Eduardo Asunsolo is a supporter and friend of Keith Raniere. He has a view of his friend that is different than my own view of the man they call Vanguard.
Eduardo has maintained that Keith got a raw deal at his trial. He thinks I and my publication, the Frank Report, had a great deal to do with the false narrative about Raniere and the destruction of Nxivm.
He confronted me on this topic in a respectful way. He wanted to put his arguments out to the public prior to sentencing and felt, since I had much to do with Raniere’s incarceration, that I should be willing to present the other side, in the spirit of fairness.
At the time we met, a few days before Raniere was sentenced, I told him there was nothing he could publish in Raniere’s defense, prior to sentencing, that will change the fact that he will be sentenced to life.
I said, “If you have evidence of due process violations, of prosecutorial misconduct, or judicial bias, as you claim, you should present this to Keith’s lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, who might be able to use this in an appeal.”
Shortly after, Raniere reached out to me by phone from prison. This was reported on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, and in many media outlets around the world since it was peculiar that Raniere would do his first media interview since his arrest with his nemesis.
I made it clear to Raniere that, while I did not think he was a man of good character, “I would fight for due process for even the devil himself.”
Eduardo and others of Raniere’s friends [along with Raniere from prison] put together their arguments of why they believe certain aspects of the case were handled improperly and prejudicially against Raniere.
Most readers know about their allegation of tampering with the photos of Camila.
They also put forth an argument that the sex trafficking of Nicole charge was improper:
They argued that Raniere never intended to flee to Mexico, he was visiting and not hiding and should have had been released on bail before he went to trial:
They have more presentations planned. How far it will go is anyone’s guess. But if the issue is due process, they have a right to make their argument and let it stand or fall on the merits. Due process does not depend on what we think of Keith Raniere.
Recently, Asunsolo has been interviewed in Mexican media and some of his message seemed to resonate with some of the reporters there, particularly his comparison of US and Mexican justice.
Below is Asunsolo’s summary of his position. I know it may anger some that I published it, but I think it fair to hear him out. If you disagree with his arguments, please feel free to debate it, preferably in a respectful manner, in the comments section, or submit an op-ed to FrankParlato@gmail.com.
This is not a debate on whether Raniere is a rascal or not; it is a debate on whether he received due process. It can never be wrong to review and debate that, even if the person is the worst offender we ever heard of. Indeed, it is especially important then that examination is required most and if doubt is raised, debated vigorously.
I do not think the argument against publishing it is persuasive: that this will retraumatize the victims by forcing them to relive their experience. Most of them are participating in a civil lawsuit against Raniere to get money from the Bronfman sisters, and they will have to relive it again, by their own choice, multiple times, including depositions and cross-examination at trial.
If they can do this for money, it cannot be unfair to publish various points of view regarding the criminal trial that sent a man to prison for life. The victims do not have to read or respond. The victims the Court ruled it would use first names only are not identified here, so their anonymity is protected.
By Eduardo Asunsolo
Regardless of what anyone thinks about Keith Raniere, there were irregularities in his trial.
In the USA, we pride ourselves on fair trials, but in his trial, because the media, led by the highly-biased Frank Parlato of the Frank Report, made Raniere out to be a despicable character, the prosecutors and the judge were able to dispense with “due process” and make sure his defense was not heard.
If you look at the evidence presented by the prosecution, aside from the hatred fomented against this man, it is flimsy. He was condemned more for his lifestyle than his actions.
I will now briefly touch on some of the most salient points:
A sex trafficking charge was sustained where there was no money exchanged, over a single sexual encounter, with an adult woman who consented before, during, and after the incident. Keith himself wasn’t physically involved in the act.
How did the jury find “intent” from this?
How could someone know she was unhappy with this single sexual encounter when she said that she was fine with it, before, during, and after? The sex trafficking statute was never intended to be misused this way.
Sex trafficking was intended to be where women are placed into subjugation for commercial purposes and denied the freedom to leave this kind of life. I’ve personally helped dozens of these women asking for asylum in the US. To call Nicole’s experience sex trafficking is offensive to true victims of these horrible acts.
Nicole, the alleged sex trafficking victim, had one sexual experience, and she gave her consent to the incident. She was even asked if she wanted to continue it while it was in progress. She consented.
It was only later, under pressure from, first, Keith’s vicious enemy, Frank Parlato, then the rapacious lawyer, Neil Glazer, who planned to use her for a civil lawsuit, and then finally the US authorities, who, I believe, bent her testimony to suit their crime, that she agreed to testify that she was trafficked and in fear of the release of her collateral.
This is not sex trafficking. Possibly it might be some other, lesser charge, although I don’t personally think so.
I am confident there has never been a similar sex trafficking case in the US legal system. The only reason they could get away with it is that Raniere was hated. A hated man does not deserve justice it seems.
Camila Child Porn? Really?
The alleged child porn pictures of a 15-year-old Mexican girl, Camila, “found’ on an electronic device seized from Keith’s property seems to have been tampered with. The FBI admitted during trial that someone accessed the device while in FBI custody, but they did not know who it was!
That’s something that some Americans would want you to think could only happen in a Mexican court, not in a US federal court.
Think about it. The supposed child porn pictures were in FBI custody. Someone got into the devices and the FBI says they do not know who did it? And then our experts find the files were tampered with, dates were altered, etc.. The very dates used to determine her age by the prosecution.
Crying for Leniency
While being cross-examined by Keith’s lawyers, one critical witness, Lauren Salzman, on the verge of making admissions that could have altered the trajectory of the entire case, was excused by the judge from further cross-examination because she started crying.
Let’s think about this for a second. The entire paternalism is revolting. If Lauren was a man, the judge would have told her, ‘man up,’ ‘finish your answer’. But because she wept copiously, she was excused.
What a precedent! All a woman must do is start crying and she can’t be cross-examined? This brings the proverbial throwing of a tantrum to get your way, to a whole new level.
She can send a man to life in prison, lie on the stand – and then when the defense starts to challenge her, all she has to do is start crying and the judge will cancel cross-examination.
This woman was a cooperating witness. She was guarding for her own [lighter] sentence. We can not delete that it’s possible for people to create an upset when something delicate is being challenged.
I was there. Her testimony was challenged and she started bawling. And the judge stopped the cross-examination! He said “I’m a human first and a Judge second”. This is the opposite of justice.
For this reason alone, Keith deserves a new trial.
Keep in mind that the judge scolded Keith’s attorney for doing his job and frankly he intimidated him. After Lauren’s cross-examination which was stopped by the judge, Keith’s lawyer had to timidly ask questions of other female witnesses so they wouldn’t cry and he would get blamed for making them cry – when all he was doing was doing his job.
Ridiculous Naming Rules
The judge ruled that women testifying against Raniere and women referred to at the trial as being against Raniere should be identified by only their first names, while female supporters of Raniere were identified by first and last names, creating an impression for the jury that women whose first names only were used were the victims, while women whose first and last names were used were guilty of crimes. This was one cute trick by the prosecution.
On top of that, all men were named by first and last name, creating a gender unneutral scenario, further implying that all women whose first names only were used were the victims.
To show you how ridiculous it was, even women who wrote books and made documentaries like Sarah Edmondson and India Oxenberg were only identified as Sarah and India.
Come on, everyone knew who they were. But they could only be called Sarah and India – because the prosecution, with the judge’s consent, wanted the jury to know that they decided they were victims.
It’s outrageous that the prosecution got to decide whose names were first names only and the judge supported that.
Did Witnesses Lie?
The defense arguments that some witnesses were lying – and that all witnesses were adult women who consented to everything they did – were shut down again and again by the judge. Look at the transcripts of the trial.
The truth is these were adult women who made adult decisions and then, at the prosecution’s urging, they reverted to childhood and cried “we are weak, little, sensitive plants.”
This whole thing needs sunlight.
I have said this again and again: Switch the genders. If this were a group of men who chose to get branded and give collateral, this would never have gone to trial.
Then there were the strange circumstances of Raniere being seized by armed gunmen in Mexico and removed within hours to the USA.
Normally, there is an extradition procedure, which should have international human rights observers wondering how this happened and if it was a crime against Raniere.
The USA should not be permitted to kidnap people in Mexico or any foreign country without due process. In fact, the whole question of jurisdiction is at issue.
No Bail, Go to Jail
Prosecutors alleged Raniere fled to Mexico to hide from US authorities and was denied bail and held in prison, where he was frequently prevented from meeting with his attorneys to prepare for trial.
He should have had bail. He offered a perfect bail scenario, where he would have been at no risk of flight. It is the prejudice against Mexico that worked against him getting bail. As if Mexico is some third world country in the remotest part of the world.
Raniere was in Mexico because his partner, the mother of his younger son, is Mexican and he wanted to be with her and their son.
The dishonest representation by the prosecutors that Raniere had fled to Mexico to hide from US authorities was used as the sole excuse to deny him bail and hold him in prison. They had possession of his travel records and his passport while they stated false facts to the public. Again, this is outrageous!
He Is Hated So Due Process Does Not Matter
The reality is that the US government decided to get Keith Raniere and they weren’t about to stop to worry about his rights. They knew they could get away with this because no one would dare defend him because, after all, he was a despised person.
He was unpopular with the mob.
There was no need to worry about a fair trial. Nobody would care if he got a fair trial. Nobody wanted to hear his defense, just in case it might lead to his acquittal based on the law and due process application of the law.
Even if his defense is found to be wanting and deficient, he should have been entitled to present it under fair and unbiased conditions.
In the case of Keith Raniere, during every step, from the arrest, through the prosecution, it was saturated with prejudice and an obscenely arrogant assumption that the government could get away with anything because Raniere was a bad man, a cult leader, a man who had many women, a man who supposedly branded women.
Nowhere were voices permitted to be heard that all of these witnesses who testified were adult women, that everyone involved consented to everything, and only retroactively did they withdraw consent.
The proof of prejudice carried over into sentencing. The judge gave him 120 years. Even murderers don’t get this kind of sentence. Neither do kidnappers, or rapists. Raniere was not convicted of murdering, kidnapping, or raping anyone. There were no violent crimes.
Look at the crimes and examine them in the plain light of who was hurt and how every one of the so-called victims consented to the actions they did and only later, under the influence of the US government, did they withdraw consent and claim to be victims of abuse.
Then there is another horror of injustice, We are told we cannot question female victims. To question their veracity is to “victim shame.” If they were men, they could be questioned. But women are sensitive plants who cannot stand up and tell the truth? This is sexist, a macho attitude by men who claim to “protect” them, and an excuse for women who want to avoid their responsibility.
They cannot withstand scrutiny? What nonsense. Women will never get equality with men if they cannot stand for their truth – using their true name, first and last. This is, after all, what Keith was trying to teach – and now, he has been hung by the forces that opposed the maturation of women.
This was a trial where women too were put on trial. And the verdict is that we are told we cannot question a woman – or she’ll start crying and the trial will be stopped and a lynching will ensue.
I can promise you, Marc Agnifilo, Keith’s attorney, had to worry he might get lynched too. He had to go easy on the witnesses [female only] after Lauren cried her way out of cross-examination.
Examine the trial record closely. Take away the hate and emotion because Keith is different – and what you have in this case is something comparable to a witch trial.
Every decision went the way of the prosecution. I remember once when Agnifilo ran about 10 minutes longer on a cross-examination, the judge scolded him. But when the prosecutor, Moira Penza, admitted she was going to go over on direct examination by several hours, the judge indulgently said, “Take your time.”
I could admire the judge’s paternalism if it didn’t take place in a courtroom. He was treating Moira like she was his granddaughter. This is not my sense of justice. The judge should have been gender-blind and a seeker of truth.
There is no proof that only men lie and that women always tell the truth and just because they say they are victims, the defense has no right to question that.
When he stopped Lauren’s cross-examination when she was at the height of her crying jag, the judge said, “I’m a human first, a judge second”. That was his stark admission that he was biased. He was supposed to be a judge first. He is supposed to be justice incarnate, the spirit of justice in the human form, the personification of justice. That was why he was there. But when he said he was a judge second, he told the world he no longer was qualified to be a judge first.
Aristotle said, “When people dispute, they take refuge in the judge; and to go to the judge is to go to justice; for the nature of the judge is to be a sort of animate justice.”
But this judge was not animate justice. He was a human, a man with a great deal of prejudice and gender bias. In this case, Keith was predetermined to be a demon, a witch, and he was punished, without evidence.
Someone, one day in the future, will investigate the case of Keith Raniere with the perspective that only time can give – and realize that justice was not served, but annihilated. That regardless of whether Raniere is a good man or a bad man, he was deprived of the right to defend himself.
Sure, he was technically permitted to put on a defense, but his witnesses were intimidated, the witnesses against him coached and coddled and the judge, as a human first and secondly a judge, showed every sign of bias, at every step, with every ruling.
I cannot prove all this with a simple essay such as this, but a careful study will prove it. And the 120-year sentence confirms it – the US justice system is not dissimilar to my native Mexico. The only difference is that the Mexican system is more honest.
We do not pretend to such perfection as we do in America with our high talk and low values of justice.
It is clear. Justice demands that Keith Raniere get a new trial.
[I will have more to say on this topic in the coming days and weeks. Thank you for reading — Eduardo Asunsolo.]