This is Part 15 of our series on Lauren Salzman, a Nxivm leader who testified in the trial of Keith Alan Raniere as a victim of her leader.
She pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy – and is awaiting sentencing. Meanwhile, we have been studying whether she is more of a victim or a perpetrator.
Either way, she is one insane woman – to have done what she has testified to have done. This post may be the most insane of them all.
Listen carefully as she describes – often with rambling and nearly incomprehensible run-on sentences – as if it were normal – just about the most insane existence anybody could ever imagine.
It is the trial of Keith Alan Raniere. It is May 20, 2019. Assistant US Attorney Tanya Hajjar is examining Lauren Salzman.
Q You testified that you provided collateral to join DOS?
Q At some point were you required to submit additional collateral?
Q Can explain that to the jury?
A Well, initially,… I was told that I need to provide something that would be, like, so significant that I would, like, rather die than share this information. So I provided the account of … an actual crime that I had been a party to and that implicated my parents, Keith, and a number of my friends. And… that collateral was rejected, and so then I was asked to provide naked pictures instead.
Q And sometime after that, after you had joined DOS, were you required to commit collateral on a monthly basis?
A Yes. … after I said I wanted to join, the idea was that you collateralized all areas of your life. So I had, you know, promised to — all my material possessions, all my finances, you know, all of that. And then Keith said — came to a meeting or asked at the meeting why we weren’t submitting monthly collateral, as if it had been a thing. And I guess it had been before I came, but I was unaware of it, and I learned that we were supposed to be submitting monthly collateral. He said that the idea of it and the importance of it was to keep the collateral current.
So like if I — and I think he gave an example of a car. I don’t recall specifically, but like my impression coming away from that was like that if I had a Toyota or something now, maybe I’m not as successful in my life now or that Toyota is not going to be as valuable to me in ten years and maybe even in ten years I could afford a Mercedes or something. So the Toyota wouldn’t have the same hold on me and ensure my secrecy and commitment. So we always had to keep the collateral current so that it would always have that influence, that effect that we would be unwilling to go against our commitment or — our commitment of staying forever and being in total obedience and secrecy.
Q Did you submit monthly collateral?
A I did, yes.
Q What were some of the things you submitted as monthly collateral?
A I mean, we were taking naked pictures, up close vagina pictures three times a week. So I was told that wasn’t considered collateral, but to me that was very weighty collateral because it was not something I would ever want anybody to see and there was a lot of it. But then I started promising more material possessions and things, but we were running out of what to do, and so we were asking each other and asking Keith for ideas of what you could do and when everything is already collateralized and he had suggested at one point like that, you know, we could get creative and he shared — he said you could even stage crimes. He told me a story of somebody who had staged a break-in to make it look like they had, like, broken into Clare’s house and taken something which she wasn’t home, but really the whole thing was a sham. But it was this idea that we could have things like criminally — you know, implications, criminal implications to our collateral.
Q So the defendant suggested that there would be videos of these staged crimes?
Q And those videos were collateral?
Lauren was shown a picture of the house below.
Q Do you recognize this address?
A Yes, 9 Milltowne Drive in Waterford.
Q Was this an address that was associated with the DOS house?
Q Ms. Salzman, were there penitences or punishments in DOS?
A Yes, there were.
Q Can you explain that to the jury?
A So penitence was a concept that we learned in the NXIVM curriculum, and it was the idea of taking on something painful or difficult to remind yourself of the importance and to build continuous self-awareness, in essence, of the importance of various things, whatever the important value was that you were seeking to uphold or actualize. And some of the penitences would be in line with, let’s say, you were — you know, mindless, or late a lot, you might take a penitence of doing some sort of like a 15-minute reality check, just 15 minutes, just come, be conscious of where you are, what your time frame is, and build awareness so you would stop being late. But also maybe that you were late and took on a penitence like taking a cold shower, for example, standing barefoot in the snow, that would be so uncomfortable that you would think twice before ever being late again.
So when I joined the sorority, they had shared with me that some of the penitence they had been doing was for failure like waking up in the middle of the night and do burpees. But when we failed a readiness, they had been taking paddlings. So we were to paddle each other with a piece — a leather strap, you know, naked butt for our readiness failures that we were doing.
Q Did there come a time where the defendant discussed paddling with you?
A He [phone] called into a meeting where we were paddling each other for our failures and we were taking penances for the readiness failures but then it became any item on our minute list with any of our projects or any of the things that we had committed to do that we were failing at we were taking paddling for, so we would take our naked picture and then everybody would take the number of whips that … was commensurate with your failures and he called in and wanted to make sure that we were flicking our wrist hard enough or if you flick your wrist a specific way or if you really get the wrist into it, then it should really hurt and that’s what the paddling should be, it should be something that really hurts.
Q Were taking penances or punishments optional in DOS?
A No, because he — I mean he was — we’re doing a vow of obedience and he’s saying “what are you going to do to fix it?” and you were required to fix it.
Q And were some of these ways, including paddling, ways to fix it?
A Yeah, it was viewed as a way to fix it, to make sure it never happens again. If you get hit hard enough, you start thinking twice about screwing up readiness [drills], not staying up all night [i.e. going to sleep] if you needed to get something done or whatever the thing was.
Q Did you come to learn that the First Line [masters] had been paddled by the defendant?
A Daniella told me she had — she told me that she had been paddled by him and it was so painful and it was something I hoped to never happen to me, it didn’t sound like anything I ever wanted.
Q And this is Daniella Padilla?
A Yeah. I was concerned about it.
Q Did Daniella Padilla tell you about another punishment the defendant gave her?
A She told me that she was in a prideful state and that he was trying to help her break the state and she had been on the floor and that he kicked her and that was also something that I never wanted to be in the situation. These things started to become scary for me. I was concerned about failing.
Q And when you say “prideful state,” what does that mean, what do you understand that to mean?
A Not being vulnerable, not being willing to acknowledge failures or wrong — like that she had failed or that she was wrong, that instead she was trying to be right or be arrogant and not be humble.
Q You testified, Ms. Salzman, about a dungeon in the context of DOS?
Q Did the defendant tell you about a dungeon?
A Yes, and Daniella as well, that they were making a dungeon in the basement and he spoke specifically about a cage, that there would be a cage and he said it was for the people who were the most committed to growth, they could go and get locked in the cage and my understanding of it was it was a type of surrendering, that to go in and to get locked in and to not know when whoever was in charge of it was going to let you out which also was something that I didn’t want to do, that was scary, and that I was concerned that I would have to do to demonstrate that I was one of the people who was committed to growth or that it would become something that we were taking on like as a penance for something.
Q You say the basement?
Q Where is the basement?
A Of 9 Milltowne Drive, of the sorority house.
Q What did you picture the dungeon to contain, what did you understand it to have?
A Well, Daniella tell me at one point that she had ordered a bunch of things for it and all the things that she described were like BDSM sex torture things.
Q Like what?
A Like handcuffs, she described the cage, nipple clamps. She talked about one thing that — I didn’t understand the concept specifically — but like tied your wrists and ankles and had some kind of net or something, I don’t — you know, all things that were sexual in nature.
Q Did Daniella Padilla in fact order items for the dungeon?
A She told me she did order them and that the weekend that everything about DOS became public [through the Frank Report] she told me that she had ordered the things and she was going to cancel the order so it didn’t become public that we had a dungeon or we were having the dungeon.
Q Did you have a conversation with the defendant about what would happen if you went in the cage or did you express to the defendant a concern?
A It wasn’t specifically about what would happen much beyond it was you were just in there until they let you out but what I — you know, you would just be in there surrendering, it could be, you know, ten minutes, it could be an hour, it could be days, like you didn’t know how long it would be and that was the whole point of surrender but what I imagined was like being in there and having to go to the bathroom or something and then having to go through like that type of a humiliation which I think was the point of surrender, being willing to go through things that were vulnerable or humiliating or being willing to go through whatever as an experience of complete surrender and so that’s what I imagined and, you know, obviously not the kind of thing you’re hoping to experience. I wasn’t. I wasn’t hoping to experience that. It wasn’t something I wanted to do. And the fact that it was being linked with growth, like the most committed people to growth, so it became like if I didn’t want to do it, then I was one of those people that wasn’t committed to growth and that was a very hard thing to get my mind around and I didn’t believe that you couldn’t be most committed to growth unless you were willing to do BDSM things.
Is there anyone who doubts that Raniere’s dungeon idea was not about growth but sheer sadism?
And what can we say about Lauren?
She talks about this all – even her fear of it – as if this really was a lifestyle and something progressive and character building. Her shocking lack of awareness of Keith being evil – despite all he had done to her over the years – is astounding. She is truly defective in being able to detect sinister motives in another person. That may be because her own mother had less the beneficent designs on her over the years.
But imagine, going into dungeons, evidently without a restroom, not knowing when you would be let out – it might be days – knowing Raniere; being paddled viciously, with Raniere calling in while the paddling session is going on – to make sure they are hitting each other hard enough, standing barefoot in the snow, waking up in the middle of the night to do burpees, and not to mention assigning everything you own to Raniere – along with vagina pictures and a nice big burning brand.
All for growth?
It is good that Raniere himself will be permitted to experience some of the same kind of growth where he is now and where he is likely to be assigned after sentencing.
Happily, he will be in a dungeon. But we do know something Lauren and the other women did not know about their dungeon – we know Raniere is never likely to ever be let out of his.
Viva Executive Success!
Did Lauren take a beating?
Marie White enlarged this photo of Lauren Salzman which shows she has quite a scar on her shoulder – not unlike the scar she has on her pubic region. Was this caused by an accident or is this a mark made by Raniere?
See the other parts in our series>