Camila won a victim restitution award of more than $500,000 in the criminal case against Keith Raniere.
It appears that may be paid from the $6 million Clare Bronfman paid to the Department of Justice in lieu of any other forfeiture of her assets even though there was no adjudication that she was a victim of Bronfman.
Raniere owes the money but supposedly has none, so the feds are looking into whether they can use Bronfman’s money to pay Camila and about 20 other victims. Cami was awarded the largest amount in restitution by Judge Nicholas Garaufis.
Cami is also, along with more than 60 plaintiffs, seeking damages in a civil lawsuit against not only Raniere but ten other individuals, including especially Clare and her sister Sara Bronfman, in federal court.
Other than the Bronfman sisters, the other defendants are hardly worth pursuing in federal court.
None of them have attorneys other than the Bronfmans. Three of them, Nicki Clyne, Danielle Roberts, and Brandon Porter, represent themselves because, as they have claimed to the court, they do not have the money to retain an attorney.
Among the others, Raniere is in prison, as is Allison Mack and Nancy Salzman. Kathy Russell and Lauren Salzman are on probation, and all of them have lost most of their assets defending the criminal case.
The civil case is entirely about extracting some of the Bronfman’s wealth, which means that the Bronfmans have to be found liable for any actions committed by Raniere and others.
This is especially true for Camila, and for the first time, she will be sworn in and testify – first in a deposition, and later, if the case survives, at trial.
She will be cross-examined by some of the sharpest litigators around – the Bronfmans’ attorneys.
Because this is a civil case, and the quest is money, the judge, US District Court Judge Eric Komitee, will not be as protective of the plaintiffs as Judge Nicholas Garaufis was of the female victims in the Raniere criminal trial.
Cami will be cross-examined without much shielding. Little will be off-limits, including the WhatsApp chats between her and Raniere that were not presented in the criminal trial.
That cross-examination will not be by a defense attorney scrambling against a mountain of horrifying evidence of Raniere’s guilt before a jury that disliked the defendant and a judge who did not seem too fond of – and was often impatient with – the lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, and a judge who disliked, and was, at times it seems, mortified by the defendant’s conduct.
Camila will face a battery of Bronfman lawyers in pursuing her monetary claims, who will have wide latitude to discredit any claim she makes tying in the Bronfman sisters to her victimization.
That’s the only reason they are there: To separate the Bronfmans from anything Keith had done.
Both men appeared for Clare for her sentencing and represent her on the appeal of her sentence.
Clare Bronfman also retained the ‘white shoe’ law firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher, LLP, founded in 1888, with offices worldwide.
Attorneys from Willkie in this matter include Sara Tonnies Horton, a partner with expertise in complex civil litigation, and Craig C. Martin, who is a member of the Executive Committee of the 1000-lawyer firm, a partner in the Litigation Department, and described as a “leading national trial lawyer, his clients include… some of the nation’s most influential families, and he regularly appears as lead counsel in trials and appeals in state and federal courts as well as in domestic and international arbitrations.”
Lawyers for Sara Bronfman
For Sara Bronfman, she has retained the global chairman of Fried Frank’s litigation department, James D. Wareham, and the firm’s so-called ‘bet the company’ litigation partner, Israel David.
Civil Rules Are Different From Criminal
When you sue for money, the rules are different than when you are a victim in a criminal case prosecuted by the government.
Cami is not only suing the man who abused her, the allegedly penniless and imprisoned Keith Raniere, but she is also suing the heirs of the Seagram’s liquor fortune, who likely had little or nothing to do with Raniere grooming Camila, starting in 2003, or his sexually exploiting her in 2005 when she was 15.
The Bronfmans joined NXIVM in 2003, and by 2005, they were still new members of NXIVM.
At the same time, Camila was isolated from most of the members, including her own family, according to the complaint and her statement at Raniere’s sentencing hearing.
Do the Bronfmans have liability for the early actions of Raniere toward Camila?
Camila also alleges ongoing abuse by Raniere that lasted throughout their relationship, after Camila reached the age of consent and when the Bronfman sisters rose to become principal managers and chief financial supporters of Raniere and the NXIVM organization.
Neil Glazer and his team of Philadelphia lawyers from Kohn Swift and Graf would not spend thousands of hours on speculation, hoping to collect a third of the judgment if the Bronfman sisters were not the financial target. Nor would they do that if they did not think there was a legal theory and evidence of a definite tie to the Bronfmans’ conduct and Raniere’s abuse.
If Camila is to collect from the Bronfmans, the proof will have to be strong, not of Raniere abusing her in 2005 but of the Bronfmans doing so after that period, when they rose to power in the company.
I will venture that defense might focus on Camila, the adult, and purport to show how she eagerly and voluntarily embraced a relationship with Raniere while she was in her 20s; that she was not a victim but was seeking opportunity – advancement in the company and a married or committed relationship with Raniere and to have his child and that her actions were responsible for her disappointment.
While this is disputable as it concerns Raniere, it may go toward whether Bronfmans were responsible for whatever happened to her during her life in NXIVM, which began when she was 13 and ended when she was 28.
Love Turned to Hate
If two defendants in the civil case are the sole reason for the case – the Bronfman sisters – there also may be only three main plaintiffs who are the crux of the matter – Camila, Daniela, and Nicole [and arguably several other DOS women].
Of these three, they all, at one time, liked, if not loved, Raniere. All three now despise him.
That, too, will be a focus of the civil case.
Part of that will focus on the Keith and Camila chats, including many that were not read in court, which Frank Report obtained from the DOJ at the time of trial.
In toto, they present a far more nuanced portrait of the relationship between Cami and Keith. The selection of chats the prosecution chose to read to the jury was exclusively directed to paint the villainy of Raniere.
There is little doubt that Camila, her sister Daniela and Nicole, and others changed their minds about Raniere.
The chats will be instructive since they are voluminous and give a day-by-day revelation of what the two were texting, when Camila was in her mid-20s and Raniere in his mid-50s, speaking of love and intimacy and many other topics.
Part of the defense may be that Camila changed in her esteem and love for Raniere for money, which may be acceptable or not, but that it is not fair to blame the Bronfmans.