There is presently a debate over Allison Mack with many readers: Should she be dealt with harshly or leniently by the sentencing judge, Nicholas G. Garaufis?
She pled guilty in April 2019, just a month before she was scheduled to go to trial, to two felony counts, racketeering and racketeering conspiracy. The sentencing guideline was estimated to be from 3 to 5 years in federal prison.
The crimes she pled guilty to consisted of recruiting two women to join DOS and, firstly, taking property from them. They were identified as Jane Doe 5 [Nicole] and Jane Doe 8 [Jaye].
The property was called “collateral,” and consisted of credit card authorizations, false accusations against family members and friends, explicit photos and videos, and rights to assets and property. These DOS members would not want the collateral revealed because it would be personally damaging or ruinous to them. It was, as devised by Mack’s master and leader, Keith Alan Raniere, a form of blackmail.
Secondly, she obtained the labor and services in the form of so-called “acts of care” from Jane Doe 5 and Jane Doe 8.
These two [and others] provided, in fact, small duties for Mack, such as running errands for her, and performed other work for Nxivm, or DOS, while living under the specter of having their collateral released.
Thirdly, Mack worked with others: Raniere and the “First Line” slave masters of DOS, whereby they devised a scheme to conceal Raniere’s role as the head of DOS and characterized DOS as a women’s only organization, knowing full well that Raniere was the head of the organization.
This arguably is Mack’s most serious crime. And it is odd that the US Dept. of Justice, Eastern District of NY, did not seek charges against six of the nine conspirators in this ‘hide Raniere’ endeavor, although all of them were equally guilty, according to former AUSA Moira Kim Penza, and all were alleged as felons for this scheme.
Only Mack, Lauren Salzman, and Raniere were charged.
Of the three crimes committed by Mack, two of them she, in effect, committed against herself.
That is, she was a victim, for she too provided collateral to Raniere and performed “acts of care” for him, and I would venture she did far more acts of care for Raniere than she required of her own slaves.
However, she did have the distinct advantage of knowing Raniere was the head of DOS from the beginning of DOS.
Mack’s collateral was described by the FBI as consisting of:
(1) A letter regarding Mack’s mother and father that would “destroy their character.”
(2) A contract that transferred custody of any children birthed by Mack to Raniere, if Mack broke her commitment to Raniere.
(3) A contract that transferred ownership of Mack’s home if her commitment to Raniere was broken.
(4) A letter addressed to social services alleging abuse to Mack‘s nephews.
In addition to this, Mack provided many graphic, closeup naked photos of herself to Raniere.
In short, he had plenty of collateral on her that, if released, because of her celebrity, would be far more damaging and newsworthy than probably anyone else in DOS.
One can easily make the argument that giving him this collateral was an incredibly stupid decision on her part, yet it is apparent that she must have had immense trust in Raniere and a true belief that this was the right thing to do – at least at the time she gave it.
It is also possible that, like with the other women she is accused of victimizing, Mack may have given collateral in installments and, once in, she was pressured to provide more and more collateral until he owned her completely, which was the purpose of collateral.
One can also make the argument, therefore, that the same coercive factors that led to Mack’s conviction were also present when she performed his commands that were actions she was later charged for as crimes.
It was Raniere who ordered Mack to recruit women into DOS and it was he, having collateral over her, who ordered her not to tell the women about his secret role in DOS.
Allison was a pawn in his game.
Her plight provokes my sympathy, for she was charged with felonies while other, much more culpable Nxivm members, such as Sara Bronfman, Emiliano Salinas, Alex Betancourt, were not charged. And two leaders whose role was a thousandfold more nefarious than Allison’s – Nancy Salzman and Clare Bronfman – got off by pleading to lesser charges than Mack.
Yes, Mack lied to other women in order to recruit them into DOS. Yet, in so doing, she strove faithfully to follow her master’s orders, as she had vowed. This may have been partly because he had collateral on her and also because she very likely believed DOS to be good for her and for the women she recruited.
This is a complicated matter. It would be far easier to report this if she was either 100 percent victim or 100 percent perpetrator.
The more time I spend thinking of how she [and many others] were damaged in similar ways, it is clearer to me that she is more victim than perpetrator.
If nothing else is persuasive, then I would ask readers this question: What did Allison Mack get out of it?
We know Raniere got a lot. He lived a life of excess for decades, the sole, authoritarian, the man who everybody strove to please, even competing among each other to please him.
There is no question he was the chief perpetrator.
What did Allison get? She lost her acting career – she did give it up for him. She spent all her money serving Raniere and Nxivm, a sum estimated at $8 million when she joined Nxivm. She is now nearly destitute.
She went from being healthy and attractive to millions of fans to unnaturally thin and unhealthy and looking like, as some called her ‘a bobblehead”. [Happily, she has gained some weight after getting away from Nxivm and appeared far more healthy at a court appearance I attended].
Then, in the end, she wound up being arrested, pleading guilty to two felonies, and being placed on home confinement for more than two years. Her reputation has been destroyed. And her future, even when she gets out of prison, is not likely to be rosy.
And she will likely to be sentenced to prison, possibly for several years and live in a prison, with all the torment that entails. Following that, she will be on probation for three more years.
Yet, what did she really do? She persuaded some women to do what she herself had done: Give collateral. Join a secret society. Have sex with Raniere.
I think it highly likely that she did not want these women to have sex with Raniere. She probably wanted them not to have sex with him. But Raniere wanted to have sex with Nicole and Jaye and others in her circle. And so she obliged.
She even told Nicole that not only should she seduce Raniere, but she gave her permission to enjoy it. This was most likely something she was told by Raniere to say. She very likely did not want Nicole to enjoy it, or rather for Raniere to enjoy it too much.
The key point, to me, is that she manipulated or commanded no woman to do anything she herself was not more than willing to do.
She was eager to have sex with Raniere. She did not command Nicole to do something she would not have gladly done herself in her place.
Even the giving of collateral was something she did herself. The branding she did herself.
Most times, maybe in every case I can think of, perpetrators get their victims to do something they would never want done to themselves.
But Allison [and Lauren Salzman, as far as her role in DOS] is unique: Mack only got her victims to do what she wanted to do herself. This proves to me that she was not malicious or truly ill-intended.
She desired for her so-called victims something she believed was good for them. She thought that this secret organization to create so-called “badass women”, this strict discipline of DOS, was actually good for women. She thought that having sex with Raniere was a spiritual experience.
As foolish as that sounds, it was her belief. She wanted the women of her circle – and actually ordered them to do – what she herself had done and wanted more of for herself.
Yes, she may have gotten some prestige or influence in Raniere-world through her work in DOS. She might have enjoyed having little favors done for her by her “slaves” and might have been at times bitchy and even lorded over her “slaves” at times.
But she was a slave.
She was not a perfect angel by any means. But she was no devil either. She was lost and confused, who thought a bastard named Keith Raniere would make her a better person.
Think of what she told the judge when she pled guilty of her two crimes:
“I became close with Keith Raniere. I joined NXIVM first to find purpose. I was lost and I wanted to find a place, a community in which I would feel comfortable. Over time, I truly believed that I had found a group of individuals who believed, as I did, and who were interested in trying to become better people and in doing so make those around them better. And when I came to that realization, misguided though it was, my purpose shifted from trying to help myself to helping other people. Through it all, I believed that Keith Raniere’s intentions were to help people, and that my adherence to his system of beliefs would help empower others and help them.
“I was wrong. And I now realize that I and others engaged in criminal conduct. My misguided beliefs and dedication of what I believed were the principles underlying NXIVM, Keith Raniere’s teachings, resulted in my agreeing to support the criminal enterprise that is alleged in the indictment.”
That is the key also. She was trying to be a better person, to help others, and not a sadist criminal like him.
Therein lies the difference. It is all in intent.
She was trying to help others and was led astray. She did not realize by how much until her world fell apart.
Raniere, on the other hand, was always trying to be evil and destructive. He was successful. More successful than even he planned for he not only destroyed others, he wound up destroying himself.
But mark this well: Allison set out to destroy no one. She set out to help herself and others. In turn, she should not be fully destroyed. She should be helped to redeem herself.