At the sentencing hearing of Allison Mack, after the prosecution spoke, her attorney, Sean Buckley stood and made an earnest appeal for leniency. He and his colleagues who represented Mack worked hard since her arrest to defend her and when she chose to take a plea deal, they got the big charge — sex trafficking dropped.
Back then and many times since, I have predicted Mack would get a three-year sentence, and I was right – and the work that Buckley and William McGovern did to persuade the judge that she deserved leniency is the main reason Mack did get leniency.
Here is what Buckley said to the judge and keep in mind that nobody knew what was going to happen. Mack faced up to 40 years. The sentencing guidelines were between 14-17.5 years.
They asked for probation and she got three years – a very good outcome considering how much more it might have been.
Thank you, Your Honor. May it please the Court, I have no doubt that Your Honor has read through the sentencing submission that we and Ms. Mack put together for the benefit of this Court and for purposes of this proceeding.
So, I am going to try my best not to belabor any of those points or repeat those points, and instead, I just want to use this opportunity to highlight some of the more significant aspects that we set forth in that submission which was directed at giving both the history and characteristics of Ms. Mack, as well as marching through each of the 3553(a) factors that Your Honor has to consider in imposing sentence here.
Now, to be clear, Ms. Mack fully accepts responsibility here. To be sure, nothing that she has said changes anything about the abhorrent conduct that she engaged in, about the harm that she caused the victims, the harm that she caused innocent individuals who put their trust in her.
Both a Predator and a Victim
Nothing that she says excuses that and we’re not asking the Court to excuse that. But as you’ve heard from some of the victims here, as you’ve heard in some of the victim letters that have been submitted to the Court, this is a unique situation where Ms. Mack stands before this Court not only as a participant in Keith Raniere’s abhorrent behavior but also in many respects as a victim of it. And, again, we don’t say that to the Court to ask you to excuse her conduct but we do think that that relationship, the abusive relationship that she had with Raniere is something that the Court can and should consider in imposing sentence.
As the Court is aware and indicated earlier, Ms. Mack has apologized both publicly and privately to the individuals that she believes have been harmed by her behavior. We have heard that some of those individuals are not satisfied with the apologies that she has provided. We understand that completely. Ms. Mack doesn’t offer these apologies expecting them to be a panacea that is going to make everything go away and make everything better, rather she has reached out to these people to express her remorse and her regret for the harm that she has caused them, for the harm that she caused them after they placed their trust in her in an effort to try to give them a step towards their own recovery.
Apologizing Is Not Enough
She recognizes that the apology will not solve all.
We’ve also heard that a number of individuals have stated publicly that Ms. Mack’s public apology did not go far enough.
As the Court is aware, Ms. Mack apologized privately to a number of individuals and Ms. Mack stands ready, to the extent other people believe that her apology was not specific enough or did not go far enough, she is prepared to engage with them and apologize directly to them.
Your Honor, I have been representing Ms. Mack since shortly before her arrest in this case, that’s been a number of years. I’ve gotten to know Ms. Mack and I represent to Your Honor that I believe that the remorse and regret that she has expressed in both the public apologies, the apology she is about to give here in court, as well as the private apologies are sincere and I believe that Ms. Mack sincerely wants to try to right the wrongs in whatever way she can and continue along a path to rehabilitation.
Now, I just want to talk briefly about her path to rehabilitation, Your Honor. As I said, you know Ms. Mack while also a participant in the crimes, in the crimes to which she pled guilty before Your Honor, the crimes that you’ve heard described before you both at trial and here in this courtroom today, she pled guilty to them to accept full responsibility but the Court in imposing sentence and in constructing the sentence that it intends to impose should take into account the unique set of conditions that brought her here, that brought her where she was when she was first arrested in April 2018, and that brought her here to this courtroom today.
Mack’s Affirmative Steps
The fact that she was a victim of Raniere’s psychological and physical abuse we do think is relevant but we don’t think that explains all and that’s why so much of what we have presented to Your Honor has been focused on affirmative steps that Ms. Mack has taken. It has focused on the fact that since her arrest and since her decision to break ranks from Raniere and his co-conspirators, since her decision to cooperate with the AUSAs, Ms. Mack has actively tried to repair the harm that she has done to herself and to others.
Mack Seeing Psychologist
She has, in the first instance, tried to figure out the flawed thinking that led her down the path to commit herself to Raniere and to support Raniere in the commission of crimes, and to bring others under his sway. She has done that through an intensive course of psychological therapy which she commenced from the moment she decided that it was time to break ranks.
She continues that psychological therapy to this day and that was one of the letters that we presented to Your Honor outlining from the doctor’s perspective where she was when she first came in and where she is now and the strides that she has made.
Home Arrest With Her Parents
You’ve also heard, Your Honor, about her education, how while out on house arrest, the Court and the AUSAs’ insistence that if she be released on bail, it would be home incarceration but not just home incarceration in Brooklyn where she was residing at the time but rather back at her childhood home where she would reside with her parents under their supervision.
You’ve heard how she has used that time productively, how she has tried to take steps to turn her path completely from the path that she had been on at the time of her arrest, how she has tried to educate herself and learn about psychology and other important academic pursuits that will help ensure that she never does what she had done before.
That home incarceration had the additional benefit, Your Honor, of reuniting her with her family and I just want to pause for a second, with the Court’s permission, and identify for Your Honor that numerous [members] of her family are here: her mother, her brother, extended family, friends, loved ones.
These are individuals who have submitted many of the letters that the Court has reviewed. They’ve traveled here to New York to express their support and I think that’s telling because back in April 2018, no one would have expected this.
Back in April 2018, Ms. Mack had shied away from her family. She had all but renounced her family in order to dedicate herself entirely to the pursuits of Raniere and NXIVM and DOS. But her family is here, they have supported her, they have helped her heal, they have helped her rehabilitate and they have helped her to become the woman that sits here before you today which is a woman who has a firm and vast support network, a woman who is not going to be subject to the depredations of a manipulator like Raniere, a woman who has people who will make sure that she continues on this path, this path of education and reform.
So, Your Honor, with that, I would just say that in considering her punishment, we would ask that you take into account Ms. Mack as a whole, Ms. Mack as she was at the time that she committed these crimes but also the Ms. Mack that has taken the past three years to try to demonstrate to the Court, to the victims, to her family and her friends that she can and will be a better person when this is all behind her.
Asks Judge to Allow Mack to Keep on the Path
So, we would ask that the Court allow Ms. Mack the opportunity to continue along this path of rehabilitation. We ask that you take into account that because of what she had chosen to do when she made the decision to align with NXIVM and Raniere and then DOS, she literally lost everything. She lost her friends, she lost her family, she lost her loved ones, she lost her career. We would ask you to take that into account, and the fact that she continues on this path. And taking those factors into account, impose a non-incarceratory sentence or permit her to continue under home confinement so that she can continue her therapy and continue her studies and continue to reunite and strengthen and re-strengthen the bonds that she had lost with her family.
Thank you, Your Honor.