Cami Deserved Better & Still Does
In the FR post, The Unseen Keith & Cami Texts: Camila Had a More Nuanced Relationship Than Selected Texts at Trial, I wrote, “When t[the prosecution] showed the [passport] photo of 18-year-old Camila to the jury and then began to read the texts of hers at age 24, I chuckled, for it was a clever trick of the prosecution, gamesmanship that many, but not all, prosecutors play, to lie by omission, and it was permitted to go unchecked.”
A concerned commenter wrote in response with more to say about Camila. Interspersed with Concerned’s commentary, are Camila’s words at the sentencing hearing of Keith Raniere where she asked the Court “to take my12 years of abuse and the effects of that abuse that I continue to experience today into consideration in sentencing him.”
The photos used in court are very often dated. Booking photos used in court will at times show a young teenager, not the now 25-year-old on trial. Or a high school photo of a defendant wearing a cap and gown will be submitted, not the tatted-up gang member they became in the ensuing three years before the crime for which they are presently on trial was committed.
Using an official passport photo of Camila was smart. There’s no context to make it appear slanted toward a certain “image” of Cami. It also has the documented date it was taken.
Unless everyone in a criminal case poses for headshots right before the trial, the lawyers on both sides are going to use what’s available to them—big deal.
Keith Raniere, government exhibit photo.
The texts between Camila and Keith mostly reveal how juvenile and needy Keith behaved. And piggish. How many times does Cami have to say she wants no part of a threesome?
It doesn’t matter if Keith had eventually married Cami. When Keith took sexually explicit photos of Cami and sexually abused her at 15. – Keith committed crimes. It would have been no different than any other religious cult leader abusing minors and later marrying them. When the sexual relationship began, it was a minor child and a middle-aged, disgusting cult leader in a position of unquestioned authority.
Camila, at the sentencing hearing: He would often take me to his executive library, where he would ask me to take my clothes off before coming up the stairs to the loft as he watched. During these secret meetings, when I was still 15, he took naked pictures of me.
Concerned: Cami was isolated during her formative years. She was mentally, emotionally, and physically abused from the age of 13.
Camila: I met him when I was just 13, and from the start, I did not feel comfortable around him. I would even try to avoid being in the same room as him, but the adults around me would get mad at me for being rude and push me back towards him. This felt like a violation and a betrayal from the very people that were supposed to protect me.
The very first time I was left to have a conversation alone with him, we talked about how I placed second on my eighth-grade spelling bee contest. I continued to avoid him after that for some time, but years later, he told me how he knew I was special from the moment we met at 13.
Concerned: Cami had sexually graphic blackmail on her since she was 15 years old. In her victim impact statement, you could feel the power over Cami and the shame those explicit sexual photos still held.
Camila: The experience of being photographed is seared into my memory. As a 15-year-old, that is not something you easily forget. He would have with me some type of sexual contact during every meeting. He wanted to take a picture with no exception.
Concerned: Nothing about Cami’s life from age 15 on was healthy. Cami was sexually exploited and estranged from her family.
Camila: He first had sex with me on September 18, 2005. He would expect me to celebrate September 18th as our anniversary together every year. That first time, which was my first time, I was 15. He was 45…
He told me keep it all a secret, immediately severing me from my family and friends and effectively making himself my only resource. Beginning at that time, he would ask me to sneak out of the house that I was living in to meet him at places where we were isolated, as well as from everyone else, so that he could have sex with me.
Concerned: She had an eating disorder.
Camila: He exerted an intense amount of pressure on me regarding my weight, which resulted in an eating disorder that has been a lifelong battle and has caused me ongoing health problems.
When I was 15, I was a normal teenager who had a normal relationship with food and exercise, but he destroyed that. As soon as we started having sex, he started asking me my weight every single day, and this continued into my adulthood…
I’m 5’5,” and his goal for me was to weigh 100 pounds or less. Today I try not to think about my weight, but I still hear his voice in my head, and it continues to be a daily struggle.
After experiencing threatening physical symptoms because of the eating disorder, some of which I have yet to fully recover from, I asked for outside professional help, but his answer was always, “lose the weight first.” These are words that were burned into my memory because of the desperation and the hopelessness that I felt being met with such a heartless response.
Concerned: She tried to kill herself. This was a human in severe anguish and crisis. Did she still have a “good” day or laugh sometimes? Of course. Did she develop coping skills to survive the insanity of her life? No doubt.
Camila: He drove me to the point of a suicide attempt with his cold-mind games. That night, when he finally, in a state of shock with blood running down my arms, one of the first things out of his mouth was, “Do you know how bad it could have been for me if you had killed yourself?”
His first thought was always of himself and the potential exposure of his secret, even when I was in extreme distress. He acknowledged that the right thing would be for me to go to a hospital and be placed under psychiatric evaluation. I would have welcomed that help and a break from his cruelty.
Instead, he asserted his capability that he could help me better than any trained professional. He continued the mind games and did not allow me to seek outside help. I really thought he would let me go after that. Instead, he tightened his grip and brought in more people to keep me in check. It felt like I would never be free. There was no way out.
Concerned: Appeasing Keith was probably somewhat of a reflexive action. Cami probably didn’t want to end up siloed in a room like Daniela. Or otherwise tormented and punished.
Camila: He knew exactly what he was doing. He even asked me at some point if having his initials on my body would keep me from being with other people. He drew pleasure from knowing he had marked me. I was his….
Concerned: Cami is to be respected for trying to have any autonomy or take even a tiny stand against child sexual predator Raniere. However, Cami is probably still sifting through the damage and manipulation she endured in her childhood.
Camila: While he hid our sexual relationship from others, he explained it to me by telling me I was very mature for my age, and the flattering and the romance of hearing that when you’re a teenager; I know now that it was false. I was a child. I also know that it was no excuse to rob me of my youth or to interrupt my life the way he did. He used my innocence as — my innocence to do whatever he wanted with me, not just sexually but also psychologically.
He manipulated me into what he wanted for his own reasons, for his own pleasure. He was calculated and methodical in the way he tricked me into a relationship and the way he manipulated me for every second of my life. He groomed me in his eyes. He shaped my being to his liking, or mine, he said.
Concerned: It’s unlikely that Cami has even yet decided what (if any) choices really were hers during the Albany years. And it’s so complicated with her sisters and Keith. And Cami’s parents and Keith. And Cami’s brother and Keith.
Cami’s nephew is the son of the man who raped her as a teenager and created child pornography starring her at 15 years old, for God’s sake. That’s a lot for any human to sort out.
I left in 2017 thanks to my sister… I was distrustful of almost everyone, including my own family…. I continue to carry scars, physical and emotional and psychological to this day. Because he manipulated me into a sexual relationship, I carry the pain and shame of aborting a child at his direction, which is something that would haunt me every day and a wound that will never heal….
I hold scars on my body from him that can never be erased. They carry immense emotional and psychological pain. They are a reminder of his cruelty and manipulations….
I also have cervical dysplasia, which is a precancer in my cervix from the HPV virus. Every step of the procedure has been traumatic because it reminds me of the way in which he violated my being. The lasting effects of his abuses of me include threatening my ability to have a family in the future in a normal manner and having to deal with long-lasting medical effects….
I feel the mental and emotional and physical consequences of his abuse every single day….