Keith Raniere
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Morning Session of Day #1 Has Some Surprises

The large crowd of people seeking to attend the trial caused a brief delay at the outset of this morning’s session.

But things finally got underway around 10:00 AM – with Judge Garaufis reviewing the procedures and rules that will be followed throughout the trial.

Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis

Judge Garaufis then made the following announcements:
– Court will be in session from 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM each day, Monday through Thursday – with some Friday sessions as needed;

– There will be 1-hour lunch breaks – and a few short breaks during the morning and afternoon sessions as needed;

– The trial is expected to last about 6 weeks;

– Juror 9 had a hardship – and has been replaced by one of the 6 alternates; and

– Sketch artists will only be allowed to do drawings of the witnesses that the court designates.

*****

Next, came the prosecution’s opening statement – which was delivered by Tanya Hajjar rather than Moira Kim Penza.

Tanya Hajjar

During the course of her 45-minute presentation, Hajjar outlined some of the things the prosecution would prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” during the course of the trial.

These included the following:
– That although Raniere claimed to be a spiritual leader, he was really nothing more than a con-man;

– That Raniere targeted young women – and groomed them for sex;

– That Raniere pretended to be a guru but was actually a criminal;

– That Raniere had sexual relationships with all three daughters of a Mexican family that was involved with NXIVM (Note: In keeping with the rules established by Judge Garaufis, Frank Report will only refer to certain victims and witnesses by their first names);

– That one of the Mexican daughters, Daniela, was confined to a room for 23 months – during which time she wrote hundreds of letters to Raniere;

– That another of the Mexican daughters, Camila, was only 15 years old when Raniere started having sex with her (Raniere’s pet name for her was “Virgin Camila”).

– That Raniere took numerous naked pictures of Camila when she was 15 years old – which constitutes child pornography;

– That Raniere indicated that the collateral he demanded from all the members of DOS should be “Something so distasteful that you would rather die than break your vows of obedience and servitude”;

– That another victim, an actress by the name of Nicole, was blindfolded and taken to a shed by Raniere – where Camila performed oral sex on her per Raniere’s instructions;

– That Raniere kept tabs on people he considered to be his enemies, had criminal complaints filed against some of them, and litigated others into silence;

– That Raniere operated as a crime boss;

– That the jury would hear testimony from several of Raniere’s victims – including Daniela and Nicole; and

– That the jury would also hear testimony from several of Raniere’s former co-defendants.

*****
Next up was Marc Agnifilo who, as expected, presented the defense’s opening statement.

MK10ART depicts defense lawyer Marc Agnifilo explaining DOS as people just having idyllic and free from guilt sex.

Agnifilo began by telling the members of the jury that they would be hearing a lot of jargon, labels, and slogans over the course of the trial – and that they should ignore all of them.

He then informed them that the trial would come down to one question: Did Keith Raniere have the intent to commit any of the crimes that he’s been charged with committing?

During the course of his lengthy presentation, Agnifilo also told the jury:
– That they needed to consider all the evidence through Keith’s eyes;

– That they would hear testimony from several former members who believe that NXIVM was “wonderful” and “like Camelot”;

– That 17,000 people took NXIVM courses – and the vast majority of them got something good out of it;

– That the women in DOS all voluntarily chose to be part of that group – and that they did so because they wanted to be more in control of their lives;

– That the jurors would have to take into consideration how much each person is responsible for their choices in life;

– That the many pictures of naked women they would see were nor sexual in nature but rather a demonstration of some women’s willingness to make themselves vulnerable;

– That none of the DOS collateral was ever released;

– That Raniere wanted women to have their own secret society in the same way that men had secret societies;

– That Daniela was a thief who stole thousands of dollars from NXIVM;

– That Daniela was never really forced to stay in one room – and that she could have left the family home in which she was staying at any time;

– That in becoming romantically involved with another man, Daniela had broken an agreement she had entered into with Keith;

– That although some women were given assignments to seduce Raniere that did not mean they had to have sex with him;

– That Mark Vicente led a revolt against Keith Raniere – and caused many defections within the ranks of NXIVM; and

– That Keith Raniere is a “good and gentle man” whose only goal in life is to help others reach their full potential.

During the course of his opening statement, Agnifilo cited several quotations – and also made several interesting comparisons.

One quotation was from the scene in To Kill A Mockingbird in which Atticus Finch proclaimed that you never really understand another person “until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”.

And one of the comparisons came from a Winston Churchill speeches in which he vowed to fight for freedom until his last breath (Agnifilo also promised to defend Keith Raniere until his last breath).

*****
All in all, a pretty predictable first session of the trial.

Next up will be the prosecution’s first witness: Sylvie.

*****
Frank Report has made arrangements to receive transcripts of the trial’s daily proceedings.

As a result, it’s possible that we will be making clarifications and/or corrections to some of the initial reports on those proceedings.

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Artvoice

News and art, national and local. Began as alternative weekly in 1990 in Buffalo, NY. Publishing content online since 1996.

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  • It is unfortunate that judges and juries can’t order defense attorneys to share a prison sentence along with their clients. If this option were available, there would be a lot less unethical attorneys who would be willing to smear innocent crime victims.

      • You must be one of those criminal defense attorneys. Do you bill your clients for the time you spend posting on this web site?

  • Interesting. It will be interesting to see how this is argued as it seems extremely unlikely – “– That although some women were given assignments to seduce Raniere that did not mean they had to have sex with him;”

  • Who the hell would want to crawl inside Raniere skin and walk a mile inside him? Yuck!!!

    How about Raniere BF his Lawyer so he knows how many of Raniere’s victims feels before he does his closing argument!

  • I’m glad to see that what Raniere and NXIVM did to many of their critics and perceived enemies, is at least getting some airing:

    “That Raniere kept tabs on people he considered to be his enemies, had criminal complaints filed against some of them, and litigated others into silence”

    It doesn’t sound like the defense is going to challenge any of the facts of the matter, though I expect they will get into casting doubt on witnesses’ accounts of the circumstances under which things happened.

    It seems clear that Raniere didn’t think that what he was doing was wrong – but he also had to have known what was illegal, which should be all that counts in our system, particularly given the old saying is that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Even if he somehow didn’t know any better, due perhaps to being a psychopath, I think it will be hard to paint him as someone with good intentions.

    Things will get more murky when it gets into what other adults knew, or should have known, and what they consented to as versus what they were coerced in to. I think that Raniere, and ultimately Mack as well, are vulnerable particularly on the point of how DOS members were manipulated by misrepresentations of what they were getting in to, and it will be interesting to see what Mack’s testimony is about the evolution of things like the branding, and if she continue to take credit for the idea like she did in the article – Mack’s fans and loyalists are likely to be dismayed, if not even surprised and shocked.

    Speaking of women and others testifying, I wonder if part of Raniere’s motivation at this point, is to punish those who he feels betrayed them, by having them humiliated on the witness stand – Mack for instance may get asked about all her tattoos, and we may find out where she had that “P” for Pete inked, and if her nephews really were molested like she apparently claimed in video collateral. There may even be an internal defense team struggle between lawyers’ desire not to put the jury off by being too cruel to witnesses, and Raniere’s ruthless wrath.

    • We do not know for certain which people are covered by the judge’s order concerning “first names only”. That’s because his order on this topic was sealed.

  • What did the vanguard look like today? Did his face read anything? What was he wearing? Was he looking at anyone in particular?

  • Excellent post Krclaviger! If the defense pretends to win this case with those arguments, Raniere is fucked. No surprise there.

  • “During the course of his lengthy presentation, Agnifilo also told the jury:
    – That they needed to consider all the evidence through Keith’s eyes;”

    I doubt that it’s possible for anyone of sound mind.

    “– That the women in DOS all voluntarily chose to be part of that group – and that they did so because they wanted to be more in control of their lives;”

    An abject failure.

    ” – That the many pictures of naked women they would see were nor sexual in nature but rather a demonstration of some women’s willingness to be vulnerable;”

    Vulnerable to blackmail. Not sexual? Wha-aat?

    ” – That Raniere wanted women to have their own secret society in the same way that men had secret societies;”

    Except he was in charge.

    ” – That Danielle was a thief who stole thousands of dollars from NXIVM;”
    The usual false allegations.

    ” – That Danielle was never really forced to stay in one room – and that she could have left the family home in which she was staying at any time;”

    And be dumped in Mexico with no papers or money.

    ” – That in becoming romantically involved with another man, Danielle had broken an agreement she had entered into with Keith;”

    Er, show us a legal contract then.

    ” – That although some women were given assignments to seduce Raniere that did not mean they had to have sex with him;”

    Sure Marc, We all know that seduction usually ends with a polite peck on the cheek and a wave goodbye.

    “That Keith Raniere is a “good and gentle man” whose only goal in life is to help others reach their full potential.”

    I really don’t know what to say to that.

  • Agnifilo was quoted by reporter Ayla Ferrone as saying that he ‘will defend Raniere until his last breath’.

    This strikes me as a deeply personal, rather than a professional, statement. I completely lack experience with the US legal system. Is this level of commitment to a client common amongst defence lawyers? Tia to anyone who can enlighten me.

    https://twitter.com/AylaFerrone?lang=en

    • Appeti, the general rule in the USA is an attorney cannot vouch for a witness, meaning they can’t say something like, “I know he’s honest,” or “I can’t tell you why it’s true, but trust me, it is.” On the other hand, attorneys are duty bound to do the absolute best they can for their client. Agnifilo’s statement would be viewed as falling on the latter side, since all he is doing is affirming that he will give 100% to his client. In the end they are words only to impress the jury since that’s his duty anyway.

    • It strikes me as ‘mere puffery’, and more than a tad desperate. Defense seems to be resorting to histrionics already, on the first day of the trial. Winston Churchill? Atticus Finch? Christ. gimme a break!

    • Does Agnifilo know something about his health that leads him to think he might have his last breath before he’s done defending Raniere? That is such a dumb thing to say. An idiot defending an idiot.

  • Ayla Ferrone on Twitter. Breaking News.
    “Marc Agnifilo just telling me they have filed for a mistrial in the #NXIVM case against Keith Raniere but would not comment further.”

  • Krclaviger,

    Excellent explanation of the 1st day of the trial.

    Did the prosecution speak in regards to the identity theft, tax evasion, and money laundering crimes?

    • Will answer these questions after I’ve had a chance to review the transcript. There were problems with the microphone in the overflow room that made it impossible to hear all the questions and answers in today’s morning session.

  • Don’t celebrate too soon..
    All the defense needs is one juror to gain a mistrial.
    And the eight male jurors are predominantly minority males who are more likely to acquit.

      • “Not all males are misogynistic assholes.”

        Allison Mack, who enjoyed branding women with a hot iron and turning them into sex slaves, is the very definition of a misogynistic asshole.

        Lauren Salzman, who assisted Allison Mack in sex trafficking, is also a misogynistic asshole.

        Clare Bronfman, who financed the persecution of women with frivolous lawsuits, is a misogynistic asshole.

        NXIVM is a Society of Misogynistic Assholes.

        And all you need on the jury is one Misogynistic Asshole of either gender to get a mistrial.

  • A mistrial only means another hearing. Another hearing means more time at the MDC for the Vanturd. No worries here. 🥳

  • Defense attorney Agnifilo: ‘from To Kill A Mockingbird” in which Atticus Finch proclaimed that you never really understand another person “until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”’

    Remember that Atticus Finch lost the trial, and his client went to prison.

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