The Case for Forgiveness – Let the Healing Begin!

by Paul Serran

Now that the hour of reckoning has come to Allison Mack, we find that the women whom she and Raniere victimized have been talking to the press, asking for stiff sentences to be handed to her.

While that is hardly surprising, it seems that these women are losing a golden opportunity to bring about some healing, and instead are piling on with the hatred and vengeance feelings that will help no one in the long run.

Foremost English poet of the early 18th century,  Alexander Pope, one of the most quoted authors in western culture, reminds us that “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”

This divinity seems to be lacking from the media appearances by India Oxenberg, Jessica Joan (Jay) and others.

When she plead guilty, Mack “acknowledged the wrongs and trauma inflicted on Jane Does 5 and 8 (Nicole and Jay) which resulted from her involvement with Raniere”.

The defense memo states with appropriate clarity: “Ms. Mack acknowledges that she is responsible for engaging in serious criminal conduct.”

“Ms. Mack acknowledges that she is responsible for engaging in serious criminal conduct.”

“Now that the blinders of the Nxivm cult have been removed,” defense argues, “Ms. Mack recognizes that her actions were abhorrent.”

When confronted with a clear admission of guilt of this order, the appropriate response is hardly to add fuel to the bonfire of hatred that has been built around what Edgar Bronfman, Jr. called ‘a cult’, and Judge Nicolas Garaufis defined as ‘a pyramid scheme’.

These victimized women forgot how to ‘Hate the sin, [but] love the sinner’. They are choosing the quick satisfaction of seeing a perceived enemy burn, over the long lasting benefit of doing the right thing – the healing thing – for them and for society.

It is also disturbing that both India and Jay have, in their own way, become ‘professional victims’, setting up some sort of career as ‘personalities’ with this background.

They would be in a perfect position to bring about the healing by a display of inner force. Yes, because “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong”, in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, who employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign for India’s independence from British rule.

Even when taking solely into consideration the question of self interest, showing forgiveness now would be the best play in the long run. Irish poet and playwright, very well remembered for his epigrams and plays, Oscar Wilde suggested “Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.”

India Oxenberg: saying no to Raniere’s advances meant consequences and punishment from Allison Mack.

India Oxenberg’s take on her former friend Allison Mack’s sentencing is relevant, for Mack was India’s master in DOS – and quite a strict one, too. In her ‘Victim Impact Statement’ at the Raniere sentencing, India wrote: “I felt obligated to engage with you [Keith] because of the blackmail, and saying no to your advances meant consequences and punishment from Allison Mack.”

English poet, painter, and printmaker, considered by some to be ‘far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced’, William Blake knew that “It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.” And that seems to be at play, here.

India’s take on the measure of the responsibilities is spot-on. “Even though Allison is going to be sentenced and she has done and committed crimes, I don’t see her in exactly the same way as I see Keith. I see Keith as ultimately responsible for everything.”

“And so there’s a lot of mixed feelings of what she ‘deserves’,” India told the press, “and I do that in air quotes because that is not my place to pass that judgment.”

However, in her next comment, India seems to forget Mack’s behavior post-plea, when she says: “I just think that if she hasn’t been able to have any kind of recognition of the wrongdoings, then she is an unsafe person, period.”

Doubling down on her unwillingness to acknowledge Mack’s mea culpa, she adds: “If you can’t see that you’ve hurt people, then you can’t really be in society, you can’t play in the playground, in simplest terms.”

+++

The leader in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr., famously said that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” And it’s about time someone starts the loving, healing trend.

Jessica Joan: “It was a very serious level of betrayal because I trusted Allison. We built a friendship.”

Model and actress Jessica Joan, a DOS member who fled the cult before her branding ceremony, justifiably has strong feelings about Mack’s sentencing. She says Allison Mack is a victimizer and must be held accountable for her role in DOS.

Joan escaped the group when Allison Mack gave her a ‘special assignment’: seduce Keith Raniere. “It was horrifying in that moment. It was a very serious level of betrayal because I trusted Allison. We built a friendship.”

Joan hopes that justice is served to Allison Mack. But until her sentencing date, ‘it feels like being in limbo’. “I’m definitely looking forward to that day happening and having another door of this closing and really being able to put it behind me.”

The way to put the pain and the trauma behind is by forgiveness, not by the cheap satisfaction of watching the wrongdoer burn. In the wake of the release of her book “The Untouchable Jessica Joan”, she will be in the media reliving these painful events on a daily basis. It seems that she’d be the prime beneficiary of the cleansing that forgiveness can bring.

***

We haven’t heard from Nicole, who testified at the trial of Raniere.  Whether she will make a public statement or appear in person or have her statement read remains to be seen.

In her trial testimony Nicole described Mack as having manipulated her into a sexual relationship with Raniere. The jury found this incident to be sex trafficking – the most serious charge sustained against Raniere.

The fact that so far Nicole has not piled on the attacks on Allison Mack, pre-sentencing, may be significant. Maybe she can the greatest person in all that, and bring forth the healing. Let it begin!

“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”
― Abraham Lincoln

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Finally, forgiveness shows greater strength.

I have never spoken of revenge, I have always spoken of strength.
Do we dream of revenging ourselves on this drop of sea-spray?
But it is a great thing to a mosquito!
Swami Vivekananda

About the author

Paul Serran

47 Comments

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  • Healing from trauma is a long and complicated process. There are no short cuts or neatly defined timetables in the healing process. Healing cannot be rushed. Healing ebbs and flows. Healing is an endurance experience, not a sprint.

    The eventual hope is that a person can come to a point of ‘post traumatic growth’. At that point, exploding the concepts and layers of forgiveness is possible. Any discussion of forgiveness before a survivor gets to a place of post traumatic growth is premature and damaging.

  • “One victim spoke about being raped and being abused, and said that Mack and Raniere were the most evil monsters she ever met. Called her ‘a demon of a woman’, ‘a predator stalking her prey’, and ‘a monster cut from the same cloth as Raniere’. She also called Mack ‘an evil sociopath’, and asked the judge to give her a stiff prison sentence.”

    That’s a summary of Allison Mack — the woman everyone feels bad for….

  • If you took a poll, I would bet most women would say “convict!!”

    Most men, not all, see the damsel in distress.

    I see the damsel. My wife says, “How stupid can someone be to fall for this?!!”

    And so it goes, as Vonnegut would say.

    • Really? Even if it was your own daughter who was sexually exploited and assaulted at Allison and Keith’s hands (and penis) Would not your daughter then be the real “damsel in distress”?

      Or what if it was your son? At 19 he began his cult indoctrination. A male TV star befriends your son and gets him to join a secret fraternity. The TV star becomes your son’s mentor then slave master. Eventually, your son gets a brand that he does not know are the cult leader’s initials burned into the flesh by his penis.

      And then like India became a sex slave for Raniere? Your son is held in submission through damaging blackmail. Sexually explicit photos and videos your son did not know were for the cult leader’s gratification. Confessions and lies that could send your family into legal peril. That’s cool with you?

      • Love Vonnegut! My favs are Cats Cradle and Sirens of Titan. But we can never forget the bombing of Dresden.

        If you are so inclined, read Hermann Hesse; serious, but worth it.

  • If all were to be forgiven and Allison was set free, it would not be long before she joined another cult.

    She is years away from solving her Dependency Issues,

    So yeah, let the healing begin.

  • I have to say this article reads like a Nxivm member. All the references to ego terms that are about showing how great you are, like a person being strong and weak. They also mention how victims are weak, this frightening lack of empathy that has been put into their mind is quite disturbing.

    For me, I think if you can treat Mack as if she was a man instead of a woman, you can get a fairer judgement in your head. If a man did all these things, a life sentence would probably be easy to commit to.

    • The writer of the article apparently has been an apologist for the whole Nxivm cult in the past.

      • That’s patently false, and I dare you to show any proof of this. I am an honest writer, the terror of cults and sex predators alike. You hide behind an IP and lie about me.

        • Thank you. It means a lot. I usually do not interact with haters, but this one has gone too far in the lying department. I know I had a point when I see Judge Garaufis giving Mack HALF Bronfman’s sentence, and not DOUBLE the 6,7 years ‘Legatus’ got.

          • Paul,

            I will always remember, Allison Mack’s first hearing, when the judge Garaufis, asked Allison if he had seen her in the cafeteria before the hearing.

            At the time, I thought, “he has soft spot for her.”

            I don’t believe it’s a sexual thing — I think it’s like a parental type of thing. She seems sweet and like the girl next door.

  • I think your sentiments are correct; but relived trauma is a complicated thing and the victims are entitled to be heard to whatever audience they choose.

    I think the timescales involved are not enough for many of the victims to have processed their trauma and it’s only natural for these expressions.

    But Paul, you do draw upon some beautiful literature, and I do agree, in the long-run you are correct. I must be transparent, although I’m not permitted to be totally transparent at this time; on Sunday I was a victim of some quite obvious Fair-Game practices by a different “Group” and I am drawing on literature to avoid the void of unstructured anger.

    Thank you for the quotes; they are helpful.

    • Thanks for the reply. My point really was that she is vulnerable to succumbing to what she succumbed to. As are we all. Change takes time. I hope she’s got somebody watching out for her.

  • If you demand so much forgiveness and leniency for every criminal and crime, especially from the victims and judges, it will only be used to their own advantage by every criminal in their calculation to plan and commit crimes. You take the word of every convicted criminal. You stand in the way of any true form of justice.

  • To all the those defending Allison; none of you faced what her victims faced.

    None of you had to:

    1.Copulate with Kieth and take his penis inside of you, until he climaxed.

    2. None of you had to allow Kieth Raniere to perform oral sex on you.

    3. None of you had to give Raniere a
    blowjob until he ejaculated in your mouth.

    Please let that all sink in. If you still defend her, you’re more [redacted] up than she is.
    Go get yourself a shrink!

    ….And for all the men-out-there, simply imagine Raniere’s dick in your mouth and anus. Still want to forgive her?

    • Allison’s victims had to, do all the above, or risk their collateral being released.

      The same collateral Allison gathered to pressure her slaves into sexual relations with Keith Raniere.

    • If you believe I am being crass and disgusting in my previous comment…

      ….Just remember that everything I said is the truth, unvarnished and not sugarcoated.

      There were multiple horrid crimes committed on women. You cannot simple wash away the dirt and ugliness.

    • Well, apparently it was something she wanted to do because she did it repeatedly even before DOS and everything that went with it.

    • Well, I also wouldn’t want Tom Brady’s penis inside me, but I bet I don’t speak for women!

  • Allison Mack is as guilty/innocent as India Oxenberg is. Didn’t India have slaves? Didn’t she stop speaking to her family for years? Didn’t she take orders from Renier and starved? I find it very hypocritical of her to make those statements.

    If India deserved compassion then so does Allison.

    • I suspect many ex-NXIVM members seeking Mack blood have taken the route of India – it’s all other’s fault. Others being Keith, Allison, and others. They were just “innocent” victims who had no choice at any point and were “forced” to take all the actions they took. It’s easier than admitting they themselves committed not great behavior and made a series of poor choices over the course of years. Mack in jail will make them feel justified in the rewriting of their own history and quiet that tiny voice in the back of their heads reminding them that they did have a shameful part in things. Laying blame elsewhere is another constant of human nature.

      • Thanks for your comment. Your observation about “human nature” is correct. Many people don’t look inside at their own culpability; they blame others and seek solace in seeing others being punished to relieve their own guilt about their misdeeds.

        The point is twofold. We are all blind to ourselves and yet, we are all accountable to see the truth before it hits us over the head and harms us.

        There are no innocents in this situation; and being a “professional victim” is not an answer.

  • I hate to spoil such a great article with humor, but I must. I believe it owes tribute to The Far Side.

    “To err is human. To moo, bovine.”

    • I like the joke. A little levity is much welcome, to go along with so many people hating us for writing and speaking our minds.

  • Mr. Serran:
    I have visited Abe Lincoln’s tomb in Springfield Illinois.
    Lincoln ended slavery and was paid back by being murdered by a supporter of slavery.
    And Allison Mack was so twisted she supported the enslavement of her fellow women.

  • Wow.

    What a great piece.

    Way to go, Paul. This took social courage that few people have in this highly tribal ‘cults vs anticults’ arena.

    So I’ll add to yours with mine:.

    ” The strength of fields. Lord, let me shake
    With purpose. Wild hope can always spring
    From tended strength. Everything is in that.
    That and nothing but kindness. More kindness, dear Lord
    Of the renewing green. That is where it all has to start:
    With the simplest things. More kindness will do nothing less
    Than save every sleeping one
    And night-walking one

    Of us.
    My life belongs to the world. I will do what I can.”

    – James Dickey, ‘The Strength of Fields’

    • I loved the quote. Thank you so much for the kind comment. We must never be afraid to say our truth.

    • Have you ever been raped? Sexually assaulted? Sexually exploited?

      While you.make some lovely quote-y general points about forgiveness…

      A random man in 2021 publicly chastising women that they do not know about how he wants them to handle their trauma and process their feelings isn’t the best look.

      • @Paul June 29, 2021 at 9:23 pm – Seems like you don’t actually have an argument. You are just annoyed and argument less. You be better off seeing a shrink rather than unloading your issues online.

  • Interesting article, Paul.

    I suppose it’s possible that India and Jessica don’t forgive Alison, but it might be equally possible that they do.

    As it was said, “Hate the sin, love the sinner”.

    Just because they forgive her doesn’t mean they need to speak well of their experience being blackmailed and sex trafficked.

    Forgiveness happens on the inside, not the outside.

  • Also the following quote of Socrates worth being read in the current context: “Even if your enemies have wronged you, you still have to do the right thing”.

  • Mr. Serran
    Perhaps if you were branded near your crotch with a hot iron and were blackmailed into having sex against your will, you would have a different opinion of Allison Mack and her misdeeds.

    • I find it arrogant and pompous that anyone feels the need and right to determine what anyone else’s timeline for healing is.

      What if their standing up and saying exactly what they are saying is exactly the medicine they need right now to find their own, unique to them, healing?

      These kinds of sentiments are those used on black people for centuries to quell their fire, their outrage for change and justice often using that same isolated MLK quote.

      Let them find their way, exactly as they are finding it- and perhaps their voices are holding a torch for someone else’s buried voice to see for the first time.

      Advocates for justice take a lot of heat, but there they are, having been burned and still right there on the front lines.

      • Right, Katie?

        Thanks, dude.

        By any chance, oh wise sir, do you have a cult or secret sorority where less evolved women can be shamed more in this manner until they act and think exactly how YOU want them?

        I bet this writer passes women on the street and demands, “smile”.

        Because, you know, women were put on this earth, to do Paul’s bidding.

      • So agree Katie. people who big up themselves as ‘Writers’ [not all writers do} have a tendency to co-opt, usurp, talk loudly over the voices they feel they are better able to represent. [steal the authenticity from only to claim a moral high ground?] Thankfully, due to the www and sites like this the days of having one’s opinion skewed by arrogant proscribers, is well and truly over. I personally prefer this kind of intelligence to come from the horse’s mouth, a freedom of expression to be genuinely informed by and grateful for.

        I still believe a hefty community service type sentence would be appropriate for the crimes and misdemeanors of Alison Mack.

        • Ya know, the primary whistleblower for Larry Nassar who spent decades sexually assaulting young gymnasts, Rachel Denhollander, took a lot of heat when she told the truth of her abuse. She talks about losing friends, family, gymnastics community, even her Church over these kinds of diminishing beliefs for her trauma. She persevered and never wavered on the truth of what she endured. Finally, when thousands of child porn images were found on his computers, these victims were believed. Some even recanted their stories after the kinds of pressures to “let it go”, “it didn’t really happen”, “find forgiveness”, etc. These judgments and pressuring tactics are intense for victims of trauma to endure and stand up to. Denhollander was referred to in the sentencing hearing as a “Five Star General” by the Judge who commended her holding steadfast to the truth for her and all she represented. She then went on to become a lawyer and helps others who have suffered similarly. And I suppose there are people, like the original author of this post, who would define her as identifying as a “victim”, while she’s out there doing the work to empower herself as well as anyone else she represents. It’s an insult-to-injury toxic positivity position, and, in my opinion, not only unnecessary, but harmful.

About Frank Parlato

Frank Parlato Investigates

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 featured prominently on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and acted as lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” 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 has 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, which was ironic since many credit Parlato as being one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

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