The sketches below are prosecution exhibits in the case of the US v. Keith Alan Raniere.
They are the work of a young woman known to us as Daniela [or Dani], now 33, and sketched by her while she was imprisoned – confined to an unlocked room in Clifton Park, New York, when she was 24 -25 years old. She was imprisoned at the command of Raniere, though he denies it, and claims she went there voluntarily.
Long before Dani testified in court this past week – and several years before Raniere was indicted – Dani called me from Mexico. I never met her when I served as a publicist for NXIVM.
I had written about her confinement in Frank Report – and she called to ask me to take down her full name because she had left Nxivm and started a new life and, in the town in Mexico where she worked, no one knew of her Nxivm past.
I took her name off the posts, and she told me of her captivity. I found her to be intelligent, with hardly a trace of a Mexican accent. She spoke nearly flawless English and she told me her stunning story – which was, it seems, exactly what she told the jury this past week.
During her days of testimony, the prosecution entered into evidence some of her artwork. She had nothing in the room but a pencil and paper. Her only clothes, the clothes on her back. She had no television, no radio, no music, no books, [though she pilfered a couple of books at one time and read and reread them].
Her food was delivered by her family. Her father [who aligned with Raniere to help keep her captive for “her own good”] made many of her meals. Her family would deliver them to her – by placing the meals outside her door and knocking. She would wait a moment for them to leave then she would retrieve her meals.
Dani had nothing to look forward to, day after day, with no change, no variance. No one came to see her for months. She had no human contact.
She would spend hours thinking of what her next meal was. If became a fascination to wonder what was next. She had no control. She did not put orders in or pick from a menu. It was up to her family to decide and, one imagines, it was low-calorie diet [For Raniere likes his slaves slender].
Dani would be elated if she got what she hoped for in a meal, and deeply despondent when she got less than what she expected. She described her room as “four walls.” There was an adjoining bathroom to which she had access. She was allowed soap and shampoo [She would read and reread the shampoo bottle just to read words – just to see words printed.] She had her bed and her pencil and paper – the purpose of these writing instruments was to write to Keith – confessions of adoring love for him and statements seeking atonement for her grave ethical breach – her secret ethical breach, that neither Keith nor she shared with others. [Keith depended on that secrecy. Keith, the liar, made it out that Dani was a thief and this was her ethical breach].
Her ethical breach was that she wanted another man other than Raniere and she kissed him too. Dani refused to be part of his harem. She said that if Keith could have other women [he had dozens], she could have another man.
When I spoke to her, long before the trial, I took away that the reason Dani stayed in a room for 23 months was that she was not going to be a member of his harem.
There may be a thousand reasons why she stayed as long as she did. There are gray lines of coercion, and brainwashing, versus free will to leave anytime – for the door was unlocked and, in the end, she chose the day she left her room.
Dani spent one month shy of two years in confinement in a room in Clifton Park, with her family living below her, supporting her confinement, based on their belief in the rightness and brilliance of Keith Raniere.
She got out in early 2012. She spent from age 16 to age 25 in the grip of Raniere, then she escaped.
Her artwork is fascinating. It is beautiful in its own right, but against the backdrop of a woman imprisoned both physically and mentally by the gruesome Raniere and his minions – with the aid of her own family – they take on the character of real pathos and sorrow, loneliness and despair. They are striking as art. The suffering revealed in her art reflects, at least to me, the conflict between the mind and the heart.
Dani confronted Raniere when she left her room. He was playing volleyball and when he saw her, he ran and hid and had his minions escort Dani out of the arena. That was the last time she saw him – in February 2012 – until she came again in May of 2019 to a Brooklyn courtroom.
Here, it was his turn to be escorted into the courtroom by US Marshals and he had to finally face her – and this time, he couldn’t run away.
Sketches by Dani while she was confined in a room.