Tanya Hajjar: Why Keith Raniere Deserves Life in Prison

AUSA Tanya Hajjar

Readers recently were treated to an excellent exchange between that sterling defense lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, and federal judge Nicholas G. Garaufis.

Part 1: Raniere’s Lawyer Agnifilo and Judge Garaufis Mix It up Over Raniere

Part 2: Agnifilo and Judge Garaufis Mix It up; Debate Raniere’s Good Intentions

Part 3. Marc Agnifilo and Judge Garaufis: Raniere’s Inner Deficiency: ‘He Doesn’t Know How to Leave Women’

Keith Alan Raniere with his younger son in Mexico, shortly before his arrest in 2018.

The exchange occurred during the sentencing hearing of Keith Alan Raniere. At one point, the judge, in rebutting something Agnifilo said, mentioned that Raniere failed to support to his son, Gaylen.

The judge said, “The fact is, the child is 14 years old and there has been no child support, apparently, and why should this even be an issue if this is his child. I mean, I’m just a local guy here in Brooklyn. But you’ve got a 14-year-old child who’s never been supported by his father who has been busy working the commodities markets for tens of millions of dollars and can’t find it in his heart to send a few bucks to his child. Why should anyone look upon that person as someone who is worthy of respect?”

With that statement, Judge Garaufis told me everything I needed to know about this pragmatic, old school, man of respect. It was an intensely satisfying statement.

Judge Nicholas Garaufis

What the judge did not mention and perhaps did not know was that Raniere denied the paternity of that child, and does not appear on the birth certificate. In fact, he told his community that the child was a foundling whose mother died giving him birth and the father was unknown.

At the sentencing hearing, the judge frequently interrupted Agnifilo and disputed his contention that Raniere was well-intended. Their exchanges went on for some 8,000 words, with Agniflo speaking about 5,000 words in Raniere’s defense.

Perhaps the most piquant moment came when Agnifilo argued that Raniere did not know how to leave women. He said, “And my point, and it’s not a point that I think a psychological report, I thought that some of the people who spoke this morning spoke absolutely eloquently about it. He doesn’t know how to leave people.

THE COURT: He doesn’t know what?

AGNIFILO: Leave, leave women. Toni Natalie said, he doesn’t know how to let go.

THE COURT: It’s hard to leave, get people to leave if you’re keeping all this material, this collateral…  He doesn’t know how to leave? He knows how to keep people from leaving, that’s his skill. That’s a skill.”

It was not hard to discern that Agnifilo was not going to change the judge’s opinion of Raniere, though I credit him for trying.

When it was time for the prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney Tanya Hajjar, to deliver her argument, the judge had no reason to interrupt her. That is because they were in agreement.  Hajjar limited her argument to 500 words, about 1/10th of Agnifilo’s.

Hajjar could afford to be brief. She knew, everyone knew, what the end result was going to be: life in prison for Raniere.

Here is what she said about Raniere.


Your Honor, the Government is asking the Court to impose a Guideline sentence of life imprisonment. The offenses here, the offenses that Mr. Raniere has been convicted of, are among the most serious under the law.

Sex trafficking, forced labor, child exploitation, the Guidelines demand a life sentence because these crimes cause immeasurable harm to victims. The Court has heard from these victims today, at the defendant’s trial, in voluminous victim-impact statements, and in court.

The victims have described so powerfully the impact of the defendant’s crimes on them and their families. And in doing so, they have relived the worst moments of their lives in order to convey to the Court and to the public how they were hurt in the most depraved ways.  There is very little that I could add to that, your Honor. But what is clear is that these victims will be carrying this damage with them for the rest of their lives.

It is outrageous for defense counsel to suggest that the defendant committed these crimes because he didn’t know how to leave women or because he didn’t think he was hurting them.  He did hurt them, and that was made absolutely clear at trial and it was made absolutely clear today.  It doesn’t matter if a child abuser doesn’t think he’s hurting a child; when he begins a sexual relationship when she’s 15 years old, it doesn’t matter.

The Government has submitted a lengthy sentencing memorandum addressing the 3553(a) factors, I’m not going to repeat those arguments today.  I will just briefly address a few of the arguments that the counsel for the defendant made today.

Mr. Agnifilo’s justification for pursuing Sarah Edmondson and DOS victims by sending them threatening letters and by attempting to institute criminal charges, that was the justification presented at trial and the jury rejected that justification. It is total nonsense and has no basis in the evidence.

Mr. Agnifilo asked this Court not to impose a sentence [not more than 20] years because the defendant is 60 years old.

But the defendant was 45 years old when he first started sexually abusing Camila.

He was 49 years old when he ordered Daniela to be confined in a room without human contact for nearly two years.

He was 54 years old when he attempted to use first-line slaves in DOS to, quote, “find him a virgin successor who would serve as a replacement for Camila.”

And he was 55 years old when he told Allison Mack that DOS slaves should be held down like a sort of sacrifice and branded with his initials.

The defendant’s age has clearly not prevented him from committing crimes, far from it. If the defendant hadn’t been arrested, he would be committing crimes today, tomorrow, and for the foreseeable future.

Even now, after overwhelming evidence of his guilt was introduced at trial and after his conviction, the defendant has yet to express any understanding of or remorse for his crimes.  His post-conviction comment has shown him to be completely unrepentant.

No sentence short of life in imprisonment is sufficient to protect the public from this defendant. No sentence short of life imprisonment is sufficient to provide just punishment for the defendant’s crimes.

Thank you, your Honor.



About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • This strong and very competent young woman may have quite literally saved me and my son’s lives.

    I can only imagine but do have some idea of what foul play NXIVM — with it’s billionaire backers, corrupt, connected counsel and brash, brainwashed cache’ of two-bit cartel crooks — engaged in during the long, drawn-out course of this case.

    It’s a minor miracle that this small group of EDNY prosecutors led by Ms. Hajjar, weathered such ferocious opposition to finally obtain their conviction albeit on only a portion of NXIVM’s crimes, thus far.

    I love Ms. Hajjar’s simple statement here, flatly refuting Agnofilo’s (Raniere’s) typical “blame the victims” excuse and attempt to normalize these bizarre, misogynistic sex crimes.

    “Keith didn’t know how to leave a woman,” Agnofilo says, quoting that most self-proclaimed, prized victim of all, Toni Natalie, who, tragically lost out on her bid for a pay-off on Raniere’s product patents.

    …Oh, no?! Keith left women physically and emotionally scarred, deliberately broken, bankrupt, tied-up and gagged in litigation, with ruined reputations and collateral — “little bottles of poison” — hanging over their heads, and in some cases, DEAD.

    It is outrageous. THANK YOU, Tonya Hajjar!! And congratulations.

  • Well said, Ms. Hajjar! I suspect most here would concur and the reason there’s not many comments would be that there is contentious argument happening elsewhere on the FR atm- (You already won yours, fair and square) – for that, many thanks.

  • For real though – why hasn’t there been a sentencing date set for Nancy, Allie or Lauren? We all thought it was going to happen before the end of the year- quickly after KAR. And it’s been crickets.

    Should we assume there is still an active investigation and they are cooperating witnesses? Is it covid? Something has to be up cuz as far as what they were charged with – pretty open/close in the way of sentencing.

    Frank – spill the tea 🙂

    • It’s theoretically possible that there’s some sort of ongoing investigation that’s delaying the remaining sentencing – but, based on what we’ve been told, it’s much more likely that the sentencing delays for Nancy, Lauren, Allison, and Kathy are related to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in New York City. The SDNY federal court has basically closed down – and the EDNY Court will likely do the same very soon. So, unless those defendants agree to be sentenced remotely, they may not find out their fate until some time next Spring.

  • I really hope Gaylen receives that long-overdue support. I can’t imagine trying to earn a living to support a child during all of this. Kristen has hopefully found a job out of the public eye.

    Can you imagine calling yourself an ethical humanitarian and denying support for your own child? I can’t, but there sits Keith Raniere, free of irony, claiming it.

  • Tanya Hajjar-

    Incredibly poignant and succinct closing. You made John Gleeson, Benjamin Berrell Ferencz, and Andrew J. Maloney proud and envious of your writing skills.

    You rock.

  • It’s really is a very good point that KAR was engaging in criminal acts for many years, at younger ages. I don’t think a criminal should receive extra mercy simply because he managed to evade the law for a long time, and is presently older. All that means is he’s had more time to inflict his damage without consequences.

    Tanya is right – he won’t be safe at any age, even 80.

About the Author

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 others in all five continents.

His work to expose and 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 prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com


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