I mentioned in a prior post
that I had the privilege of informing the media outside the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse that Keith Alan Raniere had received a sentence of 120 years.
It was ironic that I should be first to deliver the news to the worldwide media of his guaranteed-life-in-prison sentence, when this was exactly what Raniere had planned for me.
How often does it happen that a guy [Raniere] backed with millions [Bronfman money] goes after another guy [me], to put him in prison and it gets switched – the accuser and his financier go to prison?
And the guy who was attacked gets to announce his attacker’s prison sentence first to the world?
In addition to announcing news of Raniere’s sentencing, I held an earlier briefing with the media during a recess of the sentencing hearing, right after the victims had spoken. Here is a video [below] of part of the briefing.
Parlato: He rewarded my good services to him where I recovered $26 million of stolen Bronfman money by starting a criminal complaint against me.
Reporter: Against you?
Parlato: Against me. Yes. And that started our battle and while he had the Bronfman millions, I was relegated to using a blog to expose him. I think the pivotal moment came and his downfall came when Catherine Oxenberg called me and told me that “my daughter India is branded” and not just branded anywhere but on her groin in a cruel and barbaric procedure that was without anesthesia.
I think that was the tipping point. All of these financial crimes, racketeering, tax evasion and many other crimes were not really enough to solidify his criminality in the minds of people, but the idea of branding women on their pubic region shocks the conscience and that’s what began this journey for Raniere into where he stands today, with a likely life sentence.
Reporter: Do you think Clare Bronfman sentencing will stand?
Parlato: That’s a very good question. There are some good issues on appeal that might possibly overturn it. She is certainly not going to get less than the 27 months she agreed to. That was a surprising sentence because it was three times longer than the sentencing guidelines. And it was even longer than the prosecution had asked for. Which is fairly rare. Usually, the judge hits somewhere between what the defense wants and the prosecution wants. He went longer.
Report: For Bronfman?
Parlato: For Clare Bronfman, presently at MDC. Same prison Raniere is being held at.
Reporter: What about Allison Mack’s sentence?
Parlato: Hasn’t been scheduled yet. Her sentencing guidelines are between 3-5 years. But based on the attitude of the judge it may be longer. What we have in common with both Raniere and Bronfman is neither have remorse and that worked against Clare Bronfman.
Reporter: But Allision Mack has changed her tune, right?
Parlato: In her allocution, she did denounce, at least mildly, Keith Raniere.
Here is another video outside the courthouse — this comes via a Tweet from Juan Alberto Vazquez, a distinguished reporter for Milenio, a major national newspaper in Mexico. Vazquez also wrote a book about Nxivm entitled “Nxivm La Secta Que Dedujo Al Peder En Mexico.”
Vazquez wrote on his Tweet, “At the end of the hearing in which they sentenced #Raniere to 120 years in prison. Frank Parlato chats with followers of the guru including Mark Elliot, Nicki Clyne and Linda Chung, as they are filmed by members of the documentary @TheVowHBO.”
I said in the above clip, “People know that primacy and recency are two of the big factors” that can influence a jury.
This was part of a broader conversation I was having with Linda Chung, Nicki Clyne, Brett Diamond, and Justin Elliot, followers of Keith Raniere, about how federal trials are slanted against defendants. I said that the 97 percent conviction rate in US federal cases compares favorably to the worst fascist dictatorships where there are no jury trials. US prosecutors have almost completely coopted the system.
For instance, at trial, the prosecutors’ table is closer to the jury so the jury can see, hear and get to make eye contact with prosecutors throughout the trial. I would love to see the defense and prosecutors alternate at the closer table. I want the jury to see me up close so they can judge me properly.
Another serious breach of fairness is that the prosecution gets to make the opening remarks of the trial first and the closing statement last.
When closing remarks are made, the prosecution makes a closing argument. Then the defense makes its closing argument and then the prosecution gets a second bite at the apple and gets to make the final closing argument in reply to the defense and tries to undo everything the defense says, leaving the jury with the last impression of the prosecutors.
The jury hears the prosecution first and last in the trial while sitting almost in their laps during the trial.
This is an insult to justice. If the prosecution opens, the defense should close. And I was explaining that the “Primacy/Recency Effect” is the observation that information presented at the beginning (Primacy) and end (Recency) of a learning episode tends to be retained better than information presented in the middle.
I would also call it ironic, that the followers of Raniere and I could engage in civil conversation. While we don’t agree on Raniere, we agree on the need for due process for everyone, even Raniere, it is proven he didn’t get it.
For the moment, the followers of Raniere set aside their distrust and anger for the man they believe destroyed their community. One after another follower told me that I destroyed something beautiful – the Nxivm community – and that people hid and ran away for fear of being outed by the Frank Report. People lost jobs, careers were ended because of the online record it created.
I explained I was trying to break up the cult and that it was necessary for Keith was made more powerful by his supporters. I wanted to scatter them to the four corners of the earth so that Raniere would stand alone.
At the trial of Keith Raniere, witnesses testified that Frank Report, breaking the story of the branding, led to people leaving the cult. According to HBO’s The Vow, Nxivm members said it created a panic., a branding session was canceled.
Hundreds of people changed their minds about going to Vanguard Week. The cult was already in pieces when The New York Times published the story that prompted the FBI to start investigating Raniere and Nxivm.
It was irony, therefore, that I got to both announce Raniere’s sentence and discuss in a friendly way with his devoted followers Raniere’s due process rights – all within an hour of Raniere hearing his fate of life behind bars.
O brave new world, that has such people in it!