Linda Chung was a member of the sorority, Dominus Obsequium Sororum, better known as DOS.
DOS was a master-slave-based sorority that, unusual for a sorority, had a man as the ultimate master. His name is Keith Alan Raniere.
Raniere is now serving a 120-year sentence in the US Penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona, a prison that is specially managed to accommodate a plurality of convicted sex offenders.
DOS ceased to exist in June 2017, following a series of articles that appeared on the Frank Report wherein it was revealed that the sorority existed, that Raniere was its leader, that they employed the practice of branding “slaves” with his initials, and that the group required, collected and held “collateral” on its members which was what some might call “blackmail-worthy” material, often graphic nude photos, by which the threat of these being released was meant to hold the sisters of the sorority to their word and ensure secrecy.
No collateral was ever released.
In late 2020, eight former DOS members, including Linda Chung, started a website called The Dossier Project with the goal of explaining the “Goodness of DOS.”
The women believe the public has largely misunderstood DOS. According to a Dossier Project press release, the destruction of DOS was occasioned by one of its members, Sarah Edmondson, aided and abetted by this writer and this website.
The Dossier Project women wrote: “By May 2017, DOS had 105 participants and was growing rapidly. That same month, one of its newest members, Sarah Edmondson, broke her vow of secrecy and revealed DOS’ existence to Frank Parlato, a self-avowed enemy of Raniere.
“Parlato revealed the existence of DOS on his website, the Frank Report, in a distorted and highly-biased form and, based solely on the skewed narrative of Edmondson and the few women who joined her in breaking their vows. Together, they created and promoted a fictional narrative about DOS that wreaked havoc and spread disinformation within the greater NXIVM community. This effectively ended DOS. Everything ceased. Women who had been happily engaged in the practices of DOS began to fear for their safety and livelihoods due to the highly publicized false allegations.”
As part of the Dossier campaign of “telling our story, on our own terms,” Chung has written an article entitled, “What Do You Make of the Women Who Are ‘Victims’?” which appears in its entirety on the Dossier Project website.
About Linda Chung
According to the Dossier Project, “Chung, 51, is a former lawyer who worked in corporate law and the music industry. She has also worked as a brand marketer for a global consumer goods company and news analyst. She has had several of her own businesses in consulting, coaching and real estate investment. She is currently a business owner in the financial services. She attended Dartmouth College, Cornell Law School and Columbia Business School. She is passionate about helping people through building businesses and relationships.”
What Do You Make of the Women Who Are “Victims”?
What Is a ‘Victim’?
What is a “victim”? According to the dictionary, a “victim” is a person harmed, injured or killed due to a crime, accident or other event or action.” (Oxford Languages) Some may believe that any questioning or criticism of someone claiming to be a victim is “victim blaming” or “victim shaming.” I firmly believe that people who have suffered actual measurable harm or injury caused by another person’s actions should be fully supported and protected under the laws and our legal system.
In the case of Keith Raniere and DOS, several women have testified, or come forth, stating they were victims. I want to examine the exact nature of the “harm” or “injury” in question. What is the specific harm or injury? To this date, there have not been any allegations of violence or physical harm. In general, the harm or injuries cited were either related to being the defendants in lawsuits, emotional injury or mental distress. Physical harm is more measurable and verifiable. Emotional or mental harm is harder to measure or subjective in nature. In the case of NXIVM, Keith Raniere and DOS, the alleged harm is mostly “emotional” or “mental.”
Harm from Litigation
First, I will address the harm from litigation. I graduated from Cornell Law School. I worked at a top 5 global corporate law firm and as in-house corporate counsel for over eight years. While I am not a trial lawyer, I do have knowledge of the legal system. The United States is a litigious society. It is not a crime to sue in the United States and there are measures in place to protect against frivolous or meritless lawsuits.
A lawyer could lose their license if they brought about frivolous lawsuits. Such lawsuits are usually quickly dismissed. Does the fact that a lawsuit exists necessarily mean there is harm or injury? No, of course not. Nor does bringing a lawsuit necessarily mean such a suit is intended to cause harm or injury, as Judge Nicholas Garaufis (the federal judge in Keith Raniere’s trial) has asserted. To make bringing lawsuits against people who claim to be victims grounds for injury or harm makes no sense, especially without examining the cause for the lawsuits to begin with. The fact that these suits were not quickly dismissed indicates there could very well have been merit to the allegations against these so-called victims.
The emotional harm from being in a relationship (whether it was a romantic, platonic or sexual) is not a crime either. Otherwise, anyone dating could have grounds to sue or be charged with crimes. Furthermore, how is this kind of harm measured or quantified? Do we really want to criminalize everyday interactions with people? Do we want to criminalize any comments made — whether a joke or insult that could cause emotional harm? Just because someone feels emotional pain or harm does not necessarily mean there was a crime or assault. If so, then dating, comedy, parents with children, or anything that could be subjectively interpreted by a person could be criminal with the right framing.
Then there is the issue of consent. In the NXIVM / Keith Raniere case, there were no charges of rape or assault. It is important to draw distinctions between DOS and private relationships that existed outside of DOS. Some women in DOS were in long-term relationships with Keith Raniere. What Keith Raniere and other people did in their private adult relationships is frankly none of my business. My understanding is that there was never any requirement or command to have sex with Keith Raniere as some have alleged. I have not seen any evidence to support this claim. Retroactive testimony after being subjected to pressure by the media and the government is not sufficient evidence, in my opinion. Just because some women happened to be in DOS does not mean that every choice they made was under duress and at the threat of their collateral being released, especially when there has been no evidence shown of such threats, nor any collateral released by women in DOS.
If the victims were afraid at the time, I’d be curious whether this feeling was communicated or confirmed by any third parties in testimony or closing statements? How would Keith Raniere, or any women in DOS, know there was fear if there was no communication or other indication at the time? Moreover, a feeling of fear that comes up after one gives consent does not invalidate consent retroactively. For example, a person who goes to the dentist consents to have a cavity filled. That person may feel fear when they get their cavity filled but this does not negate the consent that was given previously. Nor does feeling fear mean their consent was automatically withdrawn. A feeling by itself does not communicate to others that consent is withdrawn.
The alleged mental distress of people who said they were misled or brainwashed is questionable as well. Even if they were misled and lies were told, there were no charges of fraud. Not all lies are a crime. Assuming people were brainwashed, how do we know when they were “unbrainwashed”? What’s the difference between “unbrainwashed” and recognizing you always had choice in your actions and beliefs? Who has the power to brainwash anyone against their will? Anyone who could do this would be a trillionaire. It seems that if Keith Raniere had the power to brainwash people against their will, he would not be in prison right now.
Do People Lie?
This brings me to the question asked most about the victims. Are we saying the victims are lying because our experiences were so different? No one can really know if another person is lying about their opinions, personal experience, or how they feel. We all know people can lie for various reasons. Let’s ask the question, “Why would the people who claim to be victims lie in this case?” That is a question that is often asked as well. The simple answer is to look at possible motives.
We all know people lie. The question is why do people lie? What is a lie? The dictionary defines a lie as “an untruthful assertion.” This assertion could be driven by fact, belief, opinion or feeling. The key is the intent and context. While facts are easier to verify as true or false, opinions, experiences or feelings are subjective in nature — so can they even be considered lies? Is a lie always bad? When is it ok to lie? Is it ok to lie if the intent is to not hurt someone’s feelings? Or if they can’t emotionally handle the truth or if they can’t be trusted with the truth?
We all know people can change their opinions of other people and situations for a variety of reasons, and they have every right to do so. However, I do not believe it is right to change one’s opinion of someone and charge them with crimes simply because one’s thoughts or feelings about them changed afterwards. If a person is a victim of a crime, where is the concrete proof and evidence? Is this harm based on anything other than what a person says or feels? Do we really want to have a society that condemns people based solely on what another person says or feels? That is a very slippery and dangerous precedent. We have all seen people’s lives destroyed simply with a mere assertion.
I can empathize with the women who claim to be victims in this situation. It is extremely hard to say what I would have done if I was in their shoes. Some women were facing felony charges of sex trafficking and decades in prison after years of working and teaching within a humanitarian company and having no previous records. They were now positioned to potentially lose or jeopardize their family relationships, friends, credibility, or good reputations because of their involvement or association with NXIVM, Keith Raniere or DOS. The FBI claimed that NXIVM was a “criminal enterprise” and anyone involved could be charged with a crime. I get it. If you were confronted with sticking to the truth of your experience or going to prison, would your opinions and feelings about the people involved change? I think this is not only possible but very likely.
I don’t know if my opinion of Keith Raniere or DOS would change if I was in the same position as some of the women who claim to be victims and were also named as co-defendents or co-conspirators. Believe me, my life would be easier if I just said the charges were true and Keith Raniere and DOS were bad. However, I know that is not true to my experience. I would not be able to live with myself because even if no one else would know it was a lie, I would know.
I also took the time to review the facts of the trial and transcripts. I found that the government did not prove all of the elements of the crimes. If even one element of a crime was not proven, then the crime was not proven. (Many of the alleged criminal acts portrayed in media were not charged as crimes.)
I am simply asking questions. Some people may accuse me of “victim shaming” or “victim blaming.” My intent is to understand this situation and how to make sense of it. Do we really want to believe anyone just because they say they are a victim? Why not ask for proof or evidence? Remember that some people do lie. Shall we shame or insult a person because they question a victim? Where is the actual harm or injury? Was this reported or told to anyone at the time the victim was supposedly injured? If the women felt they were abused, did they say something? Did they say “no” or object? In general, I am skeptical of people saying they were harmed yet provide no evidence or anything to indicate this harm to anyone else at the time. How could, would or should anyone know? Can any of the women who claim injury point to a time where they tried to say something to anyone, or even said anything to Keith Raniere or other DOS women at the time in question? Where is the personal responsibility if the victims felt this way or thought there was harm or abuse? No one can read another person’s mind or feel another person’s feelings.
I can’t state that the women are lying or not because I was not there. I am not them. However I honestly believe they changed how they feel or think about the whole situation because of the government, social, and media pressure.
I am skeptical when I see strong motives to change a perspective. What do some of the women who claim they are victims stand to gain by their seemingly new position? As in the show “The Wire,” one wise detective Lestor Freaman said, “follow the money.” There are book deals, television series, publicity and media attention for many of the so-called “victims.” Furthermore, several “victims” filed a class action lawsuit to collect money for this alleged “emotional” harm from involvement with NXIVM, Keith Raniere or DOS, and many are in line for large sums in “restitution” from Keith Raniere’s criminal trial.
Belief in Myself
On the side of the women of DOS who still view their experience with DOS as positive and support Keith Raniere, we do not have much to gain financially or otherwise from our perspective. In reality, many of the women who have not renounced DOS have lost jobs, friends, family relationships and much more by not blaming others for our choices and experiences. While the “victims” have public sympathy and support, the women supportive of DOS have been attacked in the media and subjected to much hate. In fact, that is why many friends, families and complete strangers assume we are “brainwashed.” It seems they can’t believe we stand for what we believe in, at great personal risk, because they would not make the same choice. Even if we were brainwashed, why is there such hate against us?
Goodness of DOS
We, the women of DOS who believe in the goodness of DOS are speaking out, knowing that people will write and say hateful things to us and about us. The hate and threats against us is exactly the reason we have not shared our side or perspective publicly before. This was not an easy decision to speak publicly about this knowing the response would be met with mostly hate. We hope that at least a few people will see what we are really standing up against even if they remain silent in support.
Why do we support Keith Raniere and believe in the goodness of DOS? I am open to the possibility that I was misled. Were mistakes made? Yes. Were these criminal acts? No, I don’t believe so. I know I don’t know everything that happened and probably never will. However, I do know my experience and interaction with the women of DOS and Keith Raniere for the past several years. I judge people based on my experience of them and not based on what other people think or what the media writes about them. I especially don’t consider the opinions of people who don’t know me, or DOS, or Keith Raniere, or have never taken a course in NXIVM. When people ask me how I can support someone like Keith Raniere or DOS, the answer for me is simple but not easy. I have a very different firsthand experience of DOS and Keith and I am not willing to delete or distort that opinion because of what the media, government or other people say. I am not willing to rewrite my personal history of people. I would do the same for anyone else I know personally, a friend or family member. I do not blindly believe what others say or write about another person. I do recognize that sometimes the media, the legal system and the government do not stand for the pursuit of truth and may have other agendas.
Standing Up for Our Beliefs
Even in the face of adversity, fear, and social pressure, I stand up FOR justice, due process, love and truth. I stand AGAINST hate, bullying, fake news and trial by media. Why? The simple answer is we stand up FOR what we believe in because it is important to live a life based on our highest values and beliefs.
Our country was built on the fundamental right to freedom of speech. I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it. However, this should be balanced against hate speech. It is a dangerous situation if we only allow to have one perspective or only allow one side of the story to be voiced. This reminds me of a George Orwell quote, “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.”
Moreover, in our society today, there is immense pressure to think and state what is the popular opinion or viewpoint or what the government says, or else… Are we in a society now like George Orwell’s 1984 where we can’t think, ask questions, or our thoughts are monitored and censored? What does it mean if we can’t question people, victims included, even if it makes one feel uncomfortable? In the case of Keith Raniere, Judge Nicholas Garaufis stopped the cross-examination of a key government witness because she began to cry. In my opinion, this paternalistic act does not move women forward, but instead treats women as if they can’t be questioned like an adult. It takes a courageous person to be willing to ask those tough questions in the pursuit of truth. Are we so afraid of asking simple questions that we are willing to sacrifice seeking facts and truth? I hope not. For all of our sakes.