Leah Mottishaw, 34, of Vancouver, is a self-employed consultant. Her Linked-in page describes her educational background: “Leah’s formal training began in molecular biology and biochemistry (Bachelor of Science, Simon Fraser University) and was later focused on microbiology (Master of Science, University of British Columbia), with added hands-on experience in the biotechnology of blood stem cells (Lifebank, Corp.).”
Leah is also a founding member of the DOSsier Project, a group of eight women dedicated to preserving the ideals of DOS and defending it from criticism. Mottishaw was a member of DOS and a NXIVM proctor. At one time, she wore the Orange Sash with one Stripe.
As a consultant, she writes, “I help my clients communicate their technical, scientific or medical service to a variety of audiences. I combine my skills and experience of critical scientific thinking, communication and relationship-building to help my clients handle projects such as internal training, patent-writing, marketing copy and special-interest research.”
Before becoming a self-employed consultant, Leah worked for NXIVM-based organizations for five and half years.
She was Director of Operations (Interim) and Founding Leader of One Asian Education, Inc. from – Vancouver where she “planned and executed weekend seminar events, including teaching One Asian material” which was based, in part, on the teachings of Keith Raniere and NXIVM.
In children’s tales there is often an endearing simplicity to the story: a bad guy, who is purely bad, commits a transgression against a good guy, who is purely good, and eventually some karma or external authority or fairy godmother recognizes the truth, smites the bad guy and helps the good guy along to her happily-ever-after. We have heard these kinds of stories since we were young and they are strangely satisfying, despite the fact (or maybe because) they don’t track well to real-life stories.
The narrative about DOS promoted by the mainstream media and government tells a tale along the lines of an unrealistic children’s story. There are good guys and bad guys. The good guys are innocent victims who were abused. The bad guys are crafty villains that have put the good guys “under a spell” (although the narrative prefers the term “brainwashing”). But the compelling simplicity of the story becomes muddied and tangled with only the faintest examination.
For instance, in the case of DOS, the actions of the good guys and bad guys were quite literally the same. A simple internet search will pretty readily introduce you to two women linked to DOS: Allison Mack (the bad guy) and India Oxenberg (the good guy). Allison and India both participated in recruitment of women to the sorority, both acted as a “Master” to those women, both received collateral, both gave assignments, etc. But according to the media, Allison is a bad guy and India is a good guy. Here’s a sampling:
BAD GUY: Mack was “enmeshed in such a bizarre and sordid drama.” And “federal prosecutors described [her] in court documents as the second-in-command of a sex cult that preyed on vulnerable young women.” (Variety, 04-26-2018)
GOOD GUY: “For seven years, India Oxenberg was the frog slowly boiling in the pot of water that was so-called self-empowerment group NXIVM.” (Variety, 10-13-2020)
BAD GUY: “Former [DOS] member Jessica Joan … described Mack as ‘a demon of a woman’ [and said] ‘She sought me out like a predator stalking their prey.’ (Rolling Stone, 06-30-2021)
GOOD GUY: The Starz series Seduced “allows India to explain how she—as a 19-year-old looking for direction—fell for the organization Raniere pitched as a self-improvement program, along with an estimated 17,000 other members … Reclaiming her narrative is just part of India’s extensive healing journey.” (Vanity Fair, 10-13-2020)
And what about the government? Although the fairy tale version would have the government (aka, the “fairy godmother”) swoop in, evaluate the situation and then make things right, that’s not what actually happened. Instead of a savior, the government seems to have been a threat.
Why would I say that?
According to India’s lawyer Anne Champion, “The concern was if India was going to be targeted by these prosecutors” (Seduced Ep 4, 45:03, bold added for emphasis). Champion described India’s predicament as, “one of those situations where your clear choices are to cooperate [with the government] or be charged” (Seduced Ep 4, 39:51).
So the government, including the FBI, prosecutors, and Judge NIcholas G. Garaufis, did not act in good faith as a righter-of-wrongs, but instead used the weight of their authority to achieve convictions. The government did not evaluate or investigate in order to discover if crimes had been committed but rather searched for material to support the predetermined conclusion that crimes had occurred.
This is evident in the words of lead prosecutor Moira Kim Penza, who explained that “we were in a situation where we needed to have charges that we could put into place quickly while continuing our investigation” (Seduced Ep 4, 29:22).
Furthermore, during proffer sessions with the government, DOS members reported that, “it seemed [the government’s] goal was to tell me my perspective” (Michele Hatchette) and that Penza appeared “vested in her opinions and hypotheses being correct. As I asserted contrary data or opinions to hers she often got visibly upset…” (Danielle Roberts).
Specifically, the government sought to force the simplistic good guy/bad guy narrative as a rewrite over some women’s own lived experiences. Danielle described how “at the end of the first interview [Penza] offered me victim support services so that I could be properly ‘treated’ for the abuse I had undergone, clearly indicating to me she had dismissed my testimony and rendered me incompetent in her mind” (bold added for emphasis).
Michele recalled that “At one point, the prosecutor raised her voice in disbelief of my ownership of my decisions, insisting instead that I only acted out of fear because I felt threatened… It seemed clear to me that the government was trying to manipulate me into saying that my decision to join DOS… was without my consent and I was in constant fear that [my Master] would expose my collateral” (bold added for emphasis).
The tale of DOS is absolutely not a simple story of good guys and bad guys. In this article, I have barely scratched the surface of the public narrative and already we see how the people involved are much more complex than two-dimensional storybook characters of a pure dark or pure light nature.
And the women of the Dossier Project are further proof that DOS cannot be shoehorned into the mold of a children’s story. In stark contrast to the “fairy tale” version of DOS, we stand firm in our assertion that our participation in the DOS sorority was entirely borne of conscious choices we made as adult women. We aren’t the victims or villains that the media and government tries to paint us. We aren’t fantastical characters, good guys or bad guys. We are real people with a real story – it is imperfect, complex and true.