Keith Alan Raniere is presently residing at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, NY.

Battle Continues Over Whether ‘Victims’ Will Have to Use Full Names in Order to Speak at Raniere’s Sentencing

The battle rages over whether alleged victims of Keith Alan Raniere will be able to come to his sentencing and not disclose their names to the public.

Raniere will know, of course, who the individuals are who claim he abused them. But, just to be certain, federal prosecutors are going to give him a list with the full names of each of them.

The victims will parade before the judge and tell their stories of how Raniere hurt them. And apparently, this will not be limited just to those who were named as victims in the trial against him.

Raniere was convicted on June 19 of sex trafficking, racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, identity theft, forced labor, wire fraud. He was also found to have committed all the predicate acts related to the racketeering charges – including possession of child porn and sexual exploitation of a minor.

Pandora’s box has been opened as prosecutors are soliciting various alleged victims to come forward and tell the judge how Raniere abused them.

Raniere filed a motion yesterday through his attorney, Paul DerOhannesian [pronounced Dear O’ Nxian] – who’s apparently writing all of Raniere’s filings these days instead of his lead trial attorney, Marc Agnifilo.

Ranier’s lawyers: Marc Agnifilo [l] and Paul DerOhanessian [r]
DerOhannesian wrote:

We represent Mr. Keith Raniere in the above matter. We write in further opposition to the Government’s Letter Motion to Designate Certain Information as Victim Discovery Material (Dkt. No. 820) and in response to Your Honor’s Text Order of January 7, 2020.

Raniere previously opposed the Government’s pre-trial request seeking similar relief….. In addition to the arguments raised therein and incorporated in this filing (Dkt. No. 595), Raniere respectfully submits the following:

Sentencing letters and the identity of the writers are generally deemed public records. See United States v. Kravetz, 706 F.3d 47, 56-59 (1st Cir. 2013) (“Having concluded that the common law right of access attaches to sentencing  memoranda, it is but a small step to also conclude that the right also extends to sentencing letters submitted in connection with those memoranda.”).

This is so because they are being relied upon by the court in determining an appropriate sentence. See id. (“Thus, like substantive legal memoranda submitted to the court by parties to aid in adjudication of the matter of a defendant’s innocence or guilt, sentencing memoranda are meant to impact the court’s disposition of substantive rights.”).

Sealing is only appropriate “if specific, on the record findings are made demonstrating that closure is essential to preserve higher values and is narrowly tailored to serve that interest.” Lugosch v. Pyramid Co., 435 F.3d 110, 120 (2d Cir. 2006).

The Government “bears the burden of demonstrating that sealing is warranted.” United States v. Wright, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99981, at *6 (E.D.N.Y. July 16, 2010).

The Government asserts that use of a first name or a pseudonym is justified because “a significant number of victims [] would like to be heard at the defendants’ upcoming sentencings but are concerned for their privacy.” (Dkt. No. 820, p. 2).

Although the Government has not identified these individuals, the prosecution is seemingly extending its request far beyond the operating Indictment’s named Jane and John Does. (Id. at 3). In so doing, the prosecution is certifying to this Court and the public who is a “victim” which necessarily places the Government in the position of vouching for the credibility of an individual who seeks to influence Raniere’s punishment.

The prosecution’s anointing of “victim” status to an individual connotes a predetermination that an individual has in fact been wronged. Such a predetermination would also prejudice the defendant at his sentencing. The defendant disputes the “victimhood” of individuals who were not named as victims in the Second Superseding Indictment and therefore have not withstood any standard of review.

The Government’s motion also fails to provide this Court with the specific findings necessary to justify its request and instead speaks in generalities. No witnesses are identified. No witness-specific concerns are raised. Instead, the Government asserts in a conclusory fashion that “certain victims” suffered “degrading and humiliating treatment” and that “many victims are concerned about being identified publicly in light of the trial evidence regarding retaliation.” (Dkt. No. 820, pp. 2-3) (emphasis added).

However, the prosecution does not identify any of the “trial evidence regarding retaliation” or assert that Raniere, who has been confined since March 2018 with very little contact beyond his attorneys, participated in or condoned this so-called retaliation.

Indeed, the Government has made no showing that Raniere has harassed, humiliated, or annoyed any purported victim in “retaliation” for bringing evidence against him.1 The sealing of otherwise public material requires more than the Government’s conclusory assertions that unidentified individuals face unnamed retaliation or speculation that future victims will fear reporting.

Accordingly, Raniere respectfully requests that this Court deny the Government’s motion as the prosecution has not met its burden of demonstrating “‘persuasive evidence of serious risk’ to a compelling interest” justifying sealing the information it seeks to utilize to presumably enhance Raniere’s sentence. United States v. Zazi, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67595 at *13 (E.D.N.Y. June 28, 2010) (quoting Ayala v. Speckard, 131 F.3d 62, 70 (2d Cir. 1997)).

At the very least, prior to granting the motion, the Government should be required to identify the witness it claims
is a “victim” and explain why that specific individual is deserving of special consideration.

Thank you for Your Honor’s consideration in this matter.

Very truly yours,

DerOhannesian & DerOhannesian
Paul DerOhannesian II
Danielle R. Smith

Footnote: Raniere raised this argument in opposition to the Government’s pre-trial motion seeking similar relief.
(Dkt. No. 595, pp. 5-10) (distinguishing United States v. Marcus, 2007 WL 330388 (E.D.N.Y. January 31, 2007)). If
the prosecution had any tangible evidence that Raniere engaged in retaliatory conduct or witness tampering, no doubt
it would have included such evidence in its current motion.

************

Tanya Hajjar

The government replied through AUSA Tanya Hajjar as follows:

The government respectfully submits this letter in brief reply to the defendant Keith Raniere’s letter objecting to the government’s motion to limit disclosure of victim identifying information at sentencing in the above-captioned case.

The defendant’s letter misapprehends the law and his argument is meritless.

As this Court has already held, the Second Circuit has identified “two central interests defendants have in the public airing of identifying information about witnesses”:

(1) obtaining information which may be helpful in investigating the witness out of court or in cross-examination; and

(2) eliciting information that may be important to the jury’s deliberations as to the witness’s credibility or knowledgeability. Mem. & Order, ECF

Docket Entry 622 at 30-31 (citing United States v. Marti, 421 F.2d 1263, 1266 (2d Cir 1970)).

Once the government has provided a valid reason to limit disclosure of identifying information in open court, the defendant must demonstrate a “particularized need” for the information, which the Court weighs against the harm to the witness. Id. (quoting United States v. Marcus, No. 05-CR-457 (ARR), 2007 WL 330388, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 31, 2007)).

The Court has already found that forcing victims in this case to publicly identify themselves could cause embarrassment, harassment, and humiliation, and does not serve the legitimate purposes identified by the Second Circuit.

The defendant does not articulate any “particularized need” for the disclosure of victim identity information in open
court. He does not because he cannot. The defendant will be provided with a list of the victims’ true identities pursuant to the protective order entered in this case, and he has not offered any explanation as to what harm he may suffer if the victims were allowed to proceed at sentencing by providing their Jane or John Doe number, or their first name only.

Raniere’s claim that he would be prejudiced at sentencing because a victim’s use of a Jane or John Doe number would “connote[] a predetermination that an individual has in fact been wronged,” Ltr. at 1-2, is entirely unfounded, particularly since it is this Court, not a jury, that will assess victim statements.

For the foregoing reasons, the government respectfully requests that the Court grant its motion.

Respectfully submitted,
RICHARD P. DONOGHUE
United States Attorney
By: /s/ Tanya Hajjar
Tanya Hajjar
Mark J. Lesko
Karin Orenstein
Assistant U.S. Attorneys

****

Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis

My best guess is that the judge will side with the prosecution and allow alleged victims to use Jane or John Doe or their first names only.

I expect more than 100 women and a few men will come forward and tell their tale of pain and harm imposed on them by Keith Raniere.

It will be effective and impressive and there will be a lot of genuine tears.

However, if the judge sides with Raniere, then I would expect that, rather than more than 100 alleged victims lining up, there will be less than a dozen.

While I feel that most of the alleged victims are truly victims in this case and that if all of his true victims were to appear there would probably be close to 1000 –  I still feel a sense of due process being violated.

When people who were not named in the charges that were adjudicated in the trial –  and without the benefit of being cross-examined – can simply come forward and accuse a defendant in open court, it seems that something is missing from true adherence to fairness.

It seems to negate the very purpose of a trial if anyone can come in – and influence the sentence of someone convicted of specific crimes.  That bothers me more than whether or not they use their full names.

I mean, can someone who was abused in some other way by Raniere that had nothing to do with the crimes he was convicted of come forward and accuse him at his sentencing?

How can that be fair? He has no chance to cross-examine.

And if you say the judge will not be influenced or that the judge understands that this has not been tested at trial, I say then what is the point of having them come before the judge – if he won’t be influenced?

I don’t think it is due process to have a free-for-all – for any defendant convicted of specific crimes – to have all manner of people come forward – without any standard of evidence – and just come forward to try to influence the sentencing.

I fully support those who were named as victims in the trial – and whose accusations withstood the rules of evidence and cross-examination to speak at sentencing.  But inviting everyone who claims they were a victim without any standard of proof – other than the prosecution’s say so – — to just come forward and accuse a defendant – seems unjust.

And unlike Raniere, I want justice for all – even him.

 

 


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Frank Parlato

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  • I greatly respect Frank Parlato. Sadly, he seems to have a blind spot for Donald Trump – perhaps the most corrupt man to ever live. So this post will be blocked. Why is that, Frank? How is the man who brought down KAR a Trump fan?

    • Frank seems to have a better eye for corruption than most, and unfortunately in the last election one had to pick the least corrupt of the two. I would hate to see the produce you bring home.

  • I think it is valid for the judge to change their sentencing based on the impact statements, given that they also listen to the positive things the inmate’s friends and family say about them. It can’t be a two way street. I think the judge does not add more crimes when sentincg. But takes the statements into account to determine how long they will sentence them.
    I think impact staments are also important for victims to have closure and feel heard. this is important.

    Now given that Keith is a Psycopath the worse thing u can do is to ignore him. Act like he is a bore. Yawn at him. be indiferente. that is the worse for them. I think it can help the judge to see that there is pain and harm caused by him. But if u want to hurt keith consider being indiferent to him. He is a bore. a boring pathetic inmate.

  • I don’t know many countries where people who were not direct victims and proven as such in the original trial who could be heard as “victims” at a sentencing other than families of dead proven victims, I must say. Raniere’s lawyers have a point here.

  • Of course, you’re right, Frank. However, the DOJ (as a whole) is already not playing fair by negating most of the crimes committed in the NDNY — some of which are far more heinous than those they prosecuted.

    Where I once had hope that the EDNY remanded some of those crimes for prosecution to the Northern District where they occurred, the fact that other crimes committed in the NDNY WERE, however, prosecuted by the Eastern District — regardless of where they were committed — leads me to believe there may never be an NDNY trial. It’s clear those, too, might have been prosecuted in the EDNY but they were remanded to outer space if the NDNY does not prosecute. And, in that case, both districts and the DOJ as a whole are culpable in deliberately denying “justice for all” as you espouse.

    The child molestation of 15-year-old Camila Fernandez, as an example, was remanded to the NDNY and not prosecuted. It was given only lip service, became a means to flip defendants besides Raniere, but Camila would not be able to speak at the sentencing hearing if she wanted to under such a strict adherence to the guidelines as you propose.

    Of course, there are many other victims who I’m sure do wish to speak but who will be silenced and deprived of their day in court that they’ve awaited and suffered for so long under these unjust circumstances. Justice for all demands that they all be allowed to speak.

  • Raniere should not be afraid of anything, as he taught there are no victims, which would include him.

    I think the victim statements are different than court testimony, as Raniere has already been convicted. Victims often give sentencing statements that are not subject to cross examination. These are only personal opinions that are meant to show whether the convict is an overall “good” or “bad” person in order to determine the length of the sentence.

    Raniere has a minimum of 15 years, even if every person coming forward supported him. The only question at hand is whether they need to identify themselves publicly. There is no doubt Raniere played mind-games his entire life, and there is no doubt he used Bronfman money to legally harass and intimidate others, and no doubt caused many people to not speak up over the past couple of decades, which allowed him to operate for so long, so there are several unique reasons why anonymity should be allowed.

    At this point, he does not have the same rights as he did at trial, and the judge is well-equipped to discern whether the stories are being made up or legitimate. That’s what judges do, make judgments about things. The patterns and consistencies in any letters alone should help the defense, prosecution, and the judge determine whether the statements are truthful, assuming a massive coordination did not occur (which is quite unlikely, as nobody coordinated anything very much before the Frank Report came along, and even then not with each other,”thanks” in no small manner to Natalie), AND whether the letters are consistent with the evidence that was accepted at the trial. Raniere and his lawyers will be provided the names and testimony prior to the sentencing hearing to enable them to challenge the accuracy of the victims’ statements, and the judge can use the written statements alone to help him decide the length of sentencing, whether or not they testify in court.

    Although not anonymous, the Epstein victims made statements in court, even though Epstein had already died and was not going on trial. This was done to help the victims get over their trauma and bring a sense of closure, which means these allocutions are not just about the perp, but for the benefit of the victims as well.

    I think Raniere’s goose is cooked, this is a mere formality and the judge will allow the identities to be kept hidden.

    • “I think Raniere’s goose is cooked.”
      -Scott Johnson

      I think your brain is cooked. Keith Raniere was found guilty in a court of law. His goose is kicked.

  • I see your point in this, Frank. It is a hard truth for many who have been victimized and who need a way to confront their abuser to lance the poison. As a past survivor of my own time with Raniere, I struggle with PTSD that pervades my life and sometimes flares to a point that is incapacitating – that’s where I am now. In sharing my story with the FBI and in following this case and the testimony, there have been too many points of recognition and revelation for me. My body and mind are now struggling to come to grips with how deliberately abusive my time with Raniere was – and despite your protectiveness of her, Karen Unterreiner’s role in that as well.

    There are many victims of Raniere’s abusiveness. Unfortunately, not all his mind-fuckery is prosecutable. There are limits to the legal system in confronting evil. One has to hope there is some higher power that will pass judgement on those who work to destroy peoples souls rather than uplift their fellow humans. I don’t think there is any possible rehabilitation for Raniere – but I think vulnerable people will be protected if he is permanently removed from society. So in a sense, if the legal system allows victims the chance to demonstrate how toxic Raniere is beyond the scope of what was shown at trial; if this somehow helps remove him from society permanently even if it is not perhaps strictly “fair” legally, I cannot bring myself to champion your point. If I still had any firm belief in a higher power, I would say it is God’s hand in it.

    I am hoping all victims get the help they need to recover their lives and move on into a brighter future. And for those who did not survive their time with Raniere, I’m hoping that new information coming to light will finally bring some justice for them. Keep digging Frank. I know you are battling to protect yourself in your own legal mire courtesy of the machinations of Raniere, but your work also helps many others. I hope your efforts bring you safely through the legal muck. I admire your ability to see the flip side of allowing anonymous victims and weigh it dispassionately in terms of legal validity despite your own situation.

    • Now –

      Thank you for so bravely and eloquently sharing your thoughts. I can hear the pain in your words. I hope it would help to know that thousands, if not millions on the planet have been conned / victimized / tricked / betrayed / raped by a sociopath – losing trust, money and innocence in the process. It’s not your fault, and I mean that sincerely. One can only put the experience away in a drawer and soldier on towards the good things in life that absolutely still await. I’ve had to do that, though fortunately not at the hands of Raniere,.

      Having had the chance to meet him a few times, I can confirm that he’s a very convincing man who appears sincere and well meaning. For a short time I even thought he might be the one and only entrepreneur who could make an MLM work. I was wrong of course.

      My mother always told me, the opposite of love is not hate. It’s INDIFFERENCE. And that is what I think Raniere richly deserves.He should be sentenced and then fade into obscurity in his well earned cage. This should allow his victims to finally feel safe and heal in earnest. I’m sure many out there still fear a possibly reversal on appeal, resulting in his release.

      I have to agree with Frank on this one, about the pre-sentencing testimony, I want to see the man locked up fair and square, with no chance of reversal. But like others, I hold out hope that the bastard will someday be held accountable for his likely hand in the deaths and poisonings of those close to him. To him, they were nothing but “opportunities.”

Frank Parlato Investigates

Frank Parlato Investigates

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many, many others in all five continents.

His work helping take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg; “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson; “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La secta que sedujo al poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been featured prominently on HBO’s documentary “The Vow” and acted as lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.”

Parlato will be featured in an upcoming episode of American Greed.

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