For shame, the lady says.
Girl Scout Cookies, a long time commenter, made this comment to me:
“Frank, perhaps when you are once again called upon by Keith for an interview, why not ask him about the strange circumstances involved in the deaths of Gina, Kristin, Pam and the others. Ask him.
“Since you chose to single out Heidi in this instance, as you have many times before, why waste your precious time on such irrelevant commentary and focus on the larger picture. The families and friends who lost loved ones need your help too. Do it for them. Yet, you want to devote your time investigating the severity of Keith’s sentence and other matters surrounding his trial. Shame on you.”
Very good. I know where I stand. Telling someone “Shame on you” suggests you know their motives, and their actions, and have judged them extremely unworthy. So much so that the recipient should have a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
Now, let us examine the facts, and see whether Girl Scout has made her case for my shaming.
Singled Out Heidi?
In her comment, Girl Scout Cookies says I singled out Heidi Hutchinson. Perhaps Girl Scout Cookies is unaware that I was responding to a comment Heidi made where she makes assertions, without evidence, and it occasioned my rebuttal.
Responding to someone’s false statements is not singling them out, it is rebutting falsehood. Singling out suggest a special treatment of someone, in this case Heidi. But I try to treat all people who make false statements equally, by rebutting them.
Don’t Call Me, I’ll Call You
As for interviewing Keith Raniere, perhaps Girl Scout Cookies did not know she misstated who sought out the interview.
She said Keith called upon me. It’s just the opposite. I requested the interview. Keith agreed.
Unfortunately, I had very limited access to Keith by prison phone. He knows his calls are monitored. They are only 15-minutes long and then they cut off automatically.
Go Get a Perry Mason Moment With Keith on the Phone?
In the TV series Perry Mason, the clever lawyer was famous for getting murderers to confess on the witness stand within a few minutes of intense questioning. The scenes are laughably inaccurate depictions of courtroom cross-examinations.
Girl Scout Cookies recommends that I should ask Raniere about “the strange circumstances involved in the deaths of Gina, Kristin, Pam and the others.”
Well, it is a nice suggestion. And if perhaps I could administer truth serum, it might be a good idea to ask Raniere, on a monitored phone, what amounts to, in effect, asking him if he is a murderer.
But, under the circumstances, I don’t see the value. He is not going to make any startling confession. Furthermore, challenging him hard might make him hang up or make subsequent interviews impossible. Any good interviewer knows you have to elicit answers slowly. Possibly over many interviews.
To date, I have been the only journalist to interview Keith Raniere since his arrest.
I Have Been Helping
Girl Scout Cookies, as part of her admonishment of me, writes, “The families and friends who lost loved ones need your help too. Do it for them.”
To date, I have been the only journalist to seriously investigate the possibility of foul play related to the deaths of four women connected to Nxivm. My investigation is ongoing.
I have spent an inordinate amount of time on this and interviewed dozens of people, reviewed hundreds of documents, and logged maybe a thousand hours. I have flown to Alaska, Texas, Florida, California, South Carolina and New York to meet with people who had knowledge or might have knowledge.
I have spent so much time on this that in some cases, the families and friends hoped I would curtail my investigation and let the matter rest as their lost ones must do in their memories. Nothing I can do will bring them back.
Maybe they are right. To date, despite all my efforts, there is no hard evidence that Kristin Snyder, Gina Hutchinson, Pam Cafritz or Barbara Jeske was murdered. There are many suspicious circumstances. Some very odd coincidences. Most of this was revealed in a film I made for Investigation Discovery, The Lost Women of Nxivm.
Part of the problem is that Gina died and Kristin disappeared 18 years ago. We may never find the answers. Although I will continue to try, I cannot spend all my time on this investigation. As with all cold cases, one needs something new, a break.
Talking with Keith might represent a possible new avenue. But that will not come about in a moment or on a single phone call.
Due Process Rights Matter for Even the Most Deplorable
As for Raniere’s due process rights, I think it is important to review every allegation of a breach. I am going to listen to anyone who has facts in this case. I would be ashamed not to do that. It would not matter to me if not only Girl Scout Cookies but everyone thought it was wrong and shameful to investigate possible due process violations. I am going to follow up on this.
In so doing, I might be able to persuade his remaining followers to look at Raniere with a new perspective. For years, people have said Raniere brainwashed his followers. Maybe he did or maybe that’s nonsense. I want to investigate that also.
A Joint Investigation
Raniere’s followers have agreed to examine the evidence of the trial with me even if it leads to unpleasant discoveries concerning Keith. What other journalist has attempted this? To go in and work with his followers, to do a joint investigation of the facts. This may lead to something wonderful. Some new revelations. They have information that no outsider has about Keith. Combined with what I know and the trial record, we may jointly come upon some startling truths.
- We may jointly find that:
a. Keith is 100 percent guilty as charged.
b. The prosecution conducted a fair trial in every way.
c. Keith is guilty of some, but not all, the charges.
d. The prosecution at times did violate his due process rights.
e. Keith is innocent of all charges.
f. The prosecution knowingly convicted an innocent man and violated his due process rights every step of the way.
- We may also find that:
a. Keith is a noble person.
b. Keith is a mix of good and evil.
c. Keith is mostly full of evil with the worst intentions.
The Quest to Brainsoil
Since I am doing this openly and publicly, I have told his followers that, if I find they are brainwashed, I plan to deprogram them, or as I say to them, to “brainsoil” them [brainsoil is, I suppose, the closest literal opposite of brainwash].
At the same time, I promised I will listen to their arguments about Keith’s legal rights being violated.
If my agenda is to brainsoil them, what better way to do it than to listen to them at length. How can I expect to brainsoil without a willingness to listen to the brainwashed about what is important to them? If they are brainwashed, do you think they will just submit to listening to me endlessly deprecate Keith?
That is as unrealistic as me asking Keith on a prison phone — Hey didn’t you murder those women?
No, his followers and I have to have common ground in order to begin a dialogue. And sustain one. They do not think they are brainwashed. I am not certain they are either. You can be wrong about someone [Keith] and not be brainwashed.
They think Keith is a very good man, an extraordinary man. I do not see him as a good man. I have bluntly told them that.
But we do have one common ideal. I deplore violations of due process. By exploring the alleged violations of due process his followers make, we wind up together examining the facts of the case. We are together studying Raniere along with the case itself.
I am hopeful the truth will come out. It will if I do my job correctly. And frankly, I would be ashamed to not fully investigate due process violations of a man I helped to imprison. If it is true that Raniere, even though he be 100 percent guilty, experienced serious violations of his due process rights, then I would plan to report that and seek to remedy it.
And if we find none, that there is no merit to the allegations of due process violations, then we should be able to conclude Raniere was properly convicted.
Meantime, I am lying to no one. I am telling his supporters and his enemies/victims the truth at all times, and transparently telling readers the truth.
No, I am not ashamed. Actually, I think I am doing the work I set out to do.