Despite the fact that the trial of Keith Alan Raniere is over and that the convict is now on suicide watch – as he awaits his sentencing – a likely life sentence – in September – he still has hope for an appeal.
And a large part of that hope for a successful appeal lies in the fact that Judge Nicholas Garaufis halted the cross-examination of one of Raniere’s coconspirators – Lauren Salzman – when she broke down into uncontrollable tears. The judge later said he feared she would have a breakdown in his courtroom.
Prior to Raniere’s conviction, we published a large portion of her cross-examination which was conducted by Raniere’s lead attorney, Marc Agnifilo. Readers have requested that we complete our report on her cross-examination. Since it will figure in Raniere’s appeal, I think it is worth concluding.
Here is Part 5.
Agnifilo is questioning Lauren Salzman. It is in the afternoon. He had been examining her for several hours already.
Q Ms. Salzman, at some point in the spring of 2017, Mark Vicente decided to leave NXIVM, is that correct?
A Yes, that’s correct.
Text Between DOS Slave Audrey and Lauren About Leaving DOS
Agnifilo now presents a series of text messages between Lauren and one of her DOS slaves, Audrey, who was thinking about leaving DOS around June 2017. The texts were previously introduced as evidence by the prosecution and Lauren was questioned about these in direct examination by the prosecution.
Q … you write here [to Audrey]: ‘Mark V did very little in comparison to what the women of the board do…. ‘Or he wouldn’t have just left because his wife is playing the victim.’ …. what are you talking about here?
A Audrey was saying … her confidence in the entire [Nxivm] organization … [was] shaken when Mark Vicente left. … I was telling her that that was not the right way to be thinking about it.
Agnifilo reads several of Audrey’s texts to Lauren and Lauren’s responses. These texts were written when Vicente and Sarah Edmondson left Nxivm and Frank Report was writing stories about DOS. These three circumstances caused a lot of people to question Lauren about DOS.
Q … here you write to [Audrey]: “I’m losing some of the best friends I thought I had in my life and going in to clean up all their mess and the shitstorm of damage they are creating while pretending to be helping me transition to taking over their center. It’s seriously a nightmare.”… What are you talking about when you say your best friends, who do you mean?
A …. Sarah and Nippy [Sarah Edmondson managed the Vancouver Nxivm center. Her husband Anthony Ames is known by many as “Nippy”].
Q And at this point in time Sarah is leaving [Nxivm]?
Q …. Audrey writes to you: “I love you. I don’t mistrust yours or anyone’s intent. Trust is so important with DOS and where I feel shaky is not in intent, but in judgment from whoever is making all these decisions.” Do you remember having this back and forth [in texts] with Audrey around this time period?
A Yes, I do…
Q … Why were you concerned that she was mistrusting your intent?
A Because she felt that I was lying to her, and I was [lying].
Q Lying to her about Keith’s role in DOS?
A Yes, and … [that] the branding was [not] his initials and that there was [not] seduction assignments [to seduce Keith], and …. that he was [not] having sexual relationships with some of the slaves.
Q Now, at this point… in the spring of 2017, everything is unraveling, correct?
Q And you guys are kind of panicking?
Q And you’re just trying to keep things afloat, fair to say?
Q Because people are leaving, right?
Q So Mark Vicente leaves, right?
Q Sarah leaves, right?
Q Your computers start getting accessed from … people in the Vancouver center…. led by Sarah, right?
Q And at this point you’re trying to just kind of keep things afloat, correct?
Q And you are telling people things that aren’t true.
Q And Keith is encouraging you to tell things that aren’t entirely true.
A Keith is directing us to completely misrepresent his whole relationship with DOS….
Q And the fear here is that this ship is sinking, correct?
A Yes, correct.
Q And the only chance you have of keeping this afloat is to try to distance Keith from DOS, correct?
A It wasn’t discussed with me why.
Q … did you see … you had a better chance of keeping the rest of the [Nxivm] business going if Keith was not associated with DOS?
A …. I didn’t really understand the logic [of saying Keith was not associated with DOS}… I just took direction from him …. there were a lot of discussions … in the [DOS first line slave] group, trying to figure out what was going on and was he [Keith] doing this [making them lie about him not being the leader of DOS] just to try to make us stronger? Did he do this on purpose? …. We really didn’t understand the logic behind it and he didn’t discuss it with us.
Q One of the things that everybody was concerned with was that somehow their names would be out there in connection with DOS… that DOS would no longer be secret?
A Yes, that was a concern at the time….
Aginfilo reads more texts between Lauren and Audrey about how Audrey decided to leave DOS.
Q [Audrey] said: “Leaning towards [leaving DOS] …. but have wanted to wait to talk to you further.” So, at this point, it’s apparent to you that Audrey is having very, very serious thoughts about leaving DOS.
A That’s correct.
Q You were asking her if she wants to leave DOS.
Q And she’s saying: “I’m leaning towards wanting to leave.”
Keith Considers Releasing Collateral
Q You don’t threaten [to release] her collateral, correct?
A No, but behind the scenes… Keith said that we were still deciding about what was going to happen with collateral and whether ultimately it would be released. And he was coming up with distinctions under which it would be released; people who left and broke their nondisclosure agreement, people who left and were outing other members and attacking the group… different things and different conditions under which to release it.
… it still wasn’t …defined if we were going to release it. I was just saying that she could leave. But I knew we were discussing [releasing collateral behind the scenes].
Q …. Did you ever tell Audrey you were going to release her collateral?
A No, I never told her that.
Q That was my question. You then go on to say [in a text to Audrey]: “We can talk, but you can leave. If you think it was naive and you don’t like it, then you can do that. I don’t feel that way about it. But in either case, I think that the fear is poison. It’s used as a weapon and it empowers destructive people to destroy more. Abuse of power exists because of people who are controllable through fear.”
Here, you’re talking about … a group of people, Vicente, Sarah, and others, who were saying things about DOS that was causing people to become afraid, correct?
A Yes, correct.
Q Around the same time [Audrey] asks: “If my name comes out, what do I say to people? Do I deny it? Do I admit it?” …
Audrey Asks If Brand Has Keith and Allison’s Initials
Q Here, she writes to you: “Is the thing about Allison’s initials true?”… One of the rumors out there was [that the brand] was [also] Allison Mack’s initials, which was false.
Q Then you say: “Nothing about it [the brand] being Keith or Allison’s … is true whatsoever at all.” Your answer is true as to Allison Mack, correct?
A Yeah. ….
Q But here… you are not telling anybody, because you’re told not to, that Keith was the person who created the founding principals of DOS, correct?
Audrey Wants to Leave DOS
Q …. [Audrey] says: “Private thought. With all these conversations I’m having with people in Vancouver who feel they can’t trust anyone in ESP, I’m starting to feel the same way. I’m ashamed to admit, but I still feel I can’t trust you. But I recognize my own projection in that because I’m not trustworthy.”… then she says, “Goodnight, Master.”
Q … she’s saying that she doesn’t know that she can trust you, correct?
A Correct. And rightly so, because I was lying to her.
Q June 12, a few days later, she says: “Good morning. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, and I don’t want to be in DOS anymore. I’m happy to talk about it more with you. I can meet any time before you leave for San Francisco. I will wait to tell Kristin or any of my sisters until we speak. I love you and feel tremendously lucky to have had this opportunity to grow with you. Also, I talked to Ian Zimmerman after sexy this morning. He told me Sarah … from Vancouver messaged him with links to the article [in Frank Report]. Do you have any idea who was the source of info to the press and if they would know the names in our circle?”
She’s telling you,” I made up my mind. I spent a lot of time thinking about it. I don’t want to be in DOS anymore.” That’s what she says, right, on June 12?
A … yes….
Q Two days later, she says: “Thinking of you and sending you love.” You say: “I’m sorry I haven’t responded to you. I haven’t known what to say. This is one of the hardest weeks of my life and this was the moment you chose to not stay and stick up for me. I’m sorry if you feel I’m not a good leader because of this. It’s a sad moment for me. I hope you can understand this. I’m trying to salvage my business and uphold what I believe we stand for. I understand if you don’t want to be on my team anymore. I am saddened by that and will miss you” …. She responds: “My decision on leaving DOS was not meant to be a decision to not support you. I’m sorry you took it that way. I see the good in DOS and I see things I disagree with.” Correct?
A Yes. … she was concerned … that there were no ethical checks on Keith.
Q …. she says to you: “I love you and I’m sorry this is where we’re at. I realize my choice to leave DOS changes the nature of our relationship and your desire to communicate with me. I’m sad about this, but I also understand and see how I participated. I plan to leave Albany soon and find a quiet place to regroup. I won’t take part in the ugliness going on. I will always feel love and gratitude for you and will think and speak of you fondly. I will miss you so much.”
That’s what she writes, right?
Q Now, the “ugliness going on,” what do you understand she’s telling you there? What’s the “ugliness”?
A That people who are raising allegations about DOS were doing things that were ugly… mean or disparaging. They … brought allegations … that were valid, but … they would say things in anger or … make hateful comments … it was viewed …. as a hate campaign.
Q … Did you feel that they … were … playing to people’s fears?
A I think some people played to people’s fears, but I think they were also raising valid concerns….
Frank Report and Mark Vicente
Q There were a lot of articles by someone named Frank Parlato, correct?
Q Do you know if Mark Vicente was feeding information to Frank Parlato?
A I don’t know specifically. I had assumed so….
Q Do you know what Frank Parlato’s connection is or was to Kristin Keeffe?
A I believe that … she had hired him through her legal capacity at one point in time as part of NXIVM. I’m not sure exactly what happened. I think there was a parting on not good terms and he’s not been favorable to us since. I don’t really know the details of it.
Q In the last of these chats [with Audrey, you write] to Audrey: “I do understand and honor your choice to leave and I do still love you. I am sad that you chose to not stay and fight with me and for me, but Brian [Elliot] and I are still open to work with you and have you as part of our [San Francisco] center, if you want to be. You do always have a place with us. I love you and will miss you. Please stay in touch.”
Q And that’s how it ends. Audrey leaves… DOS? That’s how she left DOS, what we just reviewed, correct?
No Ethical Check on Keith
Q There was a …. Collateralized lifetime commitment, right?
Q And that’s how it ends, with you telling her you love her, her telling you she loves you, nothing else, right?
A Well, with her raising very valid ethical concerns. Me completely dismissing them and thinking that she was leaving based on just wanting to choose comfort and not because there was a valid thing that she was raising that I totally missed…. she was saying, “My concerns are that there are no ethical checks on Keith.” And … that she couldn’t trust me. And I was saying: … “if I made you the head of ethics of DOS … and you could put in your protocols, would that address your concerns?” And she said, “No.”
And, so, then I was like, “well, then it’s not about if there are ethics or abuses of power.” …. I didn’t see the thing about that there were no ethical checks on Keith…. I said to her, ‘I’m open for a full ethical review of all of my conduct.” And I meant that. And she said, … “I can’t take advantage of that because it’s all within the same framework. So, I don’t trust that it’s actually an ethical review.”
And I think that’s a very valid concern to have had because it was all within the same framework [with Keith in charge of everything] and there were no objective outside parties looking at it. And when we brought outside parties in, we lied to them all so there was no capacity to have an outside ethical perspective.
So, we’re saying “I love you,” but while I’m saying “I love you,” what I’m thinking [is] “you just want to get off the hook and you are choosing comfort … I made all these concessions and was willing to do everything ethical and you’re the one who really doesn’t want to uphold your word.”
But that’s not really what happened. She was raising concerns that I completely dismissed and missed.
No Collateral Was Released
Q You didn’t release anybody’s collateral….
A That’s true, I did not release anybody’s collateral.
Q Dozens and dozens and dozens of people left DOS. You didn’t release any aspect of anyone’s collateral, right?
A And if we had, it certainly would have legitimized all of the things that we are here discussing.
Q Let me ask you —
A Yes, I did not release anyone’s collateral.
Q That was the question
Community Meeting With Lauren and Allison
Q On January 9, 2018, you spoke at a community meeting; do you remember that?
Q It was you and Allison Mack in front of a whole roomful of people, correct?
Q And it’s a videotaped event, correct?
Q And you did most of the speaking?
A Yes, I did.
Q And you told the audience that huge injustices were happening; do you remember saying that?
Q What were the “huge injustices”?
A That they [Sarah and others in Vancouver] broke into our computer system….
[The prosecution objected. At a sidebar, Agnifilo claimed he had forensic proof that Sarah’s access ID was used to gain access to NXIVM’s computers between June 5 and June 7, 2017 and she and others deleted a number of Nxivm orders. After the sidebar Agnifilo continued.]
Q … when you said “huge injustices” were happening, you’re saying [ it was the computer hacking by Sarah]?
A There were other things ….. people who had left were using … the NXIVM client list to call … members and unenroll them from NXIVM by sharing the allegations against us with them and their fears and concerns about them. And I thought that that was a huge injustice at the time.
#Me Too, No Good
Q …. [at the meeting] you talk about the Me Too movement and you say, “This isn’t a good time to go against the public victim.”
Q Why did you say that?
A That was something that Keith and I had spoken about. … I wrote the position statement that he tasked us all to write for DOS and taking the position that he had no affiliation with [DOS] … he actually edited my position statement to talk about [Me Too] … that it’s unpopular to go against a public victim… Sarah was publicly victimizing herself. So, if I took a position against her or anything that she said at the time, I would be seen as being abusive to a victim.
Q You say at one point [in the community meeting] that… Mark Vicente, Sarah left… The Vancouver center was dismantled… And that only one person came to you to discuss what was going on.
Q Was that true?
A Yes, Audrey… was the only one of those people who had come to me. … Mark [Vicente also] had come to me with concerns … earlier, but I think he had decided to leave ESP before he actually did leave. … he did ask me about DOS … he called it the “other stray path,” and he told me he thought Allison — he was calling her “Madam,” that he thought she was recruiting young girls to have sex with Keith….
Agnifilo asked Lauren about what she told the community about the branding, and how they joked about it.
A …. you’re there with your friends and you’re naked and you’re holding each other down branding each other, so it’s awkward and uncomfortable. And there was a tremendous amount of fear and reservation, especially after watching Jimena’s branding ceremony, so I think sometimes that does inspire joking as well.
Q Okay. You said [at the meeting], “We made life commitments with our best friends.” Right, talking about the branding ceremony and DOS?
Q You also said —
A And I made life commitments with them under false pretenses.
Q I’m just asking about what you said. Did you say that in the video? When you were talking — tell the jury, this community meeting, how many people were there?
A There were … around 60 or 70 people from the Albany community….
Q And you didn’t say to them you made life commitments-… under false pretenses…. at the community meeting, right?
A Correct, I didn’t say that. I’m saying that now.
Q At the time, [at the meeting] in January of 2018 … you [said] you were making life commitments with your best friends and that it was a rewarding experience, correct?
A Yes, I was saying that.
Q You also said you were in a sorority in college and a lot of frat guys got branded.
A That’s true….. a number of frat guys that I knew had gotten branded when I was in college.
Q And of the [DOS] brand, you said, “It’s a way of sealing my promise forever, to see that it’s forever, to stand for something for my whole life. My body is a tool for that.” Right, you said that?
A Yes, I did.
Branding Not Required?
Q And you also said “If you didn’t want to get branded, you didn’t have to,” right?
A At the time that my girls were branded,…. I thought everybody had to [be branded]. But I did say that.
Q And you said that because not everybody in DOS is branded.
A Yes, correct.
Q People can join DOS and not get the brand, correct?
A I didn’t know that at the time that they were branded, but, yes, it is true that girls were in DOS and didn’t get branded and stayed part of DOS.
Q And you said that at the community meeting….[if a DOS member] …. didn’t want to get a brand, you didn’t have to.
Q You said, “I’ve never felt more connected to people than overcoming pain for a principle.” Do you remember saying that?
A It looks different now, but I remember saying it.
Q And when you said it, did you mean it?
A Yes, when I said that I meant that….
Q You compared it to men in the military and being in boot camp. Do you remember making that comparison?
A Yes. I don’t know what it’s like to be in the military and in boot camp. I was making the comparison because that’s how Keith talked about it.
Interview With New York Times
Q Now …. the day after the community meeting, …. you said …. you gave an interview to Vanessa Grigoriadis?
Q Who was Vanessa Grigoriadis?
A She is a reporter and she wrote an article about us that was published in the New York Times.
Q Fair to say you wanted an outlet? You wanted to tell the story…?
A Keith thought it was important that we get media out there and that us having media out there would influence what happened legally…. and pushed for us to do the media. I … had a lot of reservations about doing any media….
[The story was published more than two months later – after Keith was already arrested. The timing was bad for Keith if it was supposed to help him legally.]
Q Did you think the New York Times would just write a puff piece for you?
A My understanding was that, choosing Vanessa as a journalist, we would get at least a more neutral-type of a piece, but we lied to Vanessa.
Q … I’m going to ask you questions and if you want to go off and answer something else, I can’t stop you.
ASSISTANT US ATTORNEY HAJJAR: Objection.
THE COURT [JUDGE NICHOLAS GARAUFIS]: [to Agnifilo] If you want something struck, ask it to be struck, I will consider it. Don’t give instructions to the witness.
AGNIFILO: Very good, Judge.
THE COURT: Just direct your questions to me.
AGNIFILO: Will do.
THE COURT: Ask for a sidebar, if you need.
AGNIFILO: Yes, Judge.
THE COURT: Go ahead.
Q You were looking for a neutral investigative journalist to write about the situation; right?
A That’s my understanding that that’s what was looked for; it wasn’t me looking for it, and I was pushed to participate in it, but that’s what was looked for.
Q And Vanessa interviewed a lot of people, right?
A I don’t know how many people Vanessa interviewed.
Q And Vanessa wrote a very long article in the New York Times magazine; right?
A That’s true.
Q And was it the idea that there were different blog sites [Frank Report & Artvoice] that were publishing very biased, one-sided views and you wanted a more responsible investigative piece?
A I don’t know that. I wasn’t involved in the decision making, but I do know and we did discuss that if we had the hope of having any leverage legally, or politically, it would be through the media.
Frustrated With Keith?
Q Okay. You said …. that, since the criminal case started, your perspective has changed on whether Keith and the NXIVM teachings and DOS were good or bad; right?
Q And at the time that you were in DOS, you thought that DOS was good; right?
A…. as I was in DOS longer and longer…. I had issues with [a number of things] … I raised [these issues] with Keith and his answers concerned me more. And I overrode all of that and went full force ahead to convince myself that Keith was everything that he said he was; that DOS was everything the theory that I had made it into would be, and that my life still was going to work out in some happy way close to what I wanted it to be and what he was telling me it could be. I overrode my better judgment again and again and again.
Q Fair to say you have been frustrated with Keith over the years?
A I have.
Q You have known him for about 20 years or so?
A Yes. Yes.
Q And you and he talked about having children, but you never had children?
Q He continuously started relationships with other women?
Q You told him a few times you wanted to end your relationship with him?
A Yes, that’s true.
Q And he reacted strongly when you said these things to him; correct, ending the relationship?
A Well, he made a certain series of promises and threats at that time, so, you know, if you consider that strongly, then, yes.
Q And the threat was that he was going to leave the community?
A That he was considering resigning as Vanguard.
Q So he said to you “if you leave me I am going to resign?”
A … it was under the discussion of my having kissed another person and he said he was considering whether resigning as Vanguard would be a good idea.
Q And you didn’t want him to resign as Vanguard?
A Correct. I did not.
Q You wanted him to stay the head of the community?
Better off With Vanguard
Q And you wanted him to stay because you truly believed in the work that you were all doing together?
A Yes, I did. At that time, I did.
Q And you wanted him to stay because you truly believed that you would be better off with him, imperfect as he was?
A That’s just a funny way of saying it, but I wanted to believe that what he was telling me would be, would be and that he was who I thought he was.
Q You had family in the community; correct?
Q You had friends?
A Yes. Yes.
Q You had support; right?
Q You had ways of making money?
Q You didn’t need Keith, did you?
A Yes, I did. I felt I did. I absolutely felt I needed Keith. 100 percent, I felt I needed Keith. I did not feel that I would be okay in the community and could exist in the life that I was living if I left Keith.
Q So you wanted Keith to stay as the Vanguard?
A I wanted Keith to stay as the Vanguard and I felt completely dependent on him and our relationship for things to be good in my life.
Q And part of it is you believed that you had a mission, right? That even pre-DOS, NXIVM, that what you guys were doing was like a mission; is that a fair way to put it?
A I did. And at some point he came to me and said, I thought we had really failed in NXIVM to be able to uphold the mission and that he thought the real way we were going to accomplish things in the world were through these secret organizations.
Q And the mission is something that you guys would talk about, you would call it “a mission”?
Q You guys watched the movie The Mission; right?
A Yes, that’s true.
Q … There was a module called The Mission?
Q What was the mission?
A To raise the ethics of the world and ultimately that’s why I’m sitting here, because I believed that in order to decide what’s ethical and what’s not, the truth has to come out, and lying and covering up everything we did is not ethical and it is not the mission that I was enrolled in, and that is not the person that I wanted to be with or who was the leader I thought.
Q But for a while you thought you guys were actually going to be doing something real and important and critical for the world?
A Which is why I did it.
Q Right. And now that mission is over?
A It’s over in that form. I mean, everybody can have their own mission in themselves to make the world a better place and to make it more ethical, and we all do that in our own way. …. part of my doing that is telling the truth about what happened.
Q Now, your perspective has changed. As you sit here today, many of the things you thought were positive and good for the world, you no longer view them that way; correct? You view them as negative?
A I still hold the same principles that I held before and I’ve had enough time away by myself, after I was indicted, to think about my own experiences and to be able to process them without other people talking me out of them or reframing them or leveraging my own fears or attachments, and … I decided to go forward the way I’ve always gone forward to uphold what I think is right and good and in the best way that I can.
Stay tuned for Part 6