The civil case, Sarah Edmondson, et al against Keith Raniere et al, is moving apace – which is to say moving as it should for a civil case of this magnitude – slowly.
It began to develop in 2017. It first took legs in 2018, was put on hold in 2020 until every defendant in the criminal case was sentenced and now is headed for its destiny – settlement, dismissal, or trial.
Judge Eric Komitee directed the plaintiffs at a November 30, 2021 status conference to provide a letter in support of their motion for a protective order for anonymity [for some plaintiffs] and to include circumstances of each plaintiff who requests anonymity.
It is to be understood that anonymity is for the public only and that the defendants would know their identities.
Lead attorney, Philadelphia lawyer, Neil Glazer, filed this letter in December segregating the important plaintiffs with the most serious claims who seek anonymity from those whose arguments for anonymity in a civil lawsuit are less persuasive. They were given the choice to be named or drop out of the suit.
Most apparently chose to be named.
Though the lawsuit previously named most plaintiffs as Jane or John Does – as of now most of them are identified – and not by Suneel Chakravorty or Michele Hatchette – but by Glazer himself.
Glazer has named 59 formerly anonymous plaintiffs in his recent filing and sought to preserve anonymity only for 12.
In what some might see as a blow to the case – two of the 12 women he sought anonymity for – Amanda and Audrey – both DOS victims – both awarded restitution by Judge Nicholas Garaufis – have just dropped out.
Amanda is an attorney and Audrey a business professional. Audrey was awarded $142,017.96 and Amanda $257,617.51 in restitution by Judge Garaufis as victims of Raniere.
Audrey was deceived into thinking the brand was the four elements. Later, seeing the brand conceivably could be read as A-M – she thought it was her initials.
When she read on Frank Report that the brand was Raniere’s initials, and possibly Allison Mack’s, she was not pleased.
The DOS victims’ chances of collecting federal statutory restitution are rosier than they were now that the DOJ asset forfeiture experts at the EDNY are working to get the $6 million Clare Bronfman paid as a fine as part of her plea bargain into the hands of Raniere’s victims.
With the dropping out of Amanda and Audrey, Glazer has 10 women whose identity he wants to shield from the public.
Other Jane Does withdrew recently, and, though I do not have the exact count, the number of plaintiffs remaining is I believe in the mid-60s.
With any lawsuit with many plaintiffs with differing claims, some are more important than others – and a large number of plaintiffs’ claims are nothing more than that they spent money on the fraudulent company NXIVM and were pressured into doing free work for them.
Jane Doe 56 who withdrew is one such.
By agreeing to be named, plaintiffs acknowledged that their circumstances are not as serious as the 10 who continue to seek anonymity.
Glazer filed his letter in December ex-parte, which means only the judge, not the defendants, saw it. It has now been filed publicly so that not only do the defendants see it, but the public has access to the names of the majority of plaintiffs – all 59 who recently chose to be named, as opposed to dropping out, as well as the handful, such as Sarah Edmondson, India Oxenberg, etc., who have always been named.
What remains to be revealed to defendants are the 10 remaining anonymous plaintiffs. Glazer has been directed by the court to reveal them directly to the defendants. The defendants obviously have a right to know their accusers and they have been directed by the judge that they may not name them publicly.
Whether the court rules that the 10 must be named publicly will be decided in the future. There will be arguments for both sides.
Here is an excerpted version.
Honorable Eric R. Komitee
United States District Court
Eastern District of New York
Dear Judge Komitee:
3. Plaintiffs No Longer Requiring Anonymity
I. Plaintiffs Identified by Their Full Names in the First Amended Complaint
Plaintiff Jessica Joan Salazar, who testified under the pseudonym “Jay” in the trial… recently chose to publicly share her story using her full name in an audio book, podcast, and media interviews, and thus she is now fully identified…
Plaintiff India Oxenberg… was identified by full name in numerous media stories featuring her mother’s efforts to extricate her from DOS and NXIVM, she was referred to by full name in witness testimony during the trial, and she has written a book, appeared in a documentary, and spoken publicly about her experiences using her full name.
She is, thus, identified by full name in the FAC.
Also now identified by full name in the FAC are Plaintiffs Bonnie Piesse, Anthony Ames, Tabitha Chapman, and Ashley McLean, each of whom chose to publicly self-identify in the media and/or social media.
Plaintiff Adrienne Stiles was formerly identified as Jane Doe in the original Complaint but chose to use her full name even though she had never identified herself in public.
II. Pseudonymous Plaintiffs in FAC Who Have Made Media Appearances
Soukaina Mehdaoui, who was Jane Doe 3 in the original complaint and “Souki” in the FAC, was identified in an October 2017 New York Times article, and she recently participated in a public panel discussion, “Abuse of Power in Alternative and Emerging Spiritual and Cultural Organizations,” sponsored by Harvard University, where she was identified by full name as a “NXIVM survivor.”
While Ms. Mehdaoui has never publicly disclosed the specific circumstances of her time in NXIVM and DOS, and she has at times fought with media outlets to keep her name out of their stories and productions, she agrees that her decision to participate in the panel weighs against her desire to use a pseudonym in this action.
Two other Plaintiffs spoke on the record to a journalist who recently published a book about NXIVM, and prior to
publication they gave permission to identify them by name: Maja Miljkovic (Jane Doe 43) and Jennifer Kobelt (Jane Doe 19).
Two other Plaintiffs, whose injuries derive in large part from their participation in Defendants’ unlawful experiment in curing Tourette’s syndrome, are fully identified in a documentary film about that project and, while the renewed promotion of that misleading documentary is itself a source of continuing trauma for them, their identities in connection to NXIVM and the Tourette’s “study” are a matter of public record, and they will proceed in this litigation using their full names: Carysa Long (Jane Doe 22) and Isabella Constantino (Jane Doe 21).
And two additional DOS victims recently gave permission to a media outlet to publicly broadcast interviews they gave and to identify them by names, and thus agree their use of pseudonyms are no longer justified:
Veronica Jaspeado (formerly Jane Doe 6) and Paloma Pena (formerly Jane Doe 7).
III. Plaintiffs Who Have Not Been Publicly Identified but Who Consent to Disclosing Their Names
There are some Plaintiffs whose individual circumstances may be closer calls with respect to whether they can satisfy the criteria for proceeding with pseudonyms. These Plaintiffs, listed below by name and Jane or John Doe designation, choose to proceed in this litigation with their full names rather than attempt to make particularized showings of need to protect their identities.
They are making this decision for the several reasons. First, identification will not cause them to suffer additional trauma or otherwise exacerbate injuries suffered as a result of the events at issue in this litigation…. This should not be interpreted as a statement concerning the severity of the trauma suffered by any Plaintiff because of their experiences in NXIVM; each Plaintiff reserves all rights to prove and seek recovery for the full extent of their injuries.
As discussed in Plaintiffs’ motion, many Plaintiffs had concerns of being targeted for retaliation by Defendants (and their supporters) if publicly identified, which concerns were shared by Judge Garaufis…
However, Plaintiffs who intend to remain in this litigation will not attempt to make particularized showings of the basis for this fear, other than to point out that several Defendants in this action are part of a group who have been waging a relentless public relations campaign that includes challenging the integrity of anyone who has spoken or taken a public position adverse to Mr. Raniere and the other Defendants, and making veiled threats to expose some critics to ridicule and humiliation.
The Plaintiffs listed in this section – who have never spoken or shared their criticism of Defendants with the media or in any other public venue outside of this proceeding – will voluntarily agree to publicly identify themselves, and will rely on this Court to enforce appropriate constraints on the conduct of parties to this litigation in forums outside of the courthouse.
Likewise, the Plaintiffs in this group concede that the particular facts giving rise to their claims do not necessarily require the public disclosure of highly sensitive and intimate information….
While the humiliation and reputational harm of being publicly identified as a former member of the NXIVM “sex cult” is very real, the Plaintiffs in this group concede that their individual circumstances do not cause them to rise above certain others in this litigation with respect to the kinds of acute risks and harms that may befall them once their names are revealed.
The formerly pseudonymous Plaintiffs who have never been publicly identified in connection with the subject matter of this litigation, but who will now proceed in this litigation using their full names – are:
Soukiana Mehdaoui (Souki in Amended Complaint but was originally Jane Doe 3),
Veronica Jaspeado (Jane Doe 6),
Paloma Pena (Jane Doe 7),
Lindsay MacInnis (Jane Doe 17),
Jennifer Kobelt (Jane Doe 19),
Margot Leviton (Jane Doe 20),
Isabella Constantino (Jane Doe 21),
Carysa Cottrell (Jane Doe 22),
Deanne Brunelle (Jane Doe 24),
(Jane Doe 28), (Jane Doe 29),
Pamela Cooley (Jane Doe 30),
Rosalyn Cua (Jane Doe 31),
Brieanna Ingram (Jane Doe 32),
Shayna Holmes (Jane Doe 34),
Polly Green (Jane Doe 35),
Andrea Hammond (Jane Doe 36),
Yan Huang (Jane Doe 37),
Tanya Hubbard (Jane Doe 38),
Sara Lim (Jane Doe 39),
Ariella Menashy (Jane Doe 40),
Elham Menhaji (Jane Doe 42),
Maja Miljkovic (Jane Doe 43),
Michelle Saville (Jane Doe 44),
Susan Pratt (Jane Doe 45),
Alison Rood (Jane Doe 47),
Katie Shaw (Jane Doe 48),
Hannah Vanderheyden (Jane Doe 52),
Juliana Vicente (Jane Doe 53),
Susan Patricia Vieta (Jane Doe 54),
Susan Wysocki (Jane Doe 57),
Kayla Grosse (Kayla in Amended Complaint but was originally Jane Doe 58),
Stephanie Fair-Layman (Jane Doe 60),
Gabrielle Gendron (Jane Doe 62),
Sarah Wall (Jane Doe 63),
Scott Starr (John Doe 3),
Philip Akka (John Doe 4),
Alejandro Balassa (John Doe 5),
Madeleine Carrier (John Doe 6),
Rod Christiansen (John Doe 7),
Owen Giroux (John Doe 9),
Jeff Golfman (John Doe 10),
Ashley Harvey (John Doe 11),
Rees Haynes (John Doe 12),
Warne Livesey (John Doe 13),
Anthony Madani (John Doe 15),
Chad Williams (John Doe 19),
Christopher Black (John Doe 20),
Robert Gray (John Doe 21)
Ken Kozak (John Doe 22).
Several Plaintiffs who have not been publicly identified in connection with the subject matter of this litigation decided to terminate their claims rather than risk the kinds of harms they believe they may suffer as a result of public identification.
On November 5, 2021, a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal Without Prejudice was filed for: Jane Doe 51 (No. 114), and on December 15, 2021, Notices of Voluntary Dismissal Without Prejudice were filed for: Jane Doe 13, Jane Doe 23, Jane Doe 26, Jane Doe 33, Jane Doe 55, John Doe 2, John Doe 16, John Doe 17
4. Plaintiffs Who Request to Continue Using Pseudonyms or First Names
I. Daniela, Camila, and Adrian
The FAC identifies Daniela (formerly Jane Doe 1 in the original Complaint), Camila (added as plaintiff in the FAC) and Adrian (formerly John Doe 8 in the original Complaint) by first name only, as they were identified by first name only in witness testimony and/or exhibits introduced during the criminal trial. They have never self-identified with respect to NXIVM in the media, social media or any other public outlet….
Daniela, Camila and Adrian are siblings, a fact that is in the public record. However, considerable efforts have been made for years to protect their full identities from disclosure. Their family name was kept out of the record in the criminal proceedings.
Counsel have worked with media outlets to prevent public exposure of their family name and the places where they reside, and those efforts have been largely successful. Their full identities were disclosed in two books about NXIVM published exclusively in Mexico and one news article written by the author of one of those books.
One publicly accessible blog [Frank Report] published their full names until mid-2018 and has reported on NXIVM using only their first names since then, although several anonymous commenters disclosed full names in the comments section in that blog. No other media outlet has fully identified them.
Not only does each of these siblings have strong individual circumstances warranting protection, but there is no way to protect any one of them without protecting all three. In other words, there are no alternative mechanisms for protecting their confidentiality…
Defendants systematically subjected them to extreme abuses starting when they were teenagers, destroying their entire family in the process. Consequently, they suffered extreme trauma, for which they will likely require therapy for the remainder of their lives….
Two members of their family may still be supporting Raniere – their older sister [Mariana] has his child, and their father submitted a bitter, angry letter to the court in support of Raniere at his sentencing, which heaped public scorn on his children in a way no child should have to experience, no matter what his or her age. This is a family very much divided, and Camila, Daniela and Adrian should not have to choose between some vague hope of someday healing divisions within their family or pursuing their claims.
II. DOS Plaintiffs
Plaintiffs Nicole, Audrey, Amanda [Audrey and Amanda have dropped out of the lawsuit] and Camila are DOS victims whose identities were shielded from full public disclosure by the court in the criminal proceedings, and they were identified by first name in the FAC.
Nicole (formerly Jane Doe 4 in the original Complaint) testified on a first-name only basis at trial. Audrey, Amanda and Camila were identified by first name only in the trial. Several of the Plaintiffs referred to as Jane John Doe herein were only identified by first name in brief passing references.
Although Jane Does 10, 11, 15, and 50 were identified by their first names in the trial, they would like the court to
consider permitting them to shield their identities in light of their individual circumstances….
Each DOS Plaintiff is a victim of sex trafficking and related offenses. “…
First, the allegations for the DOS plaintiffs are of a highly sensitive and personal nature. Each was coerced into giving “collateral” that was intended to have cumulative coercive effects over them. They were required to create and provide materials that would be extremely damaging to themselves and others if released. Some were
branded, and those “ceremonies” were captured on video and held as additional collateral. Some were required to pose for nude group photographs for Defendant Raniere, which were also added collateral. Some were sexually assaulted or coerced into sexual relationships….
Cumulatively, what the DOS plaintiffs went through tips the scale of anonymity in their
Furthermore, each of them has suffered extreme emotional trauma and harm, which will be exacerbated by revealing their identities…., revealing their identities will generate the same harm that the litigation is seeking to
The DOS plaintiffs all provided highly personal, humiliating collateral and materials that could harm themselves and others and were threatened with the release of that collateral, which has not been recovered….
Jane Does 8 and 9 have never been identified by first name and would also like to continue to shield their identities….
Should their identities be revealed, they will experience the same harm that the release of their collateral would cause…
I. Defendants will suffer no prejudice
Defendants of course have a right to know the identities of their accusers, and Plaintiffs have already proposed disclosure of their identities subject to an appropriate protective order.
Defendants cannot articulate any possible prejudice if the above-listed Plaintiffs are permitted to proceed in this litigation with their identities partially or full shielded from public disclosure….
In this case, there are only twelve [now 10] Plaintiffs who continue to seek leave to partially or fully shield their identities at this stage in the litigation. They have already been severely traumatized and still struggle with that trauma. Their circumstances involve highly sensitive information, including specifics about collateral that could traumatize them and damage third- parties. They have avoided publicly identifying themselves and have undertaken considerable efforts to keep their full identities out of the public domain. And for the most part, they have been successful.
While some have been identified on an internet site [Frank Report], one would have to first know their names and association with NXIVM to find those references through an internet search engine. They fear more than generalized or hypothetical consequences should they be required to now identify themselves…. at this juncture, these Plaintiffs should be permitted to continue protecting their privacy and that of those closest to them.