By Eleanor Christie
Ever since she came out of the shadows of anonymity, Jessica Joan (or “Jaye”) has become an interesting object of study for those, like the readers and writers of the Frank Report, who are still trying to understand all that took place in that “badass-sorority-turned-sex-slavery-group” called DOS.
You can read here our previous article dealing with Joan’s direct testimony in the Keith Raniere trial.
This article deals with Joan’s cross-examination that took place in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, on June 11th, 2019. The “cross” was conducted by super-attorney Marc Agnifilo.
It was surprisingly short. The defense, apparently, did not feel it needed to impeach her long testimony point by point, but rather, swiftly maneuvered to try to present Joan as someone dishonest, with a recorded history of lying to officials.
At this point in the trial, Agnifilo was in his 20th court session, in an uphill battle that he was clearly losing. Worse – the brutal (but effective) Lauren Salzman cross-examination that Agnifilo conducted on May 22nd became so emotionally charged that Judge Nicholas Garaufis felt compelled to intervene and abruptly stop Agnifilo’s examination.
The move was highly unusual and led the defense to file a “Motion to Dismiss” that was promptly brushed away by the Judge.
So Agnifilo, in his cross-examination of Jessica Joan, had to walk a very fine line: he had to be forceful enough to dismantle the credibility of “Jaye”, but without coming out as a bully. That’s not easy to achieve.
Agnifilo starts by bringing back the positive opinions Joan once had expressed about NXIVM.
AGNIFILO – Just reviewing some of your direct testimony. You said that when you took the initial five-day intensive, you said you really – you were impressed by it. You liked it.
JOAN – Yes, I had a very good response to it. […] The curriculum in itself, because it was in an intensive time, there was a lot that we processed and went through. And with that, I had a lot of breakthroughs. It gave me an opportunity to talk about a lot of these vulnerable things and share it with people. So there was a bonding within that.
Not unlike he did with Mark Vicente and his passage through the Ramtha cult, Agnifilo moves to probe Joan’s previous affiliations.
AGNIFILO – Okay. And now, you had an, at an earlier point in your life, you had taken courses in Scientology; correct?
JOAN – Yes.
AGNIFILO – Okay. And did you take to that? Did you enjoy those [scientology] courses?
JOAN – To me, it felt like it was universal principles, but dumbed down.
The cross-examination next deals with the fact that the punishments by India were mostly light activities.
JOAN – I said that she would give me journal assignments and, thankfully, she was a nice master. So my punishments were mostly journaling.
AGNIFILO – Okay. Which is something you were doing anyway; correct? Because you’ve been journaling since middle school.
JOAN – So my journaling – my personal journaling – was separate from the journaling assignments.
AGNIFILO – Now, as of January 2017, you had a positive view of “The Source”, correct?
JOAN – Yes.
AGNIFILO – And tell the jury why.
JOAN – The Source intensive was for artists and performers and actors, and the curriculum was really great. A lot of the exercises were really interesting and very different than any other acting class that I had done before, and it helped get to different emotional traumas and release them in different ways.
Agnifilo’s strategy was to paint the extreme dietary restrictions that the DOS women were under as an exotic but legitimate practice, born out of the consent between intelligent adults.
AGNIFILO – Now, I think that at some point you said on direct examination that you were on a limited calorie diet?
JOAN – Yes.
AGNIFILO – Okay. And what were the different sort of daily limits that you had at different points in time?
JOAN – It varied. It started with just a thousand calories, and then it went to somewhere around 800, and then there were times where it got to as low as to 500, 600.
AGNIFILO – Okay. And did you see any value in this for you?
JOAN – How it was promoted to me was that it was allowing you to look at, like, your cravings and discipline and things along that arena.
Joan stated that she often failed at these calorie assignments. She said she was interested in health and wellness – and it scared her that “people weren’t getting their periods, and were having a lot of health issues”.
Joan professed to have been alarmed and thought that those women actually didn’t know what they were doing.
But Agnifilo’s aim is to focus on how she felt then – and to try to portray her current beliefs as some sort of after-thought.
AGNIFILO – My question was: did you see value in it for you?
JOAN – So, for a short period of time how it was promoted to me seemed like it was valuable; however, that is not how I felt about it.
AGNIFILO – Okay.
AGNIFILO – Did you see value in your limited calorie restrictions, in terms of you pushing against indulgences when it comes to food?
JOAN – Yes, in the beginning.
AGNIFILO – Okay. And when you say in the beginning, for how long a period of time would you say that you saw the diet restrictions as being valuable, just to you?
JOAN – I would say in the beginning of having, you know, the 800-calorie, around there. It didn’t take me too long to see the value, in that where I could see, oh, I do want to eat that, but, oh, where is that coming from? So really just in the beginning part.
AGNIFILO – Okay. Did you see value in maintaining the diet as a function almost of, say, keeping your word, keeping your promise to yourself?
JOAN – In the beginning.
A question arises as to whether notes on Joan’s journals necessarily reflect her opinions, as opposed to being things she heard, or themes that she was directed to meditate upon.
AGNIFILO – At some point [in your journals] you link your dieting, you link your commitment to a limited calorie diet, to your mother and her keeping her word to you; correct?
JOAN – Not by my own really, like, choosing of that. Like, that’s not a thought that I had come up with by myself.
AGNIFILO – If you don’t keep your word, you make it okay for your mother not to keep her word, right?
JOAN – That’s what India said, yes.
AGNIFILO – And that’s what you wrote, right?
JOAN – I wrote this because I had a failure, so this was actually my punishment journaling. So, I didn’t really know what to write – and so that was one of the things that she had said, so I wrote that as part of my failure journal entry.
AGNIFILO – What was your failure, do you remember?
JOAN – I went over the calories.
Also from Joan’s journals, Agnifilo lifts passages that deal with the assignment Joan received from her master India Oxenberg: to seduce Keith Raniere, and have him take a naked picture of her, to prove that she completed the task.
AGNIFILO – So do you recall if the assignment that you were given happened sometime before April 26th, 2017?
JOAN – Yes.
AGNIFILO – Right. And after you were presented with the assignment, you still didn’t know how you felt about Keith, right? You were not sure how you felt about Keith even after the assignment was presented to you, is that true?
JOAN – Yes. I was very confused during that time.
AGNIFILO – Okay. And the assignment changed your perspective, fair to say?
JOAN – Yes.
AGNIFILO – Because, before that, you had — and I think you even said on direct examination, you held Keith in very high regard, correct?
JOAN – Yes.
Under the observing eyes of the defendant Keith Raniere, Joan was directed by Agnifilo’s cross examination to reexamine her positive feelings towards the Vanguard, the man she later discovered to be the ultimate master of DOS.
AGNIFILO – I think you said the first time that you met Keith you were very emotional to have met him, correct?
JOAN – Yes.
AGNIFILO – And tell us why, tell us what happened. What are the circumstances, the first time you ever meet Keith Raniere, just tell us about what happened?
JOAN – So for me, a lot of the emotion didn’t come from just meeting Keith as in the person, like, him and who he is. It was all the things that I had created and the feelings that I had because of the curriculum and the experience that I had. That, coupled with the belief that this person created this curriculum with the intention to help people […] was really moving for me. So I attributed a lot of that gratitude to the person that created the curriculum.
Agnifilo produces a card that Joan wrote to Raniere, and tries to pin her between two bad admissions: she either had a very good opinion of him, or else she wrote lies and was dishonest.
AGNIFILO – Okay. Now, after you were given the special assignment you wrote a card to Keith, correct?
JOAN – Yes.
AGNIFILO – That’s the card you wrote to Keith?
JOAN – Yes.
AGNIFILO: And what you write is:
Keith, I don’t know what to say except thank you. You are an incredible human being who has given so much to so many people, including me. You directly and inadvertently have profoundly changed my life and perspective. You have helped me find my way back to me and to my love for humanity. My path and journey has truly begun. I’m feeling more bliss and carrying a sense of myself in my experience. I am headed back to California to spend some much needed healing and bonding time with my family, then who knows where. I plan on sitting in nature alone to write. Writing poetry is where my heart is calling me at the moment. It has been for a while, but I wasn’t listening until now. I am very excited to see how my journey unfolds, embracing the struggle and surrender. I’ll be back. How could I ever forget you? You are unforgettable.
Thank you, Keith. With love.
AGNIFILO – And where were you when you wrote this card?
JOAN – Albany, I believe.
AGNIFILO – And do you remember where you and he were when you handed it to him?
JOAN – I believe, from my memory, a walk.
AGNIFILO – Okay. Now, how many walks did you take with Keith?
JOAN – I don’t know exactly how many, but a handful.
AGNIFILO – Okay. And how many walks did you take with Keith after the special assignment that you described on direct examination?
JOAN – I think one.
AGNIFILO – Okay. Was this the only one?
JOAN – I think so.
AGNIFILO – Okay. And is this — is this — why are you writing this card?
JOAN – I have multiple reasons why I wrote this card. […] Because at that time there was still a little bit of confusion in regards to [the fact that] I knew Allison gave me that assignment. […] But I knew that the assignment wasn’t for me and that it wasn’t good, but at the same time, I’m a person who I could see the value of things.
Joan explained that she wanted to “say thank you, because the curriculum was helpful and I knew that I would never — well, thought I would never see him again.”
JOAN – So half of this was to not let him suspect that I knew was going on, and part of my escape and, like, leave it so he wouldn’t bother [Oxenberg and Mack] so much.
AGNIFILO – Then you say [on the card]: You directly and inadvertently have profoundly changed my life and perspective. Did you mean that?
JOAN – Yes.
AGNIFILO – Okay. And what did you mean by that?
JOAN – Well, Keith does have — would have some good phrases.
AGNIFILO – Okay. Then you say: You have helped me find my way back to me and to my love for humanity. Did you mean that?
JOAN – That one […] I just kind of put something in there, it was like a — you know, a little fluff add.
That’s what Agnifilo needs: to have her admitting not to have been honest in what she wrote.
AGNIFILO – All right. Then the next thing you say is, “My path and journey has truly begun.” What are you saying there?
JOAN – That’s like, my, like, code way of saying, “I’m going to Maui, later”.
AGNIFILO – And then you say, “I’m feeling more bliss and carrying a sense of myself of and experience.” Did you mean that, were you feeling more bliss?
JOAN – Yeah, because I knew I was leaving.
AGNIFILO – That’s not what you say in this card, though; right?
JOAN – This card was mostly a decoy – so of course I’m not going to — I don’t understand what you’re saying.
AGNIFILO – I’m asking you: did you say that in your card? And you’re saying “No”, because now you’re saying the card is a decoy?
JOAN – I was writing this card with specific intentions […] You were asking me what did I mean by that, and what did I feel – and I was telling you what it is.
Agnifilo rapidly pivots between Joan’s perceived dishonesties:
AGNIFILO – Whose idea was it to write a card that was a decoy?
JOAN – Mine.
AGNIFILO – And whose idea was it to take screenshots of people’s collateral?
JOAN – It was mine.
AGNIFILO – And how did you make the choice? How did you choose “I’m going to take this person’s collateral and not that person’s collateral?” How did you make that choice?
JOAN – I didn’t do that.
AGNIFILO – What collateral did you take, the four pictures we looked at on direct examination; right?
JOAN – Yes.
AGNIFILO – Did you take any others?
JOAN – I took what was in the — in the Dropbox.
AGNIFILO – All of it?
JOAN – All of it except for one thing.
AGNIFILO – You took more than — the four screenshots that we looked at on direct examination, that’s not all the collateral you took; correct?
JOAN – Correct.
AGNIFILO – You took other collateral as well?
JOAN – I took whatever was available in that time.
AGNIFILO – And do you remember how many images of collateral you took?
JOAN – I don’t.
AGNIFILO – And did you think that was honest?
JOAN – What do you mean?
AGNIFILO – Does that — do you think that was honest that you would take someone’s collateral and then, what, you said you gave it to your ex-boyfriend?
JOAN – I was allowed to be in that Dropbox so I felt like I had access to it and my intention with getting those pictures were never to show them, but merely to protect myself because of the blackmail that they had on me that they could have used against me.
AGNIFILO – When did you give it to your ex-boyfriend?
JOAN – I gave it to him — I don’t know when.
AGNIFILO – And how did you give it to him?
JOAN – Via e-mail.
AGNIFILO – You e-mailed it to your ex-boyfriend?
JOAN – For safety measures.
AGNIFILO – And why did you choose to e-mail it to him?
JOAN – He is a person that I trust. I told him not to open it. I told him to just put it in there, do not look at it and that’s why. And he also knew the situation that I was in.
AGNIFILO – And then you said you gave it to Mark Vicente?
JOAN – Correct.
AGNIFILO – Who did you give it to first, your ex-boyfriend or Mark Vicente?
JOAN – My ex-boyfriend.
AGNIFILO – How soon after giving it to your ex-boyfriend did you give it to Mark Vicente?
JOAN – I’m not entirely sure, but I gave it to Mark Vicente after March 30th.
Having pointed out what he described as dishonest journal entries by Joan, and after grilling her on her “decoy” personal card and the controversial copying and dissemination of other DOS slaves’ collaterals, Agnifilo moves for the one biographical fact that’s more likely to impeach her credibility.
This move had been widely predicted by the prosecution, and AUSA Mark Lesko had Joan admit to it all beforehand, to try and take the edge out of these revelations.
AGNIFILO – And I think you testified on direct examination that you were involved in a sham marriage?
JOAN – It was a fraudulent marriage, yes.
AGNIFILO – Okay. And who was this person that you married?
JOAN – It was my friend who’s gay and who had a job working in the states for a long time but the business went under and at that time gay marriage was not legal.
AGNIFILO – And so who suggested a fraudulent marriage?
JOAN – My friend did. He asked if I would be able to help him.
AGNIFILO – And you said okay; right?
JOAN – Yes. I was 20 and I knew that I wasn’t going to meet the person that I was supposed to be in love with, yes.
AGNIFILO – But you didn’t do it as a favor, did you?
JOAN – I did do it to help my friend.
AGNIFILO – And to get $18,000?
JOAN – He did offer to pay me.
AGNIFILO – And you — and you got married to this person and he gave you $18,000; right?
JOAN – That’s incorrect.
It follows a debate over the amount she got paid. She insists that US$18.000 was the initial offer, but that she got paid about half of that. Agnifilo endeavors to frame this as yet another dishonesty on her part.
AGNIFILO – So, as you sit here today, [how much] are you saying you were paid?
JOAN – Like, I don’t know exactly what the amount was, but it was less than 18,000.
AGNIFILO – And was that honest? Entering a fraudulent marriage, was that honest?
JOAN – No, that wasn’t the right thing to do.
AGNIFILO – And the matter was investigated by federal agents; right?
JOAN – Yes.
AGNIFILO – And you were interviewed by the federal agents; right?
JOAN – Not afterwards. Only the initial interview to try and obtain it.
AGNIFILO – So how many times were you interviewed by federal agents in connection with your fraudulent marriage?
JOAN – Only the initial attempting to get the license interview.
AGNIFILO – And you lied to the agents; right?
JOAN – Yes.
AGNIFILO – What did you lie about?
JOAN – That we were in a real, romantic relationship.
AGNIFILO – And that’s what you did. You went down and you lied to the agents and you had this fraudulent marriage; correct?
JOAN – Yes.
AGNIFILO – And you didn’t tell the agents that you were doing it for money; right?
JOAN – No, or that he was gay.
The cross examination was short, but effective enough for the prosecution to want to redirect Joan’s testimony. The man who examined her earlier, Assistant US Attorney Mark Lesko asked the redirect questions.
LESKO – Why were you in Albany in late April?
JOAN – To get the rest of my things.
LESKO – At that time, at the end of April, did you know that the defendant was the head of DOS?
JOAN – I had the suspicions that he was.
LESKO – But did you know?
JOAN – I wasn’t completely sure that it was him.
LESKO – And did DOS still have your collateral?
JOAN – Yes.
LESKO – Were you worried about that?
JOAN – Yes.
LESKO – Mr. Agnifilo asked you about providing the collateral from the other people that you screenshot off of Dropbox. Do you remember that?
JOAN – Yes.
LESKO – You said you gave it to your ex-boyfriend?
JOAN – Yes.
LESKO – You said you gave it to him for safety measures. Do you remember that?
JOAN – Yes.
LESKO – What did you mean by that?
JOAN – I didn’t know how far these people were willing to go, and just in case something were to happen to me, I wanted that evidence to be somewhere, somewhere else other than on me, in case of something happening.
LESKO – You were asked some questions about whether or not you were honest. Do you remember that?
JOAN – Yes.
LESKO – Do you think it was honest that you were not told that the defendant [Keith Raniere] was the head of DOS?
JOAN – No.
LESKO – Do you think it was honest that your collateral was kept?
JOAN – No.
LESKO – Do you think it was honest that you were ordered to have sex with the defendant?
JOAN – No.
After the redirect, Agnifilo had the last round of re-cross:
AGNIFILO – Just to be clear, you were never ordered to have sex with the defendant; right?
JOAN – My feeling of what that assignment was, was to have sex with Keith.
AGNIFILO – I’m talking about the words, I’m not talking about your feeling. The words were “to seduce Keith”; right?
JOAN – Those were the words she used.
AGNIFILO – And you said that you kept the other people’s collateral for safekeeping by giving it to your ex-boyfriend. Did you go to the police, at that point?
JOAN – No.
Since it took the jury less than 4 hours to arrive at a guilty verdict on all counts for Keith Raniere, we can safely assume that the jury members were largely unmoved by the defense’s strategy during the whole of the trial, including, presumably, the “Jaye” testimony.
However, with the certainty of an appeal looming in the future, it is useful for us to revisit these testimonies in the light of everything we learned so far.
In the case of Jessica Joan, the strengths and weaknesses of her testimony speak to the core issues of “consent and deceit” that Raniere is bound to raise in his appeal. Will Joan testify again?
Why are non-profane, non-political, rule-abiding comments being blocked? Because they mention Nicki Clyne? Her immigration fraud? Isn’t it relevant when that charge is leveled against Jessica? Did Nicki tell immigration she was a “ten-year partner” of Keith? That she took a vow to only be with him sexually? And all the rest…
Dear Lesko and Penza…..I can’t help but be amazed at the content of this as something that was evidence at a trial for a person’s life. This whole trial is an absurd masturbation look into the discontented lives of relationships gone bad. Sorry….doesn’t belong in a court room. Call me when you have something illegal to show me.
Did you enjoy this article, which should have been entitled “Let’s Fantasize About Impeaching a Government Witness”?
I bet you think understand how a courtroom or justice operates.
Here is a real-world example:
Rico Case John Gotti Trial:
At John Gotti’s criminal trial, his former 2nd in command, Sami the Bull Gravano, gave testimony for the prosecution. Sami killed 19 people according to his plea bargain admission deal. He killed 18 men and 1 teenage boy who innocently happened to be walking by an assassination; Sami killed the boy because he didn’t want any witnesses.
The DOJ used Sami as a witness and the judge allowed it. The jury went by Sami’s testimony and convicted John Gotti. Gotti got life just like Keith Raniere.
Sami makes Jessica Jones look like Mother fucking Theresa. 😉
I hope you enjoyed ‘fantasy land’ because Jessica Jones’ testimony is rock solid as far as the Supreme Court is concerned.
This shit article is worthless, as worthless as Keith Raniere’s life inside of prison will be.
Jesus Christ, the son of God, will rise again in the holy rapture before Keith Raniere will ever go free. 🙂
I wish you the best for 2021.
And don’t dream or wish so big. You will only be let down.
Merry Christmas to all @Frank Report, hope you all have a blessed day!
Merry Christmas ☺️ wouldn’t call it an outspoken debate, but there’s peace. Everyone’s got their say, like they always do.
KEITH ALAN RANIERE
Register Number: 57005-177
Located at: Brooklyn MDC
Release Date: 06/27/2120
Joan is dishonest, she admitted to it. However, two wrongs don’t make a right, and she wasn’t dishonest about anything related to NXIVM.
Anybody who was in this cult for some years was a dishonest (with various levels of it) person, from the celebrities like Allison Mack, Kristen Kreuk, Mark Hildreth, Grace Park, etc., to the whistleblowers like Mark Vicente and Sarah Edmondson, to regular people like the Salzmans and others who didn’t get as much media coverage. None of these people should be celebrated.
Sorry, I’m missing something…if she’s not being honest sometimes….how can you make a statement like “but she wasn’t dishonest about anything related to NXIVM”…there’s no logic there…maybe just what you wish for…how do you know she wasn’t being dishonest about anything NXIVM related?
Interesting transcript and good objective analysis.
Thank you for taking your time to write an article for the Frank Report.
And Merry Christmas to all!!!
Merry Christmas to you Authors, Editors, Commenters! 🙂☺️
Is “Eleanor Christie” actually a lawyer or someone who has spent a lot of time observing jury trials? I ask since “she” claims, “The move was highly unusual”
And why not just share the entire transcript of Jessica’s testimony rather than these pieces with the selective edits and biased comments thrown in. Put the whole thing up and let your readers come to their own opinions about the effectiveness of Agnifilo’s cross or the honesty of Jessica. Unless what you really fear is that your readers won’t see things the way you want them to you.
What are you really trying to say?
She watches trials on TV, and the move is highly unusual there.
I believe that people can change when they realize they’re not on the right track.
Thanks for the interesting piece, Eleanor. This really helps to add context to the defense strategy. I tried to take in the testimony in the eyes of a juror and that helps to demonstrate how ineffective this type of victim-blaming is. The question about Scientology and the sham marriage probably do more to paint Jaye as a confused young woman seeking a welcoming community than they make her out to be some conniving mastermind trying to stitch up the world’s most ethical man.
Every time Keith or his lawyer spoke and made an effort to rebut the prosecution case, they just dug the hole deeper. Juries really dislike it when their time is wasted by a lawyer making a bad faith argument or when they get into semantics or splitting hairs; they can tell when a defense lawyer is trying to put words in someone’s mouth and when they do that and the point they’re trying to make is moot it just detracts from their credibility and likeability. Juries have biases even when they’re not supposed to and I think Keith just comes off as a central casting creepy cult leader. If I was his lawyer, I would’ve had him shave his silly beard and wear his hair short. He just exudes new age guru bullshittery.
I wonder if the case of Dr Allan Zarkin inspired Reniere with regards to branding. Zarkin’s victim was a mother whom he performed a cesarean on. He then followed up by branding her stomach with his initials. She stated that the brand deprived her of intimacy with her husband and she couldn’t undress in front of him being branded with another man’s initials. I can imagine Reniere getting off on the idea.
Thanks for sharing this. This story is so sad 🙁 I feel the branding came from erotic sex stories. They always talk about branding slaves etc. I think Keith was just a sex addict and needed each time more and more
It’s occurred to me that part of Keith’s motive with the branding of his monogram was to ward off sexual contenders AND disrupt marriages. Sarah Edmondson is probably the best example of a married woman Keith coveted for himself who wound up “KAR” branded — through deceit, I hasten to add — right under her husband’s nose.
There are also many examples of NXIVM causing divorce and breakups, “rifts in families” — to quote Clare Bronfman from a very popular local radio show she appeared on with her sister and “the man,” Steve Coffee, her attorney to promote the Dalai Lama’s 2009 appearance in Albany.
Kristin Keeffe acknowledged NXIVM’s role in causing divorce through other means and methods. The branding may have been an extension of that in some cases.
Inflicting pain and destroying families was the name of the game for Keith Raniere. Motivated by psychotic envy. Always. Prolly had a lot to do with his own parent’s divorce and Mother’s painful passing.
IDK if he ever heard of the case you found above, Natashka, but I know he paid close attention to trends, fears the girls discussed. When some study came out about women being sexually aroused by horror movies, for example, it was not only discussed obsessively but started a whole horror “movie night” trend at #3 Flintlock …guess I shoulda guessed why. Hindsight sucks!
Btw, I’d love to hear more about how Sarah’s hubby, Ames, aka “nippy” took it, how Keith tried to blame the women for up and defiling his good monogram with their pussies…lol. And I give big props to Nippy for not blaming Sarah despite his SOP misogyny training. I’m sure Keith thought he could turn it on Sarah (and Allison, all) and his boys would have his back. Bros over ho’s, all that.
Mental games definitely know no bounds with Keith, that’s for sure. I definitely think he got a kick out of it and what an extra kick if he, not only knew the husband, but the husband was into his teachings. He must have seen many advantages to the branding for him. What a sicko.
I read about a British liver surgeon who branded a few of his patients livers during surgery. I think he only got busted because one of them saw another surgeon after ongoing problems.
Merry Christmas, dear adorable Keith [Raniere]. And Santa Claus is coming to see you, too. Because he makes it through thick walls and doors and bars.