As we begin to wind down our coverage of Nxivm, we still have a little more to present in the lead-up to the sentencing of Keith Alan Raniere, Clare Webb Bronfman and the other Nxivm defendants.
The story of Sylvie, the first witness in the trial of Raniere, is one that hardly militates towards feelings of leniency for the sinful one.
In my opinion, Sylvie is a very sympathetic and transparent figure. She has credibility. You can see she is not a liar and though she got entrapped in this crazy cult and perhaps to some seems weak-willed to have been stuck so deeply in it, one should consider that Keith Raniere, Nancy Salzman, Clare Bronfman, Pam Cafrtiz, Monica Duran and others of the wolf pack were older than her [Sylvie joined when she was about 20 and was naive, immature and uneducated] and the wolf pack basically devoured her.
Still, she seems to be honest and persuasive, a wise choice to be the lead-off witness.
This is Part #10 of our series on Sylvie. [Links to the earlier stories are at the end of this post.]
She is being examined by AUSA Moira Penza.
In her previous testimony, Sylvie explained how Raniere made her send naked photos to him – and then met with her and took pictures of her and performed oral sex on her, very much against her desires. This destroyed her faith in him – and caused her to realize that he was a creepy, putrid and disgusting liar and not a true mentor at all.
However, she had given a lot of collateral and could not easily escape from his clutches and the clutches of his co-conspirator, Monica Duran, her slave master.
Q So, aside from the assignments directly related to the naked photos and the meeting in person with the defendant [Raniere], did you have any other assignments from Monica?
A Yeah, not official assignments actually, I mean I had…. recruiting of other people, that was the next … specific thing… she asked me to send her a list of people that I could see recruiting as slaves.
Q Okay. Did you ever have to do any written type of work?
A Yeah. So, at some point in the summer ….of 2016 …. the summer …. before everything started happening, … she [Monica] gave me access to… 20 or more articles and I had to read each article that was apparently written by Keith Raniere and then follow a questionnaire to rate how good they were or how impactful I thought they were and any notes or comments I had on the afterthoughts.
Q How long did it take you to review those articles?
A …. I had a two-week deadline so I would work on it a bit every day … like one to two hours daily on this project through that two-week time period.
Q Did you ever do any other sorts of tasks from Monica?
A Yeah, I used to run errands for her, like I would get grocery shopping for her, pick up her prescriptions, stuff like that, and then also she asked me to look after her dog and I ended up looking after her dog for maybe as long as a six-month period we had her dog living at our house and then when it wasn’t, I would be going over to walk her dog frequently, almost every day or do things to do with her dog a lot of the time.
Q Were you paid?
Q Was that the sort of thing that people in the NXIVM community would be paid to do?
A Yeah, I think so. I mean I had never done it for work before but I know that people paid people to clean their houses and do tasks like errands and things like that.
Q At some point, I think you mentioned actually earlier in your testimony that at some point you had to give additional collateral?
Q When was that concept introduced?
A … I’m not sure exactly when it was but I felt like it was quite late on that Monica told me that we needed to strengthen the collateral, I think it was month by month and so I needed to like backdate mine because I hadn’t been doing that and so I had to give her like a few months collateral in one go and then get on a schedule with her of doing that.
Q What sort of things did you provide for that collateral?
A Well, she gave me some suggestions, so like there were – I wrote more letters that were damaging and upsetting to people that loved me or cared about me with the idea that if they ever received that letter, it would completely destroy my relationship with them and that included … letters to John. [her husband] And then also … I had committed that she would get half of my income or … a chunk of my income…. At some point I committed …. in [as] letter that she had power over whether I was allowed to have children or not, that was a form of collateral….
Q What was the process like of creating that?
A … I was encouraged to think about … what would be most destroying for me if it ever came out. … what could ultimately leave me with nobody that would love me or care about me and left me completely alone in the world with nothing was the idea…. at some point Monica … showed me this script, it was like a bullet-pointed list of how you should view your master and what you should do or think about as a slave to your master and so that was also like a guide of how to come up with these kind of things to me.
Q Around that time did you participate in a vow with Monica?
A Yes, that was another thing, I was asked to write a vow, like a life commitment vow to Monica and that we would have some kind of a ceremony where I would say the vow and that she would put this necklace on me with a clasp that was supposedly never able to be undone and so I wrote the vow and she approved it and then we eventually met and she put the necklace on me with the clasp.
Q Did she have a name for the necklace?
A I think she called it a dog collar….
Q When you participated in the vow did you feel like this was an option?
A No, and everything that she asked of me was not like optional in my mind, it was a command from my master.
Out of the mind of the Raniere came these things. They were not Monica’s ideas. Or Allison’s or even Lauren Salzman’s. This is pure Raniere.
Monica was not keeping up with the collateral. She had Sylvie as a slave and did not demand monthly collateral and most likely Raniere met with her and demanded that she had to catch up with the collateral.
The fool actually thought that more collateral would ensure silence. Instead, it worked the opposite way. The demand for more collateral only made the slaves tense and unhappy and pushed them toward the breaking point. He was insane to think he could have a large, secret society of slaves held in check by blackmail.
Sylvie had to write letters that were “damaging and upsetting to people that loved me or cared about me [to] completely destroy my relationship with them.”
She had to pledge half her income to Monica [which would have gone to Keith]. She likely did not realize that such a pledge is unenforceable in any court of law in the USA.
She also committed in a letter that Monica had power over whether Sylvie was allowed to have children.
The goal was to isolate and control her. This had always been Raniere’s end-game with everyone. With DOS, he was just a lot more blatant.
He thought that the first-line slave masters and collateral would speed up the process of enslavement of many young and beautiful women.
He thought that dog collars, branding and blackmail would provide him with a bigger harem, without the hard work it entails to build and maintain a harem with all its various personalities and egos and upsets.
He would have eight first-line slave masters manage underlings, young and attractive slender women, which, as he stated to some of his slaves – they were all his wives. He thought of them this way.
It backfired on the fool spectacularly. Now, in his prison environment, he has no harem whatsoever, although he may now be a bitch in the harem of some hardened prisoner who might anally ravish him on a nightly basis with or without collateral, the power of obedience and Raniere’s silence being only brute force.
Viva Executive Success!