The trial and conviction of NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere exposed regular occurances of rape, extortion and branding women with a red hot iron. According to prosecution witness Sarah Edmondson NXIVM is worthy of a grade A horror movie.
In a coming series of posts, Frank Report will try to unveil the strategy we think the Nxivm defense team will use to suppress evidence, impeach witnesses, attack attackers and try to win their case.
The strategy of impeachment is to attack the credibility of witnesses before a jury in order to cast doubt on their testimony.
In our first post we will discuss Sarah Edmondson.
Based on court filings by Keith Raniere’s attorney, Marc Agniflo, we can get a likely picture of how the defense will try to impeach Edmondson.
In Agnfilo’s Request for an Oral Argument on his motion to suppress evidence obtained in the government’s search warrants, and in Keith Raniere’s motion to seal, Agnifilo has a lot to say about Edmondson – including that she is a “criminal” and her victim is Nxivm.
These filings also shed light on how Raniere and Clare Bronfman tried to get Edmondson arrested.
Since the prosecution argues that Nxivm [Bronfman-Raniere] tried to “silence” defectors as part of their racketeering enterprise, including trying to have them arrested, Agnifilo’s defense seems to be that, in Edmondson’s case, her arrest was justified.
Agnifilo writes, “[T]he Government materially omits that the reason for filing this criminal complaint [against Edmondson was] due to the theft and misappropriation of … corporate records. Instead, it portrays Edmondson as a victim who has not committed any wrongdoing….
“[Edmondson] stole and misappropriated Nxivm corporate documents upon leaving Nxivm. This is information that the Government … obtained from the Canadian authorities when their investigation began….
“Between June 4 and June 8, 2017, NXIVM administrators discovered that their
systems were being accessed in Canada and that data in the NXIVM servers were
being deleted and manipulated.
“… [T]hree accounts logged in and accessed the NXIVM servers: the accounts of J.O., Jennifer Kobelt and Sarah Edmondson. Edmondson was a former high-ranking NXIVM member, recruiter and ESP Vancouver center co-owner.
“At the end of May 2017, Edmondson resigned from NXIVM, telling her friends within the community that she wanted to focus on her family and not lead the ESP Vancouver Center anymore. Her assistant, Jennifer Kobelt, was also a long-time client of NXIVM’s and an assistant to Mark Vicente, another co-owner of the ESP Vancouver center who had recently resigned.
“While Edmondson, Kobelt, and J.O. were previously authorized to legitimately access the system (prior to their resignation), suddenly their login credentials were used 58 times over the course of five days. Those same accounts then deleted data, stole ESP student profiles and documentation and cancelled over $100,000 worth of credit card payments.
“This amounts to intentional criminal conduct where the names, financial data and other identity information were unlawfully accessed and misappropriated.
“Specifically, on June 4th, Kobelt and others’ accounts logged into the NXIVM system and changed their profiles (i.e. names, but not passwords) to mask the identities of who was logging into the system. The accounts continued to be used.
“For example, the account linked to J.O. logged into the system and viewed enrollment history information. The account linked to Sarah Edmondson logged into the system the same day and viewed a salesperson report. On June 5th, the account linked to J.O. again logged into the system and viewed enrollment history.
“Additionally, the account linked to Kobelt repeatedly logged into the system over those five days and cancelled dozens of payments from NXIVM clients. Kobelt’s account also deleted at least 13 files from an area on the server designated to the clients that Vicente enrolled. Each of these files contained numerous NXIVM contracts with client information.
“This theft of client files gave those accessing NXIVM’s servers access to confidential data including client lists, contact information and the intellectual property of the company. It is therefore not surprising that in counsel’s investigation of this case, we have discovered that Edmondson, together with others including Vicente were able to contact nearly every NXIVM client and harass them through calls, Telegram and WhatsApp messages after this date—messages that continue to the present.”
I think it fair to say Agnifilo’s argument at best is debatable. The Vancouver Police were asked to investigate, after Clare Bronfman flew to Vancouver to file a criminal complaint against Edmondson and Kobelt. However, while the Vancouver Police did investigate, they did not charge either woman.
The debate seems to center on whether Edmondson, as head of the Vancouver Center, had authority to prevent Nxivm members, scandalized by revelations of branding women, from being charged by a group with which they no longer wished to associate.
Since Edmondson and Vicente were responsible for most Vancouver memberships – it seems fair – and evidently the Vancouver Police did not find it illegal – that Edmondson and Vicente’s assistant, Kobelt, could insure these these people could disassociate from Nxivm without being charged any additional fees.
I think it’s crucial to the argument that not one person whose payment to Nxivm was canceled by Edmondson or Kobelt complained that they were forcibly or abruptly stopped from paying Nxivm membership dues.
Indeed the opposite occurred. These people all wanted to be out of Nxivm – once they learned about the branding practices.
It was Nxivm who wanted to continue to bill them despite their desire to leave.
Edmondson and Kobelt fulfilled the wishes of scores of members sickened by revelations [first revealed publicly on Frank Report], wanted out and did not want to be charged a fee for membership in this decadent and revolting organization.
In further trying to impeach Edmondson showing her as not a victim, Agnifilo argues that Edmondson was at the same Stripe Path level as Lauren Salzman.
This he is doing, one assumes, to show that Sarah was not misled or pressured into joining DOS by a superior in the organization. Sarah has claimed she felt some pressure to join DOS since Lauren was one of her best and most trusted friends, her mentor, and also her supervisor; someone who could to some extent control her income.
Agniflo writes, “Sarah Edmondson was the owner of Nxivm’s Vancouver Center and was ‘Sr. Proctor’ on the Stripe Path—only one level below Counselor. Lauren Salzman was also Sr. Proctor. Out of only three people listed as ‘Counselor’ on the Stripe Path, two are dead [Pam Cafritz and Barbara Jeske]. Therefore, she was at the same level on the Stripe Path as [Lauren] Salzman.”
Agnifilo also throws some doubt into who’s telling the truth – actually calling FBI Special Agent Michael Lever, who signed Nxivm/Raniere search warrant affidavits, a liar.
Agnifilo writes, “After falsely stating the reasons for two of Lauren Salzman’s members joining [DOS], [FBI Agent Lever’s] affidavit misrepresents Edmondson’s knowledge of Raniere’s participation in DOS. The affidavit discusses the branding ceremony, stating ‘[a]t one point, while [Edmondson]… was filming [the branding of the other women with Lauren’s cell phone], she noticed a text come in from ‘KAR’ asking, in sum and substance, how the branding was going. At the time, [Edmondson] … assumed ‘KAR’ stood for Karen Unterriner, a high-ranking woman in Nxivm, who she assumed was Lauren Salzman’s slave. [Edmondson] …now believes the message was from Raniere, whose middle name is ‘Alan.’
“This statement is demonstrably false and the Agent knew it at the time of signing this affidavit, and every other affidavit.”
Aginiflo then explains why FBI Agent Lever knew it was false: He knew Sarah knew at the time of the branding that it was a text from Keith.
Why did she know?
Because of a report I wrote with Catherine Oxenberg, which was delivered by Catherine to law enforcement, in order to interest law enforcement in investigating Raniere.
Agnifilo points to this as evidence that FBI Agent Lever lied:
Agnifilo writes, “On December 7, 2018, the EDNY turned over [to Agnifilo in discovery] a memorandum written by blogger Frank Parlato and actress Catherine Oxenberg that is titled ‘Criminal Activity involving KR 11-12’ …
“According to Catherine Oxenberg’s recent book titled Captive, she states that she
gave this memorandum to authorities in November of 2017. Moreover, the properties of the document indicate that Oxenberg last modified the document on November 11, 2017—three weeks before Agent Lever signed the affidavit.
“In this memorandum, Parlato and Oxenberg, who have both admitted multiple times
that they spoke with Edmondson prior to the Government opening an investigation, write: ‘At one point, Edmonson [sic] was asked to hold Lauren Salzman’s cell phone. She
saw a text come in from Keith asking how the girls were doing. She was previously
unaware that he was involved with/guiding/ or monitoring the activities of DOS.’
“Yet, just two weeks later, the Agent swears to an incredible and unbelievable statement that Edmondson supposedly believed that KAR actually stood for someone named ‘Karen.’”
While this may seem like much ado about nothing, it is in reality a good dusting up of both the FBI agent and Sarah – in an attempt to create doubt about their veracity and obfuscate the circumstances surrounding Sarah’s claim of victimization by Raniere.
Agnifilo further points out that Raniere never threatened Edmondson and no one released her collateral, [though he did try to have her arrested.]
Agnifilo writes, “[T]he Government … tries to characterize Raniere’s attempt to
‘silence defectors’ by relying on an email between Raniere and [Lauren] Salzman regarding Edmondson.
“This email states: ‘I understand that you do not want to be part of the sorority and that is your right. However, you gave your word that you would keep information about it confidential. You pledged things of importance as a guarantee that you would uphold confidentiality and you have violated this agreement….”
[I suspect this email from Raniere to Lauren was written by Raniere for Lauren to use verbatim to send to Sarah. It has an ominous hint that they might release Sarah’s collateral if she does not remain silent – with its language of “pledged things of importance as a guarantee” [of silence].
Agnifilo concludes with a ‘no harm, no foul’ argument, writing, “[T]he Government materially omits that Salzman and Raniere never engaged in any actions to ‘silence’ Edmondson. To the contrary, Salzman let Edmondson freely leave the sorority without any so-called repercussions. Salzman never released Edmondson’s collateral.”
Lastly, Agnifilo reveals why he discloses Sarah Edmondson’s name despite the fact that she is referred to in the indictment as Jane Doe. This is a neat sideswipe at her – a not so subtle jab at implying that Edmondson may be motivated to alter her story to fit a victim-turned-hero narrative in order to profit from TV opportunities.
Agnifilo writes, “We have used a person’s initials if that person has not spoken publicly to media outlets in connection with this case—assuming that person would like to remain private…. However, we have included the full names of those who have sought public attention in connection with their roles in this matter, including Edmondson who announced her documentary TV series less than one week after Raniere and Mack were indicted. (See Nelli Andreeva, Former NXIVM Member Sarah Edmondson To Star in Documentary Series Produced By Brian Graden, DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD (Apr. 25, 2018, 10:30 AM), https://deadline.com/2018/04/ex-nxivm-member-sarah-edmondson-star-docu-seriesproduced-brian-graden-sex-cult-1202373257/.)
All in all, Raniere is getting what Clare Bronfman paid for – a top notch defense attorney who is doing his best [or worst] to discredit witnesses who may testify against his obviously guilty client.