As time progresses, Camila, 31, looms larger and larger in the life story of Keith Raniere.
At his criminal trial, it was alleged and proven to the jury’s satisfaction that Raniere took 22 sexually explicit photos of Camila when she was 15. He was 45.
According to the trial record, the Camila photographs were taken by a Canon digital camera in 2005, transferred to a Lexar camera card, also in 2005, transferred to a Dell computer on a date uncertain and transferred again in 2009 to a Western Digital hard drive which was stored in Raniere’s library.
According to the trial record, the Camila photos on the hard drive were discovered 14 years after he took them, and 11 months after the hard drive was seized by the FBI, and about two months before his criminal trial, which was scheduled for April 2019.
This “late innings” discovery by the FBI changed the trajectory of the case; it seems to have been the driving force that caused all five of Raniere’s codefendants to make motions to sever or supplement their efforts to sever their trials from Raniere.
As they noted in filings, no one wanted to stand trial alongside a defendant who was charged with racketeering predicate acts of possessing child porn and sexual exploitation of a child.
Kathy Russell’s lawyer wrote to the judge, “the risk of unfair prejudice is heightened by the new inflammatory charges against Mr. Raniere. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine allegations more prejudicial to a defendant than those charged here – sex crimes against a child and child pornography.”
Clare Bronfman’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, wrote in a letter in support of her motion to sever, “Mr. Raniere is now charged with child exploitation and child pornography. These new charges are even more inflammatory and prejudicial to Ms. Bronfman than the DOS charges, which already warranted a severance…As we have already shown, courts sever RICO cases to avoid unfair prejudice, and it is difficult to imagine a more compelling case than one in which a co-defendant is charged with sex crimes against a child…
“The alleged fact of a sexual relationship between a man in his late forties and a fifteen-year-old is alone likely to be so offensive to potential jurors and selected jurors as to deprive Ms. Bronfman of a fair trial. But here, the evidence that the government will introduce to prove the enticement and child pornography charges is so likely to appall and offend the jury that the evidence will define how the jury perceives not only Raniere, but also the women surrounding him at trial. These explicit and close-up photos—allegedly of a minor—suggest such a disregard of social norms and possibly the laws regarding sex with minors that it will be difficult for jurors to believe this did not carry over to other aspects of Mr. Raniere’s life; thus, this evidence will unfairly and inevitably infect the jurors’ perceptions of people like Ms. Bronfman, who were close to Raniere.”
Allison Mack’s lawyers wrote in their severance papers that the new Camila charges “added disturbing allegations against Raniere, including two counts of sexual exploitation of a child and one count of possession of child pornography…The Child Exploitation Acts are unrelated to any of the allegations against Ms. Mack, including the alleged RICO enterprise….the Court must sever Ms. Mack from the trial of Raniere.”
Judge Nicholas Garaufis denied the motions to sever, and, within a month, every codefendant took plea deals, leaving Raniere to stand trial alone.
Though she did not appear at trial, Camila cast a long shadow over Raniere. She was the only non-adult among his alleged victims.
The defense argued that Nicole, Daniela, Sylvie, Jessica Joan, Lauren Salzman, and any other women who came forward to claim they were victims of Raniere were adults and consented at the time to what they later claimed was coercive.
Camila, at age 15, could not consent. Her texts and emails to Raniere, when she was an adult in her mid-20s, were read for hours in court.
These were alleged to be probative of when the two began a sexual relationship. Emails and texts, as, for example, where Camila spoke of how many full moons they had been together, and, in another instance, where Raniere wrote that he had been her husband for 8.75 years, were used to backdate from the time of the emails to the commencement of their sexual relationship – which was, according to the emails and texts, late 2005, when Camila was 15.
Supporters of Raniere have stated since last October that they believe there was tampering with the Camila photos. A motion for a new trial [Fed. Crim. Proc. Rule 33] is expected. It is to be based on “newly discovered evidence” of tampering with the hard drive and camera card, Frank Report has learned.
Raniere claims that the 22 nude Camila photos when she was allegedly 15 years old, were planted by the FBI.
Whether or not Raniere actually took the photos or had sexual contact with Camila when she was 15 is not relevant to the motion since obviously if the evidence was planted by law enforcement the law is plain – at least the possession and sexual exploitation charges must be vacated.
During the criminal trial, Camila never testified. She spoke at Raniere’s sentencing and said she was exploited just as the prosecution alleged. She gave the date of their first sexual encounter as September 18, 2005, when she was 15.
The photos of Camila that the prosecution presented as evidence were dated by an FBI forensic expert as being taken on November 2, 2005 and November 24, 2005 (Cami would have 15 on both of those dates).
Camila has alleged similar conduct in a civil case against Raniere and other former NXIVM leaders. She is represented by attorney Neil Glazer and is joined in the civil suit by her sister, Daniela, and about 80 other plaintiffs.
Camila will have to testify under oath at the civil trial. Before that, she will be deposed, where she will also be required to answer questions under oath.
During Raniere’s sentencing hearing, his attorney, Marc Agnifilo, all but admitted that Raniere and Camila started an intimate relationship when she was 15, but that, in mitigation of this, Raniere remained as a loyal partner, with Camila being one of several women with whom he had such partnerships.
From their texts and emails – and from Camila’s statements and from other sources – it appears that Camila remained loyal to Raniere until after his conviction. At some point, perhaps at the eve of his sentencing, Camila turned against him.
The Rule 33 motion will be based largely on reports of cyber experts who state they “found” evidence of tampering, including significant changes in the camera card after it was in FBI custody.
An argument may be made that experts make opinions slanted to suit their paying clients. One of the issues that will be examined closely is whether Raniere, funded by the wealthy Clare Bronfman, paid these experts more than the usual amount to get opinions suited for the desired outcome.
Frank Report has learned that three experts have issued reports and they concur in findings. We have not ascertained at this point how reliable their findings are but we are told that they include:
- The camera card was accessed after the FBI had custody by someone unknown, an unusual occurrence, and something that was known at the trial. It has greater relevance when considered alongside the other findings.
- The camera card changed while in FBI custody with 30 plus photos added, some had only file names and dates left after deletion.
- The hard drive and the camera card were not turned in to the evidence room until months after they were seized, in contravention to FBI guidelines which provide for evidence being turned in for safekeeping within 10 days.
- The computer where the Camila pictures were purportedly stored was never found.
- The dates of creation for the Camila photos and other nude photos which helped the prosecution establish the timeline of the Camila photos were manually created/manipulated/altered on the hard drive.
- Some of the dates as found on EXIF data and files system modified dates are impossibly contradictory and can only be explained by manual intervention.
- Some of the manual intervention was sloppy and cyber “fingerprints” are replete including
- Attempts to change dates to comport with Daylight Savings Time on devices that are not accurate.
- wrongly labeling thumbnails “planted” on the Camera card to comport with the hard drive
- manually creating files with creation dates that are physical impossibilities for any computer
- botching the date of the hard drive “planting” of the Camila photos to 2003, two years before the camera took the photos and one year before the camera was built, which combined with other evidence purports to show that the Camila photos were manually added to the hard drive with manually altered creation dates. The experts apparently are prepared for the rebuttal that 2003 could have been a clock that was off or a dead computer battery, but new findings of related file system dates rule it out as implausible.
- At least one photo was changed with an adobe program but the file was manually changed to hide this
- A serious discussion of FBI forensic examiner Brian Booth’s testimony that EXIF data [the digital camera’s timestamp and other data that is part of the photo’s file that goes with it whenever it is saved to any device] is hard to change and, therefore, reliable. It is not hard to change. In fact, almost anyone can learn to change EXIF data in a matter of minutes with easily obtainable software. It was a matter of concern to some that Booth presented such an obviously false statement at trial.
- A serious discussion on how every manual alteration involved changes that supported the FBI narrative that the photos were taken in 2005.
- a serious discussion on how the “last minute” findings of the Camila photos followed a rash of FBI evidence handling protocol violations,
It is extremely hard to judge whether the reports and these hardline allegations are true or fictitious. This may be one elaborate scheme on the part of Raniere and his followers to impugn the reputation of the FBI agents.
On the other hand, two things may be true: Raniere took the photos of Camila when she was 15 – and somehow, someone handed those photos to the FBI who then, knowing the defendant to be guilty, added the “proof” to the camera card and hard drive, some months after they seized it. They might have felt the need to plant the evidence to ensure a very bad man was convicted.
Or they might have found the photos in the hard drive as they stated, but to prove the exploitation charge, they had to add evidence to the camera card only. If there was no evidence on the camera card, there would be no proof Raniere took the pictures but only had possession of them.
Our next step is to investigate the three so-called experts that Raniere chose to use to support his case. We have their names and are now doing an investigation. Would these men contrive to lie about tampering for the sake of Bronfman money?
How much were they paid? Is there Bronfman money behind the expert reports? Or are these the sincere evaluation of experts?
If sincere, is there room for doubt or wiggle room in their reports?
What does the government say in reply to these serious allegations? Most readers believe that Raniere is guilty of abusing Camila.
For many, it may not matter if the FBI tampered with evidence since he is guilty anyway. But not everyone believes that law enforcement should take it into their own hands to decide who is guilty and then create evidence to prove it.
There are many questions and one is inclined to believe that the rascal Raniere is involved in some deception and this is his last-minute trickery. It may be true, but I am willing to play along for one more hand and investigate – with a healthy dose of skepticism – because it is Raniere.
The story is going to be the reports and, of course, who wrote them, the experts. We will be covering it all. Including, if the tampering allegations get legs, almost certainly the emergence of Camila, as she testifies and potentially even identifies the photos.
Of course, the question still looms, even if they were her photos from 2005, how did they get on the hard drive?
Did Raniere save them there, waiting for years for the FBI to find them, or did they get these from someone else, and curiously dated or had them dated for November 2, 2005, and November 24, 2005 and who would that someone be?
We need convincing and compelling proof that there was tampering – and not just the speculations of self-interested parties.
Raniere purports to have such proof. We are not inclined to believe him. Unless we see something firm and irrefutable, by someone other than Raniere himself, genuine experts with reliable reports, we will call it bogus and nonsensical, not worth consideration.