Yesterday, another interesting story was published by the Albany Times Union entitled 3 Years After Raniere’s arrest, NXIVM divides into victims, loyalists, guilty
It was written by Rob Gavin who has been covering NXIVM for several years and attended the entire trial of Keith Alan Raniere.
I am going to publish some select portions of the story and add a few comments (The comments will be bolded).
The TU writes: On the glass window of a nondescript office plaza on New Karner Road, the words “Executive Success Programs” are cracking and falling away. From the Capital Region to Mexico and living rooms across the world, the shuttered office is now notorious as the former headquarters of NXIVM, the cult-like organization run by Keith Raniere.
Frank Report comments: The TU is referring to the former headquarters of Nxivm, at 455 New Karner Rd. in Colonie, NY, a suburb of Albany. The building is vacant.
It was vacant when I went there last summer to film with the TV show, American Greed: Nightmare at Nxivm.
In 2019, I was invited to tour the vacant NXIVM headquarters by a member of the Nxivm executive board. Everything was lying there just as it had been when NXIVM was operational as if the people had vanished on a given day but the inanimate objects remained.
There were files and photographs. Pictures collecting dust on the walls. All the furniture was just as it was on the last day anybody used it, probably within a few weeks of Raniere’s arrest on March 26, 2018.
In one room, there were bright colored sashes. The executive board member who invited me to visit presented me with one sash of every color, and, thus, I rose on the stripe path in 15 minutes what it took others years to accomplish. I went from white, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple to gold sash – the same rank as Nancy Salzman, the president of the company.
Then, with Raniere in custody, I assumed the rank of Vanguard – taking the white sash, the sash that was the same color that he wore. Those who wish to address me in the future may call me “Vanguard The Second,” or just V-2, for convenience, if they choose.
What I found most interesting was that there were many photographs in albums and countless files that someone should go in and preserve or at least assess before the government sells the property, and somebody buys it and throws it all away. The government seized the real estate as part of their prosecution of Raniere and his codefendants.
The building was purchased years ago by the Bronfman sisters, and the deal made with Sara Bronfman is that she gets some of the proceeds from the sale of this and two other buildings on the same street – up to $200,000.
The rest goes to us, the people of the United States – and will be handled by the federal government, well known for taking good care and frugal care of our money.
The “Corporate Books” for dozens of NXIVM-related corporations were on shelves, with quite a few of them stored upside down.
Along the way, someone sent me this sign which once adorned the parking lot in front of the building. It was definitely not taken recently for it is the old sign that was used for Nancy’s parking space. Another one has replaced it.
Now back to the Times Union story:
Three years ago this week, the man known to his followers as “Vanguard” was arrested by police in the Mexican fishing village of Chacala. Raniere, 60, is serving a 120-year sentence in an Arizona prison for sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy and racketeering.
Many of his closest followers in the once tight-knit NXIVM community have publicly denounced him as a narcissistic predator and described Executive Success Programs (ESP) as little more than a corporate front for his systems of control. Some testified against him during his 2019 trial in Brooklyn, or cooperated with the government in less public ways. Several have shared their stories in books and documentaries that have anatomized NXIVM’s collapse.
Some former members of Raniere’s inner circle have remained scrupulously quiet — especially the four women who pleaded guilty in the months before his trial and nearly two years later are still awaiting sentencing…. Clare Bronfman… remains loyal to Raniere.
It is about time I get around to demarcating who is in and who is out, for I think I pretty much know the players on both sides. I will try to do that in a future post.
There are, by the way, a cadre of Nxians who are not sure what to think about Keith Raniere.
As for the four awaiting sentencing, my take on their support of, or hostility toward Raniere is as follows:
Nancy Salzman, 66: She is now against Raniere, according to people who have spoken to her. I have not spoken to her directly. According to Raniere, he has not spoken to her either [which he could do in tandem with his or her attorneys]. He may have spoken to her briefly at their last court appearance together, which was probably sometime in late 2018 or early 2019.
I cannot help but think that Nancy’s disdain for Raniere is centered primarily on her hope of not being sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence. Had she not been charged and convicted of racketeering conspiracy, [she was the first to take a plea deal], I suspect she would still be telling others that Raniere is the greatest man she ever knew and ever lived.
I do not think Nancy learned anything new about Raniere from the revelations at the trial or during the pretrial filings.
She knew he was with dozens of women, and probably knew about the underage females. She had certainly known about the allegations. She engaged in years of hiding his true nature from the people she taught and who looked up to her as a leader.
When they did not trust him, they trusted her when she told them to trust him.
She promoted a man who she knew all about and who she now says is a bad man. Maybe she had an epiphany and suddenly learned he was evil or perhaps she knew it all the time and now this new position – “I finally realized Keith deceived me” is just a self-serving position.
After all, she helped deceive women for years about Keith at his behest and now she is just learning Keith is deceptive.
This is all based on her desire to avoid spending years in prison and maybe that is understandable given her poor health.
Back to the Times Union:
Her daughter, 44-year-old Lauren Salzman, once a high-ranking NXIVM member, delivered damning testimony for prosecutors that exposed Raniere’s history of cruelty, including emotional and at times physical abuse of women and his unquestionable role atop Dominus Obsequious Sororium (DOS), in which female “slaves” pledged lifetime vows of obedience to “masters.” Lauren Salzman, a “first line” master in DOS who answered directly to Raniere, pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy; due to her testimony, she could receive leniency at sentencing.
Lauren provided, as Gavin wrote, damning testimony in the Raniere trial. I believe she has seen another side of Raniere – other than the view of him being the most ethical man in the world, and the man she hoped to marry and have a child with.
The problem with much of her testimony is that she was in a sense “singing for her sentence” so just as she in the past sang for her Vanguard, that is to promote him blindly, willfully choosing to hide certain things about him that would have made those listening run for the hills had she told the truth about him, she testified against him with a biased, well-rehearsed script I would say, that painted and characterized him as worse than he was, while at the same time abdicating for herself any [or little] responsibility for the role she played in her relationship with Raniere and her leadership role in Nxivm.
It is to be expected that cooperating witnesses will slant things to help the prosecution and it is the job of the defense to cross-examine such witnesses, grilling them hard since they are playing not only with their own freedom, but the freedom of the defendant. That did not happen in the Raniere case.
The judge halted her cross-examination – at its most critical time – because Lauren started crying. This is no joke. She started crying, acting as if she would become hysterical. It may have been true that she was out of control with tears, but the stakes were more than her feelings, A man was on trial for his life.
I will get into in a future post the point of the cross-examination when it was halted; what the defense was seeking to extract from her – that cut at the core of intent and could have invalidated her plea deal – in search of the truth – which the defense has an absolute right to do.
To have halted the testimony at this critical juncture raises serious due process issues. It does not matter what I think of Raniere. She should have been cross-examined fully, even if that cross had to be postponed to the following day to allow her to compose herself.
I cannot solely fault the judge. Raniere’s attorney made a motion for a mistrial the following morning which was promptly denied. The attorney might have then asked to bring Lauren back on the stand to continue her cross-examination after the mistrial was denied – but he did not do that.
But who knows, maybe his strategy is better. It may get Raniere a new trial on appeal.
The case may have turned on the halted cross-examination. This excusing of a witness because she cried, and the admonishing the judge gave to Raniere’s attorney, some of it in front of the jury [and much of it not] must have had a severely chilling effect on the nature of Marc Agnifilo’s cross-examination of other witnesses going forward.
Not that I am challenging these witnesses’ testimony, but it is a fundamental due process right to confront witnesses against the defendant and I think this was denied Raniere.
It is now going to be an issue on appeal.
It probably did not need to be an issue, since had robust a cross-examination been permitted of Lauren and then of the others, the result I believe would have been the same: Raniere would have been convicted.
By the way, Lauren Salzman has sold her home at 21 Lape Rd. in Half Moon, New York, reportedly for $375,000.
The home with four bedrooms and 1.5 baths, nestled on almost four acres, was the home Lauren bought from the proceeds of her work in Nxivm. She had planned to raise her babies sired by Raniere in this house.
I assume she sold this property because she believes she is likely to spend time in prison. Though she put this property up as part of her bail package, the court permitted her to sell it and utilize the proceeds for living expenses.
Chances are she will realize very little net from the sale since she has likely had many expenses associated with her prosecution and it is likely she has not had much income during the last two years and eight months since she has been subject to home confinement. Her legal fees were paid at first by Clare Bronfman in a trust find, but that fund was exhausted long ago.
She is likely broke. Perhaps the judge will show leniency to her in a manner perhaps similar to what he showed when he stopped her cross-examination.
There may be a case for leniency. Her life has been shattered.
How real is her disdain for Raniere? Like her mother, I suspect that she would still be with Raniere today if he had not been arrested in her presence in Mexico, while she tried to shield him. She would be still hoping to have his baby as she neared her mid-40s and drifted on towards 50.
When she makes her statement before the judge prior to sentencing I would expect her to add a little to what she already said about him, and address further realizations she might have had since the time she testified in May 2019- almost two years ago.
Her mother spent from age 43 to 63 being a rabid supporter of Raniere and getting plenty of reward for it as a teacher of his lessons. She has spent the last three years fighting criminal charges and doing damage control for the sake of her freedom.
Lauren spent from around age 21 to age 41 being a follower, a member of his harem, and a teacher of his lessons and the last three years doing the same damage control her mother did. During the 20 years she was with Raniere, she was also rewarded and those rewards, as it was for the mother, were not only financial. There was payment in adulation, in respect, in honor and obedience from the community that engulfed their lives.
Their world was Nxivm, Raniere and the community that he and Nancy built. Nancy was second in veneration and respect only to Raniere and Lauren was probably third. The Bronfman sisters had perhaps more power because of the money, but they were not greatly respected or admired.
In the Nxivm community, the moral authority went from Keith, then Nancy then Lauren. These three led the community, while Clare and Sara funded it.
It is hard to say what is fair or not in Lauren’s case. If we believe in vengeance, in punishment, she deserves a stiff sentence. If we look for redemption and leniency – and we believe in mercy – she should not go to prison.
I would expect Lauren to argue she has been redeemed at her sentencing, and I vote for probation or home arrest, not that my vote matters. Still, Lauren has lost everything already: she lost respect, honor, no one looks up to her for her wise counsel as they once did and she is likely alone now with few or no friends, since all her Nxivm friends of 20 years are forbidden to have contact with her as part of her bail package and it is hard to make friends when one is on home confinement.
Maybe she has suffered enough.
As for her mother, it is hard to say. She brought her own daughter into it, and while she might have believed that Raniere was a most excellent man, she lied for him and kept things hidden, while living a life that most would say is, if not lavish, and extravagant, at least luxurious and comfortable. She now says Raniere deceived her. I do not think that is quite honest. She and Raniere deceived others and if there was deception, it was that he deceived her when he said he and she would never get caught.
I do not think Nancy was deceived in any serious particulars or even overall. She saw his vengeful nature, she saw his sex addiction, she saw his propensity to lie – and she went along with all of it.
Yet she is 66, and has suffered from cancer and, according to at least one source, she is not fully recovered. What true need is there for her to be imprisoned? She will likely get some time in prison, maybe a lot of time – it might even be a life sentence since prison life may wear hard on this woman. And maybe it is justified, but, provided she is banned from counseling, hypnotizing, using NLP professionally, doing any kind of multi-level marketing or setting herself up as a therapist, I see little good in putting her in a prison, where because of her medical condition she might die.
In the next post on this series, I will continue to analyze the Times Union story and look at the other two women who have yet to be sentenced, Allison Mack and Kathy Russell – and where they stand with Keith Raniere.
Then we will consider a post on who is in and who is out and what they are doing now.