Allison Mack’s lawyers are arguing that she and other slave masters holding “collateral” on slaves, then ordering them to work for free or to seduce Keith Raniere – is not forced labor.
In court papers filed Friday, Mack’s lawyers argue that the threat of releasing naked photos and damning video confessions is not “serious harm” something required to prove someone engaged in forced labor.
“The government argues that Ms. Mack obtained forced labor through ‘threats of serious harm,’ with serious harm being the embarrassment that would result from the exposure of one’s collateral,” Mack’s lawyers write.
“Courts have found, however, that such an outcome, albeit embarrassing, does not amount to serious harm under the statute.”
Mack’s lawyers cite a 2009 case in which a couple tried to sue the Church of Scientology for forced labor. The court in that case found that the couple could have left stopped working for Scientology and left even though they would be ‘excommunicated’ and labeled a ‘suppresive’.
“The threat of reputational damage and isolation from loved ones therefore did not qualify as serious harm,” Mack’s lawyers wrote.
Mack’s lawyers argue that forced labor charges typically involve victims who were subject to “squalid living conditions, extreme isolation, threats of physical harm, lack of immigration status, lack of education, and unfamiliarity with English.”
Nvixm’s alleged victims were “educated, English-speaking adults, who were not forced or compelled to join the organization, nor kept physically isolated, and who could leave the organization at any time,” they argue.
This is the heart of the defense of the forced labor charges. For the ones who the prosecution will present as victims, the defense will show they were subject at most to embarrassment and that these women were intelligent adults who got into DOS voluntarily.
To combat their testimony further, the defense will bring witnesses who will testify that they were helped by DOS and of course nobody felt threatened.
Will it be enough to raise reasonable doubt?
At this point, Mack’s lawyers are hoping the judge will agree with them that based on the language of the indictment – the allegations do not rise to forced labor.