This is Part 3 of the series regarding the sentencing memorandum that was filed on Friday afternoon by Lauren Salzman’s attorneys.
Lauren’s Involvement in ESP/NXIVM and Keith Raniere.
From 1998 until her indictment in 2018, Lauren was involved with and employed by ESP, later known as NXIVM. To be clear, Lauren was involved with ESP/NXIVM for the majority of her adult life—from age 21 to the time of her Indictment at age 42.
Upon the conclusion of the first six-week session in 1998, Lauren became a coach, and she soon began teaching classes and intensives. Lauren quickly became the Director of Education for ESP/NXIVM and later also served as the head of the division of ethics within ESP/NXIVM called the “stripe path.”
Her job responsibilities included helping to open training centers, teaching intensives at various training centers throughout North America, and training ESP/NVIXM staff and coaches. Early in her involvement with ESP, Raniere took a vested interest in Lauren. After Lauren moved home with her mother in 1998, Lauren had few friends and spent a lot of time alone. Raniere was well aware that Lauren felt somewhat isolated and alone during this post-college time; and he would regularly call Lauren to check-in on her and would frequently ask Lauren to go on walks with him.
During these interactions, Lauren began to confide in Raniere regarding the struggles that she was having with her family and as well as other events happening in her life. It was these early interactions starting in 1998 that served as the catalyst for the beginning of Lauren’s romantic and sexual relationship with Raniere, which began on April 1, 2001.
[A wholly appropriate date.]
This allowed Raniere to begin grooming Lauren for not only his own prurient sexual interest, but also for what would eventually become Lauren’s blind, steadfast and unwavering commitment to Raniere. At the time that this sexual relationship began, Raniere was 16 years her senior: Lauren was only 24 years old while Raniere was 40 years old.
Raniere and Lauren’s relationship lasted from 2001 until 2018. Lauren’s sister, Michelle, believes that during Lauren’s relationship with Raniere, Lauren “was very badly taken advantage of by a cruel man who wanted to control all aspects of her life. He formed a relationship with her straight after she graduated from college as a highly impressionable young girl.” See Michelle Salzman Letter. (Ex. 6).
[IN fairness, Lauren was a 24-year-old woman, not a little girl. Raniere was in his 40s. But when does a woman become an adult, capable of making her own decisions?]
During the relationship, Raniere controlled Lauren, and he dictated all aspects of Lauren’s life and their relationship. Raniere made clear that Lauren could not tell anyone, not even her mother, about their relationship. He demanded that she hide certain aspects of her life.
[One could argue that Lauren, who was 24 at the time, could have chosen not to do this.]
Raniere required that Lauren be in a monogamous relationship with him (even during a decade long time period when they were not intimate) while he was free to live a polyamorous life and have multiple sexual partners.
[Again, this was her choice and she made this choice, I believe because she believed that Keith Raniere had a higher purpose,]
Raniere dictated the grooming of her pubic hair, and he took naked photographs of Lauren despite her aversion to doing so. Raniere dictated whether he and Lauren would have sex with other individuals, [other women in his harem. Raniere was quite fond of threesomes] and he initiated these sexual encounters. Lauren was required to ask Raniere’s permission before making most decisions in her life, including whether she could travel to visit family members and whether she could receive medical care.
[All of these things which she did not like to do could have been averted but Lauren believed in Raniere and in her mother who was president of NXIVM. She was also employed there herself and making good money.]
Lauren’s friend, Tracy [last name redacted], accurately describes Lauren as a “young adult who was released from the structure that college provided into the arms of a trusted yet nefarious man who forever changed her life.” See Tracy [redacted] Ltr. (Ex. 7).
By serving as such a controlling force in her life, Raniere was laying the foundation to ensure that Lauren would concede to his demands and never question his intentions.
Lauren has often described these early days in her relationship with Raniere as being in “DOS before DOS.” Raniere’s control over Lauren carried over into her work with ESP/NXIVM as well. As the leader of this group, also known as the “Vanguard,” Raniere was not only worshipped by all members, [it may not be literally true that all members worshipped him but many did] but all members believed Raniere was the most knowledgeable about everything. If Raniere requested that a member of NXIVM engage in a particular act or activity, then that member was expected to answer Raniere’s request and follow Raniere’s directions. It was made clear that members who did not abide by Raniere’s rules or directions could not advance within ESP/NXIVM. This was true for Lauren as well.
In fact, if Lauren did not abide by Raniere’s directives, she would not only become stagnant on the stripe path or in her employment, but her failures would be viewed as an “ethical breach.” An “ethical breach” was a belief that Lauren had “compromised her ideology or done something unethical that was damaging or destructive in favor of being mindless or more comfortable or lazy.”
The individuals in NXIVM who had committed an “ethical breach” were subjected to open ridicule, shame, and often shunning by Raniere. Lauren was no exception. In fact, Lauren often engaged in conduct that she otherwise would not have because she was fearful of having a breach. Yet, Raniere consistently told her that engaging in his requested activities was important for the advancement of her growth and professional development in the organization.
Lauren testified that she believed “Keith understood everything about people’s psychodynamics; if Keith observed something and I couldn’t see it, it was because I didn’t understand and needed to learn something.”
It was this manipulation by Raniere which influenced Lauren’s participation in harboring Jane Doe 4 [Daniela] in a room for almost two years under the threat of potential deportation if Jane Doe 4 did not perform work requested by Raniere, Lauren, and others.
At the time, Lauren could not see that she was engaged in criminal conduct by adhering to Raniere’s requests and directives. But, looking back, in particular at the crime involving Jane Doe 4, Lauren is filled with disgust and shame regarding this conduct.
She stands by her testimony that out of all of the crimes that she committed, her conduct towards Jane Doe 4 was “the worst thing” she had done in this case.
[This she believes was worse than recruiting some six slaves into DOS, which supports her contention that she did not meant to harm these women.]
Raniere made numerous empty promises to Lauren, but most painful was his promise to her that the two would have children together. Lauren desperately wanted children, but because she was in a relationship with Raniere, she had to wait until he said it was time to do so. Unfortunately for Lauren, that time never came, and she waited over a decade for Raniere to change his mind.
In 2013, Lauren told Raniere that she wanted to leave her relationship with him and start dating someone else. Clearly upset that he would no longer have control over Lauren if she left the relationship, and under the guise that this too was an “ethical breach,” Raniere convinced Lauren to stay and told her that he would reinvest in the relationship and promised that the two would eventually have children together.
Lauren wanted children very badly, so she chose to stay in the relationship based in part Raniere’s promises. In what Lauren can now see was nothing more than gamesmanship, Raniere also threatened to step down as the head of the NXIVM community because of Lauren’s transgression, causing Lauren to believe that others would suffer due to her failures, a tenant he later carried into DOS. Lauren felt responsible for the people in the NXIVM community, and at that time, she could not reconcile why Raniere would abandon them based solely on her decision to leave their romantic relationship.
Unfortunately for Lauren, Raniere never committed to having children with her, and instead, told her that he was considering having children with another woman, Marianna.
[He did have a child with Mariana]
Lauren was devastated by this news, but she again agreed to stay faithful to Raniere, even though the two had essentially no relationship and there was no longer a promise of children. Raniere extracted this commitment through leveraging Lauren’s desire to be a good person, telling her that love is selfless and if she was really a loving person she would stay strictly out of love without self-interest, meaning with no promise of a relationship or children. This incessant manipulation by Raniere and her fear of how she and her family would be treated if she left her relationship with Raniere was the basis for Lauren staying in ESP/NXIVM as long as she did.
Raniere had his manipulative hooks in Lauren from an early age. Whether it was the nighttime walks in Clifton Park, the countless lessons with Raniere discussing NXIVM principles, or general advice concerning family members, Lauren now recognizes that she was nothing more than a replaceable pawn in Raniere’s deranged and narcissistic views of personal relationships.