edify the leader. If you don’t edify the leader, you’re dishonorable. Vicente was wondering if Keith was not the person he thought he was.
What if Keith is the exact opposite of the way he presents himself? What if he’s evil? What if this is a mask?
Vicente thought that maybe the education is okay. He was trying to protect the image he had of Raniere. But he started to wonder what if none of this is what he thought it was?
He had conversations with Keith about morality. Keith said to him that he should not have such an attachment to morality.
Vicente liked the fact that he had an attachment to morality, especially coming from apartheid South Africa. Vicente felt that Keith was trying to get him to give up his morality.
Vicente started to wonder if there was a greater morality he didn’t know about that Raniere understood but then realized that this was wrong and that “morality is morality.”
Vicente became more concerned [he had an intuition] that something was deeply wrong and something really bad was going on in Nxivm.
Raniere presented the concept that intuition is a problem. Intuition was something called viscera.
If it was visceral, it was not based on data. So you had to override it.
Vicente wondered “What if there’s something good about instinct?”
He learned that two women in an intensive had been asked to enroll in a secret society.
Vicente warned them to keep away.
He had another conversation with Sarah on the secret society.
Sarah said again that if someone was involved in a secret society of this sort, they couldn’t say anything about it. Vicente realized what he was hearing and said, “Sarah, have you been invited to be in this thing?”
Sarah got quiet. Then admitted she was a part of it.
Vicente said “get out.”
Sarah said “I can’t, they have too much on me.”
Vicente said, “What do they have on you?
Sarah described her collateral.
Vicente said, “You’re involved in something illegal; this could be trafficking.”
Vicente pressed her.
Sarah admitted she had been branded.
Vicente said the “walls came down” describing his state of mind.
He noted that Sarah was exhausted; she was on permanent standby [readiness drills].
She was hiding all this from her husband [Anthony Ames]. She couldn’t leave. She had to enroll other woman. She felt trapped. She had a lack of sleep.
Sarah admitted she did have a master. Her master was Lauren Salzman. And Sarah did make reference to a master slave relationship.
Then Sarah showed Vicente an image of the brand, which was displayed on the screen on the courthouse.
Vicente discussed with Sarah about leaving the secret society and said “you must leave, you must get out, you must make peace with your collateral being released. This would be better than being trapped.”
Sarah was also concerned about written material [more collateral] where she had to tell lies about other people.
A few days later, Vicente sent three letters of resignation, one to the executive board, one to SOP and one to the “Greens” [the members of Nxivm who held a green sash – about a dozen members].
Vicente realized he might put his wife and mother in danger. So in the letters, he gave as the reason for resigning that he wanted to work on his career [Vicente is a filmmaker].
That was half true, but he didn’t want to set off alarm bells. He didn’t discuss anything about the slave society.
He was worried also and asked Clare Bronfman to revoke his access to the Nxivm computer system because he was concerned he could be charged with illegally accessing something there [as others had been charged through Clare Bronfman’s perjury.]
Vicente went to Catherine – no last name – [Oxenberg] to share his concerns about Catherine’s daughter [India]. And to say that the daughter was in danger [for she was also a member of DOS and was branded.].
Vicente became aware that there was another branding ceremony coming up and he tried to make phone calls to try to persuade people not to go.
A woman named Jay was a participant in Nxivm and part of DOS. Jay is an actress and model. Jay said she was in possession of collateral of those in her slave pod.
Vicente sent this collateral [to Frank Parlato and Catherine Oxenberg- and then through an attorney] to the authorities. He also spoke with the FBI.
The collateral had been in a Dropbox account. In this Dropbox account was one file called brands. The second page of this file was titled “collateral” and the owner and creator of this page was Allison Mack.
The jury was shown pictures from the Dropbox. The public did not see them.
Vicente described the pictures of naked women in various graphic poses. Some women identified [first names only – were Danielle [Dr. Roberts] and Michelle [not Salzman].
Now going back to October 2012.
There is an audio of Keith talking about Society of Protectors. They were developing SOP at that point and discussing collateral.
Keith said if somebody defects, that is damaging. He only wants people to commit for life.
Keith said “When you know your word is good, collateral is trivial. When you don’t have your word, collateral is important.”
Keith said on the audio [paraphrasing] “At some point, you’re happy to give collateral. You want to give more. If you’re collateralized and you believe at the beginning collateralizing your word may be seen as negative and a burden but it becomes an honor to give collateral, to be collateralized is an honor to commit.”
Not giving collateral was a sign of weakness, Keith said. Giving collateral was a sign of strength.
Vicente also said that Keith and Vicente were discussing a movie idea. The movie idea is that there’s a corporation, there’s a good guy in the corporation who has a mentor.
And the good guy is trying to figure out who is a bad person in the corporation who’s doing bad things, kind of ruining things. And the twist in this story is that it turns out it’s the mentor who was the bad guy. The mentor was the psychopath.
Vicente began to feel like this was Keith’s practical joke on him.
At last, cross examination began. Marc Agnifilo was cross-examining Vicente beginning about noon.
Agnifilo asked questions about the HBO series which Vicente is appearing in.
He asked Vicente about the money he made.
Vicente explained that before HBO was conceived of, he started documenting himself [via film] because he was afraid of being framed by Nxivm but it wasn’t his initial intention for the documentation to be in a movie.
Vicente [knowing the Bronfman-Raniere crime org. propensity to get people in trouble] was afraid of ending up in prison himself.
Vicente said, he made in 2017, as much as $8,000 in a month and as little as $2,000.
We will have a lot more on cross examination in our evening report on the trial which will cover the events of this afternoon.