This is the next in our series on Lauren Salzman. These posts are culled from her testimony in the trial of Keith Alan Raniere.
We are attempting to study whether Lauren is more victim or perpetrator. In this post, Lauren gives us a little insight into Keith’s cowardice, his running off to Mexico, his telling Lauren to lie about DOS [which she gladly did] his curious relationship with Clare and we even get a peak at hapless Dawn Morrison, his harem member, who started a car servicing company called KAR-ma.
AUSA Tanya Hajjar is examining Lauren in the Brooklyn courtroom of Judge Nicholas Garaufis.
Q Prior to you meeting with the reporter [Vanessa Grigoriadis for the New York Times Magazine], had the defendant [Raniere] traveled to Mexico?
A Yes. He traveled to Mexico in October 2017, returned back to Mexico in November 2017 and never came back to the States until he was arrested.
Q Did you spend New Year’s Eve with the defendant in Mexico?
A I did, yes.
Q Can you explain that to the jury?
A Keith went back to Mexico like in November, middle November, and within a short period of time cut communications and I didn’t speak to him for a period of weeks. I can’t recall if it was four or five or six, something like that, but was out of communication for some time. And at one point, he resurfaced and Loreta [Garza] told me that I could get a prepaid phone and that I could communicate with him on the phone and through those communications on the burner phones. … he invited me to come and spend New Year’s in Mexico.
Q And what is a burner phone, Ms. Salzman?
A It’s prepaid phone, basically, that you can buy in a store that is not linked to your person. So it’s not traceable to you in any way like your email address or your name or anything. It’s untraceable. It’s unlinkable to you.
Q What was the purpose of you buying a burner phone to communicate with the defendant around that time, November 2017?
A Because he wouldn’t communicate with me otherwise. He was communicating on those phones, and I was told if I wanted to communicate with him, I could communicate with him if I were to get a phone like that.
Q Did you subsequently learn the [FBI] agents had visited the NXIVM center in Monterrey at around that time?
A I did hear that, yes.
Q What did they do that you heard?
A That they had come to the NXIVM center in Monterrey asking for Keith and that they left business cards.
Q After you spent New Year’s Eve — well, while you spent New Year’s Eve with the defendant, did he tell you anything when you were there?
A Yes. He told me that there were investigations in three countries into our opposition, the people who were oppositional to us, and making — the allegations – public and private allegations against us, and that we were going to win because the truth was on our side; and that he communicated a number of ideas for the upcoming coach summit. He told me that I could speak to Clare about getting a Proton mail address.
Q What is Proton mail address?
A It’s an encrypted email address that also is not linked to you in any way, to your name, to your – anything about you.
Q Where had you visited the defendant in Mexico?
A On that trip I visited him in Punta Mita. That’s near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Q Before the defendant left for Mexico that second time, did you have an opportunity to observe him?
A I did, yes.
Q And what did he do before he left for Mexico?
A I went to see him at 21 Oregon where he was living at the time and he — or he had lived, and he was backing up his devices. And he left some things behind, some money and some letters and some — possibly other things, but I knew specifically about the money and the letters.
Q Was there anything else that he did with respect to his electronic devices at that time?
A Yes. He had Nicki [Clyne] forward him from one email account to another email account a number of naked pictures and collaterals.
Q Which account to which account?
A I had heard from Nicki that there was an account that — she called it the Stevie account. I’m not sure of the address on it, but that’s what she referred to it as. And she forwarded them from that account to Keith’s Yahoo! mail account. She was sharing this because she was concerned about it because she felt it was a breach of security, and the idea had always been those things really need to be locked down and not made public. But he instructed her to do it and she did it.
Q Was there anything else the defendant did before he left for Mexico?
A Not other than leaving the letters and the money.
Q Can you explain the money?
A The money was a Ziploc bag that appeared to be from Dawn Morrison, that she had a company that Keith had given her the idea for and — she paid him royalties as part of the — like the tribute for the idea of the business. And he had — it wasn’t that much money, but he had not seemingly saved all the money that she had given him. So there were like little envelops of like $5, $10, $20. So he had saved it all in this Ziploc bag and it appeared to be over many years. And it was, you know, Dawn’s handwriting and the dates and the amount on it. And so he left it with Nicki who then gave it to me.
Q The fact that the defendant did these things, does that give you any particular impression?
A It gave me the impression he wasn’t coming back or coming back anytime soon. If this is money that he had saved over a number of years for Dawn or for whatever reason, why now all of a sudden not keep that.
Q After you visited with the defendant in Mexico, did you return to the United States?
A Yes, I did —
A — come back? Well, I just came home and I was still living at home. I had responsibilities in New York. My family was all here.
Q Did you address the community after you returned to the United States?
A I did, yes. And there was a coach summit that we ran immediately after that as well.
Q You testified –
A A NXIVM coach summit.
Q You testified yesterday that you lied in a community meeting?
Q Can you describe that to the jury?
A Yes. So Keith had been communicating since before the holidays — so it was before I even saw him in Mexico –directly and through other people that he felt that we had waited too long, we needed to address the community and address their concerns.[about DOS and the branding and blackmail collateral] And he didn’t know why we had waited so long, and this was really problematic.
And so before we were going to meet with Vanessa [Grigoriadis, NY Times Magazine writer], I heard through Clare [Bronfman] several times and Nancy [Salzman] that Keith had spoken to both of them and said the same thing that I just said, like the community members needed to be met with, we had taken too long do it already and that it was important that they not read in the New York Times what we were going to say before they heard it from us directly.
And so that we needed to address the community first. And it was unclear who was the best person to do it. But the only two public people to speak about these things were myself and Allison [Mack]. So Allison and I went before the NXIVM community the night before we were interviewed with Vanessa and communicated much of what Keith had communicated at V Week, what was in his position statement, what he had discussed with me in Punta Mita and answered questions that they had.
Q Where was the defendant at the time you addressed the community?
A Somewhere in Mexico.
Q I’m sorry?
A Somewhere in Mexico.
Q During this community meeting, did you say anything about having met with law enforcement?
A Yes. Yes, I —
Q Can you explain that?
A I can’t recall my exact words. But basically that law enforcement or ex-law enforcement had vetted the situation, you know, that they had come in and done a thorough review of everything concerning the allegations, and found that there was no need for concern and that this was a very good thing.
Q Was that true?
A We had met with some ex-law enforcement but — what we told everybody — it wasn’t a thorough investigation because we misrepresented and lied about all the same things that I’ve been testifying for the last two days that we lied about. So it wasn’t a thorough vetting or a thorough investigation.
Q So the individuals you described as law enforcement, those were individuals retained by NXIVM?
A Yes, ma’am.
Q Were you honest with them?
Q What did you tell them?
A I told them the same thing that I told everybody else, that the brand wasn’t Keith’s initials, that Keith wasn’t involved. I represented it similar to Jness that he had come up with the tools and the curriculum and given us permission to use them but was not involved in the inner workings of anything and had little knowledge of what we were doing.
I said that Rosa Laura [Junco] was my master, not Keith. Test of Abraham, you know, that seduction assignments were never meant to be carried out, they were all just dares, that the women had come up with the idea for branding and that Keith — the — the — Keith’s initials were only in there as an afterthought as a tribute and not meant to be interpreted that way at all.
Q Did you provide these individuals with copies of the collateral?
A I provided them with the compiled materials, at least one of them I provide[d] the compilation of the materials that represented examples of positivity and consent but leaving out anything that showed the opposite. And some of those pictures, as I testified yesterday, were pictures where the girls were instructed to look happy and like they wanted to be doing that.
Q At some point did the defendant release a public statement addressed to the NXIVM community?
A Yes, he did. He released a statement on the NXIVM website, I believe.
Q And did — what did that public statement contain?
A It contained statements that he was not affiliated with the sorority [DOS], that he had little knowledge of it and that we had done a thorough review by ex-law enforcement and forensic psychologists and others, and that they had found that the women of the sorority were thriving and doing better, that this was an overall really good thing.
Q And these were the same things that you repeated at the community meeting?
Q At some point had NXIVM retained a forensic psychiatrist?
Q Did you speak with him?
Q What was his name?
A Park Dietz.
Q Did you lie to Park Dietz as well?
A Yes. We lied to everyone. The same story we told everyone. This was the party line on it. Keith was putting it out publicly. We all put it out publicly. It was all the same.
Q Are you aware if Clare Bronfman put out a similar public statement?
Q Was Clare Bronfman involved in legal efforts relating to DOS?
Q Did she ever ask you about DOS?
A No. I asked Keith what she knew and he told me that she didn’t want to know anything she didn’t need to know.
Q Can you describe the role that Clare Bronfman played in the defendant’s life?
A I think in some ways Clare was a benefactor. I think that she helped assist him in his legal initiatives. She was an NXIVM board member. She had a personal, you know, and I don’t know totally the nature of their relationship, but I believe at one time at least you know, romantic relationship with him.
Q Was she dedicated to him?
A Incredibly dedicated to him, incredibly loyal, incredibly dedicated.
Q At some point did the defendant discuss with you Clare Bronfman’s financial support of him?
A Yes. I raised concerns at one point in time about things that were going on in the organization that I — with Clare that I wanted to raise with Clare and he asked me to please not raise those things with Clare. And he said at some point we’re going to be in a different place financially, but right now basically she’s paying for everything, and please don’t make a problem, don’t raise it.
Yes, Clare was paying for everything. Nxivm was not making money. It had not made money in years. Keith said it was going to change, that the future was rosy. But he was wrong. It was the Bronfman sisters that funded the racketeering enterprise for years.
And Clare was having a sexual relationship with Keith, and she was helping him with his litigation by terrorism.
The bit about Dawn Morrison is interesting. While undoubtedly the foolish Morrison worked hard at trying to make a go of her little car servicing business [for a monthly fee she would take care of getting your car serviced, oil changed, washed, etc.] and she faithfully paid Keith his little share – $5 here, $10 there, and the rascal never needed or used the money. He kept it in bags for years.
He just put it in Ziploc bags and ignored it. He could have let her keep it. She could barely pay her bills. But there was something in his selfish nature that made him accept it and perhaps even consider it kind of a mockery of Dawn, the smallness of her contributions being perhaps a source of amusement to him.
And right in the middle of this world was Lauren Salzman.
She was going to Mexico, flying back, coming back, lying to the community, working with Nicki Clyne on transferring collateral and ‘kid glove’ handling Clare.
And stupid Keith. He packed up and even backed up his naked picture collection. Too bad he was not smart enough to destroy one set of pictures – the only ones that were actually illegal. They were at his library at 8 Hale. They were pictures of 15-year-old Camila.
He had time to back up his pictures but he left behind the child porn, knowing he was being investigated by the FBI.
It was those pictures – the child porn – that was the weight on the side of the prosecution. It made his co-defendants, including Lauren, rush to take plea deals because they did not want to be tried alongside a pedophile.
It seems Raniere wanted to self destruct. So did Lauren too, it seems.