Before we conclude on our pre-sentencing coverage of Lauren Salzman, we have two more submissions for our readers. The first of which is a letter submitted to the sentencing judge from Nancy Salzman on the sentencing of her daughter. I could write a lot about the content of this letter and what its impact might be, but I would rather leave readers to judge for themselves.
Here it is, Nancy Salzman’s letter to the judge – with a couple of redactions.
Re: The sentencing of Ms. Lauren Salzman
To the Honorable Judge Garaufis,
My name is Nancy Salzman. I am Lauren Salzman’s mother. I came to know Keith Raniere in November of 1997 when my ex-husband’s wife introduced me to him. At that point in my life, I was alone having separated from my husband of five years, and both my children having left home for college.
Keith, who now I see had great talent for taking advantage of people’s weaknesses, met me and seduced me both intellectually and physically. I introduced Lauren to him when she was a senior in college, only months after I met Keith, and for Lauren and for me, it was the beginning of a long and painful journey.
As Keith and I began working together, I was so impressed by him that I suggested that Lauren move back home and take the courses I was developing with Keith. She seemed lost at the time, and I thought that working with Keith and I might help her set goals for her life.
Of all the regrettable things I have done with Keith and Nxivm, this by far is the one which gives me the greatest personal sadness. I am responsible for Lauren being before you, having endured arrest, prosecution, and successful cooperation, and now facing her own judgment.
As time passed in her young life, Lauren became increasingly involved with Nxivm. She began an intimate relationship with Keith which she kept secret from me for nearly five years at his command.
When finally she told me about it, I felt ashamed that I too had been intimate with him, but I never spoke of it to anyone, and hoped she would never find out. It was part of Keith’s evil genius to figure out how to play one person off against another so that everyone would remain weak and insecure. I saw how committed to the relationship Lauren was and did not want to interfere with her choices, especially since my feelings of shame and confusion over what he had done.
I didn’t realize how he began to work his twisted magic on Lauren shortly after she returned from college. She was young and insecure. He used those characteristics to take advantage of her. At the time, I still saw Keith as eccentric but essentially well-intentioned, and I did not understand the depth of his derangement, and that he was damaging my daughter.
Keith’s behavior ultimately was cruel and domineering and I (very belatedly) lost belief in his good faith I had harbored for so long.
When the Nxivm world was unraveling, it was easier for me than it was for Lauren to understand and internalize that Keith had lied and withheld information from people, including us, for his own demonic purposes. When we all began to read the discovery, I was able to fully realize, in ways I had not previously, that Keith was not the understated, laid-back genius he pretended to be, but was instead a sex-crazed power-hungry man taking advantage of damaged people to achieve his sick goals.
Lauren had a far more difficulty than me accepting that who Keith really was and all he had done. However, over time, at my urging, and with the aid of her attorneys she came to see that Keith was a sexual predator, a narcissist, and likely a psychopath.
When I made the decision to plead guilty and seek to cooperate, I suggested Lauren do the same. It was very difficult for Lauren because she had to come to terms with the fact that she had been manipulated and lied to for years. It seemed like it was pulling apart the foundation of her reality. Most of her adult life had been wrapped up in her relationship with Keith, and she was powerfully loyal to him. The evidence she read changed her whole belief system. She was shattered because so much of who she believed she was had been wrapped up in her devotion to Keith.
The idea of cooperating and testifying against Keith was difficult for Lauren to come to grips with at first. Ultimately, she fully realized it was the right thing to do, even if it meant she would be required to face the terror of opposing his will and interests in court by revealing the truth. I knew it was difficult for her, but we both agreed that she had the information needed to help the prosecutors establish what had happened, and that to assist them was the right thing to do. I greatly admire my daughter for pushing herself to do something that was so frightening for her, but that she knew was right. She is committed to being the best person she can be, which Keith was able to use and abuse in his relationship with her again and again. Lauren showed up as a cooperator able to work with the government, and she pushed through many fears. In the end, she did her best in pursuit of the truth.
After trial, Lauren has re-trained herself in a new career, which has not been easy. She had to begin again in her 40’s making minimum wage. She did this happily, relieved to be out from under Keith’s thumb and ready to begin anew. She sold her home and changed her life. I couldn’t be prouder of her for facing Keith in court. Now she is working to find her way again. It has not been easy, but she has faced every challenge with courage even though she hasn’t felt strong.
[There is a portion of Nancy’s letter that is redacted because it concerns Lauren’s efforts to care for family members who are ailing, including Lauren’s father, Nancy’s parents and Nancy herself, who suffered from breast cancer. The letter continues:]
She is a compassionate and caring daughter and granddaughter. Pain and sadness has strengthened the family relationships we have. I don’t think I could have gotten through my own situation without Lauren’s love and support.
In concluding, while I could go on far more, I ask you to please consider how young Lauren was when she met Keith and my personal failure as a mother to protect her and guide her. While we all have agency and are responsible, I know Lauren has been victimized like virtually everyone targeted by Keith’s awful manipulations.
He took advantage of her desire to be a good person and to do good works in her life, and she felt under his abusive authority and caused damage. She must live with that as must we all who acted similarly. That part of her life is past. With mercy from you and continued guidance from her friends and family, I hope and believe that Lauren will grow to fulfill the full promise of her life. Thank you very much for your consideration of my thoughts.