New NXIVM Tapes Set Up Legal Scrum
The title above pretty much tells all – that a Facebook news page got ahold of some recordings of Sara Bronfman. They published one recorded call – of what is believed to be a conversation between Steve Forbes and Sara Bronfman.
As soon as they published the first of a promised series of calls – which Sara apparently secretly recorded her phone call with Forbes while extracting a promise from him that he was not recording the call – Sara’s lawyers apparently sent a cease-and-desist letter – possibly to the publisher of the site as well as Facebook and the tape went down.
Frank Report took the liberty of making a copy of the recording while it was available online.
Meantime, the publisher – who remains anonymous – has permitted us to publish the following:
Saratoga Springs, NY — Saratoga Flash News, an edgy Facebook page that normally engages in stirring the pot of local politics here in this toney Upstate resort town, is now stirring up a different type of concoction: a multi-front legal can of worms.
The issues here include phone-tapping, freedom of the press, confidential sources, individual privacy rights, and civil court evidence. Not to mention: it also involves the infamous NXIVM sex cult and a rabid devotee that happens to be a beyond-rich heiress now apparently riding things out in Europe while most of her old comrades are being sent off to prison.
On Tuesday, Saratoga Flash News posted that it was in possession of a “trove of phone calls and other audio and video recordings” related to the former Saratoga County-based NXIVM’s affairs. It further stated that they all feature Ms. Sara Bronfman as the central character heard and seen within them.
As proof of these claims, it published a phone conversation between Ms. Bronfman and media magnate Steve Forbes. Ms. Bronfman can be heard complaining about unfair coverage being consistently given to both herself and NXIVM. She also informs Mr. Forbes of her suspicion that her own lawyer leaked the key pieces of scandal to his magazine’s reporter.
Ms. Bronfman, whose cut of the Seagram family fortune has afforded her the privilege of living the life of the rich and almost famous, has long been a part of the NXIVM enterprise. She and her sister Clare became true believers of its “Only We Can Save the World” because “We’re Masters of the Universe” style of new age enlightenment and soon thereafter went all-in as part of the upper-most management team. Their vast financial resources are said to have unleashed a wide variety of initiatives, including international expansion, shady real estate deals, commodities-trading gone bad, and vicious Dirty Tricks campaigns against critics and turncoats.
Clare Bronfman and others at that top level are all now serving (or are about to start serving) lengthy terms of federal incarceration after high-profile trials and plea deals, all of which were accompanied by a press and media frenzy that included at least three documentary movies and several books.
Sara Bronfman has so far eluded that criminal round up, partly due to her avoiding US soil ever since the salacious “female branding” story broke, setting in motion the investigations that brought NXIVM down under a slew of charges, which include money laundering, sex trafficking, kidnapping, fraud and pyramid schemes. But she is now the Defendant in an upcoming civil trial, brought by dozens of parties claiming damages due to her active role in the group. She will likely deny such a level of involvement.
These tapes could weaken that defense.
But by early (last) Friday morning, the ‘Forbes’ post and its accompanying audio had both disappeared. On Friday, January 7, the page announced it was ceasing publication. The media frenzy is back in action, raising questions.
When tracked down on ski holiday in Vermont, Flash News publisher Jack Flash (an obvious pseudonym) confirmed that he had indeed received a Cease & Desist Order, demanding that he take down the clip. He complied. But he further denied that it was related to his decision to close down the page.
“That didn’t take long, did it? I’m not disclosing who it came from or what rationale and threat were used,” he told a reporter. “But these things are a dime a dozen. I myself have sent as many of them as I’ve been handed over the years. I’ll probably throw it in the trash. Then, I will likely just toss it back up, as a “final post” kind of thing for Flash News. But I just wanted to give my lawyer the courtesy, but he’s in Italy or Vail or somewhere and forgot to take me with him.”
When pressed on possible concerns related to sources, ownership and privacy, Flash related that “all those bases are covered. As far as the origin of these things: if someone thinks they need to find out where we got them from, they will need to knock down a Free Press wall to get there. Yes, I’d love to argue that SFN meets the definition of legitimate press in this day and age.”
“Even if I lose that argument, they still won’t get that name or names. I’ll refuse, and then just go share a cell with Keith Raniere and swap funny stories for a few months. Then, I’ll write a book about it!”
When pressed further on his exiting the local and NXIVM news reporting business, Flash repeated the rationale he has uploaded on Friday: “I’m just way too busy with my other pursuits. SFN News was starting to harm their performance because of the time commitment. It’s all about life and biz priorities. But NO: that decision has zero to do with NXIVM, Bronfman or any of this. It sure would be fun if it were, but I’d be creating drama that is not truthful is I so claimed.”
“Future uploads of these conversations? Sure, they could end up on any of a number of sites or pages. Who knows what could happen if I get bored,” Flash concluded
Attorney Warren Matz of the Washington firm Henry-Warren PLLC, when asked for general guidance on this matter, raises other concerns:
“Even after clearing those considerations, he will also need to justify some sort of compelling public interest to rationalize putting these tapes out there to the public. Otherwise, it will appear as an effort to simply embarrass or ridicule someone. That could be problematic.”
“I’m curious as to who fed him these audios,” said a longtime local NXIVM observer who asked not to be identified, based on past run-ins with the organization. “It had to be an insider. But how does that shake out, legally?”
After reading the transcript of this first audio sample (as seen on an unrelated online blog) and doing some background catch-up, Attorney Matz called back to add:
“This action (posting the audio recording) raises all sorts of legal questions. In addition, it could likely play a part in that civil action, given it highlights the Bronfman woman’s function and importance in support of that criminal operation. I predict this Cease & Desist is just the beginning. He’ll get hit from every direction and from all parties moving forward, all wanting to get at these things.”
Just when we thought the NXIVM story was fading to black … it’s back.
When last we heard, Sara Bronfman was living in a mansion in Portugal, having recently moved from a mansion in Provencal, France, a mansion in London, an exclusive luxury condominium in New York City, and a capacious country estate in Clifton Park.
Her sister, Clare, is in Philadelphia at the brutal Philadelphia Detention Center, serving an 81-month sentence.
Clare is appealing her sentence. We do not know when Sara will return. Both sisters are facing a civil lawsuit from some 70 plus plaintiffs connected to their roles in NXIVM.
We do not know when Sara will return to the USA again, if ever. She left shortly before Raniere’s arrest and did not appear at any of her sister’s hearings, not even to show her support at Clare’s sentencing.