This is part #5 in our series on Sylvie, the longtime Nxivm member who became a DOS sex slave.
In this excerpt, Sylvie give a detailed account of her physical training went under the direction of Keith Raniere and Clare Bronfman.
This seems apt since Frank Report just published a post about another fitness freak, Kim Constable, Ireland Nxivm Leader Kim Constable Has Fitness Training She Calls ‘Prison Workout’ – Did She Get It From Raniere?
The idea seems to be to train to extremes and in Sylvie’s case she got sick because of it .
Sylvie was the first witness in the trial of Keith Alan Raniere. And she brings people inside Nxivm in a way that must have been a very eye-opening look at Raniere and Nxivm for the jurors.
In support of the ruling of the court in the trial of Keith Raniere, Sylvie’s last name is not being used by Frank Report.
Neither are we publishing her picture.
AUSA Moira Penza is examining Sylvie. The judge is Nicholas G. Garaufis [Referred to as THE COURT]
Q So now going back to the time period between 2012 and 2014, are you …. training as a runner?
A Yes, although at the end of 2012, I got really sick and so things kind of started to fall apart in my running.
Q … What’s going on in terms of your living situation…. ?
A … I had a place in London…. then I started to stay…. with Clare State-side….
Q …. what type of visa are you traveling on?
A I was on the tourist visa waiver.
Q …. did anybody from the NXIVM community ever speak to you about any potential immigration difficulties you could have?
A …. Clare suggested flying through different airports that weren’t JFK because it seemed it was harder to get through immigration at JFK. So I flew through Charlotte …. Chicago and …. Atlanta at different times….
Q …. how much are you training?
A Well, I had made a commitment …. to Keith and Clare… Keith… mentioned that triathletes have to train so much more than runners and even up to … six hours a day… and I took that as, like, verbatim so I started training six hours a day minimum….
Q And how would those results get reported?….
A I sent my training schedule and my results of my schedule every day to Keith and to Clare.
Q Would either of them give you feedback on that?
A Not very often…. Clare … was the go-between between me and Keith, essentially, for my training and that she was to oversee my training ….
Q Was there ever a specific discussion about how you should train in terms of your running?
A Not really. I never got a running program or anything like that.
Q Well, what pace were you at?
A I was given specific sessions I needed to do by Keith and that was …. I had to run for as long as I could at 12.1 miles an hour on a treadmill which is a 4:59 per mile pace and then there was another pace which I think was 11.3 or 11.8 …. So I was given these two different paces and told that I needed to extend that time as long as I could.
Q And was there ever a discussion about how long you had gone and whether that was enough?
A …. I used to run on the treadmill in Clare’s basement and she was often upstairs working so I would come up. I needed to report my times every time I did it and the point was to be increasing, but …. I never reached a point where it was enough. So it never was, like, “Oh, you’ve run long enough at this time.” That never happened. So it was basically a failure every time and always looking at, like, “Oh, where did you fail,” and I felt like I was being told that it was an emotional issue …. because I was getting EMs on why I stopped, when I stopped and things like that.
Q Were you ever tasked with getting EMs regarding your running?
A Yeah, about why I stopped when I did speed work.
Q And who would perform those EMs on you?
A …. Dani Padilla, … Karen U… Siobhan Hotaling, and …. Lauren Salzman….
Q Now…. at some point, you got sick. Can you describe what happened?
A … I was… training, like, six, six or more hours a day of cardio and I started feeling very bad and it was very hard to complete the sessions…. I … really thought that it could be in my head. A lot to do with, I think, the training I got in the ESP and I always thought it was some kind of an emotional failing, that I couldn’t do what I was trying to do. So I was more focused on just trying to push through because I thought it was more an emotional issue so I was forcing my body very hard essentially. It got worse and worse and worse and then I ended up having an abscess. Eventually, I went to the doctor about it and he told me I was, like, on the verge of sepsis because I had got a really bad, intense infection.
Q Prior to going to the doctor, had you ever discussed with the defendant or anyone else in the community the fact that you were not feeling well?
A In my check-ins…. to Keith and Clare…. I was saying, like, “I’m not feeling very good” and… “I’m not doing well” and “I don’t feel well.”
Q And how would they respond?
A I don’t remember anyone encouraging me to go to the doctor….
Q Did you feel like you could ease up on your training?
Q I’m showing you … an e-mail that you wrote to Clare Bronfman and Keith Raniere… on November 30, 2012?…. in this e-mail, are you describing to Clare Bronfman and Keith Raniere the illness that you described to us?
A Yes. I’m explaining, because I was in a lot of pain and I didn’t know why, so I’m explaining the pain in my bum.
Q … can you read some of the notes that you were including at this time to the defendant and to Clare Bronfman?
A I said: “Feeling quite sicky and run down today.” …. The next day, I’ve said: “Had a disrupted night’s sleep again. My jaw is painful. Bum is painful too but better than last week.” And then I said: “Had disrupted sleep again. Waking up with pain. …. Pain severe in bum”. … I’m saying “I can’t sit down, it hurts to sit down.” And then: “Woke up with pain and fear in the night.”
Q And then can you read these notes?
A Yes. It says: “Emotionally quite afraid about the pain in left bum.” …. “Realized I am afraid to push and often feel like I am holding back.” And then I said “I had a massage. Very tired today but emotionally good. Less anxious than normal.”… “Felt particular pretty good emotionally. Just noticed how much anxiety seems to be a base state for me though. I felt groggy for a lot of the day. I think I have been in a self-beating and punishing mode for a few days. I think Clare helped snap me out of it.”…. Then the last one, I said: “Realized how angry, fearful and defensive I have been feeling. Had a good chat with C [Clare] — and going to look at my choice points this week.”
Q What does that mean?
A …. choice points was, … in the teaching, described as where you would kind of come to a crossroad, say, in a basic thing. You could decide to have the coffee or the cake if you’re hungry or thirsty or whatever, and … the choice point would be, like, which do you decide and why.
Q And then there is … a response from Clare Bronfman?
Q And in the response… she says: “Look at the fears which come up around not being able to run or do exercise. This might help also.” What was your understanding of what that meant?
A I think that’s, like, how I relate to running and exercise or how I use it in a certain way.
Q At this point, had you been describing to her that there was some limitations in your running because of the pain you were in?
A Yes. I said I was having a hard time… forcing myself through my sessions and I think my results were really going downhill…. everything was sort of going downhill massively.
Q … there’s a forwarded message … from you on December 3, 2012, to Keith Raniere and Clare Bronfman… could you read this … and … the message that you had then forwarded also on December 3, 2012 from you …. to Keith Raniere and Clare Bronfman….
A … It says: “I have spent a lot of today crying. I think just general fatigue and overwhelm of suppressed emotions caught up with me. My body feels very taxed and I didn’t really want to do anything but I thought it would be good to move so I did 30 minutes on the cross-trainer. That felt pretty good but my heart rate went into the 160s considering that I was going light … then I tried to follow it up with a swim but then my chest started hurting and I felt super weak. I was averaging 3 minutes 23 seconds for 100 meters.
“What do you think I should do RE my training? I have … flucloxacillin [an antibiotic] six tablets daily until Wednesday when the doctor looks at the abscess again to decide if it needs surgery. I was thinking maybe just super light until I start feeling a bit normal again.”
Q What you did you mean, “I was thinking super light”?
A Like hardly any exercise. I was trying it see if I could do less training.
Q At that time, how would you describe the amount of training that you were doing?
A Well, I had been attempting to continue my six hours a day but I literally couldn’t get through it, like, I felt so ill….. I was trying to do a lot less than that. I couldn’t get through the sessions.
THE COURT: Was this six hours all on a treadmill?
THE WITNESS: I was doing, like, 10 to 12 miles running, maybe three hours on the bike, an hour on the cross-trainer, an hour or two hours in the pool. Like, that’s how I would make it out. I would spread it across the running, the pool and the cross-trainer and the bike.
THE COURT: And who was overseeing your training?
THE WITNESS: Keith and Clare. They were the people that were basically overseeing it, yes.
THE COURT: Were they on the scene when you were doing your training?
THE WITNESS: I did some of it in Albany because I was going back and forth. I was also doing it in London but sending the training log… every day.
THE COURT: And in terms of your pulse rate and so forth, you were keeping that information as part of your training?
THE WITNESS: Yes, so they could see where I was fitness-wise and so we could record all of that data. I think I recorded the number of calories I ate, my heart rate …. I used to record my temperature at some point and I had all of these different data points and I would put it in that spreadsheet for them and send it to them daily.
THE COURT: …. did you have medical supervision?
THE WITNESS: No, not until I got the issue and then I went to the doctor.
THE COURT: Go on.
BY MS. PENZA:
Q I can just pull up an example of your log again….. Maybe you can walk through … a single day.
A …. Monday morning and Monday afternoon…. you can see in the running, that was what I planned to do but …. I started getting sick. So the plan was to do five miles, but I ended up only walking two miles. And then the bike, the plan was to do two hours in the morning… I did manage to do that. And then for the swim, the plan was a mile plus drills, 45 minutes in total, and what I actually did was a mile in 33 minutes and kicks and pulls.
And then planned hours training was six hours. I did manage to do six hours, and if you scroll across you … see some more data points which is — my weight at the time is 105.6….my heart — resting heart rate was 67; my blood pressure is 107 over 70; I slept for –that’s either a six or an eight [hours] … and then I had written notes about what was going on.
Q Sylvie, I’m going to show you … an e-mail chain… [that] begins with the e-mail that you … sent to Keith Raniere and Clare Bronfman…. [where] you had mentioned that you were thinking “maybe just super light until I start feeling a bit more normal again;” is that right?
Q And you described that that was maybe taking it easier on your training at that point?
Q And if I could direct you … [to] an e-mail from Clare Bronfman to you, copying the defendant, and it … says: “Hi, Sylv. Keith has suggested to continue exercising so long as it does not hurt.”
At that point in time, had you [already] been telling the defendant and Clare Bronfman that you were indeed in pain?
A Yeah. Yes.
Q And … you write: “Doesn’t hurt, LOL, it’s been hurting for weeks, but yes, okay. I think I will avoid bike for now until I can sit down or maybe try the bike with the other kind of seat. I will feel it out and do what I can.” So can you describe what you were thinking when you were writing this?
A … I was upset because if … you saw in my previous check-ins …. I had been talking about the pain and waking up in the night scared with the pain and things like that, and so… it just felt a little bit like all of that was dismissed or not even read maybe because the comment was to keep exercising if it doesn’t hurt. … I didn’t really feel like I … had the care from the people that were supposed to be my coaches.
Q And then I will show you …. an e-mail on December 5th from you to Clare Bronfman and would you … read starting from the second paragraph for us?
A Okay. So it says: “RE doctor, he is happy that the abscess is getting bigger, as it gives them a better chance of being accurate when they cut into it and cause less overall damage. He thinks the pain I have had in the whole area may be an effect of the infection but we’ll know more once we have healed this part. He said the reason why being an elite athlete is hard on the body is because you are stressing every system to its max and if you have a high stress temperament, you burn out in all areas, which I think is an accurate assessment of me. My body has hit burnout a few times. He thinks heal time will likely be four to six weeks with an open wound that will need monitoring and redressing by the nurse and probably more antibiotics. He said that with good management, the infection should not come back but they can. He thinks I just really need to back off for a while and take things steady.”
Q And so what did that mean when you wrote that?
A …. like, stop training so much and just let my body get better.
Q And then could you read the next paragraph?
A I said: “I also just wanted to share my process with you more, maybe so you can understand what is going on for me better. I have been pushing through and fighting myself for a long time ignoring my body to try to do what I thought was the right thing and …- I am … really feeling like I am like a wound up ball of fear and tension for so long.
“I have always felt compelled to try to achieve something or be something and I’m now starting to consider that maybe I don’t need to be the best at something to love myself and be okay with me. I feel quite out of touch with what I truly want. A lot of the time I feel like I’m trying to gain love or acceptance through results and being good at something.
“Not being able to train, not doing much on the work front, and generally not feeling like I’m achieving any external results anywhere has actually been quite freeing and scary at the same time. It is making me think about what do I really want outside of all of these things. I’m not sure the elite athlete part is the one I want, but I don’t know whether I know what else I want.
“I know I want to have self-love, peace, and compassion and to have deep meaningful relationships, a family, and also to feel I am challenging myself physically because I do love movement and physical exertion and the beauty of sport and challenging myself emotionally and in the thought realm.
“I have been feeling very lonely on the path of training. I have a deep respect for it and the people that take it. It’s a lonely ride and there are no shortcuts. If you want to get to the top, it takes many hours, days, weeks, years of singular dedication to the goal. I don’t think I appreciated that before having this taster period of committing to it wholly….
“So that is an insight into my world right now and what I’m thinking. Everyone from ESP or not has suggested that before making any major decisions I get well, rest, heal, and take some objective time, which I think is a very good idea.
“I know that I needed a break before I threw the baby out with the bath water, so this has enforced a break before I broke myself.”
Q … what was your intention in sending that e-mail?
A … I had been really lonely and really struggling to keep going with this [training] and … I really was trying to get Clare to understand what it was like to be me because I didn’t feel supported in that at all and I felt like she was always trying to channel me into continuing doing what I was doing and so I was trying to express how I felt.
Q And can you read [Clare Bronfman’s email] response?
A Yes. She said: “Dear Sylvie, I felt sad in reading this e-mail, as it seems to me from your language and your weight and your eating patterns you’ve slipped back into the robot Sylvie perspective.
“I can certainly understand this has been a scary time for you. It must feel very alone scary and unsure. Try allowing yourself to feel these things. I also understand the temptations and what in a moment seems like an easier path, to disconnect, and resort what is most comfortable during this time to find some predictability, some sense of feeling strong, et cetera, … Love Clare.”
Q What did you understand from this e-mail to you?
A … this was quite a common response from her and I had somehow let her down and that if I was to quit being an athlete, that it was me going back in the robot perspective, like saying that I wanted a family, or that potentially this [being an elite athlete] isn’t what I wanted was me being a robot, and so I just felt backed into a corner. …. I feel like these kind of things wore me down over time and I became more and more apathetic about what I should be doing with my life.
Q Over the course of the next several months, did you end up having various medical procedures related to the abscess?
A Yes. At that time, they drained the abscess and I had all these antibiotics and I think I had — it was, like, a lot — it was antibiotics over at least a couple of months or something, but I had a very high dose of antibiotics and the draining process, but it turned out that that didn’t work and it turned into a fistula … basically, it’s like a channel in your body that shouldn’t be there and I ended up having to have a surgery where they lay the wound open and it needs to heal from the inside out, which is like a six- to eight-week process of having the wound packed every day by a nurse.
Q And did you follow the protocols that were suggested by your doctor after that?
A No. I carried on running and training.
Q Why did you do that?
A Because I felt like that’s what I was supposed to be doing, that’s what I needed to do to make sure I wasn’t being a robot.
Q Were you having conversations [and] continuing to do your check-ins with the defendant and with Clare Bronfman?
A Yeah, my daily check-ins carried on.
Q Did they ever encourage you to follow your doctor’s directions?
A I don’t remember that. I mean, I continued following the program and they had my running program. I don’t remember them saying you should stop running and rest.
Q And did you end up going back to Albany?
A Yeah….. I didn’t want to travel because I was needing to go to the nurse every day to have this wound packed and so I was kind of pushing back on the idea from Clare that I should come back because I … didn’t want to sit on the plane seat with this wound and also the nurses in the U.K. were doing it, but she had suggested there was someone in the ESP community who used to be a nurse that could pack it for me, and so I think [with] a couple of weeks left of the packing process… I came back to the states and had this person in the ESP community pack it for me.
THE COURT: When you say “pack it,” you mean this was an open wound that had to be drained and dressed?
THE WITNESS: Yeah.
THE COURT: On a daily basis?
THE WITNESS: Correct. It had to be packed with a special fiber that would make it heal from the inside out.
THE COURT: All right. Go ahead.
BY MS. PENZA:
Q And while that was happening, were you still training?
A Yeah, I was still running, and I think at some point I think I got back on the bike, too….
Q And you were reporting all of those –
-A Yeah, I was still checking in my training.
Q And some of that was while you were in Albany?
THE COURT: Where were you living when you were in Albany?
THE WITNESS: I would stay at Clare’s house.
THE COURT: Still?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
So here we see the kind of classic unconcern and patent selfishness of both Raniere and Clare Bronfman. Raniere probably rarely looked at Sylvie’s notes or check-ins, and hence he seems to not have even known she was in pain.
As for Clare, she seems to have just wanted to control Sylvie and own her. One wonders if there was really any serious intent on the part of either Clare or Keith to train her into an elite athlete.
This was a fairly common ploy with Keith, used notably in the case of Pam Cafritz who spent years training for the Olympic mile and of course never got anywhere close to the Olympics.
Sylvie too never got anywhere close to serious competition.
She began wanting to be a horse show jumper and got waylaid. Then she was encouraged by Raniere to be an elite runner and that he would train her and he got her on a regiment of insanely training, regardless of her condition, six hours per day, until she got so sick she should have stopped, but he kept her continuing with the running.
This was not about her becoming an elite runner but a slave and what better way to occupy her time but by keep her busy with something, recklessly, carelessly.
And should she fail, which of course she did, Raniere [and Clare] had the perfect default – it was always the person’s fault. It was always Sylvie’s fault, something she did wrong. She did not run enough, she was too emotional.
Meantime every minute of her life – throughout her 20s and into her 30s was consumed by Nxivm.
I recall how many in Nxivm, no doubt led by Keith, said when Pam Cafrtitz died young, never getting anywhere near the Olympics, that if only she had listened to Keith and eaten less and trained more, she would not have gotten cancer and made the Olympic team.
But the fact is, it is probably because she listened to Keith that caused her illness.
In upcoming post on Sylvie we shall see Keith’s next plan for her total control. Stay tuned.