This is part 2 of Allison Mack Through the Looking Glass – a series on how the former actress and sex slave was described during the trial of her master, Keith Alan Raniere, the erstwhile leader of Nxivm.
Allison during the trial came across – via witness testimony – as both a victim and a perpetrator.
This is the fourth day of trial. Mark Vicente, a filmmaker and leader [high rank Green Sash] of Nxivm is on the witness stand.
He is the second witness to be called. The first was a DOS slave named Sylvie.
Vicente knew Allison Mack quite well and, in fact, at one time lived with her along with his wife, Bonnie Piesse. In the first part of his testimony as it concerns Mack, Vicente points out that the winsome actress – who wowed millions of fans on her hit TV show Smallville – was not looking too healthy. She had lost a lot of weight and was appearing confused.
In addition to that, the women who were hanging around Allison were looking emaciated too. For the first time, the jury is hearing about Raniere’s plan to starve and break his women – starting with Allison Mack.
Kristin Kreuk brought Allison Mack into Nxivm, then wisely got out. Allison Mack did not get out – at least not until after she was arrested. When she appeared on Smallville, Mack was well proportioned and appeared healthy.
This testimony of Vicente suggests Allison was under Raniere’s thrall and quite likely a victim of the vicious one’s self serving lustful and power mad desires.
Mark also testifies about the number of women Raniere was having sex with – he pegged it at 20 – and that included Allison Mack.
Vicente is being examined by Assistant US Attorney Mark Lesko.
Lesko: Do you recall at a certain point in time certain people in the NXIVM community developing unusual physical appearances?
Vicente: Yes. That… sort of came to a head for me in and around December of 2015, when I became very concerned for two reasons. … one was there was so many of the examples in the [Nxivm] education about not giving into comfort and choosing principal instead. … in other words, don’t go for the ice cream … focus on your calories. … I thought to myself, ‘why is there this obsession with weight and calories? What is going on? Is there no other metaphor that can be used? Why it was always the cake or the pizza? … – why is that the grand example of… weakness….’ then I began to see a … lot of the women … becoming rail thin. I mean, to the point that it just looked unhealthy to me.
They looked pale… it was beginning to look almost like their skin was translucent. And I saw the kind of food they were eating … and … their fingers were turning the color of [their] food.
They were eating cucumbers all the time or squash…. When I asked, ‘Why that?’ ‘Well, because it’s low calories and it fills me up….’. And I just got concerned because everybody just looked really unhealthy — not everybody. Some of the women just looked really unhealthy. They were looking skeletal. I could start to see their bones under their flesh, and I thought to myself, ‘something’s not right here.’
Q Was there anybody in particular who looked exceedingly skinny?
A My greatest concern back then was Allison Mack. I was very concerned. I … was spending a lot of time with her back then, and I just couldn’t understand why … her weight was dropping so much.
And also accompanying the weight loss was sort of this tired, kind of out-of-it look. You know, she sometimes couldn’t focus very well. And to me, it looked like a kind of malnutrition. So I was deeply concerned about that, and so I went to talk [to] Keith Raniere about it.
Q I’m showing you what has been admitted as Government’s 39. Do you recognize that photograph?
A Yes, Allison Mack.
Q So you … had a discussion with the defendant [Raniere]. What did he say?
A Well, I went to see him. I think he was at that point living at 21 Oregon Trail. I went to see him, and I said,’I’m concerned that all these people have this idea that skinniness is the ultimate objective.’ And I said to him, ‘It also worries me deeply given that in this society right now, with the obsession, with the bodies and models and everything, I don’t think it’s healthy to tell a woman that her weight is tied to her enlightenment or her growth or whatever. It’s just unhealthy. It’s … bad. Women, and especially young women have enough issues already with their appearance given the culture we live in, why do that?’
And he said to me, ‘Well, you know, I work with different people in different ways, and there’s different reasons for different things.’ …. it wasn’t making any sense whatsoever.
And I said, ‘But Allison — you know, what about Allison? She’s — you know, she looks terrible…. if this is her having some kind of breakthrough, I don’t what’s going on. Then I don’t understand breakthroughs because she looks horrible.’
And … I said too ‘You know, she looks broken.’
And he said, ‘Well, I’m trying to break her.’
And I was like ‘uh-huh. Okay. Well, she’s not looking healthy.’
And he said, ‘Well, she’s still getting her period.’
And I was like, ‘Okay;’ I wasn’t sure where else to go because…. I was thinking to myself, ‘Well, you know, you can take a pill and still do a whole bunch of things….’
But in the end, I just backed away, because I couldn’t get any clear answers, and I felt like – I just think something’s wrong and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.
Q In addition to Allison Mack, do you recall any other women in the community who looked skinny?
A Many of the people that had some kind of a close relationship with him. Some of them that might be in the inner circle were extremely skinny…. Daniela Padilla, … Monica Duran, a number of the women that were spending time with Allison Mack …. I was concerned about India [Oxenberg’s] weight.
There seemed to be a kind of a club of young women gathering around Allison Mack and they just didn’t look healthy. … maybe they were healthy by Fashion Week’s standards … which is not healthy in my opinion, but they just did not at all look good. They were just obsessed with eating as little as possible, and they would literally measure their calories on a scale. There was all this measuring going on. And there was also this obsessive penitence that they would do if they messed something up.
You know, so if somebody was on a certain number of calories and they messed something up, then they would cut their calories. You know, and when I was hearing that people were cutting it down to 500 calories or 300 calories, something’s not — I mean, okay. So I’m fat. But, something’s not right.
Q Showing you what’s been admitted as Government’s 45. Do you recognize that photograph?
A Yes, that’s Daniella Padilla.
Q Was she [Dani Padilla] one of the women who concerned you?
A Yes. She had always been skinny, but it looked to me to be getting worse.
Q Was Marianna [Fernandez] skinny?
Q Showing you what has been admitted as Government’s 26. Who is in that photograph?
A That is Marianna.
Q Was Nicki Clyne skinny?
A She was also very skinny, yes….
Q Are you familiar with a woman named Sylvie?
A I am.
Q Was Sylvie one of the women who was skinny?
A Exceedingly, yes.
Q Are you familiar with a woman named Kerstin?
Q Was Kerstin skinny?
A Very. She was one of the ones I was very concerned about.
Q When the defendant told you that he was trying to break Allison Mack, what was your interpretation of that comment?
[Raniere’s defense attorney Mark Agnifilo spoke up: I’m going to object.
Judge Nicholas Garaufis: As to form. Sustained.
LESKO: I’ll rephrase, Your Honor. Thank you.
BY MR. LESKO:
Q When the defendant told you that he was trying to break Allison Mack, what was your reaction to that comment?
A I was disturbed because a part of me thought ‘okay, well, so we’re trying to break pride. Okay? I mean, I get that.’ But I couldn’t understand why somebody withering away was somehow going to fix that. That was the part I didn’t get. And – the thing is, I was at this point beginning to ask Raniere a lot of questions, but there was still the issue of my rank and his rank. So I had to be very careful that only in private would I ask him certain questions, not in public. And then also even in private, this was somebody who was, like — it’s like questioning the king, you know? Like at a certain point just slow down and be careful.
So I would often just nod my head and think, ‘okay. Well, he’s got some understanding that I don’t have and maybe there’s some wisdom I just can’t get because of something he knows.’ I don’t share that [view] anymore, but that’s what I thought at the time.
Q During the time period you were involved with NXIVM, did you became aware that the defendant was in sexual relationships with any women in the community?
A I did.
Q How did you acquire that information?
A Well, one of the ways was when Barbara Jeske died. After she died, he spoke to me and said this was like losing a wife for him. And I’d never heard him say that before. And suddenly it occurred to me, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize that that was the relationship.’ That was quite a surprise to me.
And it sort of made sense because, you know, he said to me once, like when it comes to having sex he really needs to know somebody, and – it takes at least a year to really, really know somebody before that happened. So I thought okay.
Well, you know, he’s known her a long time. I guess that kind of makes sense.
… And then in 2017, he told me that he had conceived with Marianna, and I was surprised that I didn’t – I didn’t really — even though they were together all the time, I didn’t know that that was their relationship, and it was a disturbing conversation in general to me.… I had deep concerns about it. And I said to him… ‘well, I guess congratulations are in order,’ and I just left it alone. But I began to develop a picture in my mind. Okay. So there’s lot more going on than I realize.
Q So I think you testified previously that the defendant resided with Marianna and Pam Cafritz; is that correct?
Q And did you have an understanding as to when actually that baby with Marianna was conceived?
A When we spoke about it, the baby was conceived around the time that Pam Cafritz was dying or had just died. ….
Q Approximately how many members of the NXIVM community did the defendant have sexual relations with?
A I think it was in excess of 20.
Q Did you witness the defendant being physically intimate with women in the community?
A I did.
Q How so?
A Well, generally speaking when he would meet one of the… younger women that spent time with him, he was always very intimate with them, you know, hand holding, touching, walks sometimes hand in hand. You know, kissing on the lips, a lot of tenderness, the kind of tenderness that is not usual in a corporate environment. And then, you know, I saw at one point, you know, an instance that gave me pause.
But other than that, it was, generally speaking, just the way he was with each of them. The way I saw it is they were like almost like giddy call girls and he was kind of the connect with each of them in different ways. But there was a lot of… physical contact and whispering.
Q Did you witness the defendant being physically intimate with Clare Bronfman?
A I did.
Q How so?
A Same kind of things — kisses, talking, there was a lot of hand, the touching and there would be this sort of fingers intertwine and then rolls around, that kind of stuff. As I had said, it’s not just, you know, corporate buddies hanging out, there’s something else.
Q Did you witness the defendant being physically intimate with Allison Mack?
A I did, the same kind of thing.
Stay Tuned For Part 3 where Mark Vicente describes more of how Allison Mack got sucked into the cult of Nxivm and gradually became Raniere’s slave.