Lauren Salzman, one of the leaders of Nxivm, was convicted of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy in connection with her nearly 20 years with the criminal operation.
Many people feel she is a victim. Since she is going to be sentenced soon [a date has not yet been set – but it is anticipated it will occur sometime in early 2020] and she faces anywhere from probation to up to 40 years, [sentencing guidelines seem to be around 2-4 years] readers might like to learn a little more about her role in Nxivm and its notorious sub group DOS.
In yesterday’s post, Lauren described how she was branded. It came from her testimony in the trial of Keith Alan Raniere, her mentor, master, lover and co-conspirator in crime.
In today’s post, Lauren discusses recruitment for DOS and how she recruited her first slave, Sarah Edmondson.
She is being examined by Assistant US Attorney Tanya Hajjar.
Q Was recruitment a focus in DOS?
A Big focus.
Q How so?
A Keith wanted us to grow and he wanted us to grow quickly. He was checking in on how we were doing with enrollment a lot, frequently, and … was… pushing for us to get to 100 people, and then pushed me specifically to get a hundred in my group alone in under six weeks and was constantly asking like … how many people do we have? Where are they in each stage of enrollment? And, like, What are your projections…
Q And after you were branded, did you then regularly meet with that first line?
Q Who did you discuss potential recruits with?
A With the first line and with Keith.
Q Were any prospects rejected?
Q Can you give us some examples?
A Audrey wanted to enroll Siobhan and I discussed it with Keith, and he said he wasn’t sure that that was a good idea. Clare’s name was raised a bunch and he wanted to keep that separate.
Q Clare Bronfman?
A Yes. Christina was another one he was thinking about if it was a good idea. I mean, these are ones that came up directly with me. I’m sure there are others, but these are ones that either myself or people who I enrolled wanted to enroll.
Q Who had the final say about who could be enrolled and who couldn’t?
Q Did the defendant [Raniere] ever ask you for photographs of potential recruits?
Q Did the defendant say anything about the marital status of the person that you should recruit for DOS?
A … Initially it was going to be sorority for only people who were not married. And then eventually they decided … to let in people who were married.
Q And when you recruited your DOS slaves, did you lie to them about the defendant’s role in DOS?
Q And what about the brand?
A Yes. Well, I didn’t tell them anything about the brand. They asked what it was, and I said it was a symbol, you know, and then during the branding ceremony, Carola saw the stencil and was like, “KR,” like she knew. She realized that it was Keith’s initials, and I asked her to please not share that with other people.
Q Who did you recruit first?
Q And where did you initially approach Sarah about enrollment into DOS?
A I approached her in Vancouver. I was staying in her home there.
Q Why were you in Vancouver at that time?
A I was teaching intensive in her center.
Q About how soon after your enrollment into DOS were you recruiting Sarah?
A Five days.
Q Was Sarah married?
Q And can you describe to the jury what the process was for recruiting her?
A Sure. It was — it was the same process that Rosa Laura did with me, that I approached her and told her that I was doing something I was very excited about. I wanted to share it with her. And that this might sound weird, but I needed a guarantee from her that she wasn’t going to speak about this to anybody else, and I introduced the concept of collateral, which she provided me. And then when she provided it, I went through the four aspects of it, lifetime vow of obedience to me; master/slave concept; collar, which was the necklace; and branding, and she decided she wanted to go forward and provided more collateral.
Q Did you characterize DOS as a sorority for women?
A I did, as a sorority for women.
Q What was the first piece of collateral that Sarah gave to you?
A She gave me like a confession that she had written on a piece of paper basically confessing to things that would be embarrassing for her reputation if they were to be disclosed, things along the lines of sexual experiences or substance use.
Q What did you do after Sarah gave you that collateral?
A I checked it with Rosa Laura.
Q What happened?
A Rosa Laura didn’t think it was strong enough and suggested naked pictures as well.
Q So what did you do after that?
A I went back to Sarah and told her about the naked pictures and she agreed to take them, and we took them together, meaning I was with her in the room when she took a naked picture of herself. And Rosa Laura then said that I could go forward after that.
Q Did you tell her anything about whether you had taken similar photographs?
A I did. I told her I had done it as well.
Q Did Sarah express any reservations about the branding?
A Yes. Very similar to mine, that she had shared as well. She had never gotten a tattoo and she had certain views about her body and caring for her body, and this kind of went against that. But I re-enrolled her in the idea… I shared with her the idea of paying for a principle and the memorializing your promise, and the [brand] … on your body forever was a promise forever. And so she agreed to do it.
Q When you say re-enrolled her in that idea, you persuaded her to go along with it?
Q Did Sarah then agree to join DOS?
A She did.
Q Did she provide additional collateral to you?
Q What different collateral did she give you?
A We filmed a bunch of videos together… The idea of them was to make it look like it is candid, like she didn’t know that she was being recorded. But she was speaking negatively about family members, like, you know, saying things like that she only had a relationship with them to get her inheritance or that her husband, you know, was abusing her and her son. False statements, but that would have damaged those relationships were they to be released and also would damage the people in the video saying things about them that would have hurt their reputations.
Q Why was it made to look candid?
A Just because if it were to ever be released, it wouldn’t be believable that somebody would have just looked at a camera and made a video of themselves doing that, but it was more believable that she could have just shared it with a friend who happened to be recording it unbeknownst to her.
Q Did she give the videos to you?
A I filmed them on my phone, so they were always in my possession.
Q Were these videos sufficient collateral?
Q Why not?
A Because she had to fully collateralize all of the areas of her life to be considered fully in. So she never, in theory, completed the enrollment process.
Q Did the defendant discuss your recruitment of Sarah with you?
Q What did he say?
A Oh, when I came back he was excited that I had enrolled someone, and he said, like, “she’s your slave now.” And I said “yes.” And he said that means like — and he had told me that before — that that meant that she had to choose that relationship above all the other relationships in her life, like above her husband, above her child…
But I came back and he [Raniere] said that means “if you tell her she has to have sex with another man, meaning another man not her husband, she had to do that. And if you tell her she has to have another man’s child, that means she has to do that.” And at the time I was like, “yeah, I get it. Like you just need her really committed. She’s committed.” That was how I viewed it, but it doesn’t look the same right now.
Q How do you feel now about it?
A Well, … like why would that be the thing that would indicate commitment as opposed to anything else? Like if you told her she had to walk across hot coals, you know, she would have to do it. Like why sleeping with somebody or having their children, and given the fact that later I came to find out he was having sexual relationships with other people’s slaves and some of those slaves were being — that was planned before he met them or anything that they wanted to do. It was like known to other people that it was going to go in that direction and also that he was discussing having children with slaves, and it just was different. It looks different, like, given their assignments to seduce him and all of these things that came out later, that I found out later, it looks different knowing all of those things.
Indeed, it began to look different to Lauren when she was facing decades in prison and less than a month before her trial as a codefendant alongside Raniere.
But better late than never.
In fairness to Sarah Edmondson, while Lauren might have been lying through her teeth to her about Keith not being in DOS and other foul lies, there is no evidence that Sarah ever for a moment consented to having sex with Keith or being unfaithful to her husband. If Lauren’s version is true, Sarah was told it was a women’s only group and the filthy sex slavery aspects were known only to Keith and soon enough to Lauren.
Readers might enjoy reading Sarah Edmondson’s book Scarred: The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, the Cult that Bound My Life (True Crime Memoir, Cult Books) to get her view on the subject treated above.