Today is Clare Bronfman’s 43rd birthday.
She resides in the Philadelphia Detention Center, one of the USA’s most unhealthy and punishing federal slave pens. A Chamber of Horrors that future humanity will one day look back at and wonder how medieval and cruel this period was.
No sunshine, no fresh air, never outdoors, terrible food, mold, dust, vermin, dank, cold, an obliterator of health that our society condones for those we hold in custody. And we relish it.
She is now in her 18th month of an 81-month sentence for crimes of convictions that carry a 21-27 month federal sentencing guidelines range. As everyone knows, she got triple the sentence because she did not renounce Keith Raniere.
Clare Bronfman inherited a lot of money, and once upon a time, this simple, uneducated girl who never graduated from high school had some noble dreams and manageable ambitions. Then her sister Sara met someone who introduced her to the world of Executive Success Programs, and Sara brought her sister into it.
Sara escaped with only losing $100 million or so – which her investment advisors easily made up. But Clare did not escape. Her dreams morphed into what Raniere and his special assistant Nancy Salzman wanted them to be.
The young lady became a harsh taskmaster under Raniere, even usurping Salzman’s role in time.
On her birthday, some of us might care to wish Clare a little good fortune, say, like her sister, who was thoughtful enough to escape and leave the country and abandon a rascal in light of all the evidence before her.
Clare herself might have landed close to her sentencing guidelines had she only shut her mouth and not written a letter to Judge Garaufis proclaiming her devotion to Raniere on the eve of sentencing. She would be getting ready to leave her cage in Philadelphia and return to freedom and a new start.
Instead, she is getting ready to move to a less punishing prison to Danbury, CT, where she will reside in a lower security prison appropriate for her conviction crimes but serve a sentence that is still way out of proportion to what she confessed to having done.
No one should mitigate, least of all me, the man she filed a criminal complaint against, which changed my whole life, the harm she has done with her wealth, serving it up to the Dark Lord, whose love of punishing people he calls justice and ethics.
Still, one cannot help but think what would have happened to this young lady – not so young anymore – had she not met the monster, had her sister not inveigled her into crossing the seas and coming to Albany and meet one of the world’s most uniquely dastardly cruel human beings.
She became cruel herself, under his care and abstemious feeding, but somewhere inside of her, the little girl wanted to do good. And I think these two ideas were constantly at odds — the kindly, shy, awkward girl who was afraid of people, nervous about her wealth, unworthy because she had not earned it, but wanting to do good for the world to make up for her lack of merit in the earning; she would earn distinction in the spending so she would be as good as anyone who earned it and selfishly possessed it- versus this callow monster inside her – grown and nourished by Raniere, a woman who thought no one was worthy of a dime in payment unless they were superior to her, a woman who would punish people in the name of ethics and justice, a savage feminine version of her Dark Lord.
He was fashioning her like him but always under his thumb. He made her a criminal. And yet there was still the good side to her. Even her loyalty to him is a sign of it, while she suffers for what he persuaded her to do.
On her 43rd birthday, I would wish she reinvent herself, go back in part to the young lady she once was, and with a mind disciplined enough to renounce the scoundrel and take a second chance even before and especially after she gets out of prison.
She will still be a young woman, and she can get a new start, even a big opening. She will still have her wealth, and she could do what hundreds have done before her- realize she was tricked, duped by a master conman. He stole from a lot of them. You see the names of a few in the lawsuit. He stole from Clare too. Not only did he steal her money, but he stole her freedom.
One day perhaps she will look back and be thankful she went to prison if it helps her break free from the conniver who would have kept her for life in his thrall. She had a life sentence with Raniere. She got only 81 months, and he, why he’ll be in Tucson with a cadre of pervs of his ilk and no females to abuse the rest of his life.
Happy birthday and if there were a cake with candles, I would wish that your eyes be opened, and you realize that you were perhaps his victim #1.