In our last post, Prosecution Files for Restitution on Behalf of Raniere’s Victims; Filing Under Seal, Raniere to Respond, we discussed some of the people who may be making claims for restitution as purported victims of Keith Raniere.
The judge apparently will decide who is a victim and who is not, after hearing arguments from the prosecution and the defense. He apparently has the authority to declare people who were not victims of any crimes proven in the criminal trial of Raniere to be victims nonetheless and award Raniere’s money to them in any amount he so chooses.
One of those seeking restitution has perhaps one of the most compelling arguments for restitution.
She is Kristin Keeffe and what makes her argument unique among all those who wish to be declared victims is that she is not only speaking for herself but for her son, a boy whose father is Keith Raniere.
As the judge determines who is a victim and who is not, and how much each of them is entitled to receive, with money to be paid from Raniere’s inheritance of some $8 million from his late girlfriend, Pamela Cafritz, it is strange and emblematic of the kind of man Raniere is, that his 14-year-old son, as represented by his mother, has to stand in line with others, some quite remotely connected to Raniere and some with the most dubious, attenuated claims to victimhood, and many, if not every one of them, who have not endured anything like what this mother and son have endured, in order to get their chance at financial stability.
Yes, I suspect the case of Kristin Keeffe may be of particular interest to the judge, for he has already chided Raniere about her, and for his failure to pay child support to their son.
It was revealed at his sentencing hearing that, months before he was sentenced, Raniere was approached by Keeffe through their respective attorneys, to use some of his wealth to support their son. Apparently, there were multiple discussions between the attorneys with Raniere calling the final shots.
It was Raniere’s attorney, Marc Agniflo, who made the revelations in court, at the sentencing hearing, and the judge expressed a rather keen interest in knowing what Raniere’s response was to the mother’s request for funds for his son.
Though the judge acknowledged that Raniere’s lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, did not have to disclose attorney-client privileged discussions, it was evident that the judge was curious to learn – just moments before he was to sentence Raniere – what the convicted man had done for his son.
The fact that Agnifilo did not offer an answer, despite knowing that the judge seemed curious, signaled that Raniere had refused to provide child support for his son.
Judge Garaufis told Agnifilo: “You carefully glossed over, because he’s your client and you’re not going to tell me about what your client said to you, [about whether Raniere agreed to pay any child support] which is fine, but the fact is, the child is 14 years old and there has been no child support, apparently, and why should this even be an issue if this is his child.
“I mean, I’m just a local guy here in Brooklyn. But you’ve got a 14-year-old child who’s never been supported by his father who has been busy working the commodities markets for tens of millions of dollars and can’t find it in his heart to send a few bucks to his child. Why should anyone look upon that person as someone who is worthy of respect?”
Respect. That’s the word. Judge Garaufis is a man from Brooklyn, a guy who grew up in and around the streets, and the good people there. The judge said everything he needed to say, not only about Raniere but about himself, more in this one statement, more than anything he said during the entire six weeks’ trial.
He’s just a Brooklyn guy, and, in Brooklyn, it’s about respect. He dismisses Keith; sums him up with a single sentence: “Why should anyone look upon that person as someone who is worthy of respect?”
In the judge’s eyes, Raniere is riff-raff or scum, a shitbird, as some in Brooklyn might say, because, after all, what kind of a man does not support his own son?
While Raniere might argue that he chose to not pay child support out of some higher ethical principle, perhaps because he is displeased with the mother, it worked against him at his sentencing, and likely will do the same at the restitution hearings.
The argument against Raniere’s “ethical” argument that because he is unhappy with the mother, so he won’t give money to the support of his son, is that perhaps no one else can see the ethics of the argument that the supposed sins of the mother should be taken out on the son.
It won’t likely persuade Judge Garaufis, who, if he so chooses, can rectify this decision of Raniere’s to not pay child support, by awarding Keeffe a hefty share of the restitution money.
It would surprise no one either.
At the end of her victim statement at the Bronfman sentencing, the court seemed so moved by Keeffe that the judge sat in stony silence for several moments after she finished speaking.
That is when, perhaps, the Brooklyn guy finally realized how little respect Raniere, or those who stood by him, such as Clare Bronfman, who he was about to sentence, deserved. After the period of silence, the judge called for a recess. After the recess, he came back, listened to other arguments, and then sentenced Bronfman to triple the sentencing guidelines – some 81 months.
At the Raniere sentencing, which I attended, Keeffe’s statement of how Keith had, she said, terrorized her and her son for years while they struggled financially, spoken with such profound emotion, and with a voice a tragedian could only hope to emote in a lifetime, caused such an emotional thrall – in dolorous affect – a mother and her child in terror because of the boy’s father – that, looking around at the spectators, I saw a number of them wiping their eyes. No one seemed unaffected. That haunting voice, seemingly always on the verge of tears, holding back as she described her terror, a terror felt not really for herself but occasioned by her one goal in mind, always the same goal, to protect her son from the monster.
And the stunning irony was that there he sat before her, subject and captive, in the courtroom, a man n handcuffs and shackles, who would soon receive a sentence, (it was to be 120 years) and then led out again in shackles and handcuffs. And in between these two events, there was the mother of their son, speaking, relating a torment that this man had caused her.
It surpassed in drama, if not in horror, the tale Camila told.
It proved that whatever else Raniere may claim to be or not be, his colossal lack of ability to make a world feel safe for his own son and the mother who cares for him, teaches us more about him than any group of women who fell in with him, and later found that he had been the opposite of what they had once believed, and now seek what money they can get for their sorrow, their regret, their upset and discomfiture, and in the case of some, but not all of them, their pain.
In my book, they need to all stand in line behind Krisitin and her son.