At the September 30th sentencing hearing of Clare Webb Bronfman, where she was sentenced to 81 months in prison, nine women spoke as victims. The sixth to speak was Sally Brink, who spoke live in the courtroom.
We have published the statements of the first five.
- Sarah Edmondson, appeared by video: here.
- Ivy Nevares, appeared by video: here.
- Jane Doe 14, a DOS slave, appeared by video: here.
- Jane Doe 12, appeared live: here.
- Toni Natalie, appeared live: here
Sally Brink, 47, was introduced to Nxivm in her late 20s. She and husband, Damon Brink, were co-owners of a restaurant in Vermont at the time, with a good deal of promise for its success. She flew to Los Angeles in 2004 for a five-day course.
After taking the course, she found it appealing and took more courses. Then, like many others before her, she gave up her restaurant. She and her husband moved to Albany to dedicate themselves to building Nxivm and supporting its ethical mission.
Over the years, she paid $145,000 to take classes, which consumed much of her income earned while working for Nxivm. During the years, she worked closely with Clare Bronfman, her supervisor and, she thought, a close friend.
In 2017, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Nxivm leader Nancy Salzman, undoubtedly taking her lead from Keith Raniere, told Sally that she had given herself the disease to get her husband’s attention.
Despite years in Nxivm and its Executive Success Programs, Sally was unable to afford medical treatment. So, she launched a gofundme page. Looking at the list of donors, it was surprising how little her fellow Nxivm associates contributed, even those trust fund Nxivm coaches who were millionaires, who she thought were her close friends.
Something was odd about this – and later she realized that Raniere had given orders to shun Sally during her illness. Sally was able, somehow, to raise $42,000 for chemotherapy treatment. After raising the money, Nxivm leadership told her, Sally claims, not to spend the money raised online for treatment, but to make the ethical decision to die. [Ironically, Nancy Salzman later got breast cancer and sought to live, ending up with two radical mastectomies.]
Throughout Sally’s suffering, Clare, the heiress who spent more than a hundred million on Raniere and his schemes and vendettas, offered encouraging words, telling Sally she loved her. Clare could have offered more than words, by donating, for instance, $50,000 [less than what Clare spent per week on average for Raniere] and help Sally avoid taking the time it took to online fundraise, time that could be used to get Sally more quickly into treatment.
Clare chose not to help her. To put it in proportion – $50,000 for Clare Bronfman, with a net worth of $200,000,000, is the same as a person with a net worth of $200,000 giving $50 to save the life of a friend.
Ironically, Sally’s husband is still a follower of his Vanguard, though they have moved back to Vermont and are struggling to rebuild their lives since they left Albany without any money after coming there with such hopes so many years ago.
Sally Brink’s Statement to the court:
Thank you for the opportunity and the time to speak. I didn’t plan on reading today, but this is a quite intense venue, to say the least.
In February 2016, I decided to leave ESP after years of involvement, ranging from very little, to my life was completely encapsulated in ESP. It was a feeling that something was deeply wrong, but I couldn’t figure out what it was, I couldn’t pinpoint it.
I just knew I needed to leave and I was scared. So scared I didn’t tell anyone, not even my partner, my husband, who I had been with since 1995.
While I was transitioning out of the companies, I was in many, many roles. I was diagnosed in January of 2017 with Stage Two breast cancer. That night, I was in the shower, so my son couldn’t hear my sobbing.
Why am I so sick? How did this happen? I’m only 45 years old with no history of breast cancer in my family. I started looking at my thoughts about myself and it was like I was in a movie screen and everything was negative and self-deprecating. I started to think, “Do I really think these things about myself? Do I really believe this?” And I realized I didn’t.
It was all feedback from ESP. All the things that they said to me about my self-esteem. I didn’t earn anything, and I had no right to anything. I felt entitled, I was a princess.
A lot of this came from Clare. We were very close at certain points. I lived on her farm as a property manager with my husband. And I worked in many roles and she was my supervisor in many of the roles. And I thought we were friends.
In that moment when I was in the shower, I knew that I needed to rid myself of all the negative associations with ESP or that I would die. Between the stress of the indoctrination, my body being in a constant state of fight or flight or freeze. My body broke down like many before me who died of cancer in ESP.
Within weeks, the cancer took over my body and I was told I was going to die. I had gone from Stage Two to Stage Three or Four within five weeks. They didn’t know if it was Three or Four. They said it didn’t matter. They were going to treat me the same way.
Ninety days later I was cancer-free. That’s when DOS was exposed. A few days after DOS was exposed [by the Frank Report], I was sitting in the FBI Office in Albany telling them what I knew, asking for help. I didn’t even know what I was asking help from. It was like this monster that had no face, no name.
I had a panic attack in July 2018 after Clare was arrested. I again was told I was going to die. But here, I’m here today as part of my healing journey and because I thought that I needed to look at Clare. I needed to be here because I think it’s only fair to you that I say these things to you. And I would like to address Clare now.
I was reading some of my old emails between us. In one of the emails I wrote — excuse me — that I loved you. And I was grateful for you. And yesterday when I read about your [liver] illness, I felt very sad for you, and scared.
Wondering what it would be like managing your fear in this moment, what you’re going through. I know this, in part, because of how sick I’ve been over the years. But I’m wondering if you can imagine what it was like for me to be told that I was going to die. The pain about thinking about leaving my son motherless, and not having the resources to choose the best doctors.
I was completely broke. When I joined ESP and I moved to Albany, I had a fantastic resume, I had a six-figure line of credit, I had a lot of money in the bank, I had health insurance. And I left with none of that.
And here I am involved in this [Nxivm] community that I really believed in and now some of the higher ranks were telling people not to help me [when she had cancer]. This community, a lot of the higher ranks, they turned their back on me. I was shunned for being sick.
The deep emotional pain that you and many others were not my friend and did not love or care about me still resonates with me today.
When I resigned from coaching in September 2016, we had our last walk. You didn’t speak to me again until you called me in April 2017 to tell me I was going beat cancer. And I was beating cancer. I was on the hardest chemotherapy that they can give to breast cancer patients.
I now know that your friendship and your love was completely dependent on my involvement in ESP. Have you ever thought about your impact on my life? How you directly participated in the destruction of all aspects of my life.
I can tell you that you’re not going to heal with KR [Keith Raniere] in your life. You have to take back your power. This is, of course, if you’re not his evil understudy but a victim. And I do believe you’re a good person.
I’m sad that your choices and mine have brought us to this space. If you had put down your pride and were open to feedback from others besides KR, and I hadn’t abnegated my personal power to you and ESP, perhaps none of this would ever have happened.
My pain is, where were you ever my friend? I am holding that space. As long as you support KR, there is no forgiveness for you. The damage and the destruction that you caused in my life can only be healed if you can disavow him and see him for what he is.
After reading your letters, I believe that this is all because of KR. There is no Clare. It is crystal clear that you have no sense of self without him. You do all his bidding, and that’s what makes you dangerous.
If you go to jail, my hope is that you can finally experience yourself without any expectations from the outside world. When you leave jail, you can finally do the good you wanted to do in the world. You’ve caused so much destruction in so many lives but you’ll have the opportunity to heal the damage that you caused.
The choice is yours. It is light over darkness, and I hope one day you see the light.
Thank you so much for your time.