Lionsgate Files Anti-SLAPP Motion to Dismiss ‘Seduced’ Lawsuit – Seeks Legal Fees From Elliot

NXIVM supporter Marc Elliot is suing the producers of the docuseries, Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult – Lionsgate Films Inc., Lionsgate Entertainment Inc., and Starz Entertainment LLC.

Lionsgate, et al, are calling it a SLAPP suit, asking the judge to dismiss the case and for the judge to order Elliot to pay their legal fees.

Seduced examines the experience of India Oxenberg, a former member of NXIVM, who was recruited into DOS, and wound up branded, giving collateral and ordered to seduce Keith Raniere.

Elliot appears an estimated 19 times, for a total of 45 seconds, in the four-hour series.

He is seeking $10 million from Lionsgate.

The case is before Judge John A. Kronstadt in California.

Judge John A. Kronstadt

Elliot’s attorney is Joseph Tully of Tully & Weiss of Martinez, CA. Tully also represents Keith Raniere on his appeal of his criminal conviction.

Keith Raniere’s attorney, Joseph Tully.

Elliot claims Lionsgate, using his likeness, through “misleading splicing of words,” and “creative film editing, voice-overs, and out-of-context statements” committed torts of:

  1. defamation per se
  2. defamation by implication
  3. putting him in a false light
  4. appropriation of his name or likeness,
  5. intentional infliction of emotional distress.

He said Seduced made him look like he:

  1. is dangerous
  2. has been trained to kill
  3. is capable of killing himself if [Raniere] told him to
  4. condones violence against women.
  5. likens him to a rapist
  6. a terrorist in training
  7. a Nazi experimenter
  8. a potential murderer at the direction of Raniere.
  9. a dangerous follower who is weaponized.
  10. the ultimate loyalist of the insinuated sex cult

He says this has caused him to be “subject to widespread humiliation, denigration, mental and emotional anguish, social stigma, threats, professional backlash, and occupational losses.”

Elliot says he was “never approached, interviewed, or consulted on the content included in Seduced, which featured his name, likeness, and image.”

Elliot complains about the juxtaposition of his testimonial about NXIVM trainings on “how to relate to women” with clips of Raniere discussing “primitive” “beasties” who want to “conquer a woman.”

He alleges that editing together testimonials and excerpts from NXIVM’s trainings on gender roles “imply that [Elliot] supported and encouraged sexual violence and misconduct against women.”

Steven Hassan is an author, speaker and consultant on “the protection, rescue and recovery from destructive cults.”

Elliot Shown out of Context

Elliot alleges his face was shown onscreen, followed by commentary from Steven Hassan and Rick Ross discussing “coercive” tactics to “foster obedience,” referencing ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

Elliot was also shown onscreen while experts critiqued former Dr. Brandon Porter’s “fright experiments.”

Footage of Brandon Porter, Nancy Salzman and Marc Elliot is shown on STARZ’s Seduced.

Elliot alleged that a segment showing him standing in the audience of various seminars with Raniere is defamatory because he was not standing when Raniere said the provocative words spoken in the clip.

Elliot claimed that Ross’ opining on the violent actions that other cult-like groups have taken, makes it “appear as if [Raniere] is giving Plaintiff specific instructions to kill someone specifically.”

Lionsgate Responds

In response to Elliot’s lawsuit, Lionsgate filed a Special Motion to Strike motion, AKA an anti-SLAPP motion, to dismiss the case. SLAPP is an acronym for “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.”

The anti-SLAPP statute was enacted to check “a disturbing increase in lawsuits brought primarily to chill the valid exercise of the constitutional right of freedom of speech and petition.”

Jassy Vick Carolan, one of the attorneys representing Lionsgate

 

Meghan Fenzel, the other attorney representing Lionsgate

Lionsgate, represented by Jassy Vick Carolan and Meghan Fenzel, argue that nothing is defamatory because it is based on “Defendants’ [free] speech and alleged conduct in furtherance of speech in connection with matters of public interest.”

Opinions Are Protected Speech

Lionsgate’s attorneys argued that anything the experts said in Seduced was opinion, not fact.  “Whether a statement implies a factual assertion or merely conveys protected opinion or hyperbole,” is the crucial test.

Here are excerpts from the motion to strike.

They wrote:

The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that the First Amendment limits defamation plaintiffs to complaints about verifiable facts….

The issue of whether a statement is a factual assertion or nonactionable opinion or hyperbole “is a question of law to be decided by the court.”

“The determination of whether an allegedly defamatory statement is a statement of fact or statement of opinion is a question of law.”

Here, the alleged implications are all presented as opinions – sometimes interlaced with epithets, fiery rhetoric, hyperbole and colorful commentary – about NXIVM.

***

Opinions, “‘rhetorical hyperbole,’ ‘vigorous epithet[s],’ ‘lusty and imaginative expression[s] of contempt,’ and language used ‘in a loose, figurative sense’ have all been accorded constitutional
protection.” Indeed, “[e]ven if they are objectively unjustified or made in bad faith, publications which are statements of opinion rather than fact cannot form the basis for a libel action.”

***

[I]f it is plain that the speaker is expressing a subjective view, an interpretation, a theory, conjecture, or surmise, rather than claiming to be in possession of objectively verifiable facts, the statement is not actionable.’”

Four of the five alleged implications are connected to people identified as experts on cults, and their opinions about NXIVM.  “‘cult experts’ Rick Ross and Steven Hassan likening NXIVM’s “mind-control” techniques to those used by “ISIS and Al-Qaeda”, ‘cult expert,’ Dr. Janja Lalich,” referencing Nazi experimentation when discussing NXIVM’s Porter, Ross’ further reference to NXIVM’s destructive methods.

***

They argue that Seduced:

  1. does not state anything defamatory about Elliot since “they do not convey verifiable statements of fact but are instead constitutionally protected opinion and/or hyperbole”
  2. “nowhere does the Series state or imply that Plaintiff – unlike other NXIVM leaders – engaged in any criminal or otherwise wrongful behavior.”
  3. makes no defamatory statements directly or by implication about Plaintiff.
  4. Even if there were such implications, they would all be protected speech.
  5. The Series does not name or show Plaintiff during the segments about criminal conduct.
  6. Nowhere does the Series expressly call Plaintiff a potential murderer or rapist.

    ***

Plaintiff cannot point to a single false statement about him personally. Rather, he claims that a total of 45 seconds where he appeared in the Series were “misleading” and “insinuate[d]” Plaintiff was “equated” to negative characters and aspects of NXIVM.

Keith Raniere and Marc Elliot discuss the results of the Tourette’s Study.

Raniere, Not Elliot, Was Targeted

First, the implication Plaintiff alleges regarding his testimonial on “how to relate to women” is unreasonable…. Raniere is depicted indoors, at night, during a session. Plaintiff’s testimonial is depicted in an obviously separate setting: outside, in a formal interview, during the day.

It is unreasonable to claim that the editing implies that Plaintiff was directly referring to Raniere’s “conquer a woman” comments….

Nor is it reasonable to draw an implication that by simply depicting an individual attending a training on Raniere’s theories of man’s nature the Series is implying that the individual “supported sexual violence and misconduct against women” or “equate[s]”to being a “rapist.” ….

The Series accurately portrayed Raniere as an abuser—it made no implications about Elliot….

There is no “clear implication” that Plaintiff endorses Raniere’s comments about “sexual violence against women.” …

There is no reasonable implication that Plaintiff himself is being equated with terrorists or their actions.

Third, it is unreasonable to read an implication that the criticisms of former Dr. Porter’s “fright experiments” extended to Elliot…. Rather, they are about Raniere and Porter.

The expert opinion commentary in the Series expressing horror at the unethical experiments, drawing parallels to Nazi doctors, refers only to Porter’s “fright experiments.” The commentary does not refer to Plaintiff or his Tourette’s work as “horrific” or “unconscionable” and does not state or imply that Plaintiff knew about or supported Porter’s “fright experiments.”

***

Even if Raniere’s and the experts’ statements can be understood to imply qualities about Plaintiff – which Defendants dispute is reasonable or clear as a matter of law – the language itself is not to be taken literally as being provably true or false. There is no verifiable statement or implication that Plaintiff is a Nazi.

***

[T]he opinions offered from cult experts about ‘cult indoctrination,’ ‘weapon[izing]’ followers and Nazi experimentation are not, by clear implication, about Plaintiff….

***

Here, the experts’ low opinions of NXIVM and Raniere’s desires to “weaponize” his followers, as well as Raniere’s opinions of the “primitive parts” of men, are not presented as verifiable facts.

Even if they could be applied to Plaintiff – which is neither reasonable nor clear – they are still presented as constitutionally protected opinions or hyperbole critical of those who support NXIVM’s methods.

***

Fourth, it is unreasonable to claim that a clip showing Plaintiff standing in the audience of a Raniere seminar implies that he was “receiving orders from Raniere to kill someone and that such actions are justified” much less that Raniere is “giving Plaintiff specific instructions to kill someone specifically.”.

..

Viewed as a whole, it is unreasonable to allege that the segment implies that Plaintiff is receiving direct orders to kill. It is framed as a seminar on ethics, and Plaintiff is briefly seen as just one of many audience members listening to Raniere, not an individual receiving direct orders to kill.

Fifth, it is unreasonable to allege that drawing parallels between NXIVM and other cult-like organizations implied that Plaintiff himself would “commit murder or suicide.”

Keith Raniere and Marc Elliot

As Plaintiff alleges, the Series shows various experts pondering where Raniere was “really leading” NXIVM and raising concerns about the actions of past cult-like groups with leaders who demanded fierce loyalty. Plaintiff is not shown or named in this montage. The segment is sharing the viewpoints of various experts who have studied other cult-like groups—like the Branch Davidians of Waco and Heaven’s Gate—drawing parallels between Raniere’s coaching and early-stage actions those groups’ leaders.

Rick Ross offered his opinion about NXIVM, and other groups.

However, it is unreasonable to read into this speculation about Raniere’s intentions an implication that Plaintiff was therefore “a potential murderer on command” who was being trained “to kill someone specifically.”

Likewise, there is no “clear implication” that Plaintiff accepted and followed Raniere’s alleged “orders” to “kill someone” or become a “potential murderer on command.”.

***

Marc Elliot must respond to this motion, and by law he has to show a probability of winning the case, something the judge, not the jury, will decide. If the judge decides Elliot will not get his day in court, and dismisses the case, based on anti-SLAPP, he may require Elliot to pay a penalty for bringing the case, something which Lionsgate is asking the judge to do.

The legal fees to date – and I can only estimate – are probably upwards of $100,000.

 

 

 

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Frank Parlato

47 Comments

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  • I watched it. If he were really only on for 45 seconds, I doubt most people will have even remembered he was in it. Had I been asked before reading this I would have said I could not remember.

    Cults (and as we are seeing in Russia today leaders like Putin) want to stop free speech so people hear only one narrative and cannot use critical thinking. Freedom of speech is best and also more relevant here, was he really defamed? I don’t even remember he was in it. Also, if what were said were true that would not be defamation anyway (here in the UK).

  • Judge Kronstadt should dismiss this lawsuit. Lionsgate has both the law and facts on its side.

    Thanks to the U.S. Constitution, freedom of speech is given abundant scope. Claims for legal redress based on alleged defamation face a high bar and rightly so.

    “Opinions, “‘rhetorical hyperbole,’ ‘vigorous epithet[s],’ ‘lusty and imaginative expression[s] of contempt,’ and language used ‘in a loose, figurative sense’ have all been accorded constitutional
    protection.” Indeed, “[e]ven if they are objectively unjustified or made in bad faith, publications which are statements of opinion rather than fact cannot form the basis for a libel action.”

    I love this! “‘rhetorical hyperbole,’ ‘vigorous epithet[s],’ ‘lusty and imaginative expression[s] of contempt,’ “ Who would’ve thought legal motions could be this amusing?

    The Dead-ender plaintiff in this case doesn’t like the way he was portrayed in this TV docudrama. He can, in formal legalese, go suck an egg.

    He doesn’t like his image juxtaposed with Raniere as Raniere mouths off some of his patented offensive inane bullshit. Well too bad. Elliott is a documented supporter of Raniere and all things Nxivm.

    He associated himself with the criminal sex-trafficker Raniere and the criminal racket Nxivm. That’s not something Lionsgate did to him.

    “Plaintiff cannot point to a single false statement about him personally. Rather, he claims that a total of 45 seconds where he appeared in the Series were “misleading” and “insinuate[d]…”

    Forty-five seconds. That’s his total screen time. At no point in that forty-five seconds is there any statement of fact made about the plaintiff that could be considered legal defamation. Judge Kronstadt can easily determine this.

    There is plainly no legal basis for this lawsuit. Therefore, the case should be dismissed with plaintiff paying the defense’s legal costs.

    In my opinion of course.

  • Ginzo!

    You have been very rude lately to a very good and noble man and our Colonel!

    Did your genetically inferior, degenerate yankee, greaseball, mafia loving parents ever teach you to respect your elders, especially and an elder that is *FAR MORE GENETICALLY SUPERIOR TO YOU*?!

    What do you have to say for yourself this time, Ginzo?!……….. 😠

      • Parlato-

        Stripping people of their cultural symbols is wrong and obtrusive!

        What’s your home address so I can sue you?!?!?!

      • Franke you were a goodbye boy. You sucked at spinning pizza, but your stuffed ricotta shells topped of with the parmesan/romano blend was incredible.

        Stop stripping people of their heritage!

        Don’t be a Fredo!

    • Patriot General

      What’s going on my old friend? You were the guy that pissed of Claviger to the point he wished you die of Covid. You’re the only commenter to piss-off me, Nice Guy.

      Can’t the old you come back? Take your meds, little dude.

      You were the little dipshit we all loved to hate. 😉

      I bid you good day!
      ****
      Dennis Burke, if that’s you, return to the reservation before it’s too late.

      • Why did you strip out the cultural heritage symbols?!?!?

        Apple allows emojis and Apple is Woke.

        The Frank Report is now more woke than Apple.

      • The Frank Report has no right to strip away someone’s cultural symbols!

      • Franky my man, what did you find so offensive to strip away Uncle Allah’s cultural symbols?

  • NBC Chicago.com

    A motion to dismiss the conviction of actor Jussie Smollett for lying to Chicago police about a racist and homophobic attack he staged himself was denied Thursday.

    Cook County Judge James Linn’s ruling upheld the jury’s verdict from December that found Smollett, who is Black and gay, guilty of five felony counts of disorderly conduct. He was acquitted on a sixth count.

    A motion to dismiss the conviction of actor Jussie Smollett for lying to Chicago police about a racist and homophobic attack he staged himself was denied Thursday.

    Cook County Judge James Linn’s ruling upheld the jury’s verdict from December that found Smollett, who is Black and gay, guilty of five felony counts of disorderly conduct. He was acquitted on a sixth count.

    [ … ]

  • Sarah Lawrence Cult Trial Begins
    Lawrence V. Ray was indicted after a New York magazine story uncovered his cultlike hold over his daughter’s college friends and others.

    Mr. Ray, who moved into his daughter’s dormitory at Sarah Lawrence College after being released from prison, is accused of manipulating her friends and others using cult-leader tactics. He has been charged with several crimes, including racketeering conspiracy, extortion and sex trafficking.

    Mr. Ray, who was then 50 years old, quickly became a domineering force in the dormitory, called Slonim Woods, according to prosecutors. He began offering what prosecutors called phony “therapy” sessions to his daughter’s friends and roommates, gaining insight into their lives and vulnerabilities.

    As those students fell under Mr. Ray’s influence, his behavior, as described in an indictment, became more aggressive. Over the years that followed, Mr. Ray ran what prosecutors said was a criminal enterprise — one that in many ways resembled a cult, with Mr. Ray playing the role of authoritarian leader.

    He is said to have used psychological manipulation to convince the students that they were “broken” and in need of his “fixing.” Prosecutors said he indoctrinated the students into his system of beliefs; used threats and coercion to get them to confess to crimes they had not committed; and extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars from them.

    Prosecutors said that Mr. Ray ordered students to perform unpaid labor, compelled one female student to have sex with a male student and forced that female student into prostitution. He is accused of directing another woman to have sexual encounters with strangers and to document them with video, of which he then took possession.

    • Wow. It is one reason it is best if students are with people their own age only. In fact if I ever go on a place students post online I don’t say much and don’t stay long because it just feels wrong being older and invading their space (even online).

  • Lionsgate Films is a Canadian movie studio founded by Canadian banker Frank Giustra.

    Giustra is a Canadian financier who is close to former President Bill Clinton and Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

    Lionsgate Entertainment and Thunderbird Entertainment Group
    After he left investment banking in 1996, served as chairman of Lions Gate Entertainment from 1997 to 2003.[14] He hoped to capitalize on the growing film industry in Vancouver. The company bought a number of small production facilities and distributors. Its first success was American Psycho, which began a trend of producing and distributing films far too controversial for the major American studios. Other successes included Affliction, Gods and Monsters, Dogma, Crash and the Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, which turned out to be the studio’s highest-grossing film. In 2000, Giustra left the firm and it was taken over by Jon Feltheimer and Michael Burns. Giustra sold most of his stake in Lionsgate in 2003.

    In December 2010, Giustra returned to Lions Gate Entertainment as a member of the board of directors.[15]

    The Giustra Foundation has contributed $30M towards the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI), which works with governments and other partners to increase access medical care for HIV+ people.
    On June 17, 2010, Giustra joined with Carlos Slim and President Clinton to create a $20 million fund to assist small businesses in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Giustra

    In Chicago news former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, who has been in the Illinois legislature for over 50 years, has been indicted for RICO and extortion.
    Madigan was more powerful than the Illinois Governors over the past fifty years.

    Michael Madigan indictment: Former House speaker pleads not guilty in federal corruption case

    It was an inconceivable event that the most powerful political figure in Illinois’ 204-year state government history even went before a federal judge in such a corruption case. Madigan, with 50 years under his belt in the General Assembly, was long considered untouchable — or at least beyond the reach of prosecutors.

    But on Wednesday afternoon, without personally uttering a single word, Madigan let his attorneys enter a not guilty plea to a 22-count federal indictment that rocked the Illinois political world when it was handed up by a federal grand jury last week.

    The arraignment and initial court “appearance” was in name only. No one actually appeared in court or at the Dirksen Federal Building. As the I-Team first disclosed, Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole had ordered the hearing be held via telephone-a function of continuing COVID-19 restrictions-although the impersonal proceeding allowed Madigan to avoid a “perp walk” through the lobby of the courthouse building.

    https://abc7chicago.com/mike-madigan-michael-illinois-indictment/11635592/

    BREAKING: Former IL House Speaker Mike Madigan indicted on federal corruption charges: LIVE

    • Re Splicing Documentaries:

      The controversial Michael Moore started the splicing documentaries trend with his debut Roger and Me in 1989. No one has successfully sued Moore for splicing.

      Poor Marc Eliot will lose his lawsuit, just like all the other NX’ers always lose. Cuz they’re all losers — just like you, hurtingpeople2(Alanzo).
      ***
      This Bob Dole ad sums up Alonzo’s life:
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OoISd6PVYTY

      Wait till the end of the video……

      • Doesn’t make it right, though
        Sometimes, dialing it back is a good idea, amendments so to speak.

        P.S. I am not Alonzo nor does your assessment of me matter to me.

        Now I know why they call it Hollyweird

        • To Whom It May Concern:

          Re HurtingPeoples Declaration:

          HuntingPeople2 says:
          I am not Alonzo nor does your assessment of me matter to me.

          I say to Hunting People2:
          You’re not a Alonzo and you don’t care what we think…..👌🏻
          Then why say anything at all? Duh. Truly, whatever, you say Alonzo, and I ‘asses’ you’re sock puppet name is creepy. What was your second choice Ted Bundy?

          Faithfully,
          Dr. Detroit MD

          P.S. Once again the Cult Groupie forgot his MEDS 5x Zyprexa 3,000mg.
          👹+💊=🤗

    • NXIVM loyalists used to slice Hollywood videos together to give Vanguard Raniere tribute in his 10 days of birthday bash at Sliver Lake all the time.

      No one in NXIVM said it was a NoNo

      • Sounds like your confusing NX loyalists with Mark Vicente on splicing videos.
        Either way, I’m not a fan of the practice.

        That’s my opinion, what’s yours?

  • Just like Suneel…Elliot found “something” in KAR. (NXIVM)

    There’s a fine-line, an enlightened experience, a ‘deeper meaning’ found.

    The same wanderlust that has confused Alanzo… and not unlike the same spirit that fuels this entire blog.

    Upon my first watch, I certainly was rooting for Marc.

    Y’all are so close to moving on…Just do that. <3

Frank Parlato

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premieres on May 22, 2022.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Parlato,_Jr.

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com

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