Did Keith Raniere have sex with underage girls? This may not be the most important point, because whether guilty or not, he is likely to be considered a child molester in prison. This puts his life at risk. In this post, Frank Report will look at various allegations of statutory rape. However, this does not negate the requirement of the Bureau of Prisons to ensure he is not killed or abused in prison. In fact, it buttresses the argument since Raniere is likely to be seen as a child molester by inmates. The argument that he was not convicted of child molesting or statutory rape does not mean he will not be treated as such by inmates and therefore the BOP is urged to place him in a safe facility.
There is a debate going on in some circles as to whether Keith Alan Raniere, who is also known as the Vanguard, had sex with Camila, a 15 year old girl in 2005.
He was convicted of racketeering and among the predicate racketeering acts the jury was asked to consider was whether he possessed child pornography pictures of Camila and by taking the pictures did he sexually exploit a minor.
The jury found these two acts were proven.
To be clear, Raniere was not convicted of raping Camila, or even charges of possession of child porn, or the girl’s exploitation, the jury found him guilty of racketeering and these sex offenses were two of some 14 racketeering acts they found he committed.
It is, however, widely believed that he not only took pictures of her but had sex with Camila when she was 15. Consequently he is likely to be regarded, at least unofficially, as a sex offender and child molester in prison.
This, Raniere believes, will be dangerous for him once he is assigned from the comparatively safer Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn to a permanent prison, since child molesters are often targeted by prisoners, especially in maximum security prisons.
Raniere claims Camila’s story is not true and that he did not have sex with her until she attained the legal age of 17 and that photos were tampered with by the FBI to make it appear they were taken when she was 15.
Some of Raniere’s friends and followers have recently produced evidence, including several reports by IT forensic experts, that the nude photos of Camila which prosecutors said were taken when she was 15, were tampered with, possibly by the FBI. The tampering they allege is changing dates, adding data and photoshopping images.
It is a fact that an FBI witness admitted during the trial that the FBI lost control of the chain of custody and that someone accessed the devices during the time FBI had custody. Astonishingly, the FBI witness could not tell who it was who breached the devices that contained Camila’s photos while in their custody.
The followers plan to present their evidence of tampering with the Camila photos to the court and it may form part of an appeal or other legal process to exonerate Raniere. Their goal is a new trial for Raniere.
His followers seem to feel that either he did not have sex with Camila when she was underage or that there is enough reasonable doubt that no one should condemn Raniere at this point.
One of his followers told me, “Accusations of underage sex are very serious and should be handled with the utmost care and investigative scrutiny. I do not in any way condone such behavior. However, since this was not a charge against Mr. Raniere and there is compelling evidence that the hard drive containing alleged underage naked photos was tampered with, I have yet to form an opinion on the validity of the claim.”
The Source Herself
Camila did not testify at the 2019 trial of Raniere. She did, however, make a victim statement at his Oct 27, 2020 sentencing saying she began a sexual relationship with Raniere at age 15.
She said, “I met him when I was just 13, and from the start, I did not feel comfortable around him. I would even try to avoid being in the same room as him, but the adults around me would get mad at me for being rude and push me back towards him. This felt like a violation and a betrayal from the very people that were supposed to protect me.
“The very first time I was left to have a conversation alone with him, we talked about how I placed second on my eighth-grade spelling bee contest. I continued to avoid him after that for some time, but years later, he told me how he knew I was special from the moment we met at 13.
“He first had sex with me on September 18, 2005. He would expect me to celebrate September 18th as our anniversary together every year. That first time, which was my first time, I was 15. He was 45.
“This was after a few months of him asking me to go on walks in the middle of the night, which he would bring up topics of a sexual nature escalating in detail over time and asking me flippant questions about my sexual history, of which I had none.
“He told me keep it all a secret, immediately severing me from my family and friends and effectively making himself my only resource. Beginning at that time, he would ask me to sneak — sneak out of the house that I was living in to meet him at places where we were isolated as well as from everyone else so that he could have sex with me.
“He would often take me to his executive library where he would ask me to take my clothes off before coming up the stairs to the loft as he watched. During these secret meetings when I was still 15, he took naked pictures — naked pictures of me.
“The experience of being photographed is seared into my memory. As a 15-year-old that is not something you easily forget. He would have with me some type of sexual contact during every meeting. He wanted to take a picture with no exception.
“While he hid our sexual relationship from others, he explained it to me by telling me I was very mature for my age, and the flattering and the romance of hearing that when you’re a teenager; I know now that it was false. I was a child. I also know that it was no excuse to rob me of my youth or to interrupt my life the way he did. He used my innocence as — my innocence to do whatever he wanted with me, not just sexually but also psychologically.
“He manipulated me into what he wanted for his own reasons, for his own pleasure. He was calculated and methodical in the way he tricked me into a relationship and the way he manipulated me for every second of my life. He groomed me in his eyes. He shaped my being to his liking, or mine, he said.”
Judge Believes Camila
Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis said at the sentencing that he found Camila’s statement credible.
He said, “She is totally believable…. She was groomed from age 13 to age 15, and then she was seduced by Mr. Raniere and kept in an apartment and used for his sexual pleasure. That is the fact. That is not imagination, that is not a perception, that’s a problem for your client. That is what he did.”
Supporters Have Doubts
However, Raniere’s supporters correctly state that Camila’s statement was not made under oath and there was no opportunity for the defense to cross examine her.
Some have suggested that she might not be telling the truth. Some who were close to Camila when she was in Nxivm told Frank Report that she never spoke about having sex with Raniere when she was 15 and never spoke of anything that would reflect that she had an unhappy relationship with him.
She was described as cheerful, with a good sense of humor.
His followers said that it is curious that Camila, who did not testify for either side, chose to finally make a statement just prior to his sentencing, when the defense could not cross examine her or make any attempt to investigate or question the truth of her statements.
They question whether she has recently joined the civil lawsuit against Raniere and the Bronfman sisters.
In conversations with followers, Raniere has denied having sex with Camila when she was under the age of consent, which is age 17 in New York. Raniere did not testify at his trial and thus he too was not subject to cross examination.
Agnifilo Weighs in
His attorney, Marc Agnifilo, at the sentencing hearing, almost seems to suggest Raniere had sex with Camila, starting when she was 15.
He said: “I didn’t really dispute the [child porn] photographs all that much. The way I disputed them is they were never shown to anybody and the jury shouldn’t consider them as either child pornography or as a racketeering predicate because they were photographs that were taken and then for the rest of time they just stayed on a device, they never got sent anywhere, never got shown anywhere….
“What I think your Honor can glean from all this, and I don’t know if it cuts for or against them, but I’ll say it because it’s the truth, he’s in a 13-year relationship with her.”
Age of Consent Laws Are Inconsistent
Raniere has taught that age of consent laws are inconsistent and some underage individuals could be mature enough to consent to having sex with an adult.
He said, “Abuse is inconsistent, depending on where you are, what cultural you are, and things like that. And that doesn’t mean that the person is somehow ultimately abusive. They are abusive by some [legal] standard and you have to understand not only what that standard is, but the morality behind that standard….
“There’s the age of consent. Some states, it’s 17. Some parts of the world it’s 12…. What’s abuse in one area is not abuse in another.
“But what is it really? Abuse is – is the person a child, or is the person adult-like? Does the person have a certain type of understanding of, cognition, morality, to make such a choice?…. You know the little child, some little children are perfectly happy with it until they find out what happened in later in life, then it’s more society that abuses them than actually the parent….”
2012 Expose of Raniere by Times Union
Back in February 2012, Jim Odato for the Albany Times Union authored a series of stories on Nxivm. One of the series, entitled In Raniere’s Shadows, was rather shocking insofar as it focused on Raniere’s sex life and in particular quoted two women who alleged that Raniere had usex with them when they were underage, and also quoted a third woman, the sister of a deceased woman, who the sister said had sex with Raniere when she was underage.
It was alleged that Raniere was in his 20s when two of the girls were around 15.
With the third woman, it was alleged that he was in his 30s and she was 12.
At the time the story came out, according to several former Nxivm members, Raniere denied the allegations and members were told that the alleged victims had been paid by the Times Union to fabricate their stories. It was suggested that Edgar Bronfman Sr. may have been behind this effort. In addition to the billionaire Bronfman’s possible role, George Hearst, of the famous Hearst family, was the publisher of the Times Union. This suggested global and other mega-wealthy and powerful interests were conspiring to destroy Keith by attacking him on a subject that is among the most damning reputationally in America: Sex with underage girls.
A New Account
Yesterday, on Frank Report, one of Raniere’s former girlfriends, who often comments here using the moniker ‘L”, and whose identity I know, made a comment on this topic.
“L” does not identify the alleged victim, although it seems possible that it is one of the three women who were quoted in the Times Union story, Gina Melita. [not Gina Hutchinson]. Melita gave an on-the-record interview with the Times Union back in 2012 and bravely used her full name because she wanted to give credibility to the story.
However, “L” might have been referring to another teen girl.
Regardless of who the girl was, “L” wrote, “As many readers here know, I was Keith’s girlfriend for a few years. I left him a long time ago because he was abusive to me. When the lease on our apartment was up, I moved out to my own place and considered the relationship dissolved.
“Many years later (2011), James Odato contacted me to discuss Keith Raniere. In the course of our discussions, it became clear that Raniere had raped a friend of mine when she was 14 or 15 years old. And in discussions with Odato and that friend, it became clear that this had been done in my bedroom, on my bed, in that last apartment that I shared with Raniere. I was horrified.
“Fast forward to 2018 when the FBI put out a call for information on Raniere. I replied to them, fully expecting them to say that my information on Raniere was of no use to them. I was wrong. They wanted to know about long term, continuing patterns of abuse especially in regards to statute of limitations on criminal behavior.
“During my conversations with the FBI, it became clear that my young friend was raped in my room, on my bed, ON THE VERY DAY I MOVED OUT on Raniere.
“As I was hauling my stuff to my new apartment, he was victimizing my young friend on the bare mattress I had left behind. To say that I was even more horrified is underwhelming. As irrational as it may sound now, right then in 2018 – decades after the fact – I felt responsible for setting him off because I left.
“I cannot change the fact that that monster raped my friend, and I can’t change the fact that he did it the day I left him – on my bed, not even on his own. But I can continue to fight to keep myself grounded in knowing that HE was responsible for his criminal and reprehensible behavior – not ME.
“That’s how abuse is discovered ‘after the fact.’ When you are dealing with a lying, manipulative psychopath like Raniere, you can’t necessarily know all that’s going on. When the secrets come out, it is still traumatizing whether it happened 10 years ago or just last week.”
Gina Melita’s Story about Keith
In Odato’s article, he writes about the three girls who purportedly had sex with Raniere when they were under the age of consent.
Of Gina Melita, Odato wrote as follows:
“In 1984, when Raniere was living in apartments in Troy, he met Gina Melita, a 15-year-old from Cohoes who performed with him in an RPI theater group that included members of the community….
“She and Raniere, then 24, went to arcades together… He described himself as a genius and judo champion. She thought it was cool to be with an older, smart guy … He took her virginity in a dark room, her T-shirt left flecked with blood. She told him it was painful, yet a short time later, he wanted more. During their four-month relationship, he hounded the 135-pound girl to lose weight and urged her to keep their relationship secret from her mother.
“After a while, she said she told Raniere she wanted to break off the relationship but he told her they should keep having sex. Even as a 15-year-old, she said, she realized Raniere didn’t care about her….”
In a recorded interview with Odato, of which we have the transcript, Melita added a few more details that most readers have not heard before.
She said she once took a trip with Raniere and some older friends. She was 15. Raniere was 24:
GINA MELITA: I was falling asleep, watching a little television, and I remember watching, but we were both sitting on a bed watching. As I was dozing, he reached over and touched my face, and touched my legs a little bit. And was kind of making a pass.”
Sometime after that , Raniere took Gina to an apartment in Troy, New York.
GINA: The room was really dark, and we locked the door and had the deadbolt on it. I remember that. And, it was very painful. I was kind of in shock, I couldn’t believe how painful it was. And, you know, the first time, it was very painful. And later, maybe a half an hour later after the first time Keith, he was like, well, basically, I don’t know exactly what he said, but it was like, “Well, maybe the next time won’t be so bad.” So, he tried again…. I mean, you know, at the time, it seemed ok, to my 15-year-old mind, at first, but even later I realized that “I’m constantly lying about stuff, there’s got to be something wrong, here. There’s something wrong going on.”
Another underage woman Raniere is said to have had sex with during the same time period is Gina Hutchinson.
In fact, Gina Melita introduced Raniere to Gina Hutchinson, who was also 15-years old.
Hutchinson died in 2002, an apparent suicide, when she was 33. She is the subject of a 2019 documentary entitled the Lost Women of Nxivm.
Her sister, Heidi Hutchinson, was also in the film and has spoken many times on the record about her sister and why she thinks Raniere not only had sex with her sister when she was 15, but how he might have had a hand in her suicide or possible murder. For purposes of this article, we will avoid the topic of the cause of Gina’s death and merely recount what Heidi said about her sister.
During the Christmas season of 1984, Heidi came home from college and found her little sister Gina was having sex with 24 year old Raniere. Heidi said she caught Raniere crawling out the window of her sister’s bedroom.
Heidi, a teenager herself, confronted Raniere. He said he intended to marry Gina and that they were soulmates. Raniere told Heidi that Gina was a very old, mature soul who, he believed, had previously been a Buddhist Goddess.
While Heidi did not buy into his reincarnation theory, there was a practical aspect. The Hutchinsons were Mormons. Gina who was nearly 16, and could get parental permission to marry Keith when she turned 16.
Gina asked her older sister not to ruin her chance of marriage with Keith [the Mormons are strict about premarital sex] and because Keith was well-liked by their mother, and it was presumed they would marry, Heidi went along with her sister’s entreaty and did not report him to police for statutory rape.
Finally, there is Rhiannon.
Raniere was 30 when she was 12, in 1990. Her parents had divorced and she moved with her mother to Clifton Park. Her mother was a saleswoman for Raniere’s Consumers’ Buyline Inc..
Like many others, Rhiannon’s mother knew of Raniere’s reputation as being the smartest man in the world. When Raniere offered free tutoring for Rhiannon, her mother quickly approved and considered her daughter to be lucky indeed.
At the same time, one of Raniere’s live-in girlfriends, Pamela Cafritz, hired Rhiannon to walk her dog twice a day.
Cafritz encouraged her to visit the townhouse at 3 Flintlock Lane that she and Raniere shared with other women.
According to Rhiannon, Raniere urged her to talk about her life. He gave her a necklace — a heart with a stone in it.
As Jim Odato described in his story, “The girl had braces and bright eyes, liked to climb trees and play with Matchbox cars. Raniere was almost 30 and dressed in business suits. He was spearheading a company that boasted of selling at least 250,000 memberships nationwide. He was supposed to teach her Latin and algebra.
“Instead, she said, he told her she hugged like a child, her arms wrapped around him but her hips pushed away.
“He taught her to hug the way adults do, pelvis-to-pelvis….
“He took her virginity.
“The girl liked being able to hang out with Raniere and the women around him. She thought sex was just part of fitting in.
“‘They told me I was smart and took an interest in me; they let me spend every afternoon at their house,” she said. “It was exciting to be somewhere where people wanted me. I was perfect picking — insecure at the time… To have someone that mature and that well thought of to be interested in me, it was flattering. I was young, inexperienced, overwhelmed, out of my league.”
Consumers’ Buyline’s offices were on the second floor. According to Rhiannon, Keith Raniere invited her the offices and in the elevator they had sex, when she was 12.
Rhiannon said she had about 60 sexual encounters with Raniere. After some time, she started skipping school and wanted to leave him. She ran away from home, she said, because he lived nearby, and she didn’t feel safe at home.
In 1993, two years after their relationship ended, Rhiannon reported the sex with Raniere to police.
These documents appear to be authentic and are from the 1990s. If they are authentic, they belie the claim that Rhiannon was paid by the Times Union in 2012, to fabricate her story.
Back in 1993, Raniere was not prosecuted for statutory rape. By this time, there was no forensic evidence, so, according to Rhiannon, police asked her to wear a wire and confront Raniere to capture incriminating statements.
Rhiannon had been through cancer, had been in a juvenile home, and said she had a fear of Raniere which prompted her to run away from home. She declined to wear a wire. Police encouraged her to sign a waiver saying her claim that Raniere had sex with her was true but that she was not pursuing charges.
Rhiannon in an interview with Odato added some details that did not appear in the written version of the story, but were part of a video presentation.
RHIANNON: “I met Keith Raniere shortly after moving to Clifton Park, around 1990 when I was 12 years old. My mother became involved with a company he ran, called Consumers’ Byline.
“I was looking to make some extra money, so she got me a job stamping envelopes. And then I got to meet Pam Cafritz and Karen and Kristin, and Keith – and they offered me a job walking Pam’s dog – for 5 dollars a day, twice a day.
“So, I started going to the house at 3, Flintlock lane, to walk the dog – to pick him up and walk him in the morning before school, and after school.
“During that time I got to know Keith. He offered to tutor me in Algebra and Latin. Tutoring took place mostly at his business office in Rome Plaza….
“It started very gradually. It started with a hug. He’s taught me how to hug. He pulled my pelvic area close to him, and said: “Adults hug like that”…
“Shortly after the tutoring started, a sexual relationship began between Keith and myself, at the age of 12. It happened at various locations, mostly in his office in Rome Plaza, in the elevator, in empty business offices in Rome Plaza, in the broom closet – the janitor’s closet – and also at the house at 3 Flintlock Lane, where Pam Cafritz, Kristin and Karen lived with Keith. That relationship continued from the age of 12 till 13, when I ran away, and was eventually placed in the St. Anne Institute.”
At the time Rhiannon gave the interview, Raniere was free. She told Odato, “Keith Raniere is still in contact with children, he’s in contact with women, and I’m interested in making sure, you know, that I can do the best I can to protect other people.”
She was offered a chance to help. Prosecutors in Raniere’s case asked Rhiannon to testify at his trial.
Since rape was not one of the charges, her appearance was more or less like a character witness to show Raniere was inclined to have sex with underage girls, just as the prosecution alleged he had with Camila.
Rhiannon agreed to testify but the judge ruled against it since it was propensity rather than probative, meaning that the prejudice against Keith it would create in the jury would be greater than its evidentiary value.
Is He Innocent?
Did Raniere ever commit statutory rape?
Is it possible that Gina, Heidi, Rhiannon and Camila, four women, describing events from 1984, 1990 and 2005, are not telling the truth?
Most people looking at this would tend to answer in the affirmative – he is guilty. Camila did not know either Gina and none of them knew Rhiannon. These are separate accounts from separate women. Although some of his followers do believe that these women were paid to create this fiction about him.
Still, Raniere is innocent until proven guilty. He was never convicted of statutory rape. This is an important consideration, yet it may mean nothing in prison to other inmates.
What does matter is that Raniere is sentenced to 120 years in federal prison. In these prisons, child molesters are most despised. Though he was not convicted of child molesting, because of the allegations, particularly Camila’s, he will be likely considered a Chomo, and his life is in danger in prison.
This strongly militates toward the BOP placing him in a prison where he will be safe. In our next post, we will discuss what measures should be taken to ensure Raniere is safe in prison.