Judge Dismisses Elliot Lawsuit Against Lions Gate

US District Judge Sunshine S. Sykes dismissed Marc Elliot’s lawsuit against Lions Gate Films and Starz Entertainment on Tuesday “with prejudice.”

“With prejudice” means Elliot cannot refile the same claim again in that court.  It also means Elliot may have to pay Lions Gate’s attorneys.

US District Judge Sunshine S. Sykes dismissed the suit ‘with prejudice’.

Judge Sykes instructed Lions Gate to apply for attorneys’ fees and costs by December 2 based on provisions of California’s anti-SLAPP laws.

Lions Gate and STARZ are the producers and distributors of the four-part documentary series, Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult featuring former NXIVM member India Oxenberg.

Elliot appears briefly in four scenes in Seduced.

Elliot appeared in four scenes in ‘Seduced’.

He sued for

  1. defamation per see
  2. defamation by implication,
  3. appropriation of name or likeness,
  4. false light,
  5. intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Elliot alleged Lions Gate “deceptively manipulated” source material to convey “false” messages about him.

Judge Sykes ruled that Seduced was an expressive and not merely commercial work and was about an issue of wide public interest, with public figures, addressing on ongoing controversy, and affects many people beyond the direct participants.

All these are pillars of First Amendment protection.

She also ruled that Elliot’s ongoing support for convict Raniere is of public interest and makes him at least a limited public figure.

Elliot’s ‘ongoing support for convict Raniere is of public interest and makes him at least a limited public figure.’

Elliot’s claims arise from his portrayal in four brief scenes.

In the first scene (in Episode 1), a still image of Elliot speaking into a microphone appears briefly. There is no voice-over. On-screen text states Elliot’s name  and identifies him as a “NXIVM Recruiter.”

The second scene (Episode 2), begins with footage of an unidentified event space. This image is accompanied by audio of Raniere, who makes vulgar, violent comments about women and men’s attitudes towards them. Next, the scene shifts to Elliot speaking into the camera. He is identified in the caption as a “NXIVM Proctor.”

Elliot states that “no one has ever taught us how to relate to women…this is, in my opinion, the Harvard of trying to relate to women.”

The third scene (Episode 2) includes Raniere on stage, stating that “you can understand killing when you feel it is necessary.”

The scene cuts to Elliot holding a microphone and nodding, then returns to Raniere, then moves to footage of the siege at Waco, then to footage of Jim Jones and the Jonestown massacre.

Readiness drills seem to be an ongoing practise.

The fourth scene (Episode 4) includes text that reads: “NXIVM Loyalists still practice ‘readiness’ drills. In July 2020, a group of loyalists started dancing beneath the window of Keith Raniere’s prison cell in Brooklyn.”

Alongside the text, there is a brief clip of Elliot dancing in front of MDC prison.

Elliot asserts that Seduced “through the use of edited video and audio clips, voice-overs,
written content, and statements taken out of context,” “communicated” to the audience that “Plaintiff is dangerous, has been trained to kill, is capable of killing himself if told to, and condones sexual violence against women.”

While the juxtaposition of Raniere, other images, and Elliot might lead some to conclude the things Elliot alleges, the only statements made about Elliot in any of the four
scenes is that he was a NXIVM recruiter and instructor.

These are true.

Judge Sykes ruled Elliot’s claim of defamation per se is denied.

His claim of defamation by implication, is more subjective matter.

Marc Elliot was portrayed as a NXIVM recruiter and instructor.

Elliot claims Seduced suggests he was a “recruiter and member of a purported sex cult.”

Judge Sykes ruled that “A reasonable viewer would not understand the Series to suggests that Plaintiff participated in or was involved in any abuse himself. It does imply that Plaintiff was a devoted member of an organization whose leader has been implicated in a range of
serious sexual crimes, but this assertion – however unflattering – is substantially true. “

Elliot argued that Seduced suggested he “supported and encouraged violence and misconduct against women.”

Photo of a Society of Protectors meeting believed to be taken before the revelations of DOS came out.

This arises from Scene 2, which includes a vulgar comment, condoning men sexually “conquering” women, made by Raniere during a meeting of the NXIVM men’s group Society of Protectors.

This is followed by a testimonial of Elliot stating that “[n]o one has ever taught us how to relate to women, nowhere, in all the education of my whole life” and extolling JNESS as the “Harvard of trying to relate to women.”

Elliot alleges “a viewer would reasonably assume that Plaintiff’s glowing review [of JNESS] referred to Raniere’s statement [at SOP]” and, therefore, that Elliot “supported and encouraged” the kind of sexual violence Raniere had espoused.

The judge determined that “The two scenes Plaintiff juxtaposes are part of a broader exploration of Raniere’s attitudes towards women. This segment incorporates Raniere’s comments, and NXIVM members’ reactions to them, in a variety of different settings. A reasonable viewer might interpret Scene 2 to suggest Plaintiff agreed with Raniere’s teachings generally, but not that Plaintiff’s testimonial was a direct endorsement of the message that preceded it.”

Elliot argues that Seduced suggests that he, as a member of NXIVM, has been “weaponized” like a follower of ISIS or Al-Qaeda.

Elliot felt ‘weaponized’ like a follower of ISIS or Al-Qaeda.

This arises from Scene 3, in which ‘cult experts’ draw parallels between NXIVM and ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the People’s Temple (Jonestown), and Branch Davidians (t Waco).

The judge wrote, “The ‘cult experts’ featured in the Series refer to only broad similarities between NXIVM and the other organizations named, and largely suggest that NXIVM might have
escalated in analogous ways had it not been disbanded. But even assuming these segments carry the implication Plaintiff identifies, such an implication cannot be defamatory because it does not
constitute an assertion of fact.”

It is opinion, which is protected by the First Amendment.

“An assertion that someone has been ‘weaponized’ cannot be  proven true or false. And in the context of the series, any comparisons between NXIVM and violent terrorist organizations are readily understood as speculative and exaggerated,” Judge Sykes wrote.

Lastly Elliot argues that Seduced suggests he has “been trained to kill and is capable of killing himself or others if so instructed.”

This arises, he says, in Scene 3.

Judge Sykes wrote, Elliot’s “appearance in this segment is so brief that it seems unlikely that a viewer would understand Defendants to be conveying any message about Plaintiff at all.”

Court found that Seduced ‘conveys no potentially defamatory statements or implications’ about Elliot.

She wrote, “The Court has reviewed the Series in its entirety and finds that it conveys no potentially defamatory statements or implications about Plaintiff.”

Elliot’s next claim is for common law misappropriation of his identity, name or likeness to Lions Gate advantage without his consent causing him injury.

The judge dismissed this with, “as California’s courts have held, even private individuals cannot state a claim for misappropriation for their portrayal in a publication concerning a public matter.”

As to Elliot’s claims of “False Light” and “Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress” they went into oblivion when the defamation claims died.

The judge ruled “all causes of action alleged are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.”

His lawsuit is done.

 

About the author

Frank Parlato

26 Comments

Click here to post a comment

Please leave a comment: Your opinion is important to us! (Email & username are optional)

  • Marc Elliott’s sister in law is a Keith Raniere slave woman dead-ender.

    There’s no way the Elliot family can ever accept the truth.

    Keith Alan Raniere has graphic porn of LeBaron. Is she branded with vanguard’s initials by her vagina too?

  • Thankfully, in all these lawsuit losses (and many other kinds) that continue to pile up for these NXIVM acolytes and their grandmaster, they can find ironic solace in the latter’s “genius” notion that “He who has the most joy wins!” – whatever he was talking about winning when he said it. Because as long as they find joy in all of these circumstances, then they cannot lose! So they should choose how to react, choose not to be victimc, and choose to find the joy in all that falls upon them for what their own hands have wrought, whether they are self-inflicted disasters or otherwise, and they will surely be find victory, even if it is in their own minds only.

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

    Indeed, Raniere has changed the world. He didn’t even have to provide anything positive at all. The world can even be changed by helping others learn from one’s disastrous mistakes.

  • He should not have to pay Lions Gates attorneys. If a judge orders that it takes away any hope of ever being heard in court. No one will take the chance of rightfully suiting if they risk being in substantial debt above and beyond their own fees.

    Marc put himself in a public spotlight and now experiences the downside. It does seem that the judge held supporting Raniere against him, but defamation is a tough one to prove.

  • The judge made the right call. Elliot didn’t have any damages.

    However, documentaries really shouldn’t stretch, skewer, or manipulate the perspective of the audience like Michael Moore routinely does……It’s disingenuous.

    The documentary did twist the scenes to make Elliot appear even more bonkers than he is…

  • I’m still hopeful that one day he will wake up and renounce Reniere and NXIVM. I get that he feels the program helped him, but in contrast to the damage it caused and the harm Reniere did to all those women, it doesn’t even compare. He’s smart and has potential to live a meaningful life, but that won’t happen whilst he’s still clinging to a fantasy.

  • Women are people. You treat them like people. Please give me $20,000

    What kind of upbringing did this dude have? Okay maybe he didn’t have sisters but didn’t Elliot have a mother? Why does he think that women are a different species? How did he get to adulthood and still need somebody to teach him something that most human beings just learn naturally? It’s so laughable and crazy. The misogyny in ESP is so pervasive that every statement they make is so out of touch and seeped in this idea of women as like an alien species. Needing special instructions for interactions. Again it’s f****** hilarious.

  • Marc has shown what a dick he is by using NXIVM’s so-called tech against Isabella to get her back to Albany so they/he could continue abusing her.

    Good for her to stand her ground with him. “What if it isn’t.”
    You have to come back so we can talk about this. No, Marc, she had all the frickin DATA she needed.

    I, for one, am glad that it was on film. It shows how far Marc, as a solider for Raniere, was willing to bring people back to Albany to mind F*(k them to his Master.

    Someone who was not in a good place, to begin with, but had the strength to know something wasn’t right within NXIVM

    She got the hell out of there. Like many others, Isabella had to do it in the dark of night knowing they would try to stop her if she was seen. That is how they were. She is not the only one they tried to stop.

    • According to those who listened in on the calls between Marc and Isabella — apparently there were many such calls at that time — the stuff included in the Vow S2E3 wasn’t even the worst of it.

  • Clare Bronfman isn’t going to pay anything for Elliot. She will drop him like a hot potato by order of Raniere. This was only about the money if he could win anything for Raniere. Now Elliot will be holding the bag for any legal fees he is left to pay.
    The good news is it might be what it takes to wake Elliot up because Raniere is who he is.
    Will that wake up anyone else? Not Likely
    Tully’s firm will have to wait a long time for any funds they might think they will get from Elliot if there are any fees for processing Elliot’s case. Clare isn’t going to be sending them a check either now that Raniere has his other “Dream Team defense put together. He doesn’t need Tully anymore.
    Now Tully gets to learn what a dirtbag Raniere is and when the bill comes due for unpaid legal fees, he’s likely to get the “Cow is dry” FU, as many of Raniere’s past lawyers have called.

  • Elliot states that “no one has ever taught us how to relate to women…this is, in my opinion, the Harvard of trying to relate to women.”
    Gaslighting, coercing through collaterals, branding, sleep and food deprivation, isolation from friends and family, paddling for punishment… that’s how you relate to women – or anyone for that matter. A Harvard education, indeed.

    Marc Elliott would have been better off spending his lawsuit money getting a proper education and maybe discovering a real way to help people with Tourettes.

    As it is, that single statement above removes any shred of professional credibility he ever had – and any chance of dating any woman who isn’t a narcissist or a masochist.

    Wishing him well though, he has his heart in the right place; emotional thinking has been the downfall of better men and women though. It is just sad to witness.

  • … She wrote, “The Court has reviewed the Series in its entirety and finds that it conveys no potentially defamatory statements or implications about Plaintiff.” …

    It was a great series — very enlightening.

    Hoping for the best for Elliot. He seems like a nice guy who was fooled as so many others were.

  • There’s no reason for Marc Elliot to be upset, since this verdict was predetermined before the Judge ever opened and read the case file. See, Elliot is a “bad guy” in the story, even though he’s not a bad person and never did anything bad. He hasn’t even been accused of any wrongdoing. Just a man with a disability who claims that the organization’s methods helped him. Shiver me timbers, I am trembling with fear!

    And the person who did this to him is a “good guy” in the story, even though she was a co-conspirator in the original indictment for having allegedly given seduction assignments to her DOS slaves, something Marc never did to anyone.

    And yet the producers never used actual footage of India at JNESS or SOP meetings, or of any of the things she did while in the organization, even though she’s the subject of the film?

    The insane backwardness of Raniere’s supposed detractors being more like him, having more in common with him, and using his and Salzman’s tactics to smear people who had less rank than them, some of whom they recruited into the organization, all because they don’t share the same perspective or didn’t have the same experiences, is something that escapes most people.

    Maybe we’re the ones who need to wake up and take a good, hard look at who’s been using ESP/NLP tactics to hurt and smear people, and who have been victimized and harmed by those tactics. The truth doesn’t match any of the narratives of the tv shows, movies, or news articles.

    Who’s been profiting and benefiting, despite having had rank and authority? And who’s been fighting for their livelihoods, despite being paying customers with little to no rank?

    Will the “nothing I did was bad because I woke up” line work in a civil case where the people pointing fingers won’t have the backing of the US Government? Where the defendants can tell their stories without a corrupt prosecutor threatening to shackle and imprison them for going against the narrative?

    • You seem confused. This verdict was about defamation. That’s it. HE brought suit – no one forced him to do that. Isn’t it Raniere’s mantra that no one is a victim? His groupies can’t shut up about it. Where’s that attitude now? Maybe get a law degree and then study the elements of a defamation claim. You’ll understand why this was the right legal result.

  • Not a good week for Mark. He breaks his back trying to defend his reputation from Seduced only to have The Vow swoop in and play his sick gaslighting phonecall to Isabella for all to hear. What a cocksucker.

    • Maybe on the next episode, Mark Vicente will show the footage or air the recordings of him gaslighting India to not take a production assistant job on a major movie.

      Or was that Allison’s fault too?

    • My thoughts exactly. Do Bronfman dollars extend to paying the opposition’s fees or is Marc going to have to sell insurance and/or move in with Suneel?

    • His real job, like all the deadenders, is to ‘work’ to free vanguard on Clare’s coin.
      I think its safe to assume Clare has had zero epiphanies while in the big house and will attempt to terrorize her enemies through vexatious litigation the minute she is released.

      I suspect most of her time is filled with preparation for this happy day.
      She may believe she should repeat offend – in order to match her master’s sentence. It’s only right. It’s what Keith would want. His executive success would see them all banged up, I mean he’s doing his best.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premieres on May 22, 2022.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Parlato,_Jr.

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com

Archives