This is part 2 of Michele Hatchette’s argument that DOS was good for her. And, by extension, good for others. I make no comment on the validity of her experience. She did not testify.
Allison, Sylvie, and India left with a bitter taste of rancid Raniere. Danielle and Michele remain savoring his wonderfulness.
And Mack’s too. Yet Mack denounced the Vanguard. Whether she did that because she had to or did it because she wanted to spare herself years in prison is hard to say.
Michele and the others are trying to defend themselves and what happened. Their efforts are no doubt sincere but sometimes unfortunate.
They note with the photo:
The beautiful and meaningful experiences we shared in DOS to fade into the background, especially when there is so much social and societal pressure to believe it was bad. Thankfully, we have an abundance of photos documenting our time together. A picture is worth a thousand words, and it is with bittersweet sadness that we share our fond memories with the world, so that the reality of our experiences won’t be overshadowed by a hateful and false narrative.
By Michele Hatchette
In DOS, I had the opportunity to build deep, meaningful friendships with other women, especially Nicole, India, and Danielle. We were mentored by Allison Mack. The four of us referred to ourselves as a “circle.” Within our circle, we formed a bond.
I considered these women my dear friends and sisters.
While Ms. Mack mentored us individually, the four of us built trust, which inspired us to mentor each other and initiate the development of practices unique to our circle. We were inspired by the process and training in DOS.
For example, a series of practices Nicole, India, and Ms. Mack created involved walking, meditation, and watching or reading something inspirational each day. After doing the practices for over a month, Nicole, India, and Ms. Mack shared their experience with Danielle and me.
Nicole expressed enthusiasm for the meaningful, beneficial practices.
At some point, Nicole, India, Danielle, and I, independent from Ms. Mack, decided to create a written commitment we called our “creed.”
Nicole sent an email to the group describing her thoughts, feelings, and ambitions. This email contradicts Nicole’s claim that she was motivated by fear of her collateral being released.
This was an unsolicited email where she expressed her thoughts about the benefit of the “readiness” practice and her choice to join DOS.
“I chose to take the vow as a way to overcome my fears and live the life I want to live. To live a full life. I chose to commit to the vow to understand and experience that freedom and joy come from the inside, from the internal and not from the external.”
This email was sent on January 3, 2017.
On January 4, 2017, Nicole, Danielle, and I received an email from India (forwarded from Sylvie) asking for help transcribing audios for Ms. Cafritz’s memorial.
Pamela Cafritz died November 7, 2016.Nicole spent about five hours transcribing these audios. The government used this to substantiate the Forced Labor charge against Mr. Raniere.
We Were Friends Too
India, Danielle, and I lived in the Albany area. We spent time socially, grabbing a coffee, walking, attending events, etc. Nicole lived in Brooklyn. She would meet with Ms. Mack and us each week via video chat for our weekly check-in.
Nicole also visited Albany sometimes, and we would try to get together in person while she was in town.
Our weekly check-in was a time to share whatever was on our minds. We shared openly and vulnerably about anything and began to hold each other accountable to the standards each woman wanted for herself.
These check-ins built a foundation for the four of us to take the initiative in ways that had nothing to do with Ms. Mack or Mr. Raniere.
Nicole testified her relationship with India was used against her to make Allison “happy” for the “benefit” of Mr. Raniere.
It was not my experience that Ms. Mack “used” the women against each other.
I remember Ms. Mack sharing her excitement whenever someone achieved a goal. Ms. Mack was always contemplating how she could be of more support to us. Ms. Mack was committed to doing anything to help us achieve our goals.
I cannot recall a moment in the three years I was in DOS that Ms. Mack did anything to compromise the well-being of Nicole, Danielle, India, and myself. Not once did Nicole, Danielle, or India say they felt used against one of the others.
I only had experiences where we were in support and encouragement of each other. If India, Danielle, or Nicole had expressed they felt forced or coerced, I would have taken action immediately.
Had I not been threatened and intimidated by the prosecution, I would have explained to the jury why DOS members sometimes took on some discomfort, like a cold shower, when one of us would fail at a commitment we’d set for ourselves.
I could have referenced a WhatsApp conversation I had with India, which demonstrates my offering to take on a consequence for India if she thought it would help her move through a failure she was consistently struggling to overcome.
India and I created an action plan. Ms. Mack did not force this on us.
Nicole’s testimony misrepresented DOS. I believe she was influenced by the government, which advanced a theory that the women Ms. Mack mentored were “sex slaves” for Mr. Raniere.
I would have been able to testify to the opposite of being sex trafficked. The women in my circle, including Nicole, were adults with our own financial resources who lived independently and had liberties and privileges that any educated woman from a supportive family would have.
Membership in DOS was voluntary, and any woman in the process of evaluating her decision to join was free to decline the invitation.
Ms. Mack never “commanded me to have sex with Mr. Raniere.
I never required any woman I mentored to have sex with Mr. Raniere or anyone else.
Mr. RaniereThe government took Nicole’s accounts as though that was the universal experience of DOS.
Her description of DOS could not be more opposite than mine. Nicole’s description of DOS could not be more opposite than other women in DOS who currently view their experiences as positive.
It was central to the government’s theory that collateral was an ever-present factor that forced women in DOS to do things they did not want to do.
For almost two years, I communicated with women in my circle. We failed several times at different practices. Our collateral was never released, threatened to be released, nor did anyone in our circle express fear of it being released, including Nicole.
My experience was that women in the circle created and agreed upon consequences that were not imposed by Ms. Mack or Mr. Raniere.
The only time I ever felt coerced or threatened in DOS was by the government when they tried to convince me to adopt their theories.
The release of collateral was never factored into our group activities or practices.
Nicole testified she was constantly afraid of her collateral being released. She stated, “[I]f we didn’t obey, then the first collateral would be released.”
On several occasions, Nicole “disobeyed” and opted out of activities or conversations, which did not result in releasing her collateral.
In connection with the Forced Labor charges, 18 U.S. Code § 1589 defines Forced Labor as
one who “knowingly provides or obtains the labor or services of a person (2) by means of any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause the person to believe that, if the person did not perform such labor or services, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint”.
According to the government, forced labor was when Nicole read and reviewed a series of articles by Mr. Raniere. I also reviewed these articles and did not fear I would “suffer serious harm or physical restraint.”
Nicole said she enjoyed reading the articles and wanted to re-read some when she had more time.
This information, I believe, would have dismantled and rendered incredible Nicole’s claims, ultimately serving to undermine the government’s evidence of forced labor.
The government claimed Nicole was a victim of Forced Labor when she transcribed audios for Pamela Cafritz. I also transcribed audios for the service and attested that doing so was voluntary. It was driven by my desire to memorialize Ms. Cafritz.
I would have testified that a small group, including Sylvie and India, coordinated the memorial service. They contacted community members for help in the planning process. Nicole and I were asked by India to transcribe videos. It was not a directive from Mr. Raniere or Ms. Mack.
Contrary to the government’s claims, this effort was not part of DOS. If Nicole or I felt we did not have time to complete the transcriptions of the audios (provided by Sylvie), there were others in the community we could have reached out to as replacements for the task.
Sylvie Was My Coach
Additionally, I would have offered insight into Sylvie’s testimony. Sylvie was my coach in ESP for three years. As my coach, she and I checked in weekly on the progress of my goals. She reached out and checked in with me outside those standing meetings.
We became close friends. She supported me positively and helped me achieve things I wanted, most notably by helping me train for my third half marathon, where I broke my fastest time.
Much of Sylvie’s testimony focused on the alleged emotional damage she claims were caused by her time in Jness. My relationship with Sylvie would have been critical for the jury to learn that Sylvie was an enthusiastic leader in ESP and Jness. She helped many men and women, including myself.
In 2015, Sylvie invited me to join a social media/marketing company, and our first client was Jness. Working together on a Jness marketing campaign, Sylvie’s leadership inspired me. She had an ability to communicate the humanitarian values and goals of Jness.
Sylvie’s enthusiasm about Jness is further evidenced by an email Sylvie sent on September 8, 2015, where she expressed excitement about a proposal for a social media campaign.
A year later, on September 20, 2016, Sylvie wrote a description of her skills and why they demonstrated that she was an excellent fit to lead social media and marketing initiatives for Jness.
As the project manager and leader of the re-branding strategy for Jness, Sylvie demonstrated she had a deep understanding of the concepts taught in Jness and was entrusted to convey the company’s values through their online presence.
Sylvie embodied the great aspects of Jness. My experience of Sylvie’s enthusiasm for Jness and being a leader in the social media company that helped celebrate women would have been significant.
It would contrast Sylvie’s description of Jness as the reason she began to feel negative about herself and other women.
When the prosecution asked Sylvie how the Jness curriculum impacted the way she made decisions, Sylvie replied, “I just felt like I couldn’t trust myself in what I thought was going on and what was right and wrong.” (Tr. 307-308)
Had I not been intimidated and threatened by the prosecution, I would have offered testimony that I believed Sylvie was a strong coach.
I trusted Sylvie’s ability to guide me in making decisions, because I’d witnessed her grow and become more confident in herself in the three years she coached me. She was compassionate, consistent, and confident in coaching me.
My trial testimony would have undermined Nicole’s testimony and was inconsistent with the government’s theory of Forced Labor and Sex Trafficking.
Nicole and I
I was identically situated to Nicole within DOS.
I could have provided the jury with information about events and experiences that Nicole and Sylvie testified about.
I could have provided information about the genuine nature and goals of DOS, from my perspective and experience.
Mr. Raniere and the jury were denied this through the government’s actions, which demonstrated they were not open to my account of what happened.