Keith Alan Raniere sits in the SHU at USP Tucson, sharing a small cell with male rapist-turned-woman Toni Fly. In this short essay, Nicki, who watched the Vow, had some impressions about Moira Penza. Penza, the woman, who prosecuted her partner.
By Nicki Clyne
At first, I was surprised that Moira Penza, the lead prosecutor, was filmed by The Vow Season #2 during the pretrial and trial of Kieth Raniere.
That’s who it appeared.
On second thought, I realize this is The Vow misleading its audience. The Vow filmed Penza after she won, in 2020 or 2021, after leaving the DOJ and made it appear – to fool the audience – that they were talking to her as she prepared for trial etc.
Even so, I learned a lot about her strategy from watching. More than anything, it is clear that she determined Keith was a “crime boss,” and NXIVM a “criminal organization,” before doing any research. But, then, once she had her sights set, and with the power of infinite resources behind her, she could contort reality to make her career-making case a success.
It’s important to remember that the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York, which should have jurisdiction over NXIVM because that is where the company was based, refused to prosecute after evaluating the evidence.
They determined it was consenting adults, and nothing they saw constituted federal charges. This was before Catherine Oxenberg started on her media tour, and before the MeToo movement nudged the “evergreen” New York Times article onto their front page.
MK10ART‘s painting of Moira Kim Penza.
Moira talks about how she read the NYT article and noticed specific details about the NXIVM organization (a charismatic leader, hierarchical structure, etc.). From those details, she knew it was organized crime. If that’s true, that could apply to many companies: Apple, Tesla, and the US Government.
Moira claims the sashes were a way to indoctrinate people, but she doesn’t say how or what they were indoctrinated into.
Vanguard created the sash system in NXIVM.
The NXIVM executive board. Nancy Salzman, [gold sash] with Mark Vicente [green] Alex Betancourt [orange] Karen Unterreiner [orange], Clare Bronfman [orange] Lauren Salzman [green] and Emiliano Salinas [green], with their glorious sashes .
In NXIVM, the sashes were a measurement system similar to belts in martial arts. There was a clear structure for what it took to reach each level, and people could choose whether they wanted to pursue that path or not. I get that it might seem weird to people, and there are many weird things in this case, but not everything weird is evidence of a crime.
Keith Raniere shows off his judo skills.
Perhaps most revealing, Moira states it “was important to show that sex was a major part of this.” Why would this be so important? This is because if you look past the haze of salaciousness, there are no compelling crimes. Nancy Salzman, who was allegedly at the top of this “criminal organization,” was charged with racketeering conspiracy, alteration of a video used in a civil proceeding, and conspiracy to commit identity theft. Not very headline-making.
Not HBO docuseries-making either.
As for the collateral issue, Moira conflates Keith’s private sex life with DOS, which was separate and distinct.
Keith had multiple long-term partners with whom he had relationships for many years, certainly years before DOS.
It so happened that he and a few of them decided to create DOS together. Not all of Keith’s partners became part of DOS. It was by no means a requirement, and no women in DOS (to my direct knowledge and after reading the trial transcripts) were told to have sex with Keith.
It’s just not true.
But you won’t find any of these questions or distinctions in The Vow.
You’ll find Moira’s story presented as if it were the gospel.
She’s also filmed in a controlled environment, looking respectable in an office in front of a giant binder. In contrast, The Vow shows Keith’s attorney Marc Agnifilo riding a crowded subway and pleading with aggressive journalists.
Marc Agnifilo appears on the Vow.
It is revealing that Moira says, “I certainly stand by my decision to prosecute all of them.”
Why would someone who is only pursuing truth and justice need to justify themselves this way?