Nicole, who by order of Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, was identified only by her first name in his court, was the 9th victim to speak at the sentencing hearing of Keith Raniere on October 27, 2020. There were 15 victims who spoke, two men and 13 women.
At Raniere’s trial, the jury heard Nicole for three days. She was judged by them to be credible, a victim of sex trafficking – which was the most serious crime for which Raniere was convicted. The conviction comes with a mandatory minimum of 15 years.
Of course, as readers know, Judge Garaufis gave Raniere anything but the minimum. He handed him a life-plus sentence of 120 years for this and other felonies for which he was convicted.
The sex trafficking conviction was based on a single event. Nicole traveled from NYC to Albany, possibly by bus or train, and the following day or early morning she met with Raniere. He asked if he could blindfold her, to which she consented. It was supposed to be, he said, some kind of test or learning experience.
He then drove her blindfolded to another location and, once inside, she was asked to strip naked, which she did. She was then told to lie down on a table. Her hands and feet were tied to the table. She did not object, giving the appearance of consent. One of Raniere’s slaves, Camila, then age 25, performed oral sex on her, though Nicole did not know at the time who was doing this to her. At the same time, Raniere walked around the table and made comments about her body – and asked her about her sex life.
According to Nicole’s testimony, Raniere asked her if she was OK with what was going on and she said she was – thereby apparently giving consent. However, the legal theory that resulted in the sex trafficking conviction was that because Nicole had previously given blackmail-worthy material, the group called it “collateral,” to Allison Mack, her slave master, Nicole felt she was forced to do this or her collateral would be released. This made it sex trafficking and not consensual, according to the jury.
It is perhaps a precedent-setting case in some ways and is certainly not the typical sex trafficking conviction that is seen in federal prosecutions which involve usually uneducated, poverty-stricken women who are forced to perform sex, usually for money, of which she gets little to none, and is coerced to do so because of overt and direct threats, such as the threat of deportation or physical beatings.
In Nicole’s case, we have an educated woman from a good family who is not being forced into a life of prostitution but, instead, is coerced to perform a single act, not for money, but for, it would appear, to gratify the man who controlled the possible blackmail material.
Raniere’s position was that this was not an act for his gratification and certainly not sex trafficking. He was trying to teach her to become a tougher, stronger woman – and part of that teaching, he said, is that she needed to experience complete obedience and surrender by making herself vulnerable in a way where she had to trust another completely.
The jury, of course, did not buy his argument, which, in fairness, was only partially presented during his cross-examination of Nicole by Raniere’s attorney, Marc Agnifilo.
After the trial, Agnifilo made a motion for a new trial based on the accusation that Nicole and another witness, Daniela, perjured themselves during cross-examination when they said they were not participating in – and had not discussed participating in – a planned civil lawsuit against Raniere and others. After the trial, both women joined a civil suit that has been brought against the top leaders of NXIVM. The judge ruled against the motion for a new trial.
Frank Report has chosen to follow the guidance of the court and has used only Nicole’s first name. In the spirit of full disclosure, I also want to acknowledge that I had a role in Nicole becoming a witness in the first place.
As she stated in her testimony, Nicole chose to leave DOS after reading about herself in the Frank Report. I published her first and last name on several occasions – and that “outing” of her actually caused her to leave DOS and contact me.
[I have been criticized for naming DOS women – since, by one standard, they are victims. I chose to name them because they were also potential perpetrators since they were required to recruit other slaves. In the case of Nicole, as you will see, it turns out I chose wisely.]
Nicole planned to do nothing other than escape, but her name was still on the Frank Report, damaging her reputation in online searches. She called me and asked me to remove her name, which I did. I asked her to tell me her story on the condition I would not use her full name. We spoke for more than two and a half hours during the first interview – and again in follow up interviews. It struck me that, based on her story, she was indeed a victim of a crime. I urged her to tell her story to law enforcement – and, along with Catherine Oxenberg, I arranged for Nicole to meet with attorney Neil Glazer. He represented her pro bono and brought her to the federal prosecutors.
It was the Frank Report that not only helped Nicole escape the group but also led to her becoming a witness.
Here are links to the victims who spoke prior to Nicole.
Nicole is in her 30s, she is brunette, and very slender. She had worked as an actress, making a few minor appearances in film prior to her becoming involved with Raniere and Mack in 2015. She has not appeared in any film in about five years, apparently abandoning her acting career after leaving DOS.
Her introduction to the Nxivm world came through her enrollment in The Source, an acting group founded by Raniere and Mack. Nicole believes Mack used The Source as a means to recruit young, attractive women for Raniere to be his slaves. After she was in DOS and told she had to obey Mack and Raniere, one-day Raniere informed her, she told me, that she was now his wife. That it was like an arranged marriage. She had no choice but to accept that she was his wife – and that she would grow to become happy with Raniere as her husband. Of course, it was understood that Raniere would have many wives and that she could only be with him the rest of her life.
Curiously also, almost as if she were being groomed to be his bride, and before she knew Raniere was the head of DOS, Allison commanded her not to have sex with anyone and also not to shave her pubic hair. It is well known – and was first published here years ago – that Raniere prefers his female wives/students do not shave their pubic hair.
Here is her victim impact statement:
Good afternoon, Your Honor. You may recognize me from testifying at the trial. I am Nicole.
Though I could stand up here for hours and tell you about the fear, confusion and pain the defendant has caused me, you have heard my testimony and you have read my impact statement. So, for the sake of time, I’m going to keep it brief.
To Keith’s defense: What I have learned from my experience and from the Me-Too Movement is that it’s pretty standard for women speaking up against men in powerful positions to be called a liar, to be accused of speaking out for the sole reason of some kind of pay out, or my favorite, to be accused of “wanting it.”
Mr. Agnifilo, I have handed over to the FBI, to the Government and, subsequently to the defense, every piece of evidence that I had in my possession, whether it made me look bad or not. I sat up here for 17 hours over three days and answered all of the questions that you and the Government asked of me. You, yourself, questioned me for six hours straight. I have at every moment through the investigation and trial done nothing but tell my truth and my experience.
Therefore, I have had enough of you continuing to placate your client and attack my integrity. I am not a dollar sign for your high-paid firm nor am I just another Jane Doe in a case.
I am a human being. I am a woman, a daughter, a friend, a sister, an aunt. I am someone trying to put their life back together after it was horrifically upended and derailed. Let me do that in peace. So if you want to keep fighting for your client after sentencing today, go ahead. That is, of course, your right, but leave me, Daniela and all of the other women who have testified against Keith out of it.
We did our job. Find a better way to do yours.
To Keith: You cannot imagine the courage it takes to testify because you do not possess it. You and your few existing followers hide behind your lawyers and cowardly proclaim your innocence while we have stood up here, testified, and actually faced the cross-examination that comes from speaking out.
In one of the recent legal filings you quote Ayn Rand and claim that what you were doing was paving new roads. But dehumanizing people is not new. Slavery is not new. Misogyny is not new. Psychology and self-awareness are also not new concepts. I have been routinely amazed in the last three years of studying psychology, at University, at NY [?] many known theories you have tried to say were your own and not only tried to claim as your own, but charge unprecedented prices to learn.
Like you hide behind your lawyers, you have hidden behind great thinkers and great writers your entire life, and the sick part is that you steal these great words and ideas and you twist them for your own ends and your own ends are not about humanity, but about power and sexual domination.
You hide behind titles like guru and spiritual teacher and nonviolent leader, but you are none of those. You call yourself a nonviolent leader, but holding collateral is violent. Branding women unknowingly with your initials is violent. Sexual coercion, manipulation and abuse are violent. It violates the body and it violates the soul. Your kind of violence is not always outward and it is not always obvious, which is why I believe you got away with it for so long, but it is equally if not more damaging for it poisons the person from the inside out.
Though I was not a child when this happened to me, Cami was, and how many countless others over the years have you begun to groom as children, Keith? This is not persecution for revolutionary ideas. This is justice for how your behavior has crossed well established lines within the law. We all agree on that fact. You were convicted by a jury on every single count. Today, we simply get to discuss the length of punishment.
You continue, without an ounce of remorse, to say that you stand by DOS, that it was good for women. I say it was the worst, most terrifying, most degrading, most confusing thing I have ever experienced in my life. From day one you and Allison lied to me about what was really going on, slowly trapped me in a situation I would have never agreed to had I known even a sliver of the whole truth. You told me on our first walk, after I found out that DOS was not a women’s mentorship but actually something you had created, you told me that as my Grand Master you could command me to have sex with you; that you could have, if you wanted to, command me to have sex with you while I was blindfolded and tied to a table. That is not choice.
That is not good for any woman. In that moment, and several more like it in the following months, it was only my collateral and the fact that I was told there was no way out of the commitment that kept me from spitting in your face.
A couple of months after you were arrested, some evidence was filed. As I read the pages of text messages, I became more and more nauseated until I got to the messages about DOS. This is a message that you sent to a first line slave [Camila], quote: “I think it would be good for you to own a fuck toy sex slave for me, that you could groom and use as a tool to pleasure me.” End quote.
I cannot accurately explain the pain that I felt reading those words. Like someone had taken a knife, stabbed me in the stomach, and gutted me from the inside out. I could barely breathe. I could barely see from the tears streaming openly down my face, but I forced myself to keep going. The interaction ended with you saying, quote: “Having one or two young slaves devoted to reviving my body sexually to produce more energy would help. It would be their 24/7 job.” End quote.
DOS was never supposed to be sexual. It was a women’s mentorship. And while the sexual abuse ended up being the most horrific part of the experience, it was also the part that kept me sane. For no matter how much you and Allison messed with my mind, I knew at the core of my being it was not okay. I had never agreed to give up the right to my body. I had never agreed to anything sexual, ever. When the demands of DOS became more sexual and uncomfortable, I was, as I’m sure you remember, told that I was not only supposed to do and support you in whatever way you wanted but that I was not allowed to speak about my relationship or assignments with you to anyone.
If I did, I would be punished. This led to sexual encounters that I would never have agreed to, that would have never happened, had I not be blackmailed. Without the threat of my collateral being released, I would have never accepted any part of this sick and twisted arranged marriage circumstance I was manipulated with. I would have never been in Albany in the first place.
For months after I left, I had been trying to tell myself that some part of DOS had been real, that some aspect had actually been about my growth, but here it was in these text messages staring me straight in the face. It had never been about growth or strength or women’s empowerment. It had never been about me or my future at all. It had always been about this. DOS was about your sexual pleasure and your sense of power. I was one of those fuck toy sex slaves. That was me. That was what little regard you held my entire life. My dreams, my goals, my family, all of the things that I was and am capable of achieving meant nothing to you. My life meant nothing to you.
I was one of those objects for you to have on-call 24/7. It was in that moment that I realized who you truly were. It was in that moment where all the lies and gas-lighting and manipulation were finally stripped away and everything became clearer, and in that moment, something inside of me broke.
I have carried so much shame about what happened and shame is a powerful thing to keep a person quiet. But you know that, don’t you, Keith? For shame and doubt are weapons that you wield with precision. They are a way, along with lawsuits, that you re-victimize your victims so they stay quiet. It has taken me three years and a substantial amount of space from your manipulation for me to realize that the shame that has been weighing so heavily on my shoulders is not mine to carry. It is yours.
I did not break the law, Keith. You did. You are sitting here today facing a life sentence because of the choices and actions that you have continually and repeatedly made over decades. You have no one to blame but yourself.
Your Honor, those text messages from Keith that I referred to were sent to a first-line slave on October 1st, 2015. That is one year and four months before I was introduced to the idea of a women’s organization group. That is eight months before I naively walked into the NXIVM Source acting class, having just arrived in New York City. Allison was teaching that Source class.
What I did not know then – but I do know now – was that she was already at this point one of Keith’s slaves, that while she taught this acting class, she was also simultaneously scanning for vulnerable young candidates to become one more of Keith’s slaves. This kind of premeditation on both Keith and Allison’s part, as well as Keith’s calculated manipulation, his gas-lighting lies and his coercive ill intent, is why this man deserves life behind bars.
Furthermore, he has said in his own words that he has absolutely no remorse, that he stands by everything he has done. This leads me to strongly believe that he would and will do it again if he is given the chance. This is not someone who is safe. This is someone who is a danger to society.
There may be one or two women that have recently claimed that they were okay with being blackmailed, that they are happy being slaves. However, this is completely irrelevant to this case and to this sentence. This case is not about women who are happy being slaves; it is about protecting all of the young women in the world who do not, under any circumstances, want to unknowingly become the slave of a man.
It is about protecting the young women who may be susceptible to the lies and manipulations that lure them in until they are trapped in an abusive and desperate situation.
My hope is that cases like this and Jeffrey Epstein’s, Lawrence Ray’s and Harvey Weinstein’s, change the ways that young girls and women value themselves. The sentence that you give today for this trial won’t rid the world of predators. We will always have predators, but it will remove one predator from the streets and that means something.
And maybe, maybe, it will slide the needle just a little bit further in the right direction so that when a young girl or woman feels uncomfortable, she feels powerful enough to say it out loud. That her response is not, “This is just the way things are,” but instead is, “No. No, this is not okay. No, I will not deal with this kind of abuse, objectification, or illegal behavior.”
My hope is that her instincts will tell her to walk away or tell her that it is safe to go to the authorities, that she won’t bottle up the shame, but instead, she will know that her voice, her opinion and what she is experiencing matters.
For me, this has never been about vengeance. All I wanted was to get my life back and to help in any way that I could to make sure that no woman ever had to experience anything like this at Keith or Allison’s hands again.
That is the gift and the responsibility that you have, Your Honor. No one can erase my scars, emotional or physical. What happened to me has already happened. But what you can do is give this man a life sentence.
What you can do is make sure that this kind of manipulation and abuse at this man’s hands will never happen to anyone again.