Clare Bronfman leaves court after her bail hearing in July 2018. She was released on $100 million bail and subject to home confinement.

Clare Bronfman to Judge Garaufis: I Will Not Disavow Keith Raniere, Nxivm or DOS!

Clare Webb Bronfman wrote to her sentencing judge, the Hon. Nicholas G. Garaufis, Senior U.S. District Judge,  Eastern District of New York, who sits in Brooklyn to explain herself.

She is scheduled to be sentenced on September 30th.

Clare pled guilty before Judge Garaufis, in April 2019, to two felony counts: harboring an illegal alien for financial gain [Sylvie] – and identity theft [for helping Keith Raniere steal funds from the estate of Pam Cafritz].

Sylvie was recruited into Nxivm by Bronfman after she was hired to tend to Bronfman’s horses. She became deeply involved with Nxivm, micromanaged by Clare, who essentially oversaw a starvation diet with an insane over-training regime that made Sylvie ill.

To keep Sylvie in Nxivm and under her control,  Clare illegally kept her in the USA, and ultimately the poor woman joined DOS and became a slave of Keith Raniere, who, despite her being married, coerced her into enduring oral sex with him.

The sentencing guidelines at the time of Bronfman’s pleading were estimated to be between 21-27 months. When she pled, the judge warned Bronfman that he was not bound to any guidelines and could sentence her from zero to up to the maximum sentence of 15 and 10 years for the two crimes and that he could, if he chose, sentence her to consecutive sentences.

In other words, he could hand her a 25-year sentence if he determined that was what she deserved.

The only provision in the plea deal that gave Bronfman minimal protection was that she reserved the right to appeal the judge’s sentence if it exceeded 27-months.

In December, the judge said he was considering an upward departure for Clare – meaning he was thinking about handing her a sentence of more than 27 months. This may have been because of the large number of alleged victims who have written to the judge to exclaim they were abused by Bronfman – and/or it may have been because of what the judge read in Clare’s “Pre-Sentencing Report”.

Since then, Bronfman fired her lawyer Mark Geragos and hired Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr. According to one attorney involved in the case, the judge told Sullivan that Bronfman can withdraw her plea deal and stand trial. Evidently, she has chosen to keep her deal and not face trial and is, instead, throwing herself at the mercy of the court.

As you will see in a subsequent post, her new lawyers have submitted a lengthy Sentencing Memorandum that argues she not serve any time in prison.  In addition to this, several dozen of Clare’s family members, fellow NXIVM/ESP members, employees have written letters to the judge in support of her. We will be publishing – and analyzing – those letters.

And perhaps most significantly, Clare has written to the judge herself, expressing her feelings about being sentenced.

We are publishing that letter in full:

By Clare Webb Bronfman

Dear Judge Garaufis,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you directly and for taking the time to read this. First, and most importantly, I want to apologize. I never meant hurt anyone, however I have and for this I am deeply sorry.

I would like to apologize in particular to [editor’s note: the name is redacted but it is clear she is referring to Sylvie, a DOS slave that she brought into the USA illegally].

Although I wanted to make her life better, I made it worse. I imagine my actions and the last several years have been enormously difficult financially as well as painful for her emotionally, and I am truly sorry for everything she has had to go through.

Additionally, I wish to apologize to the Court, to my family and to others who have suffered as a result of my actions. I wish I could turn back the clock or take away the pain, but I can’t. Instead, I will honor the consequences this Court gives me, learn from the many lessons the last several years have taught me, and commit to leading a law-abiding life committed to helping others.

Your Honor, I wanted to take the time to answer some of the questions I am sure you have of me, however, please know I am doing so in order to share with you the world from my eyes, rather than to gain any leniency.

Thank you in advance for being willing to read this and I am sorry you are even in the position where you have to determine a punishment for me.

For much of my life I was ashamed of my wealth, I felt it made me different, when all I wanted was to be accepted. Over the years the way I have tried to honor what was gifted to me is by working as hard as I can, and by trying to help others have opportunities, such as my hope
with [redacted {Sylvie}].

Sadly, I failed in getting outside of my own struggle, to be able to think of and how different she is from me, how different her life experience is and how unfair it was to burden her with my struggles and solutions to them. In the process I hurt her instead of helping her, for which I am very sorry.

One of the hardest times of my life was my father [ billionaire Edgar Bronfman Sr.] dying. Of the many gifts my father gave me, the most meaningful to me was our relationship, in particular the last two years of his life. Taking care of him was both painful and beautiful and when he died the void and pain was beyond anything I have ever experienced, a feeling which still haunts me today.

Shortly afterwards, I learned one of my closest friend’s cancer had grown to stage 4 [Pam Cafritz]. Over the next two years I did everything I could to find medicine to help her, however, the inevitable day came.

Honestly, I still have not been able to feel the pain of her death. After my father, I didn’t think I could handle it. Pam was also Keith’s life partner of 20 years, as well as ’s closest friend.

As our office was handling all of Pam’s personal finances, we continued to do so. I avoided dealing with the Estate or discussing it with Keith as I imagined the pain he was going through and didn’t want to interfere.

Looking back, there were other options. I could have asked someone else to handle it, I could have put my feelings aside and been responsible, but I didn’t. I failed Pam and I failed this Court.

Your Honor, I am truly sorry. I have spent numerous hours of self-reflection, and while I cannot change the fact that I made these choices and acted as such, I hope to remedy the effects of them.

I also want to take this opportunity to answer some of the other questions people may have of me, again, with the hope to share things from my eyes in order for others to understand me and some of my choices.

Many people, including most of my own family, believe I should disavow Keith and NXIVM, and that I have not is hard for them to understand or accept. However, for me, NXIVM and Keith greatly changed my life for the better. Most of my teenage years and early 20s, I was ashamed of who I was, constantly focused on my shortcomings and ridden with self-hate.

NXIVM changed that. I learned a sense of who I am beyond my faults and the tools of how to transform things I didn’t like about myself into traits and behaviors I do. I started to embrace myself and turn outwardly to care for and help others.

One of the most important aspects of NXIVM for me was the people and the community. For the first time in my life I wasn’t afraid to be with people. I built meaningful friendships and I was surrounded by people who were seeking to improve their lives. They supported and helped me to overcome patterns of self-loathing, insecurities, shame and fears. I found the things I felt most passionate about, fulfilled by and deeply cared about and I also found areas I was able to excel at outside of horses.

Additionally, I had a deep desire to learn about being a responsible leader and about business so I could honor the wealth and position my father and grandfather [Samuel Bronfman] gifted me with, and through Keith’s guidance, I was able to stop feeling ashamed of my wealth, and accept and embrace the responsibility of it.

I was given opportunities to build myself and my new-found love of business within the various companies, and, Keith encouraged and supported me building businesses outside of NXIVM.

Through my many years with NXIVM, I started to enjoy life, to feel accepted, loved and happy. Subsequently, many members of the community became like family to me and I cannot find it in me to now turn my back on those friendships, nor deny how profoundly Keith and NXIVM impacted my life. Even though some of them have now been labeled as bad for remaining friends, I experience them as some of the most kind hearted and well intentioned people I know.

I am also deeply grateful as many people and family members have submitted letters of support, which may lead to further financial, reputational and social damage. I believe family does that, they stand behind those they love despite negative consequences, and I am
immensely privileged to have that not only with my blood relatives, but also my friends.

However, while I am deeply grateful for all of the support I have received, I am also very sorry that it has caused them all so much grief and hardship.

People also believe I should have disavowed DOS, but from the information I had, it did not make sense for me to do so. When I found out about DOS, and with the blog [Frank Report] reporting many accusations, there were certainly things I was scared by and questions I had about it, however I never assumed bad intent so I asked a few of my friends to help me to understand it.

I was never told about anything sexual or damaging of any nature, and I was assured by them and by professionals that: there was no harm being done; no one was being forced to do anything; and to the contrary, people were experiencing improvements in their life through their membership in DOS.

I also understand when people question how I could not have known about DOS, I even asked myself the same question. While some of my closest friends were members of DOS, it was never unusual for them to be doing projects that I was not involved in. In fact, there were
many companies within NXIVM I was not involved in let alone social settings. I was also traveling a lot and when I was home in Albany, I was usually busy working, and when I was with my friends, no one talked about anything unusual and I had no reason to suspect a secret
society existed. I am a private person, and I am always respectful believing that if people don’t share their private lives with me, they probably don’t want me to ask, so I don’t.

I truly didn’t know about it, and that is my solemn word before this Court.

Your Honor, I saw things unfold very differently than has been presented by the media and the Court. I never believed I was supporting anything bad or wrong, I never wanted to shield anyone from criminal behavior, I never intended to intimidate people. I did not and do
not support anyone abusing or using violence towards anyone. I just tried to do what I thought was best to honor my role as a leader in NXIVM and a good friend.

The last two years have been immensely painful, many people’s lives have been upended, a community where many of us thrived, felt purposeful, and really enjoyed our lives in has fallen apart and it has all caused tremendous pain for many people and their families.

In these last two years, I have spent my time reflecting on how all of this happened, and where I participated and why. I have tried to understand the bad choices I have made, and overcome the struggles driving me to choose them. I read each of the victim statements
relating to me and become aware of many blind spots. Reading these letters, some from people I still care deeply about, has been immensely painful, however it has also been helpful to my understanding how my actions are perceived, and how some people have experienced me, and felt affected by me.

As a result I believe I stand here a better person, a person with a deeper understanding of humanity, of the differences between people and the gravity of how I affect others.

I have also taken the opportunity to honor a promise I made to my father yet had not fulfilled; getting my GED. In the process, I fell in love with education and have taken many online college courses on many subjects, studied bar exam courses, and read many books by a wide range of authors on many topics.

Additionally, I have reconnected with my maternal family, engaged in their lives and tried to be a good friend, sister, daughter, aunt, cousin, and niece as everyone has navigated the recent pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and effects.

Your honor, I deeply regret the decisions I made that lead me to being before you, and I am truly sorry for the harm it has caused others, in particular, and for the trouble, time and expense it has cost the Court. I take full responsibility for my actions and I will respect and honor whatever punishment you feel is just.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

 

***

 

 


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Frank Parlato

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Frank Parlato Investigates

Frank Parlato Investigates

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many, many others in all five continents.

His work helping take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg; “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson; “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La secta que sedujo al poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been featured prominently on HBO’s documentary “The Vow” and acted as lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.”

Parlato will be featured in an upcoming episode of American Greed.

If the whole world stands against you sword in hand, would you still dare to do what you think is right?

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