One of the best and most comprehensive of many ‘curtain raisers’ on the upcoming Nxivm trial was published today in the Albany Times Union. Written by Brendan Lyons, the story is entitled “Raniere Stands Alone”.
And, in fact, he does stand alone. The man who used women as his shield, as his marks and dupes, who made them into his adoring followers, and semi-starved and branded sex slaves, has now found that they have abandoned him. He is the sole defendant facing trial in the case – a case that once had six defendants – him and five women.
All five women took plea deals. Some, if not all of them, will be testifying against him.
This great thinker, who claimed he was one of the top three problem solvers in the world, put title and ownership papers to everything he controlled in other’s names – mostly women – in order, as he often told his inner circle women, to avoid a persecuting and jealous government that was trying to stop his greatness by any means possible.
This, in the end, did not stop that government from seeing through his ruse – and rightfully putting the blame squarely on him. He faces life in prison if convicted on all counts.
His codefendants all face considerably less prison time.
Sentencing guideline for them are:
Nancy Salzman: 33-41 months.
Kathy Russell: 6-12 months.
Clare Bronfman: 21-27 months
Allison Mack and Lauren Salzman face 36-60 months but since both are expected to testify against Raniere and have signed cooperation agreements, they may see significantly less time.
[It is ironic that the wealthy female leader of Nxivm, the odious and brutal Clare Bronfman was able to purchase enough ‘justice’ from the Department of Justice that she faces a far lighter sentence than her co-conspirators.]
The Times Union tells the story well and from the point of view of a reporter, Brendan J. Lyons, who knows the topic thoroughly. Lyons joined the Times Union in 1998 [the same year Nxivm started] as a crime reporter – and was later assigned to the investigations team. He became editor of the investigations team in 2013 and joined the Capitol Bureau in 2017.
The Times Union, by the way, is not a Johnny-Come-Lately on the Nxivm scene. They have been reporting on Raniere and Nxivm since at least 2003. More than any other publication, Nxivm’s hometown newspaper served the function of informing the public about their local cult, alerting the public, consistently reporting on curious and dangerous elements of the group that fleeced heiresses, sued defectors, conducted human fright experiments, and branded and blackmailed women – and whose leader raped girls.
If law enforcement official in the Capital Region were lax, either out of stupidity, ineptitude or corruption, the Times Union is unimpeachable. They had Raniere’s number for more than 15 years.
In 2012, NXIVM’s activities were revealed in an award-winning Times Union series. “The stories exposed Raniere’s alleged sexual abuse of young girls, cited an expert who called NXIVM an ‘extreme cult,’ and detailed how the organization used Bronfman’s money and high-paid attorneys to punish its critics with relentless litigation,” according to the Times Union’s summary of the series.
Now Raniere heads to trial tomorrow [final jury selection] and the Times Union offers him a hefty tribute, in the best manner a newspaper can – giving him front page placement – and perhaps 100 column inches of copy.
Read their latest story online and all their stories over the years – and I think you will agree they served the truest function of a local newspaper by exposing this monstrous evil called Nxivm.
Their contribution is incalculable and the number of lives they saved – people who read about Nxivm and ran the other way – might be measured in the thousands. Who knows that, but for the Times Union’s coverage over the years, Raniere might have grown his organization in the Albany area tenfold or better.
He certainly wanted to – and often lamented that the Times Union was his enemy. I was hired, in fact, in 2007 to try to improve relations with the newspaper, something I agreed to do. provided Raniere would be transparent with the reporters there, particularly Jim Odato. I was fired before I could get the opportunity to test Raniere’s stated willingness to be honest with the media.
He did not speak to the media for some 14 years.
All of us who care about the ultimate demise of Nxivm, and the sequestering of Keith Alan Raniere to a place [a cage] where he can no longer prey on people, owe a great debt of gratitude to the Albany Times Union, to its reporters Dennis Yusko, James Odato, Jennifer Gish, Brendon Lyons and, most recently, Robert Gavin, who will be, I understand, covering the trial in Brooklyn for the Times Union, and its editor, Rex Smith, and publisher, George Randolph Hearst III.
Here are a few excerpts from today’s article:
[T]here has been no plea offer for the 58-year-old Raniere, according to a person close to the case. He faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison if convicted on the sex-trafficking charges listed in the indictment.
Now, even as Raniere’s trial is set to begin, the investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York is ongoing. Federal law enforcement agencies are continuing their interviews and sifting thousands of digital records seized from computers, cellphones and other electronic devices that had been kept at Saratoga County residences used by Salzman and Raniere, as well as storage lockers rented by Bronfman.
If additional criminal findings are unearthed in the ongoing investigation, it’s possible Raniere could face more charges in the Northern District, according to a person briefed on the case.
The government’s witness list includes [Sarah] Edmondson, [Mark] Vicente and Lauren Salzman. They may also call Kristen Keeffe, who was NXIVM’s “legal liaison” before she slipped away from Raniere with her young son in 2014. Keeffe subsequently provided details about NXIVM’s alleged multitude of criminal acts to law enforcement authorities and has been prepped to testify by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.
As his trial begins, Raniere will enter a courtroom that is expected to be filled with some of the people who have alleged he destroyed their lives.
[Catherine Oxenberg, Toni Natalie, and Barbara Bouchey are expected to attend. Frank Report will also be in attendance.]
The list of people who the Albany Times Union identifies as those who “could be called to testify at Keith Raniere’s criminal trial includes”:
– Lauren R. Salzman
– Mark A. Vicente
– Kristen M. Keeffe
– James G. Loperfido [a former NXIVM accountant and associate of Joseph O’Hara. He is identified in the federal criminal case as “John Doe 1.]
“Loperfido, 67, of Cayuga County, did accounting work for NXIVM in the early 2000s. Federal prosecutors have accused NXIVM officials of conspiring to place a ‘key-logger’ on Loperfido’s computer ‘so that his email address and password could be obtained and his emails monitored.’”
– Sarah Edmondson
– Karen A. Unterreiner
– Jane Doe 4 [the Mexican woman who was confined to a single room for 23 months. Her sister is Jane Doe 2, who is ,alleged to have been sexually exploited by Raniere when she was 15. The alleged exploitation included him taking naked photographs of her.]
In addition, Allison Mack, Clare Bronfman, Nancy Salzman, and Kathy Russell may be called to testify.
Finally, I would not be much of a publicist and self-promoter if I failed to mention that the Times Union gave Frank Report and myself a bit of credit for helping take down the gruesome one.
The Times Union reported:
It was those allegations that in 2017 triggered the unraveling of Raniere’s tightly controlled organization. That summer, Frank Parlato — a Buffalo blogger who had once been NXIVM’s publicist but was now its enemy — began posting photographs and stories of women who had been branded with Raniere’s initials as part of their involvement in an ultra-secretive “slave-master” club that cast itself as a women’s empowerment group.
In October 2017, Parlato’s accounts of the branding ceremonies became the subject of a front-page story in The New York Times. The article drew the attention of the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, which assembled a task force and began interviewing people who had been involved with NXIVM for years.
In addition, The New York Times, in its curtain raiser last week, a story written by Barry Meier, entitled “Once Idolized, Guru of Nxivm ‘Sex Cult’ to Stand Trial Alone, also offered me a little credit, which I am pleased to repeat here:
“Word of the branding ceremony first appeared on a website run by a critic of Nxivm, Frank R. Parlato Jr., a Buffalo-area businessman who was once close to the group.
“Then, after The New York Times ran a story in late 2017 about the group’s practices, the Justice Department launched an investigation.”
By the way, Meier was the man who wrote the story that aroused the interest of the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York. His October 2017 blockbuster story was entitled Inside a Secretive Group Where Women Are Branded.
What perhaps was thought of by the editors of the NY Times as merely a bizarre and eccentric story about some creepy people before they published it, turned into a game changer for the victims since it inspired the DOJ to do something about this group and its incomprehensibly villainous leader, Keith Alan Raniere AKA Vanguard AKA Grand Master AKA Master.