Marc Elliot is suing the producers of Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult, Lionsgate Films Inc., Lionsgate Entertainment Inc., and Starz Entertainment LLC, [Lionsgate].
Lionsgate is calling it a SLAPP suit, asking the judge to dismiss the case, and looking for the judge to order the plaintiff, Marc Elliot, to pay its legal fees.
In support of their anti-SLAPP motion, Lionsgate filed a Request for Judicial Notice.
After Raniere was convicted , Elliot continued to support NXIVM, advocating in favor of reducing Raniere’s sentence and vacating his conviction based on prosecutorial misconduct.
The Federal Rules of Evidence addresses judicial notice in Rule 201. What it is, in effect, is asking the judge to agree that certain “facts” are true because they are obvious and indisputable: i.e., facts whose “accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.”
In a civil case, the judge’s word on these noticed facts is said to be final, though not so in a criminal case where the jury can question any judicially adjudicated fact it might dispute.
The purpose of this motion for judicial notice in the Elliot case is to have the judge rule that certain facts are true and is in support of their anti-SLAPP motion.
Lionsgate has submitted a series of exhibits and is asking the judge to look at them and decide they are facts:
What Lionsgate’s attorneys want the judge to adjudicate as facts from these exhibits are:
Plaintiff names Raniere 44 times in the FAC. The prosecution of NXIVM leader Keith Raniere for sex trafficking, forced labor, and racketeering is related to this litigation.
Since Elliot names Raniere 44 times in his complaint, Lions Gate argues “It is related to this litigation.”
“Episode Four of the Series focuses on the criminal investigation and trial of Raniere, which ended with a 120-year federal prison sentence.
Plaintiff’s name and story battling Tourette Syndrome fill three pages of the memo Raniere’s legal team submitted advocating for a lighter sentence.
This is a defamation case brought by an admitted NXIVM member, regarding Lionsgate’s contributions to the public debate about NXIVM.
Exhibit 3 reflects how both local and national media outlets published in-depth coverage about NXIVM and Keith Raniere prior to the federal criminal investigation.
Exhibit 4 reflects how, beginning in 2017 and throughout the criminal investigation and prosecution, NXIVM and Raniere garnered significant media coverage across print media, television, podcasts, and docuseries. Such coverage provides “evidence
of the ‘media frenzy’” surrounding NXIVM and Raniere,
Exhibit 5 is judicially noticeable to the extent it reflects how Plaintiff himself has been the subject of media coverage following Raniere’s criminal conviction.
Exhibit 6 is a copy of the New York State Department of Health’s Office of Professional Misconduct and Physician Discipline search result for Brandon B. Porter, showing that his medical license was revoked.
Elliot appears onscreen with Porter in Episode Four, text appears noting that Brandon Porter’s medical license was revoked. Elliot alleges that commentary about “Dr.” Porter’s work with NXIVM in Seduced was defamatory to him.
As part of Lionsgate anti- SLAPP lawsuit, the defendants in Marc Elliot v. Lions Gate Films, Inc. et al, produced exhibits which evidence facts they want the judge to notice and adjudicate as fact, in support their motion to dismiss.
Here they are:
Exhibit 1, is a compilation of four DVDs; each DVD contains one episode of the four-part documentary series at issue in this dispute, Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult. It established the fact of Seduced.
Exhibit 2 is the ECF docket report and a pertinent docket entry referencing Elliot from the criminal case U.S. v. Raniere. federal court records from the criminal case U.S. v. Raniere establishing the fact the Raniere was convicted and was sentenced to 120 years.
This exhibit includes:
- An excerpted copy of the ECF docket report for USA v Raniere. The docket entry at No. 969 details Raniere’s sentence of 120 years imprisonment.
- A copy of criminal defendant Raniere’s sentencing memorandum, discussing Elliot support for Raniere on pages 33–36.
Exhibit 3, is an illustrative compilation of articles and media coverage about NXIVM up to October 2017 showing that NXIVM had some bad press prior to Raniere’s arrest. This exhibit includes:
.A copy of articles by
- Barry Meier, Inside a Secretive Group Where Women Are Branded, NY Times (Oct. 17, 2017).
- Suzanna Andrews, The Heiresses and the Cult, Vanity Fair (Oct. 13, 2010).
- Cult of Personality, Forbes (Oct. 13, 2003).
- Albany Times Union’s landing page featuring its coverage of NXIVM. I accessed this website
Exhibit 4 is an illustrative compilation of articles and media coverage about NXIVM from late 2017 onward, covering allegations of sex trafficking and the related criminal cases. The fact they want to establish is there was a media frenzy after DOS was exposed.
- Jeff Truesdell, Dynasty Star Catherine Oxenberg’s Fight to Save Daughter from Group That Allegedly Brands Women, People (Oct. 25, 2017).
- ABC News’s landing page featuring their coverage of NXIVM. Out of the 160 search results featuring the term “NXIVM,” the earliest is dated December 15, 2017.
- Associated Press, NXIVM leader Keith Raniere convicted in lurid sex cult case, Los Angeles Times (June 19, 2019).
- Lauren Kranc, How NXIVM Seduced Hollywood Stars and America’s Most Powerful Elite Into a Barbaric ‘Sex Cult’, Esquire (Sept. 8, 2021).
- Albany Times Union’s landing page for the NXIVM On Trial podcast.
- CBC Radio Podcasts’ landing page for the Uncover— Escaping NXIVM podcast.
- HBO’s landing page for the documentary series The Vow.
- Starz’s landing page for the documentary series Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult.
Exhibit 5, is an illustrative compilation of national news media coverage of Marc Elliot speaking publicly following Raniere’s criminal conviction to establish that Elliot was out front and center defending Raniere
- Reuters photojournalist slideshow pictures: NXIVM sex cult founder Keith Raniere sentenced to 120 years in prison, Reuters (Oct. 27, 2020). The first photo in the slideshow shows Plaintiff Marc Elliot standing in front of news microphones outside a United States Courthouse.
- The caption reads “Michele Hatchette, Nikki Clyne, Marc Elliot, Eduardo Asunsolo and Suneel Chakravorty, supporters of NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere, speak to reporters following the sentencing hearing in the sex trafficking and racketeering case against Raniere, . . .”
- A screenshot and link to a CBS link to a CBS This Morning Video interview segment, Former “Battlestar Galactica” actress part of alleged “sex cult” speaks out, CBS This Morning (Sept. 29, 2020)
- Plaintiff Marc Elliot appears as one of five interviewees accompanied by the chyron “Former NXIVM Members Speak Out.” January 27, 2022.
Exhibit 6, the New York State Department of Health’s Office of Professional Misconduct and
Physician Discipline physician search result for Brandon B. Porter. The record reflects that Porter’s medical license No. 253486 has been revoked due to “professional misconduct . . . in a manner which evidences moral unfitness.” The record links to the Board’s Order, which details the allegations and Board’s determination.