Since Nancy Salzman’s sentencing memorandum is missing from PACER and it is hard to understand why it should be filed under seal, let me at least try to give a little overview of what her role was in NXIVM, something she might have provided to the public had she not filed her sentencing memorandum under seal.
As K.R. Claviger wrote:
“Although Nancy and Keith typically operated without regard to whatever rules and norms applied to what they were doing, I would have expected her attorneys to abide by the applicable procedures for filing a document under seal. Sadly, that does not appear to be the case.
“As a result, those brave souls who travel to New York City on September 8th to speak at Nancy’s sentencing will not know what false claims she may have made about herself – or worse yet, what false aspersions she may have cast on them – in that ‘Sentencing Memorandum”’ And Nancy is known to be an inveterate liar.
“But isn’t this flaunting of the rules a wonderful example of how Nancy has lived her life?
“Why spend two more years in college to earn a Bachelor’s Degree when I can just claim to have one without all that work?
“And why spend all that money to earn a Master’s Degree when I can just add those letters after my name – and no one will know the difference?
“And why would I go through all the hassle of getting licensed as a Mental Health Counselor when I can just call myself a psychotherapist – and people will hire me?
“And why intervene when I see that Keith is about to lure Camila into a sexual relationship even though she’s only 15? I would have let him do the same with my daughters if he had asked me.
“And on and on and on…
“A life of lies and deception right to the bitter end.”
Let’s take a further look at Nancy Salzman. Much of the following material I borrowed liberally from Neil Glazer’s lawsuit against Salzman and other NXIVM leaders.
Salzman and Raniere were NXIVM
If NXIVM was good or bad – and Judge Garuafis has his own opinion about that – Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman were NXIVM.
Raniere met Salzman in the late 1990s. At the time, Salzman was running motivational programs. She was a nurse who said she previously practiced psychotherapy. Her background was in alternative psychological therapies such as neurolinguistic programming.
Salzman held a nursing license, having worked as a nurse for one year in general practice. She did not have a license to practice psychotherapy.
Together, they founded NXIVM/ESP in 1998. She was known to the NXIVM community as “Prefect” and, other than Raniere, she was the only one who had a NXIVM title. Raniere’s self-annointed title was Vanguard.
Photos of Raniere and Nancy Salzman were prominently displayed in the meeting centers.
She profited financially from her role in NXIVM, acquiring numerous real estate properties, as well as funds held in banks and/or non-bank financial institutions, and U.S. currency (including more than $500,000 seized by FBI agents from her home prior to her arrest).
The Bronfman Sisters
Many Raniere and Salzman endeavors were funded by Clare and Sara Bronfman, who invested around $150 -200 million into Raniere/Salzman’s private investments, NXIVM-related litigation, operating costs of the company and other enterprises, experiments and ideas of the leaders of NXIVM.
Among the experiments that the Bronfman’s funded – which Salzman, along with Raniere, designed, recruited subjects for, and oversaw – were the “Tourette’s Study,” the “OCD study,” and what some call the “Human Fright Study.”
It is alleged these “experiments” were done without voluntary informed consent or professional oversight. A medical doctor and longtime NXIVM member lost his medical license largely because of his participation in the “Human Fright Study”.
It was faith in Salzman that helped the two Seagram’s heiresses veer the course of their lives to NXIVM. They were mentored extensively by Salzman when they first joined the group and before they engaged in sexual relations with Raniere. According to reports, the sisters paid Nancy more than $2,000 per hour for private sessions. Nancy purchased more than a dozen properties in the Albany area with money from the two sisters.
Around 2009, Clare Bronfman assumed many behind-the-scenes roles that Nancy handled while the Prefect continued in her public role as president, most advanced therapist, and esteemed leader of the group.
On July 23, 2018, a second indictment in the NXIVM case was unsealed, adding new charges – and naming Nancy Salzman, along with several others, as new defendants. She was arrested – and granted bail subject to home arrest and a long list of requirements and prohibitions.
On March 13, 2019, Nancy Salzman pled guilty to one count of Racketeering Conspiracy, admitting to predicate acts of identity theft and altering records for use in an official proceeding. She is scheduled to be sentenced on September 8, 2021.
Although there were six NXIVM defendants, Nancy was the first to plead guilty, accepting a deal ahead of her daughter Lauren and, thereby, securing lesser charges than her daughter.
But unlike Lauren, Nancy did not agree to cooperate in the prosecution of Keith Raniere – and, insofar as I know, never supplied any documents, information, etc.
Lauren took a plea deal, became a cooperating witness, and gave evidence of crimes against her mother, according to the US DOJ’s sentencing memorandum for Lauren Salzman.
Salzman and Daughters
Salzman brought both of her daughters, Michelle and Lauren, into NXIVM, securing full-time employment for both. Lauren became one of the leaders of NXIVM, arguably third in command, being the Director of Education and one of the top recruiters.
Lauren also had a nearly 20-year intimate relationship with Raniere as a member of his harem.
Her mother, Nancy, also had an ongoing sexual relationship with Raniere. In her letter to Judge Nicholas Garaufis, written on behalf of Lauren, she wrote that she stopped having sex with Raniere when she found out her daughter was in an intimate relationship with him.
Whether this is true or not is unknown. Emails written much later and divulged in court suggest she continued to have an intimate relationship with him even after she found out that he was also in a relationship with her daughter.
NXIVM’s educational programs were based on a system that Keith and Nancy called Rational Inquiry, which they advertised as a patent-pending technology for changing behavior and thinking. They also claimed that because it was based on science, the system could be replicated, producing empirically measurable results.
Raniere’s patent applications for Rational Inquiry were ultimately rejected in the USA. But NXIVM continued to advertise the system as “Patent-Pending” long after that rejection occurred.
Rational Inquiry had two primary components: (1) a curriculum that taught a distinct framing of ethics, morality, gender roles and relations, among other things; and (2) a form of psychotherapy called “Exploration of Meaning” (“EM”) that were administered by EM Practitioners (“EMPs”).
Neil Glazer alleges that “Rational Inquiry is a synthesis of psychotherapy and the teachings, methods and practices of the human potential movement groups that Raniere had studied.
Rational Inquiry used verbal and behavioral methods of intervention in interpersonal relationships to modify attitudes, thinking, effects, and behaviors that NXIVM taught were intellectually, socially, and emotionally maladaptive.
“NXIVM taught that the root causes of even physical illnesses and psychiatric disorders were these supposedly maladaptive traits and that, therefore, NXIVM’s methods could cure medical conditions.”
Jness was created and headed by Raniere and Salzman along with others, with a curriculum designed to teach that women:
- Entered relationships because of dependency on another person and they should be more self-reliant
- Typically imposed unwritten contracts on the relationship because of their inner deficiencies and that they needed to stop acting this way and be more forthcoming;
- Were not entitles to equal pay because it cost businesses money to train new employees when women quit their jobs to have children and that the gender gap studies fail to account for this;
- Do not face any social stigma if they do not compete for work because they can rely on partners or families for support, whereas men would be criticized for doing so; and
- Are protected and sheltered from the consequences of their actions by men – and that accepting responsibility for one’s actions is vital for a person’s growth.
Treatment of Camila
One of the principal concerns that Salzman might have in regards to her sentencing is her role with Camila.
Camila alleges that Raniere had sexual intercourse and she performed oral sex on him starting when she was 15. At that time, she said he also took pornographic photographs of her, including close-ups of her genitals. He was forty-five years old at the time. He was also simultaneously engaged in sexual relationships with Camila’s two sisters, Daniela and Mariana.
If Camila’s allegation is true, then Nancy Salzman played a pivotal role in what happened to Camila. That’s because Nancy put Camila to work as her maid, for little to no compensation, instructing her to live in a nearby house that Nancy owned, with other female members of NXIVM, (all adults who were in sexual relationships with Raniere).
Raniere and Salzman assumed responsibility for providing all of Camila’s needs, including food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and education. Nancy also controlled Camila’s environment, including her housing, her relationships with others, the course of her education (or lack thereof), her nutrition, and health care.
While under Salzman’s care, Camila failed to complete high school. [She later obtained a GED.] Salzman allegedly told Camila that the education she could obtain within NXIVM would be superior to any college.
Other than Raniere, Salzman was the only adult authority figure in Camila’s life from age 13 to about age 18.
Camila’s parents looked up to Salzman, who they revered as “Prefect,” one of the top two leaders of the NXIVM community, who was responsible for the creation of the curriculum, and development and use of the EM method of psychotherapy.
Along with many others in the community, Camila’s parents viewed Salzman as the leading motherly figure in the community, a person who Camila’s parents trusted to dispense good advice, and whom they believed had only their (and their children’s) best interests at heart.
Salzman assumed responsibility to support and care for Camila.
The so-called “Inner Circle” of Keith Raniere featured women of his harem. Of the 25 people in his circle, 20 are women. Raniere had sexual relations with every one of the 20 women and a good number of other women.
When Camila lost her legal immigration status, she alleges Salzman paid her low wages and did not compensate her for some of the work she performed, Camila alleges that Nancy told her that since she was in the country illegally, she had no right to be paid or that because she was in the U.S. illegally, she was receiving higher compensation than others performing the same duties who had to pay taxes.
Since Salzman had a sexual relationship with Raniere at the time, and she helped her daughter Lauren develop a close relationship with Raniere, and she knew how many other women Raniere was having sexual relationships with at the time, she might have suspected that Raniere might enter into a sexual relationship with Camila when she was underage.
In fact, Salzman taught and helped create a curriculum that the age of consent should be as low as 12 if the child is sexually mature, that many women enjoy being raped, and that rape is part of the natural order for men because it is a normal response to any indication that their female partner intends to break off their relationship.
After Raniere allegedly raped Camila when she was trying to leave him, Nancy allegedly added a new segment to the Jness curriculum – which Camila was required to attend. The new segment taught that when men sense that their partner is trying to leave them, they rape them as a natural way of marking their territory. This was in addition to allegedly teaching that some women can only have an orgasm while being raped.
Camila allegedly attempted suicide, slashing her wrists in the bathtub in her apartment – where Raniere found her, bleeding and in shock. He scolded her, explaining that had she been successful, it would have led to serious reputational consequences for him. He then forbade her from going to a hospital. Instead, he sent photographs of the wounds to Salzman, a trained and licensed nurse. Salzman said nothing about the incident, and Camila received no medical or psychiatric care.
Camila’s older sister, Daniela, also had a sexual relationship with Raniere and was considered to be part of his harem. Being in Raniere’s harem included the condition that the woman would not have any sexual relationship with any other man.
Daniela alleges that she told Raniere that she was attracted to another man, NXIVM member, Ben Myers and was experiencing romantic feelings that she had never felt for him. She informed Raniere that she would no longer have sex with him, which, she testified, consisted primarily of providing him with fellatio at his home at 3 Flintlock Lane.
Nancy Salzman, as well as Lauren Salzman following Raniere’s commands, allegedly began a campaign of extreme isolation, harassment and other abuse that lasted years, culminating in Daniela’s confinement to a room with virtually no human contact for nearly two years, during which her pleas to be let out were either rejected or ignored.
She was eventually sent back to Mexico with almost no money and no identity papers (which they had taken and refused to give back to her) and cut her off from all contact with her immediate and extended family. Daniela was the first of her family to leave NXIVM.
The Actual Crime of Conviction
Plea bargains, as the NXIVM defendants were to learn, do not mean much in federal court. Sentencing guidelines mean even less.
While Nancy Salzman thought her pleading guilty would likely limit her sentence to three years or less [based on preliminary calculations of sentencing guidelines], the judge told her explicitly, prior to accepting her guilty plea, that he was not bound by sentencing guidelines.
The actual crime that Salzman admitted to was racketeering conspiracy with two predicate criminal acts:
- During discovery in one of the NXIVM litigations, the Ross litigation, Raniere, Clare Bronfman and Salzman directed others in NXIVM to conceal evidence by altering videotaped recordings of NXIVM classes, in which Salzman made statements about the ability of Rational Inquiry to cure physical and mental illness.
- Helped organize and conduct illegal invasions of privacy against critics of NXIVM, including computer hacking and spying on individuals or try to stop them from criticizing NXIVM.
US District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis has shown that he will sentence people not only for the crimes they admitted to but also for crimes he believes they may have committed. Federal judges have vast power and provided he does not sentence her to more than the maximum sentence of 20 years, he is free to consider anything he chooses in determining his sentence.
He sentenced Raniere to 120 years and his distaste for him was palpable. On the other hand, he sentenced Lauren Salzman to probation, partly because he was impressed with her entry into the dog grooming business despite her having one of the largest roles in the NXIVM organization.
He gave Allison Mack a three-year sentence because he thought her family assisted in her repentance for her allegedly coercing women into sexual servitude. Allison’s sentencing guidelines were 14 -17.5 years.
Conversely, because Clare Bronfman did not disavow Raniere, and despite her having sentencing guidelines of 21-27 months, he tripled the guidelines and handed her an 81-month sentence. She had far lesser charges than Mack or Lauren Salzman.
What he will do when he sentences Nancy Salzman is unknown but since the prosecution has recommended at least 41 months, it seems difficult to believe that she will not get some prison time.
One mitigating factor for Salzman, who is 67, is that she contracted breast cancer and had double radical mastectomies, and is said to be in poor health. He may see little value in a long incarceration period for her.
Salzman is expected to repudiate Raniere in strong language when she appears in court on Wednesday for her sentencing.
She is also expected to lie about other matters as well.
When she pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, Nancy Salzman did repudiate Raniere to a degree and told the judge:
“Between 2005 and 2018 I agreed to join an enterprise comprised of people close to Keith Raniere and agreed to participate in its affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity.
“While doing so I was aware of and participated in some of the criminal objectives of the enterprise which were jointly undertaken by its members, including me, and I agreed that a conspirator would commit at least two acts of racketeering in furtherance of the objectives of the enterprise.
“Such objectives included agreeing that others would commit improper and, at times, illegal invasions of privacy against perceived critics of NXIVM, the company of which I was president, including computer hacking in their email accounts and other acts of improper prying for the purpose of either trying to achieve success in court litigation against those individuals or trying to stop them from continuing to publicly criticize the organization.
“Such objectives also included agreeing during discovery proceedings in a District of New Jersey civil case to which NXIVM and I personally were parties, to have others alter videotapes memorializing NXIVM classroom proceedings that we were required to turn over to our adversaries. We agreed together that the recordings would be edited to remove certain sections we did not want to turn over and to do so without revealing our editing plans to such adversaries in knowing violation of the Court’s rules.”
Nancy Salzman is the next to last of the NXIVM defendants to be sentenced. Only Kathy Russell remains. One might think that the NXIVM saga is drawing to a close, and perhaps it is – although I would not be too sure.
Ahead lies an upcoming Rule 33 motion on behalf of Raniere where it is expected he will allege that the FBI created evidence of child porn and planted it on a hard drive they seized from his apartment. In conjunction with that motion, he will be seeking to overturn his conviction.
He also has an appeal pending in the 2nd Circuit.
There also lies a civil lawsuit against NXIVM leaders that will bring new discoveries, and might potentially bring Sara Bronfman perilously close to some unpleasant circumstances.
There also may be additional charges brought against various individuals if law enforcement officials in the Northern District of New York ever do their duty.
And finally, there remains the mystery of what happened to Kristin Snyder, the woman who disappeared from a NXIVM class some 18 years ago. There are several people who likely know what happened to her. Nancy Salzman is probably one of them.
For the sake of the Snyder family, the finest thing Nancy Salzman could do – a real service to someone other than herself – would be to tell the court what happened to Kim Snyder, whose life was one of bright promise and clean ambition, who cried out that she was pregnant with Raniere’s child, who was treated as if she was insane, whose management and care were directed by Salzman and who was driven from a NXIVM class in Anchorage Alaska and disappeared forever without a trace.