As the civil case, Edmondson et al v. Raniere, et al, continues, a status conference held on Tuesday before US District Court Judge Eric Komitee advanced matters slowly.
For the 81 plaintiffs, all former NXIVM members, attorneys Neil Glazer, William Hoese and Zahra Dean appeared.
For defendant Clare Bronfman, attorneys Ronald Sullivan, Craig Martin and Sara Horton appeared. For defendant Sara Bronfman, Jaime Wareham and Israel David appeared.
These attorneys appeared in person, Their clients, the Bronfman sisters, did not appear. Clare is in prison in Philadelphia, and, last we heard, Sara had left the USA and resides in Portugal.
Defendants Keith Raniere, and Allison Mack are also in prison, with Raniere in USP Tucson and Mack in FCI Dublin in CA. They did not appear or have anyone representing them. Suneel Chakravorty, via the power of attorney granted to him by Raniere, informed the court that the Vanguard is seeking to hire an attorney to represent him.
Kathy Russell, Nancy and Lauren Salzman also did not appear or have anyone in court to represent them.
Defendants Dr. Danielle Roberts, Nicki Clyne and Dr. Brandon Porter appeared pro se by telephone.
The Court set the following schedule:
– The defendants’ anticipated motions to dismiss are due by January 14, 2022;
– The plaintiffs’ response is due by February 14, 2022; and
– Replies by the defendants, if any, are due by February 28, 2022.
All discovery is stayed pending resolution of the motions to dismiss.
Danielle Roberts’ motion to have the court appoint counsel for her was denied by the judge.
Before the court is a motion by the plaintiffs to be able to sue anonymously. The judge ordered that by December 10, Plaintiffs shall submit an additional letter in support of their motion for this protective order.
Attorney Glazer, who is the lead attorney on the case for the plaintiffs, had previously requested a subpoena be issued to Suneel Chakravorty to get his under oath answers concerning nude photos of Camila which might be collateral and hard drives once belonging to Raniere, that might be in his possession, and might have evidentiary value in the civil case.
Judge Komitte referred the decision of whether or not to permit Glazer to serve a subpoena on Chakravorty, who is not a party in the lawsuit, to Chief Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak.
Prior to the hearing, Chakravorty fired off a letter to Judge Komitte presenting his position on the matter
In his letter, Chakravorty denied he had anything of evidentiary value for the civil case:
“…. I am not in possession, nor have I ever been, of any hard drive, or copy thereof, from the criminal case [against Raniere]… I do not possess any DOS collateral, nor do I possess or have I ever seen any nude photographs of Camila, one of the plaintiffs in the case before you.
“To my knowledge, I possess no evidence that has any relevance to this civil litigation.
“I do possess redacted nude photos [where the breasts and genitals are blurred] of a 27-year-old Camila, taken in 2017. which contain no visible appendectomy scar. The original, unredacted version of the photos, which I do not possess, were not collateral.
“I was informed that these [nude] photos were voluntarily and happily taken by the founding sisters of DOS as a ritual before meetings and were not meant for anyone to use as collateral.”
Chakravorty went on to explain that he possesses the redacted nudes of Camila to help free Raniere.
“The purpose of the redacted photos is to possibly be used as evidence in the criminal proceeding of the USA v Raniere, to show that the prosecution’s determining the age of the subject [Camila] in the photos based on the lack of an appendectomy scar is not dispositive and the redacted photos are not to be otherwise disseminated.”
In the criminal case, evidence was presented that proved to the satisfaction of the jury that Camila was under the age of consent when photos of her were taken by Raniere. Among the evidence was testimony that Camila had an appendectomy when she was 16 and that the photos presented to the jury showed no visible scars, suggesting that the photos were taken when she was 16 or under.
Chaktravorty’s argument is that these later photos, – which were taken of Camila in 2017, when she was 27 and which reveal no visible scar – put into question the dating of the Camila photos shown to jurors in the criminal trial.
Suneel told the judge “I would be glad to submit these redacted photos to the Court, ex parle and under seal.”
Chakravorty pressed the Camila matter further, going on at length about issues that are not rightly part of the civil matter, pressing in a public letter, his allegations that the FBI tampered with the Camila photos to convict an innocent Raniere.
“As Mr. Raniere·s power of attorney,” Chakravorty wrote, “I have referred cyber forensics experts to his criminal counsel to investigate his allegation that the FBI falsified and tampered with evidence. These experts signed a Protective Order and had access to protected discovery materials. The experts include the following:
“Dr. James Richard Kiper, Ph.D., who served in the FBI for 20 years and retired in 2019, in good standing. He is a celebrated whistleblower and the ”raison d’etre” of the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2016.
“Mr. Steve Abrams, M.S., J.D., who has advised and trained federal, state and local law enforcement in cyber forensics for three decades, on over 1,200 cases.
“Mr. Wayne Norris, who has been an expert witness in roughly I00 cases. holds several patents in nuclear instrumentation, and has a diverse technical background, from working on the Apollo project, to project managing for the US Navy. to digital forensics.”
Chakravorty, continuing in his argument that is not directly related to the civil case, but undoubtedly presented to be placed on the public record, that his experts were shocked at what they saw in the Raniere case.
“After examining the forensic evidence,” Chakravorty wrote, “they issued reports which may be used in a motion in the criminal case.”
He listed as their findings:
- FBI Senior Forensic Examiner Brian Booth provided false testimony.
- An unknown person improperly accessed and altered data on the camera card on 9/19/18.
- Photos were added to the camera card while the device was in FBI custody, between 4/l l / I 9 and 6/ I l / I 9.
- Date and times of photos on the hard drive were manually altered.
- Folder names were manually set to exact dates and times in 2005, to corroborate the fabricated photo dates.
- The backup folder on the hard drive containing the photos was backdated and manually placed on the hard drive and efforts were made to conceal the forgery and make it look like a legitimate automatic computer backup.
He then quoted the experts starting with Dr. Kiper
Kiper: “In my 20 years as an FBI agent. I have never observed or claimed that an FBI employee tampered with evidence, digital or otherwise. But in this case, I strongly believe the multiple, intentional alterations to the digital information I have discovered constitute evidence manipulation. And when so many human-generated alterations happen to align with the government’s narrative, I believe any reasonable person would conclude that evidence tampering had taken place. My analysis demonstrates that some of these alterations definitely took place while the devices were in the custody of the FBI. Therefore, in the absence of any other plausible explanation it is my expert opinion that the FBI must have been involved in this evidence tampering.”
He quoted Abrams: “[I]t saddens me to conclude that the most plausible explanation for these artifacts is manual alteration of the digital photographic and file system evidence and an unsuccessful attempt to cover that manual alteration, at least some of which had to have occurred while the evidence was in the custody of the FBI.”
And quoted Norris: “I believe based on what I have reviewed that Dr. Kiper is correct in his assessments that no plausible explanation exists for the anomalies in the Government’s exhibits other than intentional tampering on the part of the Government.”
Chakravorty concluded his letter to the judge with, “I hope that the above information assuages Mr. Glazer’s concerns and provides this Court with useful context.”
Maybe it will assuage Mr. Glazer, but I wouldn’t count on it.
In the meantime – and yes, I know it’s been said before – Viva Executive Success!