By Dianne Lipson
Talk about backfire.
Lauren Salzman, under tough cross-examination by Keith Raniere’s high-priced defense attorney, Marc Agnifilo, burst into an uncontrollable sobbing fit as she spoke about hers and Raniere’s torture of Daniela, the Mexican woman confined to a room for nearly two years.
Daniela’s crime – which has not been revealed to the jury in evidence yet – is that she had the audacity to not to want to be a member of Keith’s harem, and sharing him with 20 other women, including her two sisters. Instead, she wanted to have a boyfriend of her own.
This is expected to come out as evidence when Daniela herself testifies. But today, under cross-examination by Agnifilo, Lauren had what one could describe as a complete meltdown.
More on that later.
Lauren was wearing a black cardigan and a white blouse. And the morning began with the final hour or so of her direct examination.
She is the witness being used by the prosecution to explain an audio recording of a video of the DOS leaders including Keith Raniere.
This audio included discussion about branding – and confirmed that the first line slaves were branded – but not by Dr. Danielle Roberts. Evidently, they brought in somebody who was a tattoo and scarification expert, a person who did this for a living. He was to teach them how to do it so that DOS leaders could do the branding themselves. Keith wanted a videotape of this expert branding teacher so they could do the branding themselves – by watching the video.
There was also discussion about something called “The Game”, a sort of Truth or Dare game to be used to sort out who might be suitable for DOS. The Game was employed by a person asking another person a series of questions [as a game] in order to asses how open someone is to responding about things that might be quite personal.
Keith is heard asking about this questionnaire for The Game, which is in effect, a screening process for DOS.
Questions like: What would you do for $1,000? What would you do for $10,000? Would you go out naked in broad daylight? How much would it take for you to do that? Challenges like that. How much for running outside naked and then running back in? In broad daylight. Maybe two people should do it. Maybe do it holding hands.
Then there was more on Camilia and her entry into the inner circle. It was decided that Daniela Padilla [not the Daniella confined to a room, but the Daniella who bought the sex toys] should talk to Camilia and tell her what the issues were about her joining DOS. So Keith got what he wanted with Camilia.
Keith is heard saying that DOS members could change the presidential election in four years.
There was a discussion about trying to enroll a woman named Ceci. Keith says she’s a good one to enroll because she’s powerful. Lauren testified that the reason she said that was because Ceci’s father used to be president of a country.
[I believe we are talking about Cecilia Salinas, the daughter of former Mexican president Carlos Salinas.]
There was a discussion about Rosa Laura Junco going to Mexico to secure a lot of money in collateral from the potential enrollee. Rosa Laura is the daughter of the world-famous journalist and media magnate Alejandro Junco [who has steadfastly opposed his daughter’s participation in DOS and tried to rescue her.]
Keith goes on to say that during the actual branding, it should be done in an orderly fashion, and have certain rituals.
After each of some seven lines in the brand, something should be said after each [painful] stroke and that the woman should be held down on the table in a manner like they were a human sacrifice.
Lauren testified that that’s the way all her slaves were branded. Although the first line slaves [who weren’t branded by Dr. Danielle Roberts] were not nude.
The subsequent slaves were all branded nude.
Keith wanted that, at all branding ceremonies, the slaves should be recorded asking to be branded.
The person should say “Please brand me, it would be an honor. It’s how I want it. It’s an honor I want to wear for the rest of my life.”
There was further discussion about what these women should say as they’re actually being branded.
Things like “Pain is how we know how much we love”.
“We know the depth of our lives through pain.”
“Although my body may be bruised or burned or tortured, my love is stronger”.
“Like the love of the purest beings who walked the earth.”
“Love above life itself.”
Lauren said some of these words became part of the branding ceremony.
Then we get to the cross-examination.
Agnifilo started out by going over some of what Lauren had testified to without incident and probably scored a point or two to discredit her as a witness.
But he may have lost the entire round in one badly-timed question.
He was trying to prompt her to admit that she thought Keith helped people to aspire to excellence.
And that Raniere gave her an understanding about self-reliance.
And he kept asking whether she knew about all the other women – and whether Keith was, in fact, her mentor and advisor.
And whether she had a sexual relationship at one time with Pam.
What seemed to come out of this is Lauren thought that Keith’s lovers were a selective and special group.
Lauren agreed to be monogamous but did not expect Keith to do the same.
Agnfilo asked “Why did you choose this?
Lauren said “I admired him. I admired Keith. Keith was going to make my life better. He was a humanitarian. We could learn to be compassionate, to learn to care for each other.”
Agnifilo asked if he was ever sexually aggressive with her – and she said that except for one time with Dawn Morrison – when Keith tried to forcibly pull down Lauren’s pants, he was not.
[Lauren did admit that when she said “No” firmly, Keith stopped trying to take her pants off.]
Agnifilo was trying to elicit that Keith was not aggressive but it didn’t come out. It didn’t come off too well.
Lauren fought back at times and was able to say that Keith often openly touched woman’s breasts in front of other women and that was so – as Keith explained – these women could “work on their issues.”
Lauren also did not help the defense much when she said that when Barbara Jeske was dying, Keith left her truly alone. He hadn’t visited her much. Lauren was able to say, “I was afraid in the end I would die alone and he wouldn’t visit me either.”
But Agnifilo said, “But you didn’t leave?” And Lauren said no.
Lauren also admitted that she knew Keith had a sexual relationship with her mother. But she didn’t say when she found out about it.
It also came out that Rosa Laura was the only woman in the inner circle that didn’t sleep with Keith.
Agnifilo asked if Lauren’s position in Nxivm was linked to her having sex with Keith. She said that women who didn’t have sex with Keith were treated differently and she talked about how Mariana jumped in stripe levels even though she didn’t seem to know very much.
Then came the meltdown.
Agnifilo was trying to paint Daniela as a less than perfect person. She was accused by Kristin of stealing money, thousands of dollars – and that she did damaging things to her family.
And that Daniela willingly went in the room and was determined to stay in the room, and suggested consequences for herself for things that she herself did. The consequences had been staying in the room even longer.
Lauren herself at the time accused Daniela of acting in a bad way.
Basically, Agnfilo was saying, “You know, this is how you felt at the time and that’s what you did.”
He wanted to know if Lauren ever told Keith to let Daniela out of the room. Lauren admitted she hadn’t because she couldn’t. She said she avoided the whole issue. She couldn’t handle any aspect of thinking that this punishment might not be right.
Agnifilo then brought out the fact that the entire family supported her punishment of being in the room.
There’s an email chain where the father accuses Daniela of stealing money from him and hacking into his Facebook account.
And then when they took her back to Mexico, the father did not completely abandon her. His accountant came to escort her which showed that he cared about her.
And Agnifilo pressed on and on – about Daniela playing games and stuff.
And then finally at one point, the lawyer miscalculated.
And in response to one of his questions to show how bad Daniela really was, Lauren completely broke down sobbing, saying “I did a lot of shitty things in my 20s, but I got my life together.”
Lauren was crying so badly that some of what she said unintelligible but what came out was that Lauren – didn’t think Danny’s punishment rose to the level of being locked in a room for two years and only getting $128 in Mexico.
Daniela was a young person; young people make mistakes. This is way too much of a consequence for her.
And Lauren was sobbing because of what she did to Daniela. And saying that it wasn’t right. That Daniela did nothing to deserve this and even the crazy things Lauren did when she was in her 20s did not deserve that kind of punishment.
“This is what I understand now,” Lauren said amid tears and crying that she fought to control but did not.
No, it didn’t go over too well for Agnifilo.
He had to wait for her to compose herself
Then Lauren said that of all the game playing they were accusing Daniela of doing, Daniela did apologize for everything she supposedly did. But she always got shut down.
Lauren was able to like hold her own and Agnifilo blundered badly when she broke down in tears.