Ed. note: The following is an email that Keith Raniere apparently wrote just days after he was convicted on June 19, 2019, meant to be distributed among his followers. I have not seen the original email, but this is a copy that was distributed. The entire message is lengthy and I am publishing it in full without editorial comment. It has never before been published. In a later post, I will address some significant new information Raniere is alleging, clarify certain matters, and challenge some things he has stated.
By Keith Raniere
This is a call to action for all who place civil liberties above politics and social norm, honor above prejudice, and virtue above hate. It is also a call for steadfast activists of justice, and those in media willing to take the unpopular risk of upholding investigative journalism over cultural sensationalism.
I come to this situation very biased. I have a strong personal motive, but also find myself in a place of high visibility that may shed a more global light, and do some greater good.
For almost 30 years, I have been an object of hate and prejudice. I have created numerous businesses and movements of varying success, yet my alternative lifestyle and beliefs have lead to intense, international political ill-will, prejudice, and hate. This has been a challenge.
Some analysts have called me a “philosopher king” (I don’t think “king” really applies) and say I am a threat to powers beyond my view.
My name is Keith Raniere. On March 25, 2018, I was kidnapped in Mexico after visiting my seven-month old son and his mother, a life-partner of mine whom had just left.
Six men in masks, wearing full body armor and armed with machine guns, arrested me. Within twelve hours I was thrown out of the country without legal representation or extradition. I was turned over to the US authorities and isolated from family, friends, and attorneys, for almost a month, pre-indictment.
Note: It took almost two months in total to indict me, during which there were grand jury hearings, and a lot of investigation. Shouldn’t a person be ready to be indicted if incarcerated? Shouldn’t the privilege of arresting by information be honored by the subsequent indictment being the first action the grand jury takes? If not, was the complaint sufficient?
I am pledged to non-violence, lead a peace movement in Mexico, and the peace segment of the Pan-American games we produced reached an estimated 25 million people. For this we were nominated for three daytime Emmy Awards and won several Tele Awards. I have never owned a weapon, used any drugs (including smoking and recreational drinking), or had a criminal history.
For a bail package, my attorneys offered two armed guards with a supervisor (guarding me 24/7), in a well-vetted apartment, all overseen by the former head of the Secret Service who appeared at my bail hearing to affirm this. I would also wear an ankle monitor and only have contact with my attorneys. Additionally, we posted a $10 million bond. My bail application was denied.
I have five co-defendants: All are women. One has a grave illness; another is her 40-year old daughter. There is also a well-known actress, an heiress, and another who is a long-term partner of mine. The heiress had to post $100 million bond, wear an ankle monitor, and see no one but her attorneys in order to not be remanded into custody.
All are innocent, but all plead guilty; two even cooperated, with one of them testifying.
Ultimately, because I was charged with RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act — created to prevent and punish financial infiltration and corrupt operation of legitimate businesses) and, in my specific case, any friend or associate could be charged as a co-conspirator, I could not see or contact any of my family, friends, or co-defendants for the fifteen months before my trial. The experience of anyone who knew me was: one day I was arrested, and then never directly heard from again. As of this writing, I have not spoken to any of my loved ones or friends.
As you might imagine, this is torturous and prohibits presenting a defense. Additionally, at trial it was impossible to call any defense witnesses I knew, for they could be considered co-conspirators in RICO and would strongly be advised to use their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
The jurors were good people — at least as far as I know. Three hundred potential jurors were screened by a questionnaire prepared by both sides. From about 150 remaining candidates, the judge interviewed them in front of us, allowing our input. They seemed earnest, although a surprising percentage voiced very conservative views towards things like abortions and taxation.
On June 19, after six weeks of a trial based on prejudice and hate, with no true opportunity for a defense, I was found guilty of crimes, all of which I did not commit. That day, the very start of jury deliberation, the jury came uncharacteristically dressed-up and literally took less time to reach a verdict than it took the judge to read the jury instructions. They came prepared to reach a verdict with little or no deliberation.
How can this be? Innocent defendants — very innocent — pleading guilty, cooperating, and being convicted?
The answer is simple: hate.
I am innocent. Sadly, in the end, the jurors accepted the hate of the prosecutors who, in turn, had taken up the hate of the opposition.
That oppositional force, which now seems so large and strong, including media, gossip, and social culture, was started by a handful of hate in the souls of a very small number of people. Like all hateful movements of the world and history, from Nazi Germany down to the smallest group of children on a playground, hate is a multiplicative contagion passed from one to many.
We must not accept hate — we must never embrace it as acceptable.
Justice is where a society, or jury, will treat someone they desperately and condemningly want to convict, identically to someone they intensely and protectively want to acquit.
The term “pyramid organization” is an example of hate. This is possibly the least offensive hate conduit in my case, yet its innocuous nature serves to illustrate the hate’s subtlety: Is the Sovereign (in this case, the United States Government) — our Sovereign — a scientific investigator of truth, or a fear-mongering gatherer of hate looking to “win”? I supposedly create “pyramid organizations” — different from normal “organizations”.
The implication is somehow “pyramid” is improper: I am at the “top” or “apex”, control everything unchecked, in some “sinister” and unspecified way. How is “pyramid” different than a restaurant, private corporation, or even the US Attorney’s office? Some will say each of these likely answer to some check and balance system so even with a small, sole proprietorship — a restaurant for example — that owner must answer to the Health Department. If it were true I created businesses wherein I answer to no one, I still, in the least, answer to the law (If I didn’t, I would not be incarcerated.)
Whether the subject is great like Steve Jobs, or tiny such as a local sole proprietor business: within one’s creation, one often has unbridled authority yet, more globally, all must answer to others such as customers, employees, vendors, and in the highest sense, the law. So why label organizations I create “pyramid” which imparts undefined, vague, negativity?
The answer is simple: hate.
This label, “pyramid”, is a raw conduit for hate. The prosecution believes they “need” to apply this hate because it increases their chance of “winning”. Shouldn’t the application of hate be abhorrent? Should the prosecution even be concerned about “winning”? What does the application of the hate-label “pyramid” have to do with the pursuit of truth? Doesn’t hate obscure the truth? Don’t I, as the defendant, deserve an approach free of hate or mockery?
Doesn’t every defendant in a civilized justice system deserve that as a minimum?
The following is a more extreme example of how hate, through prejudice, was allowed in my case: The abortion records of several of my past and present partners were allowed into evidence and presented to the jury. These are confidential records of adult women voluntarily choosing this legal option. Note: abortions have nothing to do with my charges. The majority of the members of my jury stated they believe abortion is murder. This evidential allowance violates, in the least, the intent of the HIPPA laws, shames people associated with me, and generates tremendous anger, hate, and prejudice towards me, my community, and my actions.
If using hate is part of a conviction, then the defendant is likely innocent. A legitimate conviction wouldn’t permit the use of hate. An impartial party, or person, would find hate both obscuring and repugnant to justice. If the defendant was guilty as charged, strictly the facts and the law would suffice: hate would not be allowed.
In contrast to the over-permissiveness of the above is a decision relating to the sex trafficking charge. An essential witness for the prosecution (and an alleged victim) lives a double life: On the normal, plain side, she presents herself as child-like, family loving, and innocent. On the alternative side, she has had a significant partner with an international reputation as a sexual “bad boy” with both civil and criminal challenges relating to sex. Her alleged sex trafficking experience was a self-styled enactment of a fantasy relating directly to her past, more extreme, sexual experiences. All of her alternative activities, fantasies, and proof of these things were barred from my trial. This was allegedly to “protect” the prosecution’s witness, but was done at the expense of justice.
Even with this extreme bias, there was no evidence presented of commercial sex — a required element of this charge — yet, I was found guilty of this contemptible crime which carries a fifteen year minimum sentence.
Here is a summary of two more of my charges which lacked the appropriate elements: Firstly, the charge of forced labor. My life partner of 30 years died of cancer in November 2016. She was a prominent community leader, founder of an international women’s movement, and a beloved friend and mentor to thousands of people. The community was helping put together a memorial service for her. One person in the community, who was also in the now infamous sorority, told me she would do anything to help. She was a person to whom I had given access to as much cash as she needed to pay for things like rent, courses, and expenses incurred in traveling to and from Albany.
Unbeknownst to me, she worked five to six hours to transcribe a video of my deceased partner for that memorial: the prosecution is calling this “forced labor”. If this person believed she should have been paid, she could have just taken the money from the cash made available to her. This “forced labor” charge, in the minimum, does not meet the “knowingness” or “coercion” elements of the crime.
Considering the deep sorrow surrounding the death of my well-loved, 30-year partner, it is cruel to charge this baseless count. It is also
insulting to all victims who have actually experienced the raw ugliness of true “forced labor”.
Secondly, the charge of tax evasion. In short, there was no tax imposed, due, or potentially due, on any of the transactions shown by the prosecution. All transactions were straight forward, signed by the relevant party, and all transactions and monies were examined and processed by an accounting firm run by the past commissioner of the IRS. How could there possibly be tax evasion?
Answer: it is not possible, and the elements of the crime were not even possible. The prosecution used hate and created prejudice by showing large expenditures on a credit card to imply taxes were being “evaded”.
The prosecution should be ashamed for this is a sleight-of-hand obscuring the truth and destroying innocence; all for the satisfaction of
Why would the prosecution build a case with direct lies, using coercion, prejudicial strategies and tactics to “win”, while destroying lives, relationships, and businesses?
The answer is simple: hate.
When I was a little boy, I wanted to be a hero. I think many little kids do. But as a little boy, I was to save the world.
As I grew older, I found saving the world was not simple — and often the practicalities of life (cleaning my room, going to school, and the struggles of being a little kid) just seemed to get in the way. Still, in the back of my mind, I held the knowledge I could be a hero.
I matured further, gaining the responsibilities of an older boy. When I learned about historic events — like the American Revolution, or the struggles for racial equality — I believed all the great opportunities to do something meaningful had passed, and I wished I could have been born earlier in history so I could have stepped up, and stood with the forefathers of yesterday, to make a difference.
Then came the thought: I bet some child, about my age, generations from now, will look back and wish he were in my shoes, with my opportunities for the future. I had been seeing opportunities for greatness in retrospect. The people of the past, who later became heroes, did not see their present-times, or lives, as anything great or special — most of the time they saw themselves in the middle of struggles, often disasters. Their natures were heroic, and therefore their lives became heroic. Heroism was not earned from seeking heroic opportunities: heroism was a state of character and compassionate being. It was from this recognition, at the ripe old age of about twelve, I decided to deliberately and mindfully seek to be a good, caring, considerate person in each moment, for the rest of my life. This indeed would take a bit of practice: practices I still observe and hold sacred to this day yet have not been able to perfect.
Sometimes I would fail completely yet other times, as if by miraculous chance, I would have the presence of mind to succeed. My eighteenth birthday was such an occasion: I had been my mother’s sole care-giver since I was eight. My parents were divorced, I was an only child, and my mother had a progressively debilitating heart condition. For my eighteenth birthday, the day before I left for my sophomore year of college, I recognized and became very grateful for my life, and all that my mother had given me. After all, my birthday should really be a celebration of her giving me this life, and the heroism of motherhood: Through the years of her
illness, both my mother and I struggled with each other, but in spite of her condition, she had provided me with the support I needed to not only survive, but to have a great deal of joy. I really didn’t have much to do with my birth — and thereby my birthday — I was merely a passenger.
On my eighteenth birthday, I created a celebration of my mother, and not only expressed my gratitude for the life she gave me, but also a celebration of her as a person. This was one of those times in my life when I truly saw beyond the day-to-day struggles and rose appropriately to the occasion.
Here is the bittersweetness of life: This incident forever uplifted me and my awareness. I left for college the next day, and never saw my mother in our home again. Although she came to visit me once, briefly, that semester during Parents’ Day, she died suddenly on December 13, the week before final exams.
Beware of what you wish for — you might just get it. In this case, a seeming opportunity to do something important for the greater good. And so my “opportunity” did come.
Ultimately, during my current legal struggle, I was presented with a choice: Plead guilty to certain charges (of which I am innocent) and potentially spend the next sixteen years (best scenario) in a low-security prison with the comparatively nice benefits of a track, baseball field, recreation center, library, two to four days a week of multi-hour visitation (almost full days in certain facilities), face-to-face visits with loved ones, and access to making phone calls every day; or go to trial, in what seemed a very biased, unfair situation, and face living in a maximum security facility, potentially, in solitary confinement with one optional hour per day alone, outside in a cage for exercise, extremely limited one-hour visits allowed though a glass window, with a phone for sound, and one fifteen-minute phone call per month, for the rest of my days.
Essentially live, and eventually die, alone in a single cell.
If I pled guilty, I would have to lie to the court and the world, betraying myself, my actions, and even my co-defendants who had already plead guilty to lesser, sometimes different, charges. I would also waive my rights to continue fighting, protesting the truth, and worst of all: I would be obeying and feeding hate. Hate loves when we fear it so much, we cower before it and abandon the light of truth. The question resolved to “How strong in the truth was I? How brave was I?” I further examined the question by pretending the choice was between immediate freedom (but having to plead guilty to crimes I did not do, and waiving all legal rights to fight for truth) or solitary confinement forever. For seven days I imagined I was pleading guilty in exchange for freedom. During that week, I felt like the conflict would relax, but it was the relaxation of death: I had died. I then imagined fighting for the rest of my life, losing each and every contest, from solitary confinement.
When I imagined fighting for the truth, under these oppressive conditions, alone until the end of my days, I felt a deep sense of adversarial darkness, but I felt alive! (Throughout this whole conflict, no matter how dark the times, when I focus on the light of truth, I feel strong and alive.) If this were not my fight, or about the truth relating me, my life, and my life’s work (as with many innocent people who plead guilty), I might have felt differently, but I felt completely committed that this was what I needed to do. How could I ever be free if I betrayed myself to hate? The struggle of life is to fight for our truth. If we deny ourselves this basic motivation, we have died in our soul. I had two other people I morally needed to consult through my attorneys: My partner of fifteen years, with whom I have a 21-month old son, and one of my co-defendants who has always supported me, and still does. This co-defendant said she would totally support whatever decision I made, and my fifteen-year partner said she knew I would not plead guilty: this is what I was born to do.
With these affirmations, I held up the sword of truth and entered the darkness of hate.
Was I being a hero? Some might say I was, but for me there was nothing heroic about it: I simply had no living choice — to choose the escape of a plea was to die personally; my conscience would allow no other experience. I would rather die in the physical world than
betray the truth, my life’s work, and everyone who ever knew me.
That was the small, selfish reason I made the choice. Beyond that, there was another important benefit: There have been many wrongs done to my community, friends, loved ones, co-defendants, and myself. Although my very experienced, reputable legal team acknowledges these wrongs, saying they are truly terrible and improper (and I have a good number of these all rolled into my case), they accept many of these injustices today because they are so common! The founders of our justice system would roll over in their graves, yet these destroyed rights have become “acceptable” and even routine. Transgressions like: the Government intentionally lying, the utilization of irrelevant hate to obscure the truth in order to win, intentional and malicious corruption of witnesses and exonerating evidence, and coercion used to force people to lie and/or plea — are all the ugly tactics of the very criminals that are supposed to be brought to justice! There have been many books written about this, but the only way this horrible progression will ever stop is some incident or event must abruptly change this course. It will not change by itself! Hopefully, my case is visible enough, my treatment wrongful enough, and I am innocent enough, so this is that event.
For justice, and the multitudes of people who’ve been victimized by the sickness of hate within our compromised justice system, please help this be the turning point. (Yes, a criminal handled improperly by, amongst other things, being over-charged, or coerced into a plea, is a victim — no criminal is so much a criminal that we abandon justice.) We are witness to a diseased ambition changing the pursuit of truth into the narcissistic glory of winning, and virtuous power into thuggish bullying and coercion. The Sovereign should be as eager to exonerate an indicted defendant through innocence as to convict though guilt: how it’s representatives conduct themselves within the process of justice is a direct measure of our compassion and humanity.
As a metaphor, I find myself a non-violent soldier on a battlefield: my sole weapon is my character. I am not the lowest ranking foot soldier, but certainly I am not a high-ranking officer.
Our ranks represent our contribution to team humanity, and our earned right to lead that team. The battle we are fighting is for virtuous justice, and our opponent: hate. In particular, this battle is waged over the conduct of the Sovereign: Is it dedicated to truth (virtuous) or to winning (hateful)? Are the accused upheld (virtuous) or is punishment and damage inflicted upon the accused, his or her loved ones, friends, associates, and businesses (hateful)? In short, is our Sovereign virtuous or hateful? There is no gray area, in-between, or part-time!
Here I stand in the middle of this massive conflict which affects so many people and the very notion of freedom. Suddenly, I find myself alone, in a fortuitous clearing, where I can potentially make a global difference. I don’t know why I’ve been granted this visibility or potential power, but here I am. Yes, I can, and should, potentially reverse my trial verdict, but just as importantly — even more so — something good can be done!
As I am caught amidst a swirling miasma of prejudicial hate, much of which is flat-out untrue, but none of which relates, or even should relate, to the law of my case, will this hate win? Will the prejudice infect justice so the law is ignored and innocence not upheld?
I need at least one experienced, vociferous, unrelenting justice advocate to join this effort, bring meaning and social value to this dark time, and turn the monologue of hate about my case into a dialog — a conversation — about truth. Although my personal situation is wrongful and inhumane, it has even greater consequences for anyone who is affected by our justice system — hopefully all people under the sun who would recite the pledge, “for liberty and justice for all”!
For me, as a chance, nationally visible figure, immersed in an amplified, hateful, injustice: I am innocent, but can I be free?