Regular Frank Report readers know most, if not all, of the pertinent facts about John Tighe – and how he came to be serving a 5-year term in federal prison.
But most do not know very much about how John first became involved with NXIVM.
A Pain-In-The-Ass Blogger
In May 2009, John set up his Saratoga In Decline blog to point out some of the negative things that were going on in his hometown of Saratoga Springs, NY.
Sometimes he focused on the gentrification projects that were forcing many natives – including his family – to move outside the city.
Sometimes he focused on the political corruption that was going on in the city – which, not surprisingly, was tied to developers who simply wanted to build more and more condos everywhere.
Sometimes he focused on the behind-the-scene workers at the city’s world-famous racetrack who were forced to work in dangerous conditions – and live in squalid housing.
Regardless of what topic he took on, he was fearless in exposing the truth.
Which meant that he was a real pain-in-the-ass to much of the “establishment” in the city.
How John Got Interested In NXIVM
Although John was aware that several high-level residents of Saratoga Springs had taken NXIVM classes, he never wrote any stories about them.
In fact, it wasn’t until Barbara Bouchey moved her office to a rental property on Union Avenue that John even began paying attention to NXIVM.
Stories of late-night meetings at Barbara’s office – and of weird rituals being carried out in the backyard area – began to circulate throughout the city.
Then came word that NXIVM was trying to buy The Adelphi Hotel, a city landmark – and turn it into a NXIVM Center.
That was enough to get John interested in NXIVM – and start writing about it.
John Broke Some Big Stories On NXIVM And Became A Top Enemy Of The Cult
Because he had a lot of contacts in the city, John was able to get a lot of inside information about NXIVM and its leaders.
Along the way, John broke a lot of important stories about NXIVM.
He quickly became one of Keith Raniere’s most feared and hated enemies.
The O’Connell & Aronowitz law firm was engaged to help take him – and his blog – down.
On October 23, 2013, they finally succeeded.
It was on that morning that the NYS Police staged early-morning, coordinated raids on three locations: Toni Natalie’s home in Rochester, NY; Joe O’Hara’s home in Schenectady, NY; and John Tighe’s home in Ballston Spa, NY.
During the course of the raids, the NYS Police seized all the computers – and all the NXIVM-related materials – they found at each site.
The raid at John’s house was led by Rodger Kirsopp, the NYS Senior Investigator who had spent more than 30-months heading up an investigation into the alleged accessing of NXIVM’s website by unauthorized people.
At the time of the raid, John was writing an expose about Joanne Yepsen, who was running to be Mayor of Saratoga Springs – and whose Campaign Manager was a member of NXIVM.
The story never got published – and Yepsen went on to win the election by a few hundred votes.
Bogus Federal Civil Lawsuit
The day before the raids, John was named as one of the defendants in a civil lawsuit that was filed on behalf of NXIVM (The other defendants were Suzanna Andrews, Jim Odato, Joe O’Hara and Toni Foley). Such an unusual coincidence. You would almost think that O’Connell & Aronowitz knew in advance about the raids.
The lawsuit was originally filed in the Western District of New York – but was quickly moved to the Northern District of New York, which is where it should have been filed in the first place (NXIVM has lots of friends in the Western District of New York – and prefers to do its legal business there whenever possible)
Oh, and the law firm representing NXIVM in the lawsuit? Yep, that would be the O’Connell & Aronowitz law firm – which just happened to have more than two dozen meetings with Kirsopp during the course of his criminal investigation into the alleged illegal accessing of NXIVM’s website.
The civil lawsuit alleged that the defendants had illegally accessed NXIVM’s website – and sought “…damages in an amount to be determined at trial, but in an amount no less than one million dollars ($1,000,000.00)”.
The civil lawsuit was dismissed when it was proven that Clare Bronfman had perjured herself in the original complaint – a fact that should have been known by the O’Connell & Aronowitz law firm, which had represented Bronfman for several years and had prepared that document.
Criminal Charges Follow
Meanwhile, NXIVM and its attorneys – along with NYS Police Senior Investigator Kirsopp – had pushed forward with criminal charges against O’Hara, Natalie, and Tighe. They also added in Barbara Bouchey – who had allegedly accessed NXIVM’s website several months after the raids.
According to Kirsopp, no criminal charges were pursued against Andrews and Odato because the NYS Police were not interested in taking on Andrews’ employer, Conde Nast, or Odato’s employer, Hearst Publications.
As previously reported, the criminal charges were fraudulently brought in Albany County – which had no jurisdictional basis with respect to the matter.
But before that could be proven, John was also charged with being in possession of child pornography.
Yep, nine months after his computers were seized by Rodger Kirsopp, John was suddenly charged with possession of child pornography.
The original analysis of John’s computers revealed one file containing one videotape of what the NYS Police Investigator thought could be child pornography.
Four months later, the NYS Police reported that other files had been found that allegedly contained child pornography.
When the FBI analyzed John’s computers, it reported back to Kirsopp that “…the videos received may be problematic for prosecution since most of the videos were preceded by a banner indicating the models were 18 years of age”.
Kirsopp’s’ own “Incident Report” indicates that the Assistant U.S. Attorney who was handling the case wanted to return all the materials to the NYS Police – and not pursue any child pornography charges.
Despite these problems, federal charges were eventually brought against John. Interestingly enough, the issue concerning the banners was not mentioned in the criminal complaint, nor in any other court filing.
Since he did not have the $100,000 that his attorney wanted in order to defend him on the child porn charge – and since his health was rapidly deteriorating – John agreed to plead guilty to one count of computer trespass and one count of possession of child pornography.
He received a 1-year term for the computer trespass charge – and a 5-year term for the child pornography charge (Since the two sentences were set to run concurrently, John’s total sentence was 5-years).
He is serving his time at the Fort Devens medical facility prison – and getting medical treatment at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA.
Lots Of Questions Remain
There are lots of questions regarding John’s case – most of which will never be answered unless some attorney steps forward to represent him.
Here are a few to think about:
(1) Since the seizure of John’s computers happened in conjunction with a criminal investigation that had no jurisdictional basis, how can any evidence from those computers be used in any criminal investigation? From a legal standpoint, this is pretty much a classic “fruit of the poisonous tree” scenario.
(2) How is it possible that the “Inventory List” prepared by Rodger Kirsopp concerning the items seized from John’s house included a Mac computer when John never owned one of those? Did Keith Raniere cause that Mac computer to “just appear” like his clothes do?
(3) Why did it take more than nine months after the raids before John was charged with possession of child pornography?
(4) Why did the original NYS Police analysis indicate that there was only one file with one alleged videotape containing child porn in all of John’s computers?
(5) What happened to the issue regarding the banners indicating that the models in the videos were all 18 years of age?
(6) What caused the Assistant U.S. Attorney handling the case to change their mind – and agree to bring charges against John?
(7) Why did the NYS Police destroy all of John’s computers?
(8) Did Kirsopp tip off the O’Connell & Aronowitz attorneys about the date of the raids on John’s house?
(9) Did the NYS Police’s Internal Affairs Unit ever conduct an investigation of Rodger Kirsopp (It was formally asked to do so)?
(10) Didn’t the FBI find it strange that there was no evidence to show that John ever shared any of his child porn files with anyone? Isn’t that extremely unusual in this type of case?