Editor’s Note: This is Part 5 of the “From Prison: Keith Raniere” series on the subject of his co-defendants’ innocence. These are exclusive and published for the first time.
I have explained why I chose to publish this series in From Prison, Keith Raniere: ‘My Codefendants Are Innocent’ Part 1: Attackers Destroyed Our Community! and in Why I Choose to Publish Raniere’s Prison Letters About the ‘Innocence’ of His Codefendants.
In this article, Raniere addresses Allison Mack, his student and “slave” who cooperated with prosecutors against him.
In addition to Mack, Raniere’s other co-defendants are Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, Clare Bronfman, and Kathy Russell.
By Keith Raniere
My Work With Allison Mack as a Voice Teacher
Allison is a very talented actress and a true student of her craft. I had known Allison a number of years before she became involved with the sorority.
We had worked together building an acting curriculum; she studied voice with me; I had helped her with relationships and with her career. When I gave her voice coaching I was careful to say (as I do with all students who have a regular teacher) anything I taught that conflicted or interfered with her instructor should be ignored; she should always follow most closely what her instructor said.
This advice is given for a number of reasons, but one of the more important reasons is the methodology I know is very different, often going against, typical voice instruction. I was fortunate to have studied with some very top coaches and, through much trial and error, found a very rare, exceptional methodology I could build upon.
Note: Allison’s father is an opera singer and a voice instructor although Allison was not a student of his.
One day, Allison took a voice lesson from her father and had me listen to the recording: I was shocked. Her father used many of the exact same techniques, even examples, I used. As the smallness of the world would have it, my foremost teacher is good friends with the woman (also a voice teacher) Allison’s dad dated before he got married.
Additionally, the very exclusive, elite, professional choral group in which her father had sung in the 60’s in Los Angeles (later moved to New York), was the same group in which my second most important teacher currently sang. This odd coincidence gave Allison even more confidence in my coaching.
Allison Gave up Chocolate for Life to Help an Addict
I invited Allison (after gaining the permission of the then-founding sisters) into the sorority because of what I saw as a very virtuous act: She is very close to someone with a type of addiction. In order to uphold this person’s efforts to remove the addiction, and to show solidarity with this person, Allison chose to give up chocolate (something she dearly loves) as a show of strength and support.
This abstinence meant whether the person indulged in the troubled behavior or not, Allison would never eat chocolate for the rest of her life. She gave up a substance most dear, to set a positive example giving strength, for someone trying to give up something most compelling.
I thought (and think) this is beautiful, I admire her so much for this act and type of thinking. I felt Alison embodied many of the traits intended to be fostered within the sorority. She is strong, independent, devoted, diligent, persistent, and truly works at being virtuous.
My relationship with Allison, from my perspective, was wonderfully clear, honest, connected, and unencumbered. It was mutually purposeful and highly proactive. It was a most beautiful connection — one of the greatest young relationships I have ever had — it was so moving for me that someone was like her. I admire her greatly and I love her very much.
Motivation to Plea:
Allison was 36 years old and at the height (so far) of her career- She has studied Shakespeare with of the best Shakespeare coaches in the world (this is a privilege earned by her capability), and is a stage performer as well as a film actor. She works as hard as anyone in the industry, and it is my opinion (as well as the opinions of many far more qualified than me), that she can be one of the exceptional actors of her generation.
This all potentially ended the day she was arrested [April 20, 2018].
Allison faced a 15-year minimum prison term for something(s) she do not do [sex trafficking]. She is innocent, although she plead guilty and cooperated. This is understandable when you think of the following:
- (Potential Sentence) If she went to trial and lost, especially with someone like me who has several, very prejudicial allegations, she could risk spending many years in prison. I make her look very bad;
- (Children) If she were found guilty, she would likely never have children — and this is something she wants. It is very different decision for a 35+ year old man who might have a family at 50. A woman has a more determining clock;
- (Career) Going to prison for an extended period of time would likely destroy her career opportunities; and
- (Social Pressure) Because of the combination of charges, friends and family pressures, and her fame, there was a lot of social upside to pleading — especially if she could pull away from the 15-year minimum. With cooperation, this was possible.
Allison is innocent. Everything she did had good intent. At times we all have frailties, but never was anything Allison did from a mean spirit and certainly not criminal. The charges against Allison are absolutely false. Unfortunately, because she plead, it is likely she will convince herself of some guilt. After all, compassionate people can always take responsibility especially when it comes to another’s pain or suffering.
I do hope the people that care for Allison (and Allison herself) know deep inside she is innocent no matter the outcome.
Allison’s plea was very similar, almost paragraph by paragraph by content (not wording), to Lauren’s. Her plea appears to have taken Lauren’s as a basis and edited it. Some relevant paragraphs even start the same. This cannot be a coincidence.
Not only are the alleged crimes untrue, her stated purpose of the enterprise simply was not the same as that which was charged and is identical to Lauren’s “inaccuracy”!
The charge said, “the purpose of the enterprise was to promote Keith Raniere.” Allison said, “the enterprise I joined was to further and promote the objectives of Keith Raniere” — very different and much more subjective. Anything that appeared to serve my interest, or benefit me, or even hypothetically benefit me — even if only something I might want — fits this criteria.
For example, if someone eats at a vegetarian restaurant, because I am pro-vegetarianism, it could be said that this meal was carrying out my objectives. But this would not be considered promoting me.
If two people are indicted with burglary and cooperate (both pleading guilty to the burglary) then, in their allocution, each only admits to knowing the location of the crime, if that defective plea is accepted by the prosecution, and the court, suspicion is cast on the whole situation: the prosecution, court, and potentially attorneys, for creating and accepting such a plea. The plea is inaccurate and does not address the indictment, yet is accepted as an admission of guilt to that very indictment.
How can the prosecution state in court the Grand Jury accepted purpose of the RICO enterprise, have the defendant give a different purpose, and not insist the defendant agree to the Grand Jury accepted purpose?
How could the court accept this as valid? With other elements of charges both the prosecution and the court insist on precision.
It is because the RICO enterprise fails, but the politics of the case want to unjustly convict.
Cooperation with the Prosecution:
Allison cooperated with the prosecution. but did not testify against me. I do not know why, but I hope it was because she truly felt conflicted.
- Read Lauren’s “Effects” numbered 2 (Supporting Hate), and 5 (Criminalization);
- (Life in Prison) (Read Lauren’s “Effects” number 1 (Life in Prison)): I am facing life in prison… I do not believe, no matter how bad Allison might have convinced herself I am, she would ever want to participate in creating that for me — no matter what the cost. I do not believe she has thought this through;
- (Love) Allison sadly betrayed her concept of love. I believed Allison loved me.
- (Fame) Allison’s fame, good-will, and fan-base, will either move towards my cause, philosophies, and the cause of the sorority or against based on her plea or fight. Since a spotlight is on this case, it shapes and amplifies what Allison stands for in the world, and how strong she is in that stance;
- (Sorority) (Read Lauren’s “Effects: 7 (Founding Sister)) All the sisters of the sorority depended on the founding sisters to be the strongest, and best examples. Allison’s plea disheartened many sisters, taking away a dream and also taking away the safety and the surety of the vow;
- (Breaking a vow) …. I believe for Allison, the breaking of a vow destroys the purity of her inner word. If you break a vow, and are apostate to its intent, no matter what the circumstance, you now know under certain conditions you will craft an excuse (disguised as a reason) to break a vow. She broke the deepest, most sincere, complete vow without being able to speak to me. This is different than breaking a vow, because you were simply not strong enough to uphold it, and then wishing forever more you had upheld it. The reason I suggested Allison be in the sorority was because of a vow she took and how she kept it;
- (Pressure) Of all people involved in this, I believe Allison has the most internal pressure to change her mind and make me bad. On one hand she has what she knows of me, her innocence, love, and the truth. (Keep in mind, Allison practiced the Joan of Arc character for a year; she wanted to live to uphold the right against alt hate.) On the other hand, there are all the reasons to plea, and many people (including her attorneys) who wanted her out of this unjust situation seeing me and my life as the problem. When you are surrounded, not by hate, but by people who love and care for you edging you away from something, it is the most difficult force to resist. The support of the prosecution’s unjust hate came afterwards; and
- (Career) This plea, and associated record, will unfortunately follow her and be relevant. She is a guilty person that is actually innocent. Over time, when the truth comes out, it may be very sad and difficult for her. I do intend to exonerate Allison and all of my codefendants.
I had a Dream About Allison
I had a dream with Allison the same night I had the dream with Lauren: I dreamt I kissed and connected with Alison standing in her apartment against the wall. In this dream, it felt as though we were still connected in our very beautiful, soulful way.
[Editor’s Note: Raniere wrote about his dream about Lauren Salzman: “I had a dream after Lauren plead guilty: Within the dream she was lying flat on a mattress on the floor of a very stark, bare room. She was staring at the ceiling. I kissed her and told her although I thought what she was doing was very bad (see below) I loved her and wished her well. At first she looked stunned, then returned my kiss. A voice, which normally represents my subconscious said to me internally, ‘she is better off without you.’”]
My Participation in Allison’s Life and Conviction
- (Communication)… (Contact) I believe if I pushed harder, and had spoken to Allison, she might have made a different decision. I needed to be far more firm with the attorneys, possibly with a well-crafted protest to make this happen. Maybe I could have caused a meeting if I had refused to speak to anyone, including the court, until I could exercise my right to either meet with my codefendants, or have them (not their lawyers) directly refuse me;
- (Trust) Through this I have learned many new distinctions. Here is one; when we trust someone, we are unfair to them, ourselves, and anyone else relying on the transaction, if it is not a tested trust (my term). I did not provide Allison, or other people, the opportunity to prove the trust I placed in them. This is my fault. Often we do not know if we can live up to a trust in extreme circumstances. For example, I wonder if I could maintain my values and honor in the face of torture or death. My experience over the past months has affirmed that strength in me to a greater extent, but without the test, I simply do not know. I did not provide Allison, or any of the sorority. I was responsible to train and test, the opportunity to strengthen their vows with challenges. I have always been the type of coach who does not push people to the physical limit. This is in part because I enjoy pushing myself very hard — harder than most — and I am concerned of imposing my standard over theirs. By not testing the most sacred vow of the sorority, when the external tests came, the sisters in my charge were unprepared. As many religions, military. and community organizations understand, we must practice character with challenges to uphold our word: an unchallenged word might be well intentioned, but one cannot reply upon it;
- (Mixed Relationship) Allison wanted me to work with her using my tools and understanding to help her evolve personally. This is difficult when you are personally involved with the person with whom you are working. It can be difficult for them or yourself to separate what is personal and what is issue. Some of the romantic and sexual issues became mixed. This is my failing. I have heard, since my arrest, there were times Allison questioned sexual aspects of my conduct relating to her and her actions. This rumor might be true. Unfortunately, I was blind to this and focusing on her desires as well as my personal relationship with her. The mixture of these two things can certainly create doubts; Allison did nothing wrong, improper, and certainly nothing illegal. My actions (and personhood) were motivated as she understood them with nothing deceptive or inappropriate. The intensity of issues worked (sexual and romantic), mixed with such an intense personal relationship, might only work with supreme trust and clarity. But this trust (see number 2 above) needs to be tested trust. I did not test Allison enough and build this trust for either of us. I was therefore requiring her to make an unreasonable leap both in the sorority untested vow and our new untested relationship. I have only come to more deeply understand the distinction of “trust” compared to “tested trust” recently;
- (Sharing Myself) Because of number 3 above, I also did not give Allison the opportunity to know me even more fully. My relationship with Allison was so young compared to my other relationships. I did not respect this, making assumptions only valid for a relationship spanning a much greater time involving many more incidents. Allison was forced to trust me as if she had been with me decades, not months; and
- (Lawyers) When I first read the legal papers from Allison’s attorneys I had grave concerns about their understanding and confidence of her innocence. I alerted my team for I found the papers off-point, meandering, and in general poor. I suspect Allison’s immediate attorney, a recent prosecutor, had a different philosophical base than my team. If I had pushed the issue of Alison’s innocence harder, and been able to communicate directly with her attorney, I may have been either able to change his understanding or reveal this philosophical difference. I simply defaulted to the inertia of circumstances and, to the detriment of everyone, stepped away from the driver’s seat of my life.