At Clare Bronfman’s sentencing hearing on September 30, 2020, she apparently displeased Judge Nicholas Garaufis after she attempted to apologize to one of the women who she allegedly harmed, Jane Doe 12.
Jane Doe 12 is a Mexican woman, who joined NXIVM in Monterrey. Her name is Ana-Gaby. Her last name will be withheld. She was brought into the US under one set of pretenses – and Clare failed, she admitted, to pay her what she promised to pay.
For the first time, we will be publishing the judge’s admonition of Bronfman.
It is quite possible that Clare’s looking at Ana-Gaby caused the heiress to get additional prison time.
We also learn that despite her reputed cheapness, Clare Bronfman was earning $25-30 million per year from her investments – which probably exceeded what she invested each year into Keith Raniere.
Let us go to the courtroom where Bronfman had her turn to speak.
Whoever wrote this speech failed to advise Clare – or if Clare wrote it herself, she failed to realize – that she should have begun with an apology and showed contriteness for her actions.
For she began, sounding immodest:
Clare: Your Honor, I’m immensely grateful and privileged because all over the world today people are praying for me because they know my goodness. I’m saying this because, one, I’m grateful that they’re praying for me and, two, because I hope you will see a glimmer of what they see in me.”
As a spoiler, we now know that the judge did not see that same glimmer that people all over the world, deep in prayer, saw.
Regardless of its intended purpose, the opening was ill-advised. I suspect that Clare was not trying to be immodest but actually humble and expressed it poorly. She was “grateful” and “privileged” because “all over the world today” people “know my goodness” and are praying that the judge is good to her.
When you say people “all over the world”, it implies there are hordes of people spanning the planet. Yet she had only 67 letters of support, almost all of them from people who were financially dependent on her.
To be more accurate, what she really meant was, “Your Honor, I feel immensely grateful and privileged because there are some people, scattered across the world, who today are praying for me because they believe I have good. I’m saying this because I hope you will see just a glimmer of the goodness that they see in me.”
Clare went on:
It doesn’t mean I haven’t made mistakes, because I have made mistakes. I’m standing here before you today because of my mistakes and my wrongful choices, and for that I am deeply sorry.
I would also like to apologize to my friend who came here today who is sitting in the room [Ana-Gaby/Jane Doe 12]. I am truly sorry for all of your hardship and any pain that I caused you and I truly hope you can forgive me and that you can live a very happy life. Sorry.
Your Honor, lastly, I’m sorry for the time and the resources that I have taken from this court and from yourself for my actions. Thank you.
That was it – and the judge immediately began discussing what he used to calculate the sentence he was about to hand her.
He remarked how Raniere “maintained a rotating group of15 to 20 female NXIVM members with whom he maintained sexual relationships. These women were not permitted to have sexual relationships with anyone but Raniere or to discuss with others their relationship with Raniere.”
Bronfman was one of those women by the way.
From at least 2009 to 2018, Ms. Bronfman served on NXIVM’s executive board.
Then in a lengthy explanation, he discussed DOS, something Bronfman was not accused of being a member of.
He said “In 2015, Raniere created a secret society called DOS, D-O-S, or The VOW. As the PSR explains, quote, ‘DOS was comprised of all female masters who were NXIVM members who recruited and commanded groups of all female slaves. In identifying prospective slaves, masters often targeted women who were experiencing difficulties in their lives, including dissatisfaction with the pace of their advancement in NXIVM. Each DOS slave was expected to recruit slaves of her own, who in turn owed service not only to their masters but also to masters above them in the DOS pyramid.
“Raniere alone formed the top of the pyramid as the highest master. Other than Raniere, all participants in DOS were women. Raniere’s status as head of the pyramid was concealed from all newly recruited slaves, other than those directly under Raniere. DOS masters persuaded slaves to join DOS by falsely describing it as a secret women’s empowerment group and that the goal of DOS was to eradicate weaknesses in its members. Prospective slaves were required to provide collateral to prevent them from leaving the group or disclosing its existence to others. Collateral included sexually explicit photographs and videos of themselves, rights to financial assets, and videos or letters of true or untrue confessions that would be damaging to the prospective slave’s family members and friends. After joining DOS, slaves were required to provide additional collateral, including sexually explicit photographs and to pay tribute to their masters, including by performing tasks that would otherwise be compensable.”
In a previous filing, Bronfman objected to a discussion of DOS as per her sentence, since it “creates a false impression that the defendant was aware of or even a participant of DOS.”
The judge said “To be crystal-clear, Ms. Bronfman was not convicted of any of those [DOS] crimes, Ms. Bronfman was not convicted of participating in any racketeering activity, and there were many aspects of Mr. Raniere’s crimes in which Ms. Bronfman very well may have not have been familiar.”
Bronfman previously filed a memorandum disputing the proposition that she was even aware of DOS or any sex trafficking that Raniere engaged in or that she knowingly funded DOS or sex trafficking activity.
The judge said, “I agree with Ms. Bronfman that the available evidence does not establish that she was aware of DOS prior to June 2017 [when the Frank Report first published word of its existence] or that she directly or knowingly funded DOS or other sex trafficking activities. However…Ms. Bronfman’s crimes were not committed in a vacuum, they were committed in connection with a role in NXIVM and a close relationship with Raniere, and I believe it would be inappropriate for me to consider them divorced from that context.”
The judge then added something frightening and completely counterintuitive to what one would think is justice – about plea bargains at the federal level.
He said, “in determining sentence, I am not bound by rules of evidence that would pertain to at a trial and I am not limited to considering admissible evidence in determining an appropriate sentence. Particularly relevant here, the Second Circuit has repeatedly held that a sentencing court is entitled to rely on information gleaned from a trial in which the person to be sentenced was neither a defendant nor represented by counsel.”
That says it all. No plea deal means anything since whatever charges a defendant pleads guilty to is not what the judge needs to exclusively consider when he sentences her.
The Second Circuit decided that anything said about her at someone else’s trial, a trial which she is neither present for, or can cross-examine witnesses who speak against her, the judge may use to sentence her.
This is why Bronfman’s plea deal was worthless. She or her attorneys did not understand that a federal plea deal is meaningless.
The judge did get to her actual crimes and added some to her sentencing though they were never proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Judge said, “Ms. Bronfman helped Jane Doe 12 to obtain a visa by representing that she would make $3600 per month as a, quote, ‘management consultant,’ end quote, for a NXIVM-affiliated fitness company Exo/Eso, E-x-o-/-E-s-o.
“Instead, Jane Doe was barely compensated for her work. Her e-mail correspondence with Ms. Bronfman shows that she repeatedly made Ms. Bronfman aware that Ms. Bronfman’s failure to deliver on the terms of the employment agreement had left her in dire financial straits. In November 2015, for example, Jane Doe 12 e-mailed Ms. Bronfman that, quote, ‘with no money involved,’ end quote, she was, quote — it was, quote, ‘very difficult to support herself and to keep pace with no income and with the uncertainty of not knowing how I will live each day.’ End quote.
“The following month, in December 2015, Jane Doe 12 e-mailed Ms. Bronfman that because Exo/Eso was not paying her the contractually specified wage she was owed, she needed to find another source of income, quote, ‘to support myself here.’
“Jane Doe 12’s victim impact statement makes clear that she felt tremendous pressure from Ms. Bronfman, who led her to believe that she did not deserve the salary provided for her in her employment letter because any business difficulties that Exo/Eso endured were attributable to Jane Doe’s, quote, ‘personal issues.’ End quote.
“According to Jane Doe 12’s statement, Ms. Bronfman, despite her financial needs and earlier commitments to the contrary, explained that she, quote, ‘couldn’t pay her,’ end quote, because she had failed to enroll enough participants in Exo/Eso to generate sufficient revenue.
“Ms. Bronfman also used Jane Doe’s immigration status as a means of pressuring her to continue working without compensation. When Jane Doe 12 e-mailed Ms. Bronfman to ask if she could look for another job, Ms. Bronfman replied that it, quote, ‘would impact the work agreement,’ end quote, and cause possible visa issues. Those visa issues just popped up whenever it was inconvenient for Ms. Bronfman to fulfill her obligations, and that is a sword to force people to do things and not get paid to do them. This is the same Ms. Bronfman who, according to paragraph 183 of the presentence report, had gross taxable income in the range of $26 million to over $30 million a year in the last four years that are reported.
“Several months later, Ms. Bronfman e-mailed Jane Doe 12 that in order to, quote, ‘stay here,’ end quote, she needed to address, quote, ‘one fundamental question yet to be answered, what are you going to do to earn your visa?’ End quote.
“Importantly, none of these facts are disputed. Ms. Bronfman does not contend that she provided Jane Doe 12 with adequate or consistent compensation or honor the terms of the employment agreement, rather she merely suggests that she was surprised to learn that Jane Doe 12 was unhappy with the circumstances of her employment and she thought their relationship was, quote, ‘caring,’ end quote, and a, quote, ‘friendship,’ end quote. But her characterization is belied by Jane Doe 12’s victim impact statement and by the e-mail correspondence between Ms. Bronfman and Jane Doe 12.
“In short, I find by a preponderance of the evidence that Ms. Bronfman refused to honor the terms of Jane Doe 12’s employment agreement, demanded work from Jane Doe 12 without compensation, and emotionally manipulated Jane Doe 12 into believing that her own personal failures and job performance, not Ms. Bronfman’s refusal to pay her, were the cause of her precarious financial situation.
“I think that part of Ms. Bronfman’s statement was directed this afternoon at Jane Doe 12, and it would appear to me that Jane Doe 12 was affected by that. I saw it on her face today.”
While the judge was speaking, Bronfman seems to have turned to look at Ana-Gaby in the courtroom.
The judge was angered.
He said, “At this very moment in this very courtroom, Ms. Bronfman is doing again what she did then. This judge is not blind, Ms. Bronfman. I saw what you just did and I’m speechless.”
Silence for a moment.
“And all of this emotional and financial pressure came with severe cost to the victim, a cost greater than the sum of its parts. Jane Doe 12 was eventually recruited into DOS, Raniere’s secret society in which she was pressured into giving up, quote, ‘collateral,’ end quote, and becoming a, quote, ‘slave,’ end quote. I am not suggesting that Ms. Bronfman had a direct role in Jane Doe 12’s recruitment into DOS or even if she was aware of it. The evidence before me does not support such a proposition. But I do find that the kind of pressure and mistreatment that Jane Doe 12 was subjected to by Ms. Bronfman put her in a very vulnerable state, the kind of state that could make a person more susceptible to be recruited into an organization like DOS.
“Moreover, the evidence suggests that this kind of conduct was part of a pattern….”
In short, that was the beginning of the end of Bronfman getting a sentence anywhere near the sentencing guidelines of 21-27 months. Instead, the judge handed her a stiff 81-month sentence and had her immediately remanded into custody and led away in handcuffs.