Claviger: Does Keith Raniere’s Appeal Have Any Appeal? – Part 3: Analyzing the Appeal in Detail

Keith Raniere

In Part 1 of this series of posts, I outlined part of the overall appeals process in federal criminal trials – which is what will govern how the appeal that was filed in Keith Raniere’s case is being handled.

In Part 2, I outlined the remainder of the federal appeals process – and explained the concept of “preservation” as it relates to the issues that can be raised via a direct appeal – which is the type of appeal that is currently pending for Keith. I also listed some of the other things that a convicted defendant can do to challenge their conviction and/or sentence.

Now, with all that contextual stuff out of the way, we can turn our attention to the appellate brief that was filed on May 7, 2021 by Keith’s new attorney, Jennifer Bonjean.

Jennifer Bonjean

For those Frank Report readers who want to able to refer back to that document, you can find a link to the appeal HERE.


General Comments & Notes

One of the first things I noticed about the appellate brief is that it references two Defendants-Appellants: Keith Raniere AKA Vanguard and Clare Bronfman (I have to admit that I still smile every time I’m reminded that the Eastern District of New York/EDNY prosecutors actually included “AKA Vanguard” in their original filing in the case).

That reminded me that the EDNY has not yet filed its response brief in Clare’s appeal – which was filed by her attorneys, Daniel R. Koffmann and Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr., back on March 3, 2021. Remember what I said about federal criminal appeals being a lengthy process?

Clare Bronfman

I also noted that compared to Clare’s appellate brief – which was 241 pages – Keith’s appellate brief is a relatively short 96-pages (Both briefs likely required permission to exceed the Second Circuit’s page limitation on such documents)


Issues Raised on Appeal

As is true for any appellate attorney, Bonjean had to balance out her desire to raise as many legitimate issues as possible with her concern about “burying the lead” by raising issues that are relatively unimportant and/or unlikely to succeed.

In this case, it appears that Bonjean tried to accomplish that balance by detailing why specific charges should be dismissed – and by then asserting, in essence, that the entire case should be dismissed because Keith was supposedly denied a fair trial and because his Fifth Amendment & Sixth Amendment rights were supposedly denied because of specific errors that were made by the presiding judge in his case, U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis.

Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis

And so it is that she summarized the legal issues to be presented as follows:

1. Whether the government proved the Defendant guilty by proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the following offenses: all sex trafficking offenses (Counts 5-7 and Act 10A); conspiracy to commit forced labor and forced labor of Nicole (Count 3 and Act 10B); sexual exploitation of a child (Acts 2 & 3); conspiracy to alter records in an official proceeding (Act 6); and conspiracy to commit identify [sic] theft of Pam Cafritz. (Act 11).

2. Whether the government proved the Defendant guilty of RICO and conspiracy to commit RICO due to insufficient evidence of: (1) an enterprise; and (2) a pattern of racketeering.

3. Whether Defendant was deprived of his Fifth and Sixth Amendment constitutional guarantees where the government swamped the jury with a mass of minimally probative yet highly prejudicial evidence related to the Defendant’s controversial sex life.

4. Whether Defendant was denied his constitutional guarantees under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments where the District Court prematurely terminated defense counsel’s cross-examination of the government’s key cooperating witness.

5. Whether Defendant was denied his constitutional guarantees under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments where the District Court required the parties and the witnesses to refer to individuals designated by the government as “victims” only by their first names or pseudonyms, signaling to the jury that Defendant should be presumed guilty.

With that summary in mind, let’s start looking in more detail at each of the legal issues that Bonjean focused on in her appellate brief :


The Beyond-A-Reasonable Doubt Issue

Bonjean’s initial argument to the appellate court is that the EDNY prosecutors failed to introduce enough evidence to warrant Keith’s conviction of various charges and certain predicate acts “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

More specifically, she asserts this failure applies to the following counts and predicate acts:

  • Count Three: Forced Labor Conspiracy
  • Count Five: Sex Trafficking Conspiracy
  • Count Six: Sex Trafficking of Nicole
  • Count Seven: Attempted Sex Trafficking of Jay
  • Predicate Act 2: Sexual Exploitation of a Child on November 2, 2005
  • Predicate Act 3: Sexual Exploitation of a Child on November 24, 2005
  • Predicate Act 6: Conspiracy to Alter Records for Use in an Official Proceeding
  • Predicate Act 10-A: Sex Trafficking – Nicole
  • Predicate Act 10-B: Forced Labor — Nicole
  • Predicate Act 11: Conspiracy to Commit Identity Theft – Pamela Cafritz.

In making this argument, Bonjean starts off with a “broad-brush” approach – i.e., “Because the jury’s verdict of guilt as to (the above-listed counts and predicate acts) were [sic] based entirely on speculation, conjecture, and inflamed emotions, rather than through reasonable inferences derived from the evidence, this Court must vacate those convictions”.

She then proceeds to make several specific arguments regarding Keith’s interactions with Nicole and Jay that resulted in him being charged with the three sex trafficking counts: i.e., Count Five: Sex Trafficking Conspiracy, Count Six: Sex Trafficking of Nicole, and Count Seven: Attempted Sex Trafficking of Jay.

RE: Sex Trafficking of Nicole

With respect to Nicole, Bonjean asserts that the prosecution failed to prove that Allison Mack received “anything of value” as a result of her sexual relationship with Keith. In part, she argues that’s because Allison did not even know that Nicole and Keith had a sexual relationship.

According to Keith Raniere’s appellate counsel, Jennifer Bonjean, Keith and Nicole hid their sexual relationship from Allison – which is a bit hard to believe since it was Allison who set up that relationship. 

Although Bonjean acknowledges that Nicole’s initial sexual encounter with Keith on May 31, 2016 was part of DOS, she asserts that all their remaining sexual encounters were part of a voluntary intimate relationship that had nothing to do with DOS. While she offers no real proof for this assertion, this tactic allowed Bonjean to focus all her attention on the initial encounter in which Nicole was blindfolded and brought to an undisclosed location where an unknown person – who later turned out to be Camila – performed oral sex on her.

Bonjean further argues that Nicole’s initial sexual encounter with Keith did not constitute a “commercial sex act” because Allison Mack – who was Nicole’s “master” and who is the one who assigned Nicole to “offer to do anything” for Keith – never received anything of value for setting her up. In conjunction with this argument, Bonjean asserts that Allison’s “maintain[ing] a spot in the first line of DOS” does not qualify as a “thing of value” as that term is utilized in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (18 U.S.C.§1591).

But in case the 3-judge appellate panel doesn’t buy that argument, Bonjean offers an alternative for them to consider: i.e., since Nicole was just one of the many women that Allison set up to have sex with Keith, Allison did not receive a “thing of value’ specifically with respect to Nicole.

Bonjean also asserts that “…the government failed to put forth adequate evidence that Nicole engaged in the May 31, 2016 sex act (or any other sex act with the Defendant) as a result of coercion or force, including a fear that her collateral would be released if she refused to submit”. As “proof” for this assertion, Bonjean points out, among other things, that although Nicole testified that she feared her collateral would be released if she left DOS, she did not testify that she had that same fear if she did not have sex with Keith – a classic “distinction without a difference” (It almost sounds like Bonjean has been taking special classes with Nancy Salzman – who, by the way, reportedly is back doing personal counseling and bringing in some big bucks).

Per the ruling of the judge, victims’ last names were not used in court and their images were not permitted to be sketched. The same is true for any filings in the case. 

It is clear from the fact that Bonjean made Keith’s sexual relationship with Nicole the first substantive issue she raised in the case – as well as the fact that she spent almost 8-full pages of her 96-page brief focused on that relationship – that she believes undercutting Nicole’s testimony is one of the keys to getting Keith’s convictions overturned.

What I find odd about that tactic is that by focusing all this attention on Nicole, Bonjean will, in essence, be inviting the three appellate judges to read every single word of Nicole’s testimony.

During the trial, Frank Report ran a 5-part series of posts regarding Nicole’s direct testimony and cross-examination.

Nicole began testifying in the afternoon session of the trial on June 6, 2019 – and she was on the stand for almost two full days of direct examination and another half-day of cross-examination.

I have not gone back and re-read the transcripts from all the time Nicole was on the witness stand but just skimming through them revealed lots of problematic testimony from the standpoint of Keith and his appeal.

Things like “My understanding now is that I was being groomed be part of his harem” – which was Nicole’s answer when, for some unknown reason, Marc Agnifilo asked her why she had so much contact with Keith shortly after she started taken NXIVM/ESP courses (Agnifilo tried to get her response stricken from the record but Judge Garaufis rejected the request).

And her testimony about asking for her collateral back and not receiving any of it is not going to help either.

The same goes for her testifying that she needed to get permission from Allison and Keith before she could cut her hair – which is only going to emphasize just how much control they had over her.

I may be proven wrong on this point but I think Bonjean made a big mistake in making Nicole such an important part of Keith’s appeal.

RE: Attempted Sex Trafficking of Jay and Sex Trafficking Conspiracy

With respect to Keith’s conviction on Count Seven: Attempted Sex Trafficking of Jay, Bonjean simply reasserts – once again without any references to the trial record – that the government did not offer any evidence to prove that Keith ever engaged in – or tried to engage in – any commercial sex activities with Jay.

She then uses that unsupported argument as the basis for her claim that Keith should also not have been convicted on Count Five: Sex Trafficking Conspiracy because the prosecution failed to prove that “…the moving force behind Mack’s (or any other first-line “master”) directions to seduce Defendant was for economic benefit, including so-called ‘acts of care’, which was [sic] a common theme of NXIVM”.

That’s about all Bonjean had to say about Jay and those two counts – which, in my opinion, is likely not going to sway the appellate court to overturn those convictions.

Had Bonjean not spent so much time – and so many pages – addressing Nicole-related matters, she could have put together a much more detailed argument to support her request that the appellate court overturn Keith’s convictions for the Attempted Sex Trafficking of Jay and for Sex Trafficking Conspiracy.


All in all, I’m not so sure that Bonjean should have started out by arguing that the prosecution had not provided enough evidence to support Keith’s convictions of any of the above-listed counts and predicate acts.

In part, that’s because those kinds of arguments are almost a concession that some evidence was introduced with regard to each of those charges – just not enough to warrant a conviction “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

Once again, that strategy will almost force the appellate judges to go back and look at every piece of evidence that was introduced by the prosecution with respect to each of those charges so that they can determine if, in fact, it was sufficient to warrant a conviction.

And given all the damaging evidence that was introduced in this case, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to do anything that would encourage the three judges to read all of it.


In the next part of this series, I’ll finish up looking at what other convictions Bonjean is seeking to overturn by arguing that the prosecution did not introduce enough evidence to support Keith’s conviction on the above-listed charges. After that, I’ll move on to the other “legal issues” she has included in her appellate brief.

As always, feel free to ask any questions you may have about anything I’ve written in this post — and/or to point out anything you think I’ve misstated…



About the author

K.R. Claviger


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  • K.R. Claviger-

    This series of articles are outstanding. I have actually read each article twice. I have questions, but am waiting till the end to ask them.

    Thanks so much!

  • About this, Claviger. You wrote:

    “Things like “My understanding now is that I was being groomed be part of his harem” – which was Nicole’s answer when, for some unknown reason, Marc Agnifilo asked her why she had so much contact with Keith shortly after she started taken NXIVM/ESP courses (Agnifilo tried to get her response stricken from the record but Judge Garaufis rejected the request).

    The prosecution’s use of deprogramming on their witnesses, which was revealed in court documents, is highly problematic and should be examined more closely.

    I wrote a post about this which includes a study of 154 ex members of minority religions & the shifts in attitudes on their experience after anticult ideology deprogramming.

    Did the government engage in brainwashing of their witnesses?

    Special bonus for readers of this post: an additional use of the term “Torquemadan” at no extra charge!


    • Alanzo, how do you feel about the fact that Frank has stated multiple times he aims to deprogram Nicki?

  • Interesting that Raniere went with a 3 employee law firm that once (failed) to defend Bill Crosby’s appeals. They have successes but most are based on police brutality cases that have plenty of witnesses or cases that relied on a single witness to convict (juries generally speaking are dumb as fuck, there a reason most cases on both sides highly rely on emotion, not facts). Crosby and Reniere’s cases do not fall in either of these types. Claviger’s analysis of their appeal shows this inherent weakness as I bet, without looking at any previous briefs from that law firm, that their approach to this case is identical to how they handled the single witness cases.

    It should be noted that each appeal case that was ultimately successful took years to work its way through. Also, most of their successful cases were focused was on getting money via civil suits. While based on a very surface check, it does appear his lawyer seems to be working out of her scope of expertise on this case. It should be interesting to keep up with how things go as this case ever so slowly works its way through the process.

  • In sitcom 1960, Fred MacMurray played the dad in the hit, My Three Sons, wherein a merry and gay male cast frolic and fumble through a half-hour show.
    Fred and his three sons plus Grandpa were a sentimental piece of popular
    all-American hogwash.

    This all brings to mind an even grander shitshow. Raniere, Hector and his 3 Daughters.

    Try that one on for sizeable clues, Good John. Uh, Madam Bonjean.

    Once long ago, passing a splendid restaurant with balconies facing the Kona coast of Captain Cook’s murder spot, I saw Fred MacMurray.

    He was with family or friends, relaxing and chowing down in paradise with a ready grin upon his face. I was dreaming about how fun it would be to afford a popsicle and was still kind of a baby and always remembered that glimpse of Fred MacMurray’s dining with pleasure. It was a harbinger as a likely sign of being all grown-up and having some mad money.

    And now look at Raniere doing 120. Bad haircuts. Flavorless macaroni. Plus he even has to make his own bed every a.m.

    Who knows what had happened to Hector. As for the three daughters? Hoo boy.

    We call that whistlin’ Dixie, trying to justify this entire mess.

    Oh well. A voice from the south of dreamy Florida and from the world of too many reruns. Seats in the balcony.

    • Shivani-

      Bonjean is an interesting woman. Quite a strong individual and seems like an okay mom. Plus she is unconventional.

      Take a look at this:

      There are so many interesting characters in the Nxivm story…

      I don’t personally approve of her “book cover”, but I do believe there is much “pith” within the pages.

      Take a look at her Instagram.

  • “…the government failed to put forth adequate evidence that Nicole engaged in the May 31, 2016 sex act (or any other sex act with the Defendant) as a result of coercion…”

    There seems to be a lot of this kind of assertion in Bonjean’s brief. It seems strange to me, since the question of “adequate evidence” was settled by the jury. The jury found the evidence adequate on all these charges. They’re the ones who weigh the evidence so who the hell cares what Raniere’s defense thinks?

    A lot of the arguments in Bonjean’s not so brief brief seem moot and pointless. These issues were raised and resolved at trial, as the transcripts will reveal.

    I hope Raniere doesn’t get his hopes up there in the federal penitentiary in Tucson. By which I mean, I hope he does so that he can be bitterly disappointed when those hopes are dashed. Then he can go down in a spiral of depression. Abandon All Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.

    • Yes. Allison and Nicki are branded with Keith’s initials.

      And they were knowingly branded with Keith’s initials. Most of the other women were deceived about the brand’s true nature and design.

      Allison and Nicki are recorded in conversations with Keith Raniere conspiring to keep both his initials in the brand and his position of leadership in DOS concealed.

      • I don’t know if they (Allison and Nicki) are crazy or sick.

        Or just really, really, really dumb.

  • It would be very tragic and comical for Keith Raniere to be released and Allison Mack to be incarcerated.

    Here in Brazil, the expression would be: “This guy literally fucked her”.

  • I love how Clav just mentions in passing (in a parenthetical comment no less) that the Wicked Witch of the Northeast is back doing personal counseling. Seriously, WTF is wrong with the NDNY U.S. Attorney’s Office? The EDNY has done its best to clean up the NXIVM shit pile you ignored for more than a decade and now you can’t even keep this crazy bitch from continuing her evil practices while she awaits sentencing? Maybe we can work out a trade where we give Canada the Northern District of New York territory for the Vancouver metropolitan area.

  • Rehabilitating from exposure to Bonjean’s good john dreck is likely to need more force than will be called upon, as any pinball tantrum of mine conjoins with the Bolero. Oh lordy.

  • Bonjean dissects law into stupid little slices, and it is too messed up now, from her lack of cutlery skills, to even be able to assemble a salad from this chopped mass of now indigestible gluck. Forget about a sandwich. This is garbage.

    Law is in service to the people. People are not ciphers or mindless robots who are to be enslaved by any conceptual body of what we decide to call “law.”

    So the one little task from out of this appeal sauce, thus GLUCK from yet another “Jennifer” – is to check out who and what is Bonjean. Decipher that.

    At least that is useful. Ego disorder in the Court. Tra la la la la. She used to be a music major.

    She came from Indiana with a dull knife and crashed right down hard one day and couldn’t get up (?) from however she has landed, so awkwardly, upon her
    hard-boned, hard-boning kneepads. Perhaps?

    This is rather “how now brown cow,” to let this happen to oneself. Opera singing might have been the better avocation. Crying out loud, you see.

    Theories are entertaining. Bone jean a bit. See what does and does not come up or go down. [Sic.]
    How barfy.

    Forgive me. There is a thunderstorm here in Florida. We are the body electric for awhile.

    Come off it, Boney. No bueno. Not a single boner in the pack.

    Evidently I had best shut up. But that never lasts.

    • “ Evidently I had best shut up. But that never lasts.”

      For the first time, Shivani, shockingly, I’ll have to agree with you that it sure doesn’t ever “last”(which is rather unfortunate 🙁☹️😣😖😫😩🥺😢😭)! What is equally as disturbing is neither does your ability to write anything coherent in your “commentary” like a regular adult that is not mentally arrested! Shivani, your writings sound like Charles Manson when he “articulated” things. He used to do this kind of incoherent shit like you all the time when he was alive and thinking he was a unique artistic genius for it! For somebody old enough to be a “grandma”, you should have a better brain and grammar than this! It’s very sad and scary that because of our fucked up education system, there are people out there your age who can barely articulate things! Whoever thinks this woman is “smart” and “articulate” is an idiot! Shivani is incredibly overrated in regards to taste, grammar, coherency, and any type of insightful train of thought that could be offered in regards to all of NXIVM (if you even have enough of an audacious stomach to call her mentally arrested incoherent ramblings a “thought” without throwing up 🤯🤢🤮😱😨😰🥵😳😤)! It blows my mind there are people on Frank Report that are naive enough to believe that she is one of the “smartest commentators on Frank Report”! Sometimes I seriously don’t understand how some of you people have a life other than clambering to figure out how to wipe your own ass without making a mess in your kitchens at the same time (if shockingly you can even know what and where your kitchen is in your own house)! 🤯 Once again, Shivani, SHAME ON YOU! 😡🤬🖕🏻😖😤

      • Hi Pious Bangkok-

        “….your ability to write anything coherent in your “commentary” like a regular adult that is not mentally arrested!” -Bangkok

        This is a case of a retard (you) mistaking a woman, who enjoys waxing poetically in her writing, as mentally challenged.

        I don’t envisage you will ever understand her writing. How could a complete DUNDERHEAD such as yourself, understand true artistry when he reads it. My dear, Bangkok, I don’t expect much from you, a cat can be trained to use a toilet, as where to [redacted], but I do EXPECT you to be a nice RETARD.

        I hope you are enjoying, your summer at sleep-away camp, snug in your bunk, receiving a good [redacted] reaming, from those frisky CITs.

        Good night you little shit! 😉

      • Bangkok [redacted] my nephew,

        You can’t just pick on Shivani, because you’re not a cisgender and unhappy about it.

        One day you’ll be able to afford gender reassignment…Until that day comes, you need to keep your chin up and piss sitting down.

      • Bangkok-

        I had written a long polemic/diatribe to you, but sadly the Frank Report is now part of corporate-cancel-culture. Frank is now a heterosexual Tim Cook or a Christian
        Mark Zuckerberg.

        This is what I said [redacted]



        Frank most likely censored me again.

        Know this [redacted]

        I bet Frank once again redacted me [redacted]

        Frank you [redacted] infernal bastard!

      • I read for a major publishing house—its a side hustle, but a powerful one— as it’s up to us minions to create the slush pile of broken literary dreams that get swept into the furnace at close of day—unless, of course said work is accompanied by an SAE.. Its a harsh world— publishing, but, there’s harsh and harsh, right?

        This is just to say— on a quick comparison of the two pieces of prose— Shivani’s sh*t would be sent straight to the Ed. after a few sentences…”take a look” the note would say—gave me gb’s{goose-bumps]

        —whereas, Anon, your sh*t?—You can find the level of your report by clicking on the link: ‘Tube Strike’

        This is not my house, btw, we don’t offer a paid reading service and if we did— it would be a lot less kind.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premieres on May 22, 2022.

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Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083