Frank Report welcomes a new writer, Eleanor Christie. She will be reporting regularly on the Nxivm case.
By Eleanor Christie
Another NXIVM mystery has been revealed: last week, the former DOS slave “Jane Doe #2” or “Jaye” made public her carefully hidden identity. Her name is Jessica Joan, from Southern California. “Jaye” described herself in court as “an actress, a model, and a writer”. Jessica Joan is now showing her face and launching a podcast “about courage and overcoming adversity”. You can read about her “coming out” in the first Frank Report post about it:
Joan’s trajectory is filled with interest for the readers of the Frank Report. In this article, we will recount her story primarily through her direct testimony in the Keith Raniere trial, as examined by AUSA Mark Lesko of the EDNY. Joan entered DOS or “The Vow” in November, 2016. She testified that she was the first DOS slave to escape, in May 2017. Later, in 2019, “Jaye” was the last of the victims to testify at the trial of Keith Raniere, where he was convicted of all counts and sentenced to 120 years in prison.
Joan – then called “Jaye” – testified on the 10th and 11th of June 2019. About her childhood, she said: “I was raised by my grandparents along with my two siblings, and I had a fairly rough and traumatic childhood, but there was also a lot of love.”
She had a happy family until both her parents got involved with drugs and wound up in jail. She and her siblings were then adopted by her grandparents.
Joan said that she started modeling at 15. She took classes in a community college but never graduated. She found work “doing print ads, working for different clothing companies, also Grand Ambassador modeling”.
As an actress, she had few credits. “I’ve had some small featured roles in major productions, as well as short films and I even have produced my own project.”
Unlike Allison Mack or Nicki Clyne, who were TV stars with meaningful careers, Joan had achieved very limited success as an actress when she joined NXIVM. Her IMDB page lists her as having three small parts in obscure films like the horror flick “Contracted” (2013), where she plays “Drunk girl in bar”, and also “Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus” (2010), where she is featured as “Red bikini girl”. She did produce “Gloves” (2019) based on a poem of hers. It remains unclear if and where her production was actually commercially exhibited to the public.
In the summer of 2016, Joan took her first 5-day NXIVM intensive, in Los Angeles. It was held in Culver City and taught by Jim Del Negro. The intensive cost five thousand dollars, money that she was saving for a trip to Hawaii.
JOAN: Well, I first learned of NXIVM because of my friend Rachel. She had several clients of hers that were coaches in the program, including India Oxenberg, who was also her friend.
She initially felt that the curriculum was perfect for her: “Because of my traumatic childhood and healing wounds, I’ve always been into personal development. And after the presentation, I thought it was something that would be able to help me.”
Subsequently, in November of 2016, she took the 16-day intensive in Albany. It cost US-$10 thousand. She only paid part of it.
JOAN: Keith Raniere was promoted as like the kind of guru, the guy who started NXIVM and created the curriculum. He was also promoted as a master martial artist and one of the smartest men in the world.
Joan also took “The Source” intensive in Vancouver, Canada, taught by Allison Mack and Mark Hildreth; as well as a “Jness Weekend” in Albany, at the home of Rosa Laura Junco.
MARK LESKO: And “The Source” program that you participated in, how did you pay for that?
JOAN: I paid for the deposit, and for the rest, I was supposed to recruit people per Allison in order to pay for the rest.
MARK LESKO: Okay. Are you still in debt from the money that you paid to participate in the NXIVM programs?
During the 11-day intensive in Albany, Joan was invited for a walk with India Oxenberg. This was to have profound consequences in her life.
JOAN: Well, on the walk, [India] gave me a little bit of information about this group that she was a part of. She described it as a women’s-only secret society. […] It was a secret society to help women with a mentorship program, so these women can build character and discipline and be these strong forces of light in the world.
The group appeared to be shrouded in mystery:
JOAN: She [India Oxenberg] said that because there’s a lot of high-powered women in it, that it had to be secret. So, in order to find out more, you had to submit something, a piece of collateral in order to protect its secrecy.”
Oxenberg mentioned that the group was controversial in some respects:
JOAN: Yes, she said that the way that they help people grow can be controversial to the average person, that it’s like a badass women – almost boot camp – kind of thing.
Joan was told she needed to surrender three pieces of collateral to “protect her word”. It was something that had to be financial, family-related, and able to cause reputational damage.
In the case of Joan, all the collateral materials she submitted appear to cover real subjects – but as the Frank Report readers know, sometimes these collateral items could be invented stories or allegations.
JOAN: My understanding that it was merely to protect the secrecy of the group so, if you learn about it, you just will never talk about its existence.
Since she had a traumatic childhood and wanted to be “the best version” of herself, Joan thought this would be great for her.
One of the secrets she gave the DOS group was a video in which she shared about being molested by her uncle, something that happened multiple times when she was 12. All collateral from Joan was initially sent to her master, India Oxenberg.
MARK LESKO: [T]his second piece of collateral, I think you mentioned, was a notarized letter, is that right?
JOAN: Yes. It was about me admitting an indiscretion that I had, while I was still in a relationship with someone. […] There was also a sex tape with me and my boyfriend at the time. […] The fourth [collateral] was a video confession about me making out with one of my girlfriends – and that her boyfriend gave me money afterward.
A few days after she submitted her collateral, Joan learned that Oxenberg called the group “The Vow”.
JOAN: Allison would kind of joke around and called it The Agency. […] It was because her slaves were all, like, actresses and models and were beautiful, so it was like a joke as if she’s, like, running an agency.
There seems to be a gap in the narration that she presented during her testimony. There’s very little talk about the moment where she actually “took The Vow” – as opposed to just have submitted the first batch of collateral. And we are never told exactly which revelations preceded that “point of no return”, and which ones were kept from her. That, as we all know, is no small matter in establishing the limit between consent and deceit.
Joan alleges that the information was only slowly being revealed to her – such as the fact that the group was a lifetime commitment.
JOAN: I just thought, great, it’s like I’m gonna have sorority sisters and just be a part of my personal growth for the rest of my life. […] At first, she said: “I’m gonna be your mentor”. So the name master/slave didn’t come up ’til later.
It was during a walk that Oxenberg finally revealed to Joan the true nature of the group.
JOAN: [India] said, “It’s very controversial and it’s meant to be shocking and it’s meant to raise up different feelings”. It’s kind of like in karate, you have your sensei and your master and your guru, and so she said, so I’m actually your master and you are actually my slave and that’s just what it’s called.
MARK LESKO: So what was your reaction when she — when she explained that she was your master and you were her slave?
JOAN: […] Because India to me was just very disarming, I didn’t really think much of it. I was just like, oh, “Okay, it’s just a word, it’s not gonna mean anything”.
In her testimony, Joan said that her initial assignments from her master, Oxenberg, were mainly journaling, contemplating woman issues. Joan also addressed the misrepresentations in what she was told about DOS.
MARK LESKO: So, when you joined The Vow, were you told that men were part of the organization?
MARK LESKO: Would you have joined The Vow if you had been told that a man or men was involved in the organization?
JOAN: Absolutely not.
Following Allison Mack’s and India Oxenberg’s insistence, Joan was finally convinced to go to Albany to meet NXIVM’s famed ‘Vanguard’.
JOAN: When I first met him, it was emotional. […] I introduced myself and said “Thank you for creating this curriculum and helping me”. I was overwhelmed with emotion, and then he grabbed my hand and sat me down on the bench, and we just kind of chatted and he tried to console me and make me feel better.
According to Joan, when word got out that she wanted to start a T-shirt company, multiple people came up to her, suggesting she should talk to Keith. Meanwhile, she claims, India and Allison trying to convince her to move to Albany.
MARK LESKO: And how did [Keith] contact you?
JOAN: He messaged me on WhatsApp […] and he said, “If you’re serious about starting this T-shirt company, the sooner you come back, the better”.
During her trial testimony, Joan characterized her modeling career at this point as being “at a high point and ready for a big transition and up-leveling.” She said she had just gotten an agent, that she “was booking commercials and booking print jobs and I was basically ready to go to the next level.”
At the same time, she admitted she was working primarily as a “poker host”, that would serve drinks, “give people massages” and serve them food during the gambling events.
She felt she could start the T-shirt company and make some money.
JOAN: And I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, so I thought it would be a good idea. I would have Keith mentor me on being an entrepreneur. Start a T-shirt company, make money and work on my internal being.
But, according to her testimony, there was another agenda in play: “At just really random times, [India] would ask me so what do you think of Keith? How do you feel about Keith? […] She would say “Oh, Keith was asking about you today and he was checking in on you and seeing how you were doing”.
JOAN: It was this kind of this thing where, if you’re lucky enough to have Keith as a mentor, it’s life-changing.
MARK LESKO: Do you have an understanding as to why this unusual level of contact with the defendant was happening?
JOAN: Yes. My understanding now is that I was being groomed to be a part of his harem.
MARK LESKO: Were you sexually attracted to the defendant?
Joan would testify that she subsequently learned about some misrepresentations that she claims were made about the workings of DOS.
MARK LESKO: Did India tell you that you would, after joining “The Vow”, have to provide more collateral or additional collateral?
JOAN: She didn’t tell me that I would need to when I joined, but afterward, that was now a thing that I had to start doing. […] Kind of like rent, you had to submit new collateral the first of every month.
MARK LESKO: And had you known this requirement, this monthly collateral requirement, would it have changed your mind about joining The Vow?
JOAN: Absolutely. Because I understood that, okay, fine, you need to protect the secrecy. So the first collateral seemed, like, sensible to a certain degree. But afterward, that just — it was scary. It’s like, why would I have to keep submitting collateral, and keep telling them more things about me? It was really scary.
MARK LESKO: And who did you provide this monthly collateral to?
JOAN: At first, it was to India. But then I was invited to collaborate in a Dropbox, so I directly submitted to there.
According to Joan, she was told that the collateral would go into a safe, and would be protected. But that was proven to be hardly the case.
JOAN: There was a zip drive that was located in Allison’s apartment. And Allison wasn’t there, and India asked me if I could grab it for her. And she said: “Be careful, it has the collateral, just be safe with it.” So I went to Allison’s house, got it from the table, and brought it to her.
MARK LESKO: Did that concern you?
JOAN: Yes. It just showed how careless they were being. Obviously, having my own collateral, it made me scared that anyone could see it, anything could have happened to it, and that it wasn’t secure and protected.
Over time, the aspiring actress believes she discovered the real use for the collateral: “My later understanding is that they wanted to blackmail us with it.”
The slaves were subsequently submitted to “readiness drills”.
JOAN: Readiness was a drill where either India or a random number would message me with a question mark. And so at any time of the day, whether it’s 3:00 a.m., 6:00 a.m., you had to answer to the question mark with RM within one minute or someone would be punished.
MARK LESKO: And what did “RM” stand for?
JOAN: “Ready, Master”.
MARK LESKO: Now, these punishments that people received, were you ever told the types of punishments that people received for your failures?
JOAN: India said that sometimes it would be, like, taking a long, cold shower. Being woken up in the middle of the night, like 3:00 a.m., and then have to stand for 30 minutes and things like that.
Testimony during the Raniere trial established that these punishments were escalating in nature, with DOS slave Daniela Padilla getting paddled on one occasion, and later proceeding to buy BDSM cages to lock the slaves in.
JOAN: I had to perform services for Allison, as far as cleaning her house, doing her laundry, and things like that. I did help pick up groceries for her.
MARK LESKO: Were you paid for that work?
What merits mentioning, here, in the interest of fairness, is that Joan was living in Allison Mack’s house in Albany, so it is really unclear which of these tasks could have been made in lieu of rent.
MARK LESKO: Did you later learn that Allison was part of “The Vow”?
JOAN: Yes. I wanted to join “The Source”, and it was very expensive and I couldn’t afford it. So India suggested that I talk to Allison. […] When I went to ask Allison about it, she later revealed to me that she was my grandmaster.
MARK LESKO: Did you and Allison figure out a way for you to pay for “The Source”?
JOAN: Yes. I put either 2 or $3,000 for the deposit. And we worked out an agreement, where I would have to enroll three people, and then it would be paid off. And if not, I would be able to make payment plans to — in lieu of the money.
In DOS, JOAN and the other “third line” slaves were eventually instructed to recruit their own slaves.
JOAN: Originally, India just said to make a list in my head of other women that I thought would benefit from the program. And then, shortly after, the mental list turned into it needed to be a written list, which escalated into it needed to be a list that was categorized, and so forth.
MARK LESKO: Did being cute or being attractive, did that seem to be one of the criteria used to select recruits?
JOAN: Not for me personally, but just my friends did happen to be attractive.
MARK LESKO: How about for Allison and India?
JOAN: Yes. Not particularly India. But with Allison, she did show an interest in that category.
Joan eventually got a slave of her own: Val – a model, actress and dancer.
JOAN: Me and Val went to Vancouver together to do the “The Source” program, where she met Allison. And I thought she would be good for it. […] Allison, after meeting her, said: “I love Val, I want her to be in it. I think she’d be great for you.”
Joan proceeded to try to enroll and recruit Val, to no avail. So her master, Allison Mack, jumped in and used her superstar allure to recruit Val right then and there.
MARK LESKO: And was this an instantaneous recruitment?
JOAN: Yes. This was a very unorthodox way of being recruited. But because Val was so excited to join, we then phoned in India with a video call. And she introduced her as, like, “This is your grandmaster.” Because I was her master. So Allison was her great-grandmaster.
MARK LESKO: Did Allison tell Val about the brand or tattoo?
JOAN: Yes. She said that part of it is that you’d get a brand, but “it’s like a tiny tattoo”. She said, it’s a sisterhood thing, and that it represents the symbols of the elements.
MARK LESKO: Did she, in that conversation, mention that the brand was, in fact, someone’s initials?
MARK LESKO: Was Val told that any men were involved with The Vow?
Val started to provide collateral to Joan. As was the norm, Allison instructed Val to come to Albany to spend time with them. But it so happened that Val booked a dance gig, and couldn’t come.
JOAN: So I let Allison know that, “Oh, Val booked a job, so she’s not gonna be able to come”. And Allison looked at me and said, “Well, maybe you need to remind her that she doesn’t have a choice”.
Val wound up going to Albany to join the “slave pod”. What Allison Mack reportedly liked to call “The Agency”.
JOAN: There was a time when I asked Allison if I could see her brand, Oh, can I see your brand. She said, No, like I didn’t deserve the right to see it but she said, “Oh, it’s a beautiful symbol”. […] From what I’ve seen, it’s a very disgusting, disturbing mark which eventually scarred where it had, like, puffed-up skin and something that looks really painful.
One of her meetings with Keith provided what she described as a moment of deep discomfort, that she felt marked a foreboding of things to come.
JOAN: It was after volleyball and a group of us were in conversation and it was really strange. We were talking about something and out of nowhere he used his finger and draws a circle around my belly button on my stomach.
MARK LESKO: And what was your reaction?
JOAN: My reaction was I was in shock. Being someone who’s been sexually abused before, I have a high sense of awareness of my body and it was just really weird. I felt uncomfortable.
Joan knew that those in NXIVM believed that if you were chosen to go on a walk with Keith Raniere, your whole life would change. She was supposed to talk with him about a T-shirt company.
JOAN: We chatted for a bit. […] We did end up talking about the T-shirt company and he said that — I told him my ideas and he said that he already had a company. […] He said he had screen print machines, connections with Diesel [a clothing company] in Mexico, and he was just waiting for the right person.
It was believed in the community that Keith had numerous patents, and started many businesses. If you were special, Keith would start a business with you.
JOAN: He would say that I was special like, “Do you know that you’re special?” And I said, Yeah, I feel like I’m special. […] “Do you feel like this special connection with us, in between us?” And I said, Yes, because I thought he was this person that wanted to change the world, that was doing these remarkable things, and that’s really internally who I am.
JOAN finally moved to Albany. But, she says, things didn’t turn out as she expected: Keith would make plans to go on a walk and cancel them. He became more distant in regards to the plans for the T-shirt company. [Spoiler alert: it never happened.]
Soon, the activities in DOS started to involve the push to lose weight, and calorie counting.
JOAN: Initially, I had to start off with 1,000 calories and all of this is calculated on an app. It was 1,000 and then it went down to 800 and then the last it ended going to 600 or 500 calories per day.
JOAN: It evolved into having to do, like, math equations with each item; where we had to measure it and weigh it on a scale and then eventually also take pictures of it and that also led to eventually having to ask permission to eat.
Soon, Joan testified, the DOS membership seemed to be in control of all areas of their lives.
JOAN: Every morning, right when we wake upm I would have to say, “good morning, M” – for master – to India; as well as take a three-minute cold shower.
The leaders of DOS also directed them not to cut their pubic hairs or get Brazilian waxes. But the most disturbing part for Joan was about to unfold. Allison Mack phoned her from San Diego to discuss “something important”.
JOAN: First she prefaced it with, “You’ve been doing so great. Everyone in the community loves you. You’ve been so amazing.” […] And then she said, “Well, me and India have been talking and we wanted to give you this special assignment.” […] And she said that the assignment is for me to seduce Keith and have him take a naked picture of me and send it to India to prove that I did it. […] My mind was just blown. It was like my whole world was crumbling.
The seduction assignment she received made Joan recall how friends from outside the community had tried to warn her about NXIVM. “I joined this thing. I think it’s so great and people would warn me, ‘Oh, you’ve got to be careful’ and ‘the worst thing would be that it was a cult’ — and of course [Keith] wanted to sleep with me and that’s what that was.”
She testified that Mack told her that this was going to help her get rid of all of her sexual abuse trauma. Still according to Joan, her “grand master” lied to her on a very fundamental point.
JOAN: This [seduction assignment] makes me really uncomfortable and I said, “Does Keith know about The Vow?” And she said “No”. […] Before she ended the call, she said, “And I give you permission to enjoy it”.
In that moment, Joan testified, she realized that her only option was to escape.
JOAN: So, I internally basically I feel like I went kind of like a double agent; that I needed to get — pardon my French, that I needed to get the fuck out of there. So I just kind of softly pretended to go along with it so I could plan my escape.
MARK LESKO: During this conversation, were you thinking about your collateral?
JOAN: Yes. I was just thinking about all the collateral that they had on me and, like, well, what was I going to do. I needed to get out of this situation – and “what are they going to do with my collateral”? […] Again, sorry pardon if I curse, but internally I was just like, you fucking bitch. I was horrified and enraged with the fact that she would try to re-traumatize me and say that […] that with would heal my sexual trauma. I was disgusted.
Joan was in her room, in the basement of the Albany house where she lived, and that belonged to Allison Mack. She started to feel ill: “I just felt like the walls were spinning. […] Shortly after, I get on my laptop and I just start [researching] everything. […] I went deeper in the Google search and then I saw this thing where it mentioned something [on the Frank Report] about him having a harem and I was just like, oh my God, this is true. Like, this is all true. And I just basically started planning my escape.”
Joan testified that India Oxenberg wouldn’t share the experience she had seducing the Vanguard, but – according to Joan – Oxenberg told her that “it was amazing”. This is, of course, the exact opposite of the disturbing way that Oxenberg described the experience in her docuseries “Seduced”.
JOAN: I knew I had to play along. Thankfully, I had a family trip to Mexico planned that they were already aware of […] so I just knew that I had to play along for a little bit.
JOAN decided to take measures into her hands and collect evidence to protect herself.
JOAN: Because I had access to the Dropbox and other peoples’ collateral, I decided to take screenshots of the other peoples’ collateral. […] I did that to protect myself and to, as insurance that if they tried to blackmail me, that I would have some leverage to get them to not.
Since her master Oxenberg did not pressure her too hard to complete the “assignment”, Joan had time to prepare her escape.
JOAN: Because I had the original pushback, I felt like, “Okay, they’re not going to push on me to complete this right now, because I’m in a fragile state”, along with the lines that he likes to be pursued – which would obviously take a little bit more time.
The collateral that Joan took screenshots of consisted of “naked photos of women, particularly focused in the groin area with the heavy pubic hair region, making these kind of interesting faces. There were photos of women looking, like, unattractive; video secrets.”
MARK LESKO: How about if you told anyone about “The Vow”? Would that jeopardize your collateral?
MARK LESKO: What about the assignment to seduce and have sex with the defendant [Keith Raniere]? If you did not complete that, would that jeopardize your collateral?
MARK LESKO: What if you left “The Vow”? Do you think that would jeopardize your collateral?
MARK LESKO: How did that make you feel?
JOAN: It made me feel trapped. I was terrified. It made me really scared for my safety, for the well-being of my friends and family.
Joan went to Mexico, to her family vacation, and slowly started to get away from the group. But her exit was not to prove so easy.
JOAN: I was talking to India and I said, “Hey, so if I decided I wanted to leave, as long as I don’t say anything about the group, nothing will happen to my collateral; right?” And she says, “Well, you’re already in the group”.
Joan says she pleaded with India: “When I gave you the collateral at the beginning, you said that it was only to protect the secrecy of the group. So if I wanted to leave, nothing will happen to my collateral; right?”
According to Joan, India pushed back: “This is a lifetime commitment. You’re already in.”
Her “grand master”, Allison Mack, chose the emotional road: according to Joan, she said “I don’t understand, like, you were so about the program. Like, you’ve been so distant.”
Allison was also disturbed, according to Joan, that she would be giving credence to old allegations of sex crimes against Keith Raniere.
JOAN: [Allison] just became very dramatic and said, “Are you saying you — you thought that I was an accomplice to a child molester?” And I looked at her and I said, “Yes, that’s what I thought”. […] And I told her, listen, like, I just want to live my life as an artist. […] And she goes, “How can we help you? We just want to help you.” And I said, “Listen, just back off.”
MARK LESKO: Was there a party planned just before May 30th, 2017?
JOAN: Yes. India had invited me to a birthday party that she was going to be having in Malibu.
MARK LESKO: Did you go?
JOAN: I did not.
MARK LESKO: And at that time, was there supposed to be some sort of ceremony in June?
JOAN: Yes. How India described it, she said that there was a special ceremony, and I needed to go to Albany on June 1st and, it was also during coach summit, so I said, “I don’t understand why I need to go. I’m not a coach.” I later learned […] that it was actually going to be a branding ceremony.
MARK LESKO: And did you go to Albany in June for that ceremony?
MARK LESKO: Did you make it appear as if you were planning on going?
Joan’s slave, Val, told her that India’s mom, Catherine Oxenberg, kept calling and texting her. One of the texts reportedly said: “Please do not go on that plane to Albany. You are involved in illegal activities you may not be aware of. Please call me.”
JOAN: Bonnie [Piesse], who was a high-up in ESP, calls [Val] and says, “You’re involved with really dangerous women. You’re going to a branding ceremony.”
During this time, Joan said that she was constantly terrified with the prospect of her collateral being released.
JOAN: I would consider myself a spiritual person, and I just approached it in the way that, like, okay. What am I going to do? What is the worst thing that could happen? You know, other than if they tried to physically attack me; would be that my collateral would be released. […] And I just had a moment with myself and just liberated myself emotionally, mentally. If the worst thing that happens to me is they show the collateral – fine. But, like, no one was going to be able to trap me like that.
The collateral Joan took from the Dropbox, she gave to Mark Vicente, who gave it to Frank Parlato, who sent it to Law Enforcement. It helped to build the case against Raniere.
But her own collateral is still at large.
MARK LESKO: So — so Jay, was your collateral ever returned to you?
MARK LESKO: Did you eventually determine that the defendant [Keith Raniere] was in charge of “The Vow”?
MARK LESKO: Would you have joined “The Vow” if you had known the defendant was in charge of it?
JOAN: Absolutely not.
MARK LESKO: Would you have provided collateral if you knew the defendant was in charge of “The Vow”?
During her testimony, prosecutor Mark Lesko anticipated – and tried to neutralize – one of the defense’s main challenges to Joan’s credibility. Lesko had her admit, in direct testimony, that she had once, when she was 20 years old, been involved in a fraudulent marriage with a gay male friend to allow him, a non-citizen, to remain in the US. To accomplish that, she admitted having lied to officials. Joan also admitted that she was paid for marrying this man.
From Jessica Joan’s testimony, we gather that she alleges to have been invited to DOS under a number of misrepresentations, namely about the exact nature of the relationship with her mentor/master, about the need for the branding ceremony, about the relentless nature of the collateral delivery, and – most importantly – about the real role of Keith Raniere in what she alleges was initially described to her as a “sorority”.
She was a woman scarred after being repeatedly molested in her childhood, and she feels that the “Seduction assignment” had compounded the terror and exploited her deep emotional wounds.
Ever since leaving DOS, Jessica Joan has not been able to get her collateral back, but neither have the damning materials been released as she feared.
[In the next article, we will follow the cross examination of JOAN’s testimony, made by Keith Raniere’s lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, as well as examine statements by current DOS members who dispute many aspects of Joan’s testimony.]