This is our next in the series on Sylvie, covering her testimony in the trial of Keith Alan Raniere. She was the first witness to be called.
In our last post in the series, Sylvie testified how Mark Vicente and Sarah Edmondson left Nxivm and told members about DOS. She also testified that many Nxivm members found out about DOS from Frank Report, which caused Nxivm to implode, as many people quit the group after learning about the bizarre and cruel practices of branding and blackmailing women.
On Frank Report in the summer of 2017, I made it a point to reveal that Raniere was behind DOS, despite his denials.
AUSA Moira Penza is examining Sylvie.
Q At that point [after the publicity about it in Frank Report] did DOS change?
A Yes, things sort of started to…. something that had charged is that Monica had said that I should now just say “M” in the [text] chat rather than “master.” Like little things started changing….. I didn’t get any more assignments…. I wasn’t asked to recruit anybody else so things sort of slowed down.
Q After DOS came out [in Frank Report and through the whistleblowing of Mark Vicente and Sarah Edmondson] or after?–
A Can I just say one other thing, sorry.
Q Of course.
A The other thing that stopped [is] I don’t remember getting any readiness drills anymore, those stopped happening as well.
Q … so at that point were people in the community talking about DOS?
A Yeah, well, not openly but there was conversations about it and people reading the Frank Report and I had quite a few conversations with John [Sylvie’s husband] about it, but obviously him not knowing that I’m in DOS, and so we would talk about it. When I would try and allude to, well, [and I would say] “I think it might be true” and like these kinds of things, he didn’t believe it.
And a lot of people didn’t believe it or they kind of thought the [DOS] women that were coming out were lying … because that was the kind of thing we had been taught– that women, they lie and they are out for themselves, and all this kind of stuff. So a lot of people were kind of questioning it, the people that were still loyal to ESP.
Q At that time was John still loyal to ESP?
Q At that time, when there is this discussion within the community, did you have any further conversations with the defendant [Raniere] about DOS?
A Not that I remember, no.
Q But did you ever have a conversation with the defendant about kind of the aftermath where people were talking about it?
A Yeah … into the summer  … I was walking around Knox Woods and so was he, and we… bumped into each other… walking around Knox Woods. And he said to me….”you can sort of play a movie with like comedic music and people would see it as a comedy, or you can play it with horror music and they’ll see it as a horror film.” I was sort of like, okay, like I felt like he was alluding to what was going on with DOS. And I don’t remember what prompted me to say this to him but I remember he was looking me in the eyes, I said something like, “no, don’t worry, I know you’re a good person,” or something. I just wanted to get him away from me and like appease him in some way, so I said something like that to him.
Q Do you know whether the defendant ended up staying in the Albany area?
A No, I know at some point he left. I think it was towards the end of that year, maybe November, I’m not sure exactly when. I just knew that he had left the area. [Raniere left in mid-November for Monterrey, Mexico
Q Did you know where he went?
Q Did anyone else leave the area?
A People started spending a lot of time away. So the people I remember were like Nicki Clyne and Allison Mack. Clare Bronfman was traveling a lot more. Like people just seemed to be away lot and actually Monica left around that time too, she went back home to Mexico, to her family home I mean.
Q At some point did DOS garner national media attention?
Q Do you remember approximately when that was?
A I’m not sure when the New York Times article originally came out [October 17) actually, but — yeah, I don’t know exactly the date of that, I’m sorry.
Q At that time did the defendant release a statement about DOS?
A Yes. A statement went up on the website… and there was a community meeting too.
Q What do you remember about the statement?
A On the website it said something — I don’t remember – I didn’t read the entire thing because at some point he stated that he had no association to the group and I remember that … I just thought that was like cowardly, honestly, because it was a lie.
Q I’m showing you what’s in evidence as Government Exhibit 1009. Are you familiar with this?
A Yeah, that’s the letter or statement.
Q Can I ask you to read the sentence beginning with “Additionally.”
A It says, “Additionally, I feel it is important to clarify the sorority is not part of Nxivm and that I am not associated with the group.”
Q At some point did you make a decision to leave the Nxivm community?
A Yeah, I think it was around March that year  me and John started having conversations about moving back to England and I … got my green card … so that meant I could leave the country and I wanted to get away from the community and so we agreed that we would move back to England.
Q Did you ever ask for your collateral back?
A Yeah, around that time or it might have been a bit later, Monica was no longer in Albany, and it was clear she wasn’t coming back. She actually was moving out of her house and we were arranging for her dog to get sent back to her, but her cousin was going to pick it up, so she basically she wasn’t coming back. I asked her where our collateral was and whether Keith had any of it on his phones or computers. Because I think by that point he’d been arrested as well, and I wanted to know what happened to all of our collateral. And she said –she was trying — again, I felt like she was trying to comfort me. She [Monica] said, “Oh, don’t worry, it’s all in a safe somewhere and don’t worry…. if it was on Keith’s phone he got rid of it anyway so no one has it.”
Sylvie got out of Nxivm, perhaps largely because it imploded. Thanks go to Mark Vicente, Sarah Edmondson, Bonnie Piesse, and Catherine Oxenberg – who all worked with me and then later with the New York Times – to unhinge this diabolical organization.
It is interesting that lies and secrets and loyalty to Keith and Nxivm superseded loyalty to family.
John, Sylvie’s husband, did not believe that DOS was true and that my stories about DOS were lies. Yet, Sylvie knew damn well it was true.
John was loyal to Keith. But had he known that Sylvie was in DOS, was a slave to Monica Duran [who he knew] and that Keith had performed oral sex on his wife – I wonder if John would have remained loyal.
Sylvie withheld critical information from her husband which led to him mistakenly believe the cult was still a good thing. Nxivm always expected loyalty and tribute to the leader to supersede loyalty to family.
Raniere put out a statement that he had nothing to do with DOS. Sylvie knew this was a lie, as did many of the DOS slaves. Sylvie thought him a coward. Lauren would later testify something similar. That he was a coward.
Yet Sylvie still did not tell her husband that this was a lie. Nxivm was Orwellian in its nature.
I am deeply saddened by the recent news relating to our organization, a number of key people involved, and past friends.
The picture being painted in the media is not how I know our community and friends to be, nor how I experience it myself. However, as an organization and as individuals, we felt it was imperative that we hire experts to ensure there is no merit to the allegations.
Over the past months, there have been extensive independent investigations performed, by highly qualified individuals, and they have firmly concluded that there is no merit to the allegations that we are abusing, coercing or harming individuals. These allegations are most disturbing to me as non-violence is one of my most important values.
Additionally, I feel it is important to clarify the sorority is not part of NXIVM and that I am not associated with the group. I firmly support one’s right to freedom of expression, so what the sorority or any other social group chooses to do is not our business so long as there is no abuse. Our experts, a forensic psychiatrist of international repute, psychologists and ex-law enforcement, say members of the sorority are thriving, healthy, happy, better off, and haven’t been coerced. Furthermore, the sorority is proud of what they created and want to share their story. I am confident they will be addressing you very soon.
Today marks our first step forward. It is our hope, as much as we might be part of the problem, to a greater extent, we will humbly seek to be part of the solution. Moving forward, we will communicate better. We will inform better.
A most cowardly statement from a cowardly person.