This is our next in our series on Mark Vicente’s testimony in the trial of Keith Alan Raniere.
In this post, we explore the fact that Raniere systemically starved or semi-starved his women. It may have been that he preferred super skinny women – or that he liked them weak and muddle-headed – both of which are the result of 800 or 500 calories per day diets.
It was part of his love of destroying people and controlling them both – in order to destroy them,
He was a real monster and if anybody feels a little sorry for this monster possibly going to prison for the rest of his life, read on.
AUSA Mark Lesko is examining Vicente.
Imagine the effect the following had on the jury.
Q Do you recall at a certain point in time certain people in the NXIVM community developing unusual physical appearances?
A Yes. That …. came to a head for me in and around December of 2015, when I became very concerned for two reasons. The one was there was so many of the examples in the education about not giving into comfort and choosing principal instead. You know, in other words, don’t go for, like, the ice cream — you know, don’t do the ice cream. Like focus on your calories. And I thought to myself, why is there this obsession with weight and calories? What is going on? Is there no other metaphor that can be used? Why it always the cake or the pizza or why is that the grand example of like you have a weakness…
And then I began to see a lot of the women just becoming rail thin, I mean, to the point that it just looked unhealthy to me. They looked pale, and … it was beginning to look almost like their skin was translucent. And I saw the kind of food they were eating, where they were eating the same kind of food again and again where their fingers were turning the color of food. They were eating cucumbers all the time or squash…..
When I asked, ‘Why that?’ ‘Well, because it’s low calories and it fills me up,’ kind of thing. And I just got concerned because everybody just looked — just really unhealthy — not everybody. Some of the women just looked really unhealthy. They were looking skeletal. I could start to see their bones under their flesh, and I thought to myself, ‘something’s not right here.’
Q Was there anybody in particular who looked exceedingly skinny?
A My greatest concern back then was Allison Mack. I was very concerned. I … was spending a lot of time with her back then, and I just couldn’t understand why … her weight was dropping so much. And also accompanying the weight loss was sort of this tired, kind of out-of-it look. You know, she sometimes couldn’t focus very well. And to me, it looked like a kind of malnutrition. So I was deeply concerned about that, and so I went to talk about Raniere about it.
Q So you … had a discussion with the defendant. What did he say?
A Well, I went to see him. I think he was at that point living at 21 Oregon Trail. I went to see him, and I said, ‘I’m concerned that all these people have this idea that skinniness is the ultimate objective.’ And I said to him, ‘It also worries me deeply given that in this society right now, with the obsession, with the bodies and models and everything, like I don’t think it’s healthy to tell a woman that her weight is tied to her enlightenment or her growth or whatever. It’s just unhealthy…. It’s bad. Women, and especially young women have enough issues already with their appearance given the culture we live in, why do that?’ And he said to me, ‘Well, you know, I work with different people in different ways, and there’s different reasons for different things.’ … It wasn’t making any sense whatsoever.
And I said, “But Allison — you know, what about Allison? She… looks terrible. … if this is her having some kind of breakthrough, I don’t what’s going on. Then I don’t understand breakthroughs because she looks horrible.’ And I said … ‘she looks broken.’ And he said, ‘Well, I’m trying to break her’. And I was like ‘uh-huh. Okay. Well, she’s not looking healthy.’ And he said, ‘Well, she’s still getting her period.’
And I was like,’ Okay.’ I wasn’t sure where else to go because I … was thinking to myself, ‘Well, you know, you can take a pill and still do a whole bunch of things,’ … But in the end, I just backed away, because I couldn’t get any clear answers, and – I felt … something’s wrong and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.
Q In addition to Allison Mack, do you recall any other women in the community who looked skinny?
A Many — many of the people that … had some kind of a close relationship with him. Some of them that might be in the inner circle were extremely skinny. … Daniela Padilla…Monica Duran, a number of the… women that were spending time with … Allison Mack…- I was concerned about… India’s weight.
There seemed to be a kind of a club of I young women gathering around Allison Mack and they just didn’t look healthy. I mean… maybe they were healthy by Fashion Week’s standards, you know, which is not healthy in my opinion, but they just did not at all look good. They were just obsessed with eating as little as possible, and they would literally measure their calories on a scale. There was all this measuring going on. And there was also this obsessive penitence that they would do if they messed something up. You know, so if somebody was on a certain number of calories and they messed something up, then they would cut their calories. You know, and when I was hearing that people were cutting it down to 500 calories or 300 calories, something’s not… right.
Yes, something was not right. Not right at all. And this was the start of the end of Raniere. Mark Vicente saw that the women were sick and it made him wonder about Keith’s infallibility.
This led to further doubts – and when he found out about the branding on top of the starving, he knew, he finally knew that it was over.
He had lost faith in Raniere – and then he took him down.
And so it goes.