Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of the “From Prison: Keith Raniere” series on the subject of his co-defendants being innocent. I have published Part 1: From Prison, Keith Raniere: ‘My Codefendants Are Innocent’ Part 1: Attackers Destroyed Our Community!
Below is Part 2. I have already explained why I chose to publish this in Part 1 and in a separate post, Why I Choose to Publish Raniere’s Prison Letters About the ‘Innocence’ of His Codefendants. Raniere’s codefendants are Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, Allison Mack, Clare Bronfman, and Kathy Russell.
Without further ado, here is the second part of the series.
By Keith Raniere
What is Very Innocent?
My co-defendants have all understandably pled guilty, but all are innocent — actually, most are very innocent.
What do I mean by, “very innocent”?
It is one thing to be implicated in a crime that
- you might have done but didn’t (an example of this might be a drug dealer who is charged with a transaction he simply didn’t make),
- could have done (an innocent man is found at the scene of a murder with the murder weapon in his hand),
- or the act simply shouldn’t be illegal, yet it is, and you did it (a terminally-ill, immobile, patient receives medical marijuana in her final painful days. She resides in a state wherein it is not legal, and receives it from a neighboring state, in which it is legal, literally footsteps away);
- it is another to be implicated in a crime that simply did not exist — no crimes happened and the people charged were not criminals.
Some of what has happened to my co-defendants I cannot address for I do not have full knowledge of the situation (in a number of cases I have no knowledge of the situation). But in a number of cases, there is simply no crime and always the true situation is well intended and often a good thing.
Plea Deals Motivate Innocent People to Believe Themselves Guilty
Most honest people who plea will strain to believe some theory of guilt to feel better about the untruth of their plea.
This is a basic application of Cognitive Dissonance theory. Over time, they might even come to believe themselves truly guilty of a crime and believe other, equally false things to support this view.
Imagine the motivational tendency to do this: it’s not just a $50 mistake, it’s a verdict on their whole self-image! The verdict they must pass upon themselves could be generalized as one of the following:
- If they believe they are innocent, and plea, then they are the type of person who will lie to the court, and the world, under oath (their word) just to get out of a crime (committing a crime to get out of crime).
- Or, if they can convince themselves they did actually somehow commit a crime, they are the type of person who can strongly stand up to their guilt and take the consequences.
The choice reduces to: are they a weak, deceptive innocent person, or a strong, but guilty by human frailty, person willing to admit their error and take the consequences for their transgression?
Which sounds better to you?
It is certainly an easier psychological route, in this case, to find guilt in one’s self — even if none exists.
Innocent NXIVM Defendants Should Have Stood Together but Lawyers Thought Otherwise
When I was first indicted and then, ultimately, my five codefendants were indicted, I felt as though we could — and would — stand against any injustice. That is not what happened.
It would become apparent the lawyers in the case had a different agenda. Instinctively, as well as rationally, they must build a wall to protect their client from all potential criminal liability.
Which side of the wall do you think I would be on considering I am the leader and the source of all the problems?
From this natural perspective it makes sense, almost as a highest priority, to isolate their clients from me, and convince their clients to distance themselves as much as possible — especially if their clients are innocent!
I am a liability with no “upside” because all things are seen to stem from me. I am portrayed as a “crime boss” — so getting, and keeping, their clients as far away from me as possible is safest. All accusations of their client’s potential wrongdoing are best seen as stemming from me. Ideally, they can convince their clients they are actually a victim of my doings.
This is short-sighted and inherently not good. It presupposes crime, guilt, and also eliminates the possibility of a “united we stand” posture against false accusation, by availing ourselves to the prosecutorial objective of “divided they fall.”
Note: It is true that all things within this case do stem from me.
Charges Would Have Been Dismissed If Innocent Co-Defendants Stuck Together
Our community and its success stem from my odd way of looking at the world and creations different from the societal norm. It is also these very things that led to this down-fall. Although one needs to accept the good with the bad, it is true I feel responsible for all of this injustice.
None of my co-defendants did anything wrong to my knowledge. The charges against them should have been dismissed and, if anyone should have to face any charges, it should be me. (This would provide a problem for the prosecution for I am innocent.)
I firmly believe, as does my legal team, had we stood together strongly, and pushed the case quickly, we all would have been shown to be innocent. After all, we are all innocent!
Our community would have been much more steadfast, our businesses would have had a second life, and light would have prevailed over darkness; good over evil.
Vested Interest in Making Someone Bad
If you are not getting fonder of all people from your past, you are doing something backwards — likely you have a vested interest in making them bad — probably you are wrong. Why ruin real or potential beauty?
If you know a person, and you no longer see them, do you take your memories of them —even the good ones — and look for sinister things, making this person bad or distasteful to you? Or, do you cherish the good memories and come to compassionately understand the memories where you felt hurt?
How we relate to our past helps determine how we feel about the present and future. This affects our gratitude, learning and wisdom. Do we see our past as part of the cumulative journey and lessons which have created ourselves? We have the power to make our pasts an object of suffering — and thereby suffer in the present or a perfected puzzle interrelating to teach us and build us towards love and joy?
We Have an Agreement With Each Significant Person in Our Lives
There is a concept brought forth from Eastern philosophy and explained in the book, Conversations with God (l am not recommending this or any book or philosophy but this explanation is edifying): we have an agreement with each significant person in our lives.
This includes the people we think of as wronging us. This agreement has both participants playing whatever role they do fully and vigorously to help each other learn a lesson.
With even a case like a torturer and the person being tortured, each has a lesson to experience and hopefully learn: the former experiences power and the abuse of it through a lack of compassion and moral compass, the latter experiences dealing with hate, insurmountable adversity, suffering, and physical pain.
Quite an agreement!
If it is truly essential to learn these hardest, ugliest lessons, it would take a person of great love to truly execute it.
This does not mean the torturer is really torturing out of love. That it does say is the highest part of the soul of the torturer — it be a concept of Higher self or God or Over-soul — is acting out of love.
If that part is truly love-based, then agreeing to such a horrible role to temper the soul of the recipient is a very transcendent type of love. The beauty of this idea is not to take away the reality that there are terrible worldly things and people. It does not justify the actions of the terrible people (for it is their lesson to get the consequences of their actions or worse, be consigned to live in a treacherous world which allows such things unpunished).
Nxivm Community Always Strove to Do the Right Thing
Our community stresses mindfulness, honor, and compassionate fairness. We make great efforts and do everything we can to affect these things and not abuse power. In our community we have processes to review such things so they are far less likely to happen than in a typical community: we have procedures for arbitration, ethical breach work, value-ethics discussions, and people have coaches of their choosing as resources. Our highest priorities are to help people and do the right thing. We are a rare group who labor vigorously with each decision to do these things.
We did not commit any of these alleged crimes.
My Co-Defendants Have Great Souls
I raise these concepts for I am about to discuss each of my co-defendants individually and personally. I have heard some of them have greatly lowered their opinion of me, and some of them greatly raised it. The injustice that we have gone through, and continue to face, has brought us all forward ultimately.
I view all of my codefendants as wiser, even if I do not agree with their actions or opinions. So far, this has certainly been an intense, unique journey.
I feel each of my codefendants have great souls, and I hope to honor that with everything I say. I am deeply sorry for the pain and destruction of all this for I am either directly or indirectly responsible. I am also deeply grateful for all they have given me and their participation in my life.
I believe my co-defendants, and l, are innocent, good, and should never have been pursued or charged. This is a great injustice.
[The next story in the series, on Why Nancy Salzman Is Innocent will be published soon.]