Mark Vicente was on the witness stand all day on Thursday as he was questioned by Mark Lesko, the Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Vicente had also testified for a short while on Wednesday – during which he revealed that he had been recruited in 2005 by Barbara Bouchey and Nancy Salzman – who flew out to meet with him in Los Angeles after seeing his film entitled “What the Bleep Do We Know?”.
Shortly after that first meeting, Salzman arranged to pick up Vicente in the jet owned by Clare and Sara Bronfman – and fly around with him and Sara to meet several of the scientists who had appeared in Vicente’s film.
A good deal of Vicente’s testimony on Thursday centered on his growing awareness that much of what was taught during NXIVM’s various modules was meant to trap people into taking more training courses or doing more Explorations of Meaning (EMs).
During the course of his testimony on Thursday, Vicente broke down into tears as he silently read the “12 Point Mission Statement” that supposedly formed the basis for NXIVM.
“This thing is evil” was the last thing he said before he started sobbing.
“It’s a fraud. It’s a lie,” the Los Angeles filmmaker sobbed as he blotted tears from his eyes with a tissue. “This well-intentioned veneer covers horrible evil.”
He recounted how he found out that the “Psychological Profile” that each participant had to fill-out on the first day of every intensive session was, in fact, a copy of a survey on Narcissistic Personality Disorder that had been developed by someone other than Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman.
He also confirmed that he – and all the other participants in NXIVM’s training sessions – had to fill out a variety of questionnaires that asked for “very confidential” information.
He said he has no idea what became of the completed questionnaires but’s it’s probably safe to assume that Raniere had them all tucked away somewhere in case he ever needed to convince someone to do what he wanted them to do.
When asked how he now feels about having provided all his “deepest, darkest secrets” about himself, Vicente responded as follows:
“It’s a combination of things: I feel bamboozled; I feel fooled; I feel that so much about myself was collected, and many other people over the years that I was there; I feel concerned that they built a psychological profile of what am I ashamed of, you know, what makes me angry, what makes me afraid, what am I embarrassed about, what’s the most terrible thing I can imagine happening”.
That immediately made me wonder whether Raniere has provided the questionnaires that were completed by Vicente – and by others who will testify against him – to his defense attorneys.
It also made me realize that Raniere has always loved collecting collateral on others (Remember the story about his grammar school classmate that he knew something about – and how he constantly threatened to reveal that information to her parents?).
Vicente was also asked to explain what EMs were – and how they were used in NXIVM to help members work through various personal issues and problems.
He also revealed that these EMs cost anywhere from $65 to $200 – and that only a few select people were able to perform them.
Interestingly enough, Vicente himself never qualified to charge for any EMs that he did (He was rated as 5+ – which was well below the rating of 7 that one needed in order to charge for their EMs).
One of the more interesting points of Vicente’s testimony was when he described his first meeting with Raniere.
During their initial meeting – which lasted for several hours – they talked about a variety of topics like dark matter, quantum physics, and a certain branch of mathematics that Raniere claimed to have invented (I’m not certain what that branch of mathematics is but I think it goes like this: C + B- + F + D + C = 2.26).
We also found out that by the time Vicente quit in 2017, there were more than 2,000 modules in the NXIVM curriculum.
All of these were developed in the same way: Raniere would “download” some basic concepts and ideas to Nancy or someone else – and they would turn those thoughts into a written product.
Thereafter, each new module was tested out – and modified depending on how participants reacted to it.
Vicente’s description of the “breakout sessions” that were part of NXIVM’s training sessions also provided some fascinating insights into NXIVM as a whole – and Raniere in particular.
According to Vicente, the facilitators for these “breakout sessions” were taught to make participants believe that they really didn’t understand the material they had just been taught – and to keep them confused.
That allowed the facilitators to be more convincing when they would invariably suggest that the participant re-take the same module – or move on to some other module – so that they would be able to better understand what they were being taught.
Vicente’s description of the Level 2 intensives also provided some fascinating insights into Raniere’s desire to get “dirt” on everyone.
During the Levels 2 sessions, participants were required to divulge “terrible secrets” about themselves to some anonymous other person who would then provide “feedback” to them.
Once again, I have absolutely no doubt that Raniere – and probably Salzman – retained all this information in case they ever needed to convince someone to do something they wanted.
Vicente also explained as much as he knew about the requirements for each different type of sash that NXIVM offered (He was a “green sash”).
Without going to into detail, it’s safe to say that one of the keys for anyone who wanted to advance to a higher level on NXIVM’s so-called “Stripe Path” was – surprise, surprise – to enroll more people to take NXIVM training sessions.
For those Frank Report readers who love to know all the details of a story, here’s the rank-ordered list of available sashes (Before a member could advance from one color to the next, they had to earn four stripes on their existing sash level):
– White: Student or Participant
– Yellow: Provisional Coach
– Orange: Proctor
– Green: Senior Proctor
– Blue: Counselor
– Purple: Senior Counselor
– Brown: Speaker (No one is ever known to have achieved this rank)
– Black: Inventor of “something that fundamentally changed humankind” (No one is ever known to have achieved this rank)
– Gold: Prefect
– White – but twice as long as the original White: Vanguard
Vicente also explained the details of how people earned money in NXIVM – which we’ll explain in a future post. Suffice to say for now that NXIVM was, in fact, structured as a pyramid scheme