A media representative attending the trial of Keith Raniere told me, “Daniela was amazing, amazing on the stand. I was impressed because she was so badly hurt but seems strong. You could tell she was enjoying telling the world about what an asshole KR is.”
Another observer, who knows the Nxivm case intimately, said, “Dani captivated the entire court… And there is so much more. So fucking heartbreaking. I’m glad she is getting this chance to speak the truth, and that Raniere has to sit there while she does, knowing damn well everything she is saying is 100% accurate. He’s fucked and he knows it. And we’re only at the halfway mark, give or take.”
In our previous post, Dianne Lipson reported some of the testimony of Daniela [Dani] who is best known for having been confined in a room for nearly two years – because she wanted to date someone other than Raniere – and as opposed to being in his harem.
Dianne’s report is excellent and now to supplement this, we will give readers an extremely in-depth report of Dani’s testimony.
While reporting on her testimony, I will make editorial and explanatory comments. When I do, it will be [in bold and in brackets]. On occasion I will omit repetition and sometimes words such as ‘like” ‘ah’, ‘um’, ‘you know’ and etc, to improve the ease of reading and following the narrative.
I am abbreviating much of it [a full day of testimony is almost half a novel in length] and dividing it into several posts in parts. This is part 1.
I am also following the lead of Judge Nicholas Garaufis’ decision to use only Dani’s first name in court – and, thus, will only refer to her as Dani in my reports concerning this trial.
Dani’s first day of testimony was Thursday, May 23, 2019, She did not testify on Friday since court was not in session. Monday is a holiday and Dani is expected to resume direct testimony on Tuesday, May 28. It is not expected she will testify all day for the prosecution – and cross-examination is anticipated to begin probably on Tuesday afternoon.
Here is what happened Thursday.
Judge Garaufis is on the bench. Moira Penza, Tanya Hajjar, and Mark Lesko appeared for the prosecution. Penza did the inquiry of Dani.
Appearing for the defendant, Keith Alan Raniere [AKA Vanguard AKA Grand Master AKA Master AKA Supreme Master] were Marc Agnifilo, Teny Geragos, Paul DerOhannesian, and Danielle Smith. Raniere was seated with them at the defense table.
After Dani was sworn in, Penza began her inquiry:
Q Good morning, Daniela.
A Good morning.
Q How old are you?
A I am 33 years old.
Q Where do you currently live?
A I live in Mexico.
Q When did you first become involved in NXIVM?
A In the year 2002.
Q How old were you then?
A I was 16.
Q For how long [were you involved in Nxivm]?
A About ten years. [August 2002 through March of 2012]
Q During that time, did you primarily live in the Clifton Park, New York, area?
A Yes, I did.
[Dani names her family members: “My father is Hector, my mother Ariana, my older sister Marianna, my little brother Hector Adrian, and my baby sister Camilla.” She later affirms that every member of her immediate family was connected to NXIVM/ Raniere].
Q Are you familiar with someone named Keith Raniere?
A Yes, I am.
Q Do you see Keith Raniere in the courtroom today?
Q Can you identify him by an article of clothing he’s wearing?
A Yes. He’s wearing a dark red sweatshirt.
PENZA: May the record reflect the witness has identified the Defendant?
THE COURT: Yes.
Q At some point, did the Defendant begin having sex with you?
A Yes, he did.
Q How old were you?
A I was 18 years old.
Q Did he also have sex with your two sisters?
A Yes, he did.
[Dani describes how she grew up in a small town in the center of Mexico and that her father was in the business of selling tools to miners. He was successful. Her mother was a stay-at-home mom.]
Q How would you describe your childhood?
A My childhood was idyllic. It was perfect. We grew up in a relatively abundant financially setting. We went to private school, we had English lessons, tennis lessons. … growing up … my older sister [Mariana] was my best friend. I had a very good relationship with my parents…. It was a pretty wonderful way to grow up.
Q When you were a child, did you have dreams about what you would be when you grew up?
A Yes, I had many dreams.
Q Can you describe those for us?
A … I wanted to be a … marine biologist and I wanted to join Greenpeace. As I grew older … I wanted to be a scientist. I wanted to do research…. I wanted to study at Harvard…. to do …. preventive medicine research to help people.
Q Starting with elementary school, how were you as a student in school?
A I was a stellar student, if I may say for myself…. I really liked school… I had perfect grades… But I was also pretty dorky, pretty nerdy… I was fascinated by … learning. … I was very dedicated and I did really well.
[Dani described going to her first year of high school in Monterrey then being accepted into the Leysin American School in Switzerland on a scholarship. She first heard about Nixvm in her second semester of high school when her parents took an intensive in Monterrey.]
Q What did your parents tell you about the ESP course while they were taking it?
A … that it wasn’t just a self-help program… based in science and that the creator was a scientist and the smartest man in the world.
Q At some point, did you end up taking ESP, an ESP intensive yourself?
A I did.
Q How did that happen?
A … my father… gifted me a 16-day intensive. He said it was so good that he wanted me to take it, so that I could make the most out of my upcoming trip to Switzerland. [for her high school scholarship]
Q So did you end up taking the 16-day intensive?
Q So how old were you?
A I was 16.
Q And where did you take it?
A In Monterrey.
Q What do you remember from your first ESP intensive?
A I remember the head trainer … Lauren [Salzman].
Q Did you learn the defendant’s name while you were taking the intensive, Keith Raniere?
Q And how was the defendant spoken about during the 16-day intensive?
A He was spoken about a lot and … with… reverence.… they showed us his picture. … They… said he was the smartest man in the world.
Q Is that something you would hear a lot in the coming years?
A Yes … as a person who valued intellect the most … that, as a scientist and the smartest man in the world [it impressed her]. Other things were also said…. impressive … things: that he was unified. That he was a renunciate. … there was this aura of saintlihood…
Q What did unified mean?
A Unified in ESP terms, I believe, means you have no disintegrations…. in essence, like the endpoint, like the whole reason everybody is trying to go through all of these courses [for the] removal of disintegrations and so they can … reach this nirvana; this point where there’s nothing else to be fixed…. as I understood it, you no longer react to the external world. You don’t have any contradictions in the way that you feel… you think and you act.
Q Was anyone ever described to you as being unified?
A Just one person.
Q Who was that?
A Keith Raniere.
Q You said that he was described as a renunciate. Can you explain that?
A Yes. They spoke about how simple he was. How little he was focused on material things. How … he could eat pizza every day, he doesn’t care about… variety in his diet… He was simple, a little bit like a monk, a little bit better. [He was] past all these mundane things. That’s what I understood.
Q So can you explain what happened [in the intensive that impacted Dani]?
A Yes.… they used a whiteboard with … a marker and drew the world. Like a big circle.… they proceeded to … describe how every effort that humans… are making to better the world are futile…. essentially all of my dreams [to help the world] … trying to save the whales with Greenpeace… trying to cure cancer… trying to end world hunger… trying to achieve peace in the world… [this chart] demonstrated that all of these efforts are futile. We can’t help the world that way… because we’re just going to keep recreating all of these problems as long as we are disintegrated.
… So the only way to really help the world was through the ESP tech… it was presented that Keith Raniere, the Vanguard, scientist and smartest man in the world, had come up with this mathematical calculation for the state of the world, and this calculation was [that] at the pace that we were going, if we didn’t change the course and … really push [ESP] mission and more people got integrated and more wealth was controlled [by Espians], the world was going to end – [in] 10 or 15 years. [that would have been in 2012 or 2017]
… I [had] wanted to become a scientist and do all these things to help save the world. And here, this class demonstrated to me that anything I was going to attempt to do wasn’t going to be … as impactful as what they were doing. [ESP] really had the potential to change the world and we were against the clock.
Q What do you think now, looking back on that class?
A … I had pictured the … mathematical calculation [as] an actual computation … of the state of the world …. now, I know that they use[d] that calculation many times before. It was never refreshed, it was always the same…. it wasn’t real. That was a lie. That there was no mathematical calculation for that. It was just … Keith’s idea.
And the module, the mission… it changed … the next decisions I made on my life, which affected everything else….
Q During the intensive, did you come up with a mental image of who you thought the defendant was?
A I was expecting a really smart person, and dedicated to this mission, and kind of elevated…
Q So you said that this module had a big impact. What happened next?
A … I continued taking the [16 day] intensive and as the classes progressed, there was a certain degree of attention on me, which…. was very flattering…. by the end of the intensive… I was having conversations with Lauren and she [said] ‘oh, we have a vacancy. …. why don’t you come with us? you could help the mission. So come work with us.’…
I was incredibly flattered but also very surprised. Like, ‘oh, thank you, but what do you think I can do to help? I mean, I don’t know anything.’
Q And did anyone explain to you what they thought you could do to help?
A More than explain, they looked for … skills that I [had] that might fit in with something that they were doing. And sure enough, they ended up honing in on the [computer] programming. And I had just started programming my first year of high school…. they said, ‘you’re so smart. We’re going to teach you and then you can work with us.’
Q … so you were 16 at the time; is that right?
Q So at this point… What do you want to do?
A … that was a really important intersection in my life. On the one hand, I was on course with my plan, on course with my dream… But that module, the mission, had made a huge impression on me and the mathematical calculation, the tick-tock of the world is going to end and something needs to be done, was also something that, in my childish understanding of things, was massive and impressive and important.
[Dani testified she was put in touch with Karen Unterreiner, head of Nxivm programming. And spoke with her parents about not going to Switzerland to finish high school.]
Q What would [your parents] say about the defendant?
A They were – as I was – very impressed with him. He was a great man. That he was doing great things.
Q At that point you had not met him; correct?
A No, I had not.
Q So where have you gotten this entire impression of the defendant?
A From the people who talk about him. … from my parents, from people taking the intensive, from Lauren, the head trainer.
Q So what did you decide to do?
A … I decided… I’ll take a year off school…. I’ll go [to Albany] and for a year I will go and… help. I thought it was that important. I thought, ‘okay, I’m going to do my part.’
Q At that point did you truly believe that the defendant’s calculations about the end of the world were correct?
A Yes. Wholeheartedly.
[At this point Dani, at age 16, decides to join Nxivm and not go to high school in Switzerland. Stay tuned for Part 2]