US District Judge Eric Komitee, the presiding judge in the civil lawsuit, Sarah Edmondson, et al., against Keith Raniere, et al., issued an order yesterday forbidding the defendants from disclosing the names of anonymous plaintiffs – in court or out of court – at least for now.
He is holding a hearing on Feb. 17, where he will require all defendants to appear in person.
This means Sara Bronfman must travel from her seaside mansion in Portugal to Brooklyn, as well as Kathy Russell must come from Georgia, Lauren Salzman will have to leave her dogs in Clifton Park, Nancy Salzman, on the eve of incarceration [she is to report to prison on February 21st] will also have to leave Clifton Park and show up in Brooklyn.
As will Brandon Porter from Iowa; Danielle Roberts from Minnesota; Nicki Clyne, who was last seen on social media in Miami; and Karen Unterreiner from Albany.
Unless they seek and get court approval to be allowed to appear via teleconferencing [which, ironically Raniere claims to have invented], the only defendants excused from appearing in person are Keith Raniere, Clare Bronfman, and Allison Mack by virtue of their being incarcerated.
Here is the judge’s order:
PRELIMINARY ORDER OF PROTECTION:
Plaintiffs’ motion for a protective order  is granted on a preliminary basis. This order will be subject to further review
(a) based on additional argument from Defendants, in the event the Court orders Plaintiffs’ ex-parte submissions be made available to them in whole or in part in the coming weeks, and
(b) at subsequent stages of the litigation, if circumstances warrant.
Going forward, Plaintiffs may use pseudonyms in the caption and body of all public Court filings, consistent with this order.
Defendants may not reveal Plaintiffs’ true identities to anyone, within or outside the scope of this litigation.
At a conference to be held February 17, 2022, at 1:30 p.m. in Courtroom 6G North, Plaintiffs must show cause why Plaintiffs’ ex parte motion  and/or the attachments thereto should not be produced to Defendants at this point.
All defendants (other than those who are incarcerated) are directed to appear in person.
Ordered by Judge Eric R. Komitee on 2/11/2022.
Notice was emailed to the attorneys for the plaintiffs, and the attorneys for Clare and Sara Bronfman, the only two defendants known to have legal representation, as well as three defendants representing themselves: Porter, Roberts, and Clyne.
No notice of this hearing was sent to Russell, Nancy and Lauren Salzman, Karen Unterreiner, Raniere or Mack.
None of the non-noticed defendants have thus far made an appearance or retained an attorney in this litigation.
It is unclear what the penalty might be for any defendant who fails to appear at the February 17th hearing. It might range from contempt to a judgement in favor of the plaintiffs or a barring from the defendants making any future defenses.
It is not clear why the judge has required in person appearances of all defendants [sans the incarcerated ones]. It may be because he intends to admonish the pro-se defendants Clyne, Porter and Roberts not to violate the court order of temporary anonymity for the anonymous plaintiffs.
He may have harsher objectives as well.
Here are the noticed attorneys and defendants:
For the Plaintiffs:
- [Kohn Swift] Neil L. Glazer
- Stephen H. Schwartz
- Steven M. Steingard
- William E. Hoese
- Craig W. Hillwig
- Zahra Dean
- Aarthi Manohar
- Elias Kohn
- [Zuckerman] Aitan D. Goelman
- Bryan M Reines
For Sara Bronfman:
- [Fried Frank] Israel David
- James D Wareham
- Anne Aufhauser
For Clare Bronfman:
- [Wilkie Farr] Craig C. Martin
- Sara Horton
Pro Se Defendants:
- Brandon Porter
- Danielle Roberts
- Nicki Clyne
In short, the judge has ruled the defendants may not disclose the name of anonymous accusers.
At the February 17th hearing, the plaintiffs’ attorneys must show why their previous ex parte motion, which the defendants have not yet seen – and which argues presumably for anonymity – should not be shown to the defendants.
If he does order the release of this motion to the defendants, as is anticipated, it is expected that he will schedule a hearing where the defendants may make arguments to disclose the names of the anonymous plaintiffs.
This is a short-term victory for Glazer and the anonymous plaintiffs – but it may change.
At this point, the court has ordered the plaintiffs may use pseudonyms.
In a subsequent post, we will explain the judge’s written order:
Keep in mind that if someone other than the defendants discloses the names of the anonymous plaintiffs, there is nothing the judge can do to the person, but it is possible if he ties in a definite connection with the defendant and the person who does release the names, he may sanction the defendant.