You wonder if you have to draw a line somewhere.
In this, our next in our series on Sylvie and her testimony in the trial of Keith Alan Raniere, we learn that Sylvie did the same crimes that the first-line slave masters did: She did the same thing Allison did, and Lauren Salzman did and all of them did.
She knew that Raniere was the leader of DOS, yet she recruited two slaves without telling them.
It seems hypocritical, that she is cast as a pure victim by the government, and yet, she engaged in the same conduct that the co-conspirators did – recruiting through lies, getting collateral through lies.
Stealing their freedom through lies. So, on the one hand, she is telling the jury how horrible DOS was, how she felt she had to obey, but she drew no line in preventing others from being sucked into this horror.
This suggests that either it was not so horrible as she testified and that perhaps she really did think that there was some merit to DOS, or she is just as bad as Allison Mack or Monica Duran, and others, who also saw fit to recruit slaves into a sorority without telling them the one crucial piece of information that might have given them pause – that a man was the leader of the master/slave group.
If it was so horrible for her – because of the collateral – that she should be excused from any culpability – then why aren’t Allison and Lauren excused on the same grounds?
If Allison and Lauren and, according the prosecution, the other six first-line slave masters, are guilty of racketeering because they took collateral from women under false pretenses and then used that as a lever to demand obedience while not revealing that Raniere was in charge, then Sylvie is also guilty.
And if she is a victim, then Allison and Lauren are victims too. Perhaps not as much – but to the extent that collateral was used to force recruitment of others, as an excuse of victimization, then everyone is innocent except Raniere, for he was the only one without collateral.
This is Part #11 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.
Q At some point did you learn whether Monica [Duran] had any other slaves?
A Yeah, at some point she told me that I was going to get to meet someone else that was a slave of hers.
Q And at some point did you?
Q And what was the first name of that person?
A …. Ana Gaby.
Q And who was Ana Gaby?
A … she was involved in another one of Keith’s companies called exo/eso.
Q What was exo/eso?
A It was … a fitness class, it was more to do with, you know, movement and like strength and exercise.
Q And did you speak to Ana Gaby about DOS?
A Yeah, she came over to my house and we had a bit of a conversation about it but we weren’t really sure what we were allowed to say and what we weren’t so it was very kind of fractured but we tried to talk about it a little bit.
Q Did you tell Ana Gaby what had happened with you and the defendant ..[Raniere who took naked pictures of her and performed oral sex on her]?
Q Did you have any interactions with Ana Gaby in any of the NXIVM classes?
A Yeah, at some point I was a mentor in … an intensive that was called Human Pain and Lauren Salzman was the head trainer and she put me as, they call it a mentor of Ana Gaby in that training so we… had already met then so we both knew each other was a slave of Monica’s and so we ended up spending a lot of time together in those eight days.
Q And what did Ana tell you during those days or what did you observe, rather, about Ana Gaby during those days?
A We…. got on really well during those days and I thought that… I really like her. I don’t know what she told me specifically. A lot of the classes, it was structured around me asking her the questions I was supposed to as a mentor in Human Pain but more we just had a lot of fun together and I got to know her. At the time she was doing some kind of liquid diet so I think she was telling me about her diet a bit and she told me about how she had struggled growing up as a dancer — she was a dancer, she was a ballet dancer and how she struggled with her weight growing up and it was hard for her to be the right size to be a dancer ….so she shared some … personal things about her and her life and so I just felt like we became a lot closer during those days.
Q At some point did you have a conversation with Monica about Ana Gaby?
A Yeah, at some point Monica contacted me and said that she was having trouble with Ana Gaby and that Ana Gaby was being like defiant or something and she was worried that … she was going to have to release Ana Gaby’s collateral….
… I remember her saying Keith has mentioned she may need to be the first one to fall or some kind of phrase like that and she was really worried that if Ana Gaby didn’t do what she was being asked, that her collateral would have to be released and she asked me to speak to Ana Gaby.
Q And so what happened after that?
A I called Ana Gaby and I was — sort of asked her what was going on and she was really upset and she seemed angry and she was saying things like this is …. fucked up… she didn’t want to send naked pictures anymore, this whole thing was messed up and it was about — the thing that she wasn’t doing was sticking to her 800 calorie diet that she was supposed to be on and I said — I was trying to persuade her to stick to it because honestly I was worried about her with the collateral as well and I didn’t want her collateral to be released, I was trying to persuade her to do what she was being told to do.
Q At some point were you told about a brand?
Q Do you remember when you were first told about that?
A I don’t remember exactly …. it may have been mentioned at the beginning but it was like it was going to happen at some point and it would get mentioned every now and again that there was going to be like a brand at some point but it wasn’t until closer to the end that I more officially found out what that meant.
Q Had you ever heard of a brand before?
A No, but it was described to me by Monica as it would be a bit like a little tattoo or something she said.
Q At some point you learned more about the brand?
Q When did … Monica have a further conversation with you about the brand?
A When she got her brand.
Q And what happened when she got her brand?
A She showed me the brand and it looked like a bit of a kind of open woundy (sic) scar type thing and she traced it and showed it to me saying that it was Keith’s initials and that when I got a brand it would be a mixture of Keith’s initials and her initials…. And she showed it to me where it was on her body.
Q How did the brand look?
A It didn’t look like a tattoo, it looked more like a cut, like an injury… like a paper cut kind… but much bigger than that, so it was like a slit in the skin but in the shape of a K and an R.
Q At some point were you tasked with recruiting your own slaves?
Q And how did that come to happen?
A Monica Duran asked me to send a list of names of people that I thought might sort of trust me enough to go through the process that I went through with her in terms of our being invited to a special project… that process. So, I sent her a list of names of women that I knew in the community and then she would — was approving or not approving of who on that list I should approach.
Q Do you know what her process was for approving or not approving?
Q Why did you go along with this process?
A Because for me, again, this is another command from my master. I honestly did everything that I was told to do. From what I remember, like I didn’t ever consider that anything was optional, so my master told me to do something, I did it.
Q Did you ultimately recruit a slave?
A I did.
Q And did Monica give you any instructions for that process?
A Yeah, I don’t remember whether she was on one of my lists …. but Monica told me to approach… Samantha [LeBaron] …and so I did approach Samantha.
Q Okay. And how did you talk about the project with Samantha?
A I used pretty much the same kind of… script that Monica did with me. I said it was a special project that would help her become stronger or something — I used I think that word in her life and that I could tell her what it was but only if she gave me collateral.
Q Was the process of recruiting Samantha any different from the process by which you were recruited?
A Yeah, with Samantha, Monica told me that I could, once she had given me the collateral and it had been approved by Monica, then I could … tell Sam what the project was and she could say yes or no, whether she wanted to join it. Like she wasn’t obligated to join it when she knew about it but she just couldn’t say anything about it or we’d release the collateral.
Q And so, what happened with Samantha?
A So, we went through the process of collateral and it was very similar, that the first sort of thing she gave I gave to Monica waiting for Monica to approve it and Monica would say it’s not strong enough and then she would tell me what I should say to Sam — Samantha to help her develop her collateral. Then, in the end, she submitted I would say almost exactly the same thing as me, it was a letter to her family talking about herself as some kind of a prostitute with a picture that we put in an envelope addressed to her family and then that was the collateral that was approved and given to Monica to keep.
Q Did you tell Samantha about the defendant’s involvement in the project?
A No, not then.
Q Why not?
A I was told not to.
Q Who told you not to?
A Monica Duran, my master.
Q Did you recruit any other slaves?
A I did, later on I recruited someone called Regina.
Q And can you describe the process with her?
A Regina was in Guatemala so I spoke to her over the phone because she didn’t live in Albany and she was a leader in SOP but as a woman in the men’s organization and so I thought — I didn’t know her that well but I thought maybe this would appeal to her in some way or something, that’s how I decided to contact her. And I did the same thing, I spoke to her and said there’s a special project, I can, you know, I can tell you about it if you give me collateral and we went through the same process but this — she gave me some collateral that was very upset — like very emotional to her when she told me about it, but it wasn’t anything like what me and Samantha had submitted, it was much more personal …. it wasn’t sexual ….but it was upsetting to her and it seemed to me so much. So, I asked Monica Duran if we could keep that as the collateral but she said, no, we needed like a naked picture or something so we had to get the naked photo from Regina.
Q And did she send the naked photo?
A Yeah. First of all, she sent one that apparently wasn’t full-frontal enough or what Monica said, so I had to ask her to send me another one that showed her entire front.
Q How did you feel about doing that?
A I thought it was disgusting because, for one, I thought what Regina had shared before was obviously so emotional and painful for her that I was embarrassed to approach her and ask for more and definitely for a naked photo and I didn’t know her anywhere near as well as Sam and the whole thing was awkward and horrible.
Q When you recruited your slaves did you tell them that they would be branded?
A I did have to tell them that but I don’t remember if it was in the initial meeting but I definitely told Sam about it and I think I told Regina about it too but I really more remember it with Samantha…. Because she got really upset and was crying and, yeah, I couldn’t really comfort her in that and so that one – that really stuck out to me.
Q Did you ever give any assignments to your slaves regarding the defendant?
A No, I never assigned them to seduce Keith or anything like that.
It is disappointing to see Sylvie as a sort of Judas goat leading women into this horror. There can be such a thing as being a “guilty victim” and she is it.
She cheated on her husband with Raniere. Sneaked into the bathroom and sent him naked pictures. She agreed to not have sex with her husband and then engaged – whether she enjoyed it or not – in sex with Raniere.
At what point does personal responsibility enter into a decent human being’s life?
Sure Sylvie might have allowed the abuse of herself – but when she actually recruited others into this evil sorority that she professed was so dark and so frightening – she leaves her claim of victim behind and joins the villains.
That is not to say she cannot redeem herself. But at this juncture, it is outrageous to say that 30-plus-year-old-woman is just an infant with no mind of her own and no personal responsibility.
She could have drawn the line. Yes, I will cheat on my husband. Yes, I will give collateral. Yes, I will do crazy things because I am ordered to do so. But no, I will not bring anyone else into this horror.
She knew about the branding. She knew about the collateral and the constant demand for more. She even knew it could be released and once in, you’re in. And she knew about the sickness of Raniere. She admitted it in testimony – that she knew the whole thing of DOS was a lie. She knew that when Raniere had sex with her.
But she did not draw the line and save other women. She did not do that.
So how is Sylvie distinguished from the so-called criminals who did just what she did?
It raises three questions: What was heroic in Sylvie? Why is she a victim? Why was her last name withheld, [when the others were not] when she also made slaves and allowed them to suffer? She could have stood up – like a real hero, like Sarah Edmondson, and tried to put an end to this monster’s design.
Sylvie knew better than anyone. She had been forced to endure, she said, Raniere’s unwanted sexual attention. Why didn’t she try to warn Samantha and Regina and save them?
Save them from the beast? Does she get a pass, because Raniere had collateral on her? He had collateral on Allison Mack, who gets no pass for the very same conduct.