Editor’s Note: In the article, Suneel: ‘I Am Defending Raniere Because the Prosecution Was Wrong, the Judge Biased and the Defendant Is Innocent!’. the author, Suneel Chakravorty, quotes Keith Raniere, “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.”
Chakravorty added that “US Attorney Richard Donoghue stated in his post-verdict press statement that Keith was responsible for ‘compelled abortions’ [see video clip of Donoghue’s comments to the press], although there was no evidence presented at trial and indeed no woman was ever compelled to have an abortion, nor did anyone testify she was. ”
By Pro-Choice Woman
I want to make a broader point about the abortion evidence.
I am a woman. I am pro-choice. I do not think abortion in the first trimester is murder. These are my personal views—feel free to have your own, and I’m not here to debate them.
Suneel is correct (to the best of my recollection) that witnesses did not testify to being coerced into having abortions. As I recall, Dani testified that she did not want to have a child with Raniere and wanted to have an abortion. It’s worth noting there is a huge amount of extenuating circumstances around Dani’s feelings, including her age (I think 21), immigration status, and the fact that her relationship with Raniere was a secret. One could make the argument that she was not ordered to have an abortion, but she also had very few other options.
Raniere in his own Call to Action does not refute the evidence that multiple women in the community had abortions, so it seems that that is not under debate. Suneel is calling into question (1) what it has to do with the charges and (2) whether it was admitted into evidence to be highly prejudicial to a jury.
In regards to the former, I think the idea was it was evidence of manipulation and coercion in the community. While I do think there were rampant manipulation and coercion in the community, I actually agree this might not pass muster from a legal standpoint, so I support examining this on appeal.
In regards to the second point, I do think it was highly prejudicial to a jury. I also support this being be examined closely on appeal.
But to put a finer point on it, Suneel, I also think that this evidence should be examined closely—in fact, very closely—by your conscience.
Here’s the thing. Let’s say Raniere gets a new trial tomorrow, his conviction is overturned, and he walks out of jail a free man.
Suneel says at the beginning of his post: “I was not convinced then, nor am I now, that any of his ‘victims’ were in any way severely hurt.”
Out of curiosity, do you know the physical and emotional impact an abortion has on a woman? Do you know that even in the best of circumstances, many women that have abortions carry the emotional impact for years?
Multiple of Keith’s partners had abortions. Some of Keith’s partners had more than one abortion. He didn’t contest this.
I don’t have any issue whatsoever with a woman exercising her right to choose. But it’s a choice that has significant physical and emotional ramifications. Raniere would know this, because a number of women in his orbit made that choice, and because he was the other responsible party.
He professed to have loved these women, and yet somehow this kept on happening. In some cases, to the same woman multiple times.
Did it ever occur to him at any point to get a vasectomy?
Vasectomies are reversible. He could have reversed it at any point once he was ready to conceive his avatar baby.
How fundamentally selfish is he as a human being?
So, in conclusion, I’m in full support of due process, and if the result of the fair and just execution of due process is an overturn of his conviction, so be it. But none of that changes the fact that he’s a terrible human being.
END OF GUEST VIEW
Editor’s Note: While the suggestion that Keith Raniere could have avoided several dozen abortions for his female followers by getting a vasectomy, it was a fundamental tenet of his teachings that his semen delivered on the person of his female devotees was a spiritually integral conduit to his divine DNA, and without the full sperm count in his semen, the magical elixir of his ejaculative benefice might be abortive in its intended goal.