Two people spoke at Lauren Salzman’s sentencing today. One was Susan Dones, the other Ivy Nevares.
Nevares was born in Mexico City and in 2000, moved to New York City to work with PEN International. Two years later, she joined ESP as a professional coach where she coached hundreds of people. From 2002 to 2017, she worked with ESP as a writer, editor and publishing art director. She managed the company’s communications, curriculum, various writing projects.
She also co-authored with Keith Raniere two books, Odin and the Sphinx (2008) with a foreword by former Ambassador and Permanent Representative for Mexico to UNESCO Dr. Luis Eugenio Todd and The Sphinx and Thelxiepeia (2009) featuring a foreword by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
From 2016 to 2018, she worked with The Knife Media, a NXIVM-based media analysis company that examined the bias in news.
She was a senior editor, lead media analyst and writer.
Since leaving NXIVM in 2018, Nevares says she has published two books—a biography of a prominent entrepreneurial family, written in Spanish, and a commemorative book for one of the world’s leaders in the hospitality industry and she is in the process of writing a memoir.
Here is Nevares’ statement, which was made on the record and heard by audio in court and is available also on her website.
By Ivy Nevares
Thank you again for allowing me to speak during these proceedings. Today’s statement is especially painful for me because the defendant was not only my peer and coach—she was my best friend for nearly 17 years.
When I first joined ESP, Pamela Cafritz—one of Keith Raniere’s chief enablers—was excited that I was joining the harem because I would be Lauren Salzman’s friend and companion, given our age and intellectual compatibility. Ms. Salzman was smart, funny, kind and a seeming pioneer of the noble enterprise I too had just embarked on. It didn’t take long for me to love her, much less for her to earn my trust.
She became my coach shortly after I moved to Albany in 2002—not by choice, but because I began putting up a resistance against Raniere and his lifestyle. She described her role as the inner circle’s “therapist”—a role she secretly told me she resented. That meant she constantly did EMs with Raniere’s women—especially the rebellious ones—condoning and furthering the physical, emotional and psychological abuses.
Looking back at our friendship, Ms. Salzman’s role was to keep me under control, to manage me. She was a hostage negotiator of sorts, and my goodwill and willingness to continue working for the company were the hostages.
She ended our coaching relationship around 2006 because of my insubordination to Raniere’s and the inner circle’s sick demands. She shunned me for about three years after this, punishing me for her inability to control me. To this day, I don’t know why she apologized and resumed our friendship. It’s possible she saw that her punishment eventually fueled my desire to defect.
Once we resumed our friendship, Ms. Salzman was again called in as the last resort to contain me. When all other tactics failed—mostly others’ verbal and psychological abuse, exploitation and threats—she was brought in to “reason” with me. But her reasoning skills and appeal to my emotions were all gaslighting, manipulation and lies—tactics in what Raniere called “strong thought control” or “intellectual might-is-right.” Unfortunately, she mostly succeeded until the very end.
I have previously made the Court aware that Karen Unterreiner, Raniere’s longest-standing intimate relationship and a NXIVM leader, has since apologized to me for her role in keeping me from leaving. The event in question happened on the cusp of Raniere’s full-blown abuse of me in 2006.
Karen, the number three EM practitioner in the company, was tasked to talk me out of leaving just days before the company’s annual retreat at Silver Bay. By then, Raniere was already shunning me and further curtailing my personal freedoms, and Karen manipulated me into staying after a 5- or 6-hour long conversation in a Clifton Park parking lot one night.
I share this with the Court because that was Ms. Salzman’s primary role when all other means of control failed. But unlike Karen, Ms. Salzman never apologized.
She did not verbally abuse me as her mother did, which kept my trust in her somewhat intact. In hindsight, she groomed me to feel safe in the presence of a predator and his vicious pack.
Ms. Salzman could have stopped my forced labor, which I had rebelled against for years and years, yet she did nothing. In the very least she could have spoken out on my behalf—she knew how valuable I was to the entire network of companies under Raniere. On the contrary, she used her position and skills to try to force me to accept my exploitation and to do so with a smile.
A clear example is when she “graced” me with being my mentor during the last NXIVM workshop I took, ironically called “The Ethicist.” She made a clear point that she was deliberately taking time away from her busy schedule and prodigious responsibilities to help me.
The point of contention then was her mother’s absolute abuse of me as an employee, which I intend to detail in the near future. All of the EMs, sourcing and mentoring sessions revolved around my fight to end the exploitation—a fight that was met with objections at every possible point and angle.
And on the last day of the eight-day intensive training, Ms. Salzman didn’t show.
Instead, she sent me a text message, entrusting me to my other two supposed mentors—DOS members and Raniere loyalists Rosa Laura Junco and Sahajo Haertel (I had no idea DOS existed at the time). Ms. Salzman said she wasn’t willing to invest more of her precious time on someone who simply refused to grow.
Never have I been prouder—in hindsight of course—of my unwillingness to “grow.”
Your Honor, as I share this statement, I cannot help but flash between the abuses I’ve related and the times I treasured with the defendant—our stimulating conversations on mutual topics of interest, the heartfelt laughter we often shared and events where she stood by my side when I felt all was lost, such as the week she spent with me at the hospital in Mexico City when my father was dying.
I understand Ms. Salzman was the prosecution’s star witness and that she played a key role in bringing Raniere to justice. I also understand that because of this, she may serve a light sentence or perhaps no sentence at all. When I weigh the damage she did to me and others, I desire neither of those outcomes, but I earnestly respect the Court’s decision, whatever it may be.
All that is left is for me to address her one last time:
I trusted you above anyone else. You knew my weaknesses—my deepest fears and insecurities. You knew about my past trauma.
You knew my intent was not duplicitous or malicious. You knew me as I was, as I continue to be—yet you allowed so much damage, so much trauma and committed a great deal yourself.
You called yourself my best friend, you were a fellow woman, yet you did what you did. And you let Raniere and the others do what they did, even after I repeatedly begged you for help.
I imagine you’ve been living in fear since Raniere’s arrest. You knew it—we all knew it was a matter of time before you were arrested. I imagine today you’re especially terrified.
Reflect on that experience, on that fear—on that incessant stimulation to your nervous system, which can easily override the mind and emotions. Reflect on that feeling of powerlessness—of being trapped, with no way out and no light at the end of the tunnel. Think back on the nights you’ve lost sleep because of this, the nightmares you’ve had and the part of you that can’t help but think where you would be, had you only chosen differently.
That is the torture you subjected me to for too long. While you enjoyed power, clout and a lavish lifestyle, that was my daily experience while I was in Albany.
Pam wrote me this George Elliot quote on a birthday card once:
Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.
All I wanted was to do something meaningful in the world. In you, all I wanted was a best friend.
Lauren, of all the pain you’ve caused me, the greatest is my broken heart.