Stephen Herbits
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Stephen Herbits Testimony — ‘Clare and Sara Asked Me to Do Things That Were Improper’

The following is a report on the testimony of Stephen Herbits, 77, who was a witness for the government on May 16, 2019  –  on the 7th day of the trial of Keith Alan Raniere.

Herbits was examined by Assistant US Attorney Mark Lesko.

He was asked to describe his career. In short, Herbits testified that he worked on the staff for House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and the Pentagon. He is a lawyer.  He also worked in the White House after Nixon resigned and Ford became president to help with the transition.

He worked for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as special assistant to the secretary [essentially chief of staff] for the last year of the Ford administration.

He later worked for Edgar Bronfman Sr., Chairman and CEO of the Seagram’s Corporation. Bronfman was a multiple billionaire.  Herbits was employed with Seagram’s for 20 years, until June 1997.  He was executive vice president of Seagram’s when he retired from the company..

After he retired from Seagram’s, he did consulting work through his own company. Bronfman later asked him to work on the Presidential Advisory Committee on Jewish assets in the United States.  He went back to the Pentagon after 9/11.  Then he went back to work for Bronfman [and the World Jewish Congress – which Bronfman was president of] in the fall of 2004. From January of 2005 until the fall of 2007 Herbits was Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress.  Edgar Bronfman died in 2013.

Mark Lesko questioned Herbits. During the examination, the name Keith Raniere is only mentioned once. Much of the examination concerns Herbits’ relationship with Clare and Sara Bronfman and what they wanted him to do for Nxivm.

Here are excerpts of the examination:

Q:  …. during the time period that you worked for and knew Edgar Bronfman, did you establish a relationship with him?

A – Yes, a very close relationship….  I probably spent more time with him than anyone but his wife…

Q: Did you and Edgar Bronfman trust each other?

A: – I think more than anybody that I’ve ever trusted and I think that may have been the way he felt, too…

***

Q: How many children did Mr. Bronfman have?

A: From the first wife he had five, four boys and a girl.  From the third and fourth wife [Georgiana Webb – {Bronfman married her twice}] he had two daughters.

Q: What were his two youngest daughters named?

A: Sara and Clare.

***

Q: When was the first time you met Sara and Clare Bronfman?

A: … in 2005. Edgar asked me to come to lunch at his apartment [in New York]….  Sara and Clare and Nancy Salzman were present….

Q: And what was discussed at this meeting with Edgar Bronfman, Clare Bronfman, Sara and Nancy Salzman?

A:  …. They were concerned about their public relations…  Edgar suggested I listen to them talk about it. I asked a former employer of mine who had opened his own PR firm to meet with them and discuss what he could do for them….

Q: Were you asked to help them?

A: I was asked to help them.

Q: By who?

A: By Edgar.

***

Q: So did you in fact introduce them to your public relations colleague?

A: I did….  And it did not continue.

Q: Why not…?

A: There are two versions of it. He contends that he quit because they wouldn’t give him any information for him to help them. And I believe I’ve been told that some people think that they fired him. But I have no idea. It ended.

Q: Apart from introducing Sara and Clare Bronfman to the public relations colleague, did you assist them in any other way?

A: …They asked me to help them with a case involving Rick Ross….  they wanted to tie up difficulties they had with him before … the Dalai Llama…  would come to appear, they didn’t want any disagreements going on.

THE COURT [Judhe Nicholas Garaufis]: …  Were they consulting with you in your capacity as an attorney or in some other capacity?

THE WITNESS:  Capacity as working for Edgar and Edgar wanted me to help them. I didn’t do family stuff…   but Edgar made an exception and asked me to help them because he was still interested at that point in helping them achieve their goals.

THE COURT: All right, thank you. Go ahead.

BY MR. LESKO:

Q:   …. Did you formalize a relationship with an attorney that was involved?

A:  The difficulty was I kept asking them to tell me what the problem was. They kept saying it was secret, they couldn’t tell me. I said ‘I can’t help you if I don’t know what I’m doing. I can’t help you.’ So I suggested …   they ask their attorneys to retain me on an attorney-client privilege for a dollar, and to send me the documents. I would read them and write the attorney back my view and my ideas about what could be done.

Q: Was that what happened?

A: That is exactly what happened, except they never paid the dollar….  I read a very substantial body of documents and I wrote them a seven-page memo saying that everything you suggest here is wrong.

Q: If you could briefly tell us … the advice that you gave?

A: I suggested that the idea of suing [Ross] civilly would … extend way beyond the period in which they were trying to achieve their goal, because of the planned visit of the Dalai Lama. I also suggested that suing him criminally would create a problem that they didn’t want, especially if they are making assertions about …  lawyers saying things which they contended weren’t true…. I raised the issue of the need to be careful about that language because of the possibility of slandering lawyers.

Q: Did you mention another avenue or approach?

A: I suggest that they go back to what we talked about three year earlier, about an aggressive public relations program to show the merits of the organization [Nxivm] and establish its credibility, if they wanted to pave the ground for the visit [of the Dalai Lama].

***

Q: Was it your impression that Clare Bronfman and Sara Bronfman believed you had political connections?

A: Explicitly. They believed my positions in Washington gave me some authority which was completely imaginary. And they believed that I was a lawyer, which was true. And they believed that I was very, very close to Edgar and had influence over him, which was not precisely true, but they thought in any of those ways I could be helpful.

Q: Between 2005 and 2007, did Sara and Clare Bronfman ask you to contact any Government officials on behalf of NXIVM?

A:  …  they asked me to contact the Governor of New York and the Governor of New Jersey to ask them to intervene….  I denied that [request].

Q: Did they ask you to contact any Attorney Generals?

A: …. They somehow thought that I had something to say to an Attorney General that I never met.

***

THE COURT: Did they believe you knew the Governors?

THE WITNESS: I don’t believe they knew I knew them.  They believed because I had some mystical authority over Washington, that I could call an Attorney General or Governor. And I believe part of it was that it was suggested that I was calling Edgar Bronfman, whom they did know. So it was partly in the theory that I would be representing him.

BY THE COURT::

Q: …  what did they want you to ask of the Attorney Generals?

A: I believe they were encouraging me to ask them to do the prosecution of … Ross. And I don’t believe it stopped there….

***

Q: Did you actually contact the attorney generals for New York and New Jersey?

A: No.

Q: Why not?

A: Because I felt the request was inappropriate and frankly preposterous.

Q: Did Sara and Clare Bronfman ask you to contact any other prosecutors?

A: Two prosecutors in the larger Albany area. We had a long conversation about that…. on the phone. …. they were upset that the prosecutors would not prosecute the people who they were targeting. … I refused to call [the prosecutors].

Q: Did Sara and Clare Bronfman ask you to intervene with any press organizations like newspapers?

A: They asked me to call …  the publisher of the Albany Times Union [George Hearst]. Because they [the Times Union] had begun… an investigation of what was going on there [Nxivm]. They [Clare and Sara] wanted me to stop the stories, also in the context of the pre-Dalai Llama visit.

Q: Did you do that?

A: No.

Q: When you say “there” you’re referring to NXIVM?

A:  NXIVM. Nothing that they asked me to do was personal to them. They didn’t say, ‘I’m in trouble can you help me?’  It’s that ‘we have a problem.’ …. it was on behalf of [Nxivm] and what they were asking me to do, I thought, was inappropriate.

Q: Could you describe your relationship with Sara and Clare Bronfman?

A: It was never close. It began with my trying to help them because Edgar asked me… but each time they asked me it got further and further from what was logical or right. It became strained until I think I qualified to get on the enemy list.

BY MR. LESKO:

Q: How would you characterize Sara and Clare Bronfman’s relationship with their father?

A:  It was an evolving relationship. Officially, when they joined the ESP program, Edgar …. took the course. He was eager to be supportive. … he subsequently made a comment to the press which indicated his nervousness about the situation.

Q: What was the comment?

A: That he thought that they were joining a cult.

Q: What publication was that in?

A: Forbes…. Also at that time I believe he sought the advice of Rick Ross to try to help and protect his daughters….  a few years later, beginning in the 2005 period when I met with them…. they asked me to do the public relations help, which turned out not to happen…. then it moved to specific requests, like the issue of the Attorneys General and with the District Attorneys. And where I was beginning to say, ‘I’m not doing those things.’

But I did not report a lot to Edgar, for a lot of reasons. It was bothering him and there was some distress, I didn’t need to add any….

Q: During that time period, would you say that it was up and down in terms of the relationship, or it was uneven?

A: Between Edgar and them?

Q: Yes.

A: …   I know that Edgar was becoming more distressed because of conversations I had with him….

Q: … Prior to 2011, did you become aware of a court proceeding in California about a property investment made by Clare Bronfman?

A: I was given a call by someone… who said ‘get the transcript.’ [Precision v Plyam]. I purchased the transcript from the California case, $1400, I remember that, and I read it….  knew nothing about any of this before….  I didn’t know … there was a case. I didn’t know that there was real estate….  In reading that [transcript of the] case, my name appears….

Q: How was your name mentioned?

A: It mentioned me as carrying messages from Edgar to [Frank] Parlato, instructing him what to do about this project. I never heard the name Parlato before. I never heard anything from Edgar about this case before. And it was … flat out perjury. But the case was over, so I decided to do nothing about it.

Q Did you learn how much was lost in this real estate investment?

A: I don’t remember the specific source, but I believe it was a $28 million case. I believe they [Clare an Sara] won the case [against Plyam] for $10 million. And subsequently Edgar complained to me that they [Sara and Clare] spent $11 million to win the $10 million, and that he was angry about that.

Q: Was Edgar Bronfman aware that Clare and Sara were involved in multiple lawsuits?

A: Yes.

Q: What types?

A: There were a number of different types … some were suing people who had left … NXIVM, and suing them at a cost to the people who left that basically drove them to bankruptcy. There were cases suing, I subsequently learned, Parlato, for his role in originally helping them with the Los Angeles case, but for some reason they were dissatisfied with him. And there were some other types of cases. But the last list that I saw was 14 or 15 cases.

***

Q:  … was Edgar Bronfman aware of the lawsuits?

A: He was aware of them …  I reviewed them with him in July 2011. I sat down with him for an hour and I went through all of the things that I had learned, both directly in relationship to the girls and indirectly from people who were calling. The reason they were calling me is Edgar stopped taking calls or meetings with people who were worried about the NXIVM issue, and assigned that responsibility to me…

My answer was the same [to the people who called to give information about Nxivm for Edgar]…  that he and I agreed with: ‘I love my daughters as my daughters. I have nothing to do with their affairs.’ …  that’s it. I listened. I made notes. And at some point, it got to the point where I felt an obligation to him to brief him on everything I knew.

***

Q: … did you get to know Edgar Bronfman’s sons?

A: Yes, I knew some the sons….

Q: How would you characterize the relationship between Edgar Bronfman’s sons and Sara and Clare Bronfman?

A: …  it was, ‘don’t talk to me about it.’ They did not want to know. There was some resentment…  I do know that they weren’t all one happy seven-member family.

Q: Going back to the 2005 to 2010 time frame… do you recall any negative press, other than the Forbes article…

A:  I remember being called by the press frequently…. I usually gave the same statement, and after a while they got bored and stopped calling. The one person I had more conversations with than anyone … was [James] Odato, who was working for the Albany Times Union, who was beginning to dig deeply into what was going on. My purpose in talking to him was to listen. I stuck to the statement because I didn’t want to represent anybody.

Q: Do you recall Clare Bronfman claiming that her father had funded someone in litigation involving NXIVM…?

A: ….  there were allegations that he [Edgar] funded Rick Ross. And but I don’t know when that stopped or how it stopped. I was not involved in that.  I do remember later an e-mail that Edgar copied me on to Clare that said, ‘you’re wrong, I’m not funding him, and I’m not going to fund him.’ And it was a fairly hostile communication between the two.

***

Lesko showed Herbits a series of emails and entered them as exhibits.

BY MR. LESKO:

Q: [An email] dated November 10, 2008 from Clare Bronfman to you…. [reads] ‘After much consideration I’ve chosen to withhold any evidence at this point. I believe the trust is built and we have not done so yet.’

What was your understanding of what Clare was communicating in that e-mail?

A:  It looks like part of a pattern in which they asked me to help, I asked for the information I needed to help, and they didn’t give me the information I needed to help, and I didn’t help.

Q: So that is reflected in your response…  ‘I can be of no help without adequate assistance.’…

A: Right.

Q: You say, ‘I consider myself, played or gamed,’ what did you mean by…?

A: … I’m getting the feeling that they want me to do something because of my relationship to Edgar and their relationship … to Edgar, to do things which I had already expressed … I was not going to do. … it was just basically my pushing back.

Q: … the next e-mail, … dated November 10, 2008, Clare Bronfman indicates, ‘I am confused. I was under the impression that Dad had asked you to come in and help resolve this situation. And he wanted to help us turn things around and confided in you to do so. If do you not want to or feel that you are not able to, just tell me and I can find someone who is able to.’…  Your response is ‘Typical – friend or enemy.’ What did you mean by that?

A:  I was beginning to get the impression that those who helped her were friends, and those who they didn’t like were enemies. I was beginning to feel the shift that I was joining the second group.

Q: You also say in that same e-mail that, ‘Your behavior makes it clear that you want nothing more than a puppet.’ What did you mean by that?

A: They wanted someone to do their bidding exactly as they want…  with or without knowledge, regardless of the consequences, regardless if it was proper or not. And my refusal to do, as I expressed to them, ‘I’m not a puppet. I’m not simply doing what you told me to do.’

Q: Let’s go to the first page of [a] November 11, 2008 e-mail from Clare Bronfman to you responding to the e-mail….  this e-mail apologizes to you, indicates that Clare Bronfman does not consider you a puppet; is that right?

A: That’s what she says.

Q: Let’s talk about some of the sentences… She says, ‘We also have evidence of clear prejudice wrongdoing and intent to destroy NXIVM’s reputations (Sara and mine along with it) by a different party.’  She mentions Times Union stories….  ‘They fail to seek any of the facts, even to the point that they published … several articles with false evidence, and have refused to meet with the company’s president.’ [Nancy Salzman].  What was … Clare … saying there?

A: She was becoming deeply worried about the investigation that the Times [Union] reporter was undertaking….

Q: Next she says, ‘The owner of this entity [Times Union] is George Hearst. I’m sure you recollect the situation back in the 70s with Patti Hearst. In the case brought against her, she defended herself through the accusations of brainwashing.’

… [Patti Hearst’s] defense was she was brainwashed by the group?

A: That’s right. And what was eventually found to be crimes in that context, she should be excused from.

Q: So Clare Bronfman continues, ‘As any person who values their intelligence is aware, brainwashing implies a lack of free will and is scientifically debunked. Even prisoner of war camps have never been successful in brainwashing inmates. If there were truly an effective method of brainwashing, it would revolutionize the prison system. I can certainly make a logical leap given our other evidence and the actions of the Times Union that Hearst carries an active prejudice against us.’

What was your understanding of what Clare Bronfman was saying there?

A: … she’s … saying that..  [George Hearst] is trying to do to us what is not true, because we haven’t been brainwashed.

Q: Clare Bronfman goes on …  ‘I do know that Bill Clinton in his last day in office pardoned Patti…. He might be able to help.’

What was your understanding of what Clare Bronfman was alluding to there?

A: … that the Bronfmans and the Clintons knew each other very well …

Q: … Did you have a personal relationship with Bill Clinton?

A:  It wasn’t one that I could walk up and say, ‘Do you have a few minutes, I got to talk to you about something.’ He recognized me when he saw me, as did Hilary. They frequently came to stand where I was standing, because I didn’t believe it was my position to go to him. We would talk for a few minutes….

Q: When Clare Bronfman says, ‘He might be able to help.’ Is she referring to her father or you contacting Bill Clinton?

A: She’s talking to me, because she continued to believe that I could go to her father and get this taken care of.

Q: …  this is a paragraph dealing with Rick Ross, [Clare writes] ‘I also believe you could rapidly facilitate the proper Indictment and conviction of Rick Ross and Joseph O’Hara.’

What is your understanding of what Clare Bronfman is saying there?

A:  It’s the same messages going on at that point for three years, four years. … I never changed my position. I was not going to get involved. I have never spoken to [Ross], never spoken to anybody in his office. It just wasn’t something I was going to do.

Q: Was it your understanding that Clare Bronfman wanted Rick Ross and Joseph O’Hara to get indicted?

A: Yes.

Q: Let’s turn to your response. You [wrote], “A detective with no leads is blind,” …  What did you mean by that?

A: …  She was asking me to do something for her without telling me what the specifics were. … if she had given me specifics, demonstrated …  to me that [Ross] crossed [the] threshold on behavior on Rick Ross’ part that I thought was a problem, a problem either in terms of law or in terms of behavior or morality or something that was negatively effected, I would have taken it to Edgar and said, ‘we need to look at it.’ But ask me to be a detective without information, I can’t do it.

***

Q: I’m going to show you … a December 4, 2008 email from Clare Bronfman to you… Clare Bronfman says: ‘The Ross camp needs to be fearful, back down and look to fix the damage they have done. The thought of criminal charges may help inspire this.…  I know you are incredibly resourceful and have the intelligence to figure this out.’

A: … they were still asking me to do things that I didn’t think proper.

***

Q: … let’s go to the next email …  dated December 6, 2008 … from Clare Bronfman to you….  it reads: ‘I’m sorry I was not clear. I do not care how or what you do with respect to the results needed for Ross. I just mentioned the indictment thing because I’ve been told by numerous officials Ross is very indictable. But white collar crimes often needs political clout. I understand you may not have or want to use/do this.’

What was your understanding of what Clare Bronfman was saying there?

A: That’s both imploring me to do it anyway, and sort of gently saying that… ‘if I won’t, I won’t.’

***

Q: She sends a subsequent email dated December 15th, 2008, basically saying that she hasn’t heard from you; is that right?

A: Correct.

Q: And in this email, she’s talking about resolving the Rick Ross situation and says: It would make, ‘a wonderful story when dad appears at the event with His Holiness in support of Sara and I’…

***

Q:  Did Edgar Bronfman actually appear at the Dalai Lama event?

A:  No.

Q: …  Clare Bronfman then says, ‘I hope the Ross and Sutton Camp are inspired to settle and make substantial appropriate reparations, … restoring the good names and monies of NXIVM, Nancy, Keith, my sister and myself, et cetera.’

What was your understanding of what Clare Bronfman meant when she said that?

A: This was all in the context of trying to clear up issues before the Dalai Lama came so that NXIVM would be, in a sense by his [The Dalai Lama’s] presence, given a good reputation.

Q: … you respond to these two emails… on December 15th…?

A: Right.

Q: And, in essence, you basically say ‘you’re not listening to me.’

A: Right.

***

Q: … a January 6th, 2011 email from Edgar Bronfman to Clare Bronfman, Adam Bronfman ….yourself and Sara Bronfman….   Edgar says, addressing it to Clare, ‘I’ve given a lot of attention to your email. I have spoken to both Steve and Adam and have asked them to do whatever is possible to fix the situation. The problem they tell me is that you will not share whatever evidence you have that some charitable organizations are somehow funding Rick Ross and his operations against NXIVM, or anything else adverse to you and Sara. It seems obvious to me that you still think I am supporting Rick Ross in some way or another. That is simply not true. In no shape or form would I do that and tell you that I am not.

‘Whether or not you want to believe me, I do not lie and I love you two very much. Someone is not telling you the truth. Why aren’t you trying to figure out who that might be? Who has something to gain? Certainly not me. What would be my motive? Tons of love, even if not requited, Pops.’

What was your understanding of what Edgar Bronfman was communicating to his daughters and his son in that email?

A: …  there was another group that Edgar was involved in as a major donor [the Birthright organization]… Edgar’s brother was… a cochair and founder of this organization. …  the girls suggested to me that money was coming from that organization to Ross, therefore assuming that Edgar had something to do with it.

Q: … [An] email from yourself to Clare Bronfman, Sara Bronfman and Edgar Bronfman, dated January 19, 2011.  … what were you saying in this email to Clare and Sara, cc’s Edgar Bronfman?

A: That [about the Birthright Org] was specific enough for me to check…  because I had sources …  because Edgar was involved and Charles is involved. I called him and said, ‘will you check to see if you have any payments made to Rick Ross?’ The answer was ‘no.’

Q: And you … communicated that to Clare and Sarah Bronfman?

A: Yes.

Q: Okay. All right. Just going to ask you if you recognize a few names and then we’ll be done.

Do you recognize the name Malcolm Stevenson Forbes?

***

Lesko asked Herbits is he knew Steve Forbes, Joe Bruno, Eliot Spitzer, Charles Schumer, Roger Stone which he answered that he did.

Q: Familiar with the name Yuri Plyam?

A:  I learned it the first time when I … got the transcript of the case …. he was… involved in the development of the property in LA for which this lawsuit arose.

Q: Bob Crockett, do you recognize that name?

A:  I remember him as a lawyer…

Q: Do you recognize the name Toni Natalie?

A: Toni Natalie…  was one of the people that called Edgar to tell him about her experiences. I took the call, as Edgar asked me to, because he didn’t want to get involved, and she told me her story.

Q: And she was — the experiences were in NXIVM?

A:  In NXIVM –…  in and after she left NXIVM.

***

Q: Joe O’Hara, do you recognize that name?

A:  I do….  he was one of the people who called … to relay to me things about lawsuits against … people and other information….

When Lesko finsihed his questions, the cross examination began.

 

Marie White’s painting of Marc Agnifilo

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR. AGNIFILO:

Q: Good afternoon. I only have a few questions for you. You mentioned the name Frank Parlato?

THE COURT: Just introduce yourself.

AGNIFILO: Oh, sorry. I’m sorry. Pardon me. It’s been a long day. My name is Marc Agnifilo and I represent Keith Raniere. I have a few questions for you. I will be surprised if we talk for more than five minutes, and then I’ll let you get on your way. On direct examination you mentioned the name Frank Parlato.

A: Yes.

Q: And I think you mention it in conjunction with a lawsuit that he had against Clare Bronfman. Do I have that right?

A:  I learned the name the first time in the transcript of the LA case.

Q: Right. And was it your understanding that Clare and/or Sara Bronfman were suing Frank Parlato and some other people?

A: At a later time I learned that, but not directly from any of the parties.

Q: All right. And I think you said on direct examination that Clare and Sara won that lawsuit against Parlato?

A:  My knowledge was that they won the lawsuit in LA, which was the Plyam lawsuit, and that’s the one where the suit was 28 million. They won 10 million. … And I learned subsequently from their father that they had paid $11 million to win that $10 million. I’m under the impression, but I’m not sure of the source, maybe his [Parlato’s] own articles or something, that he [Parlato] won that lawsuit — his lawsuit against the — against the girls. The girls sued against him.

Q: And when you say his own articles, you’re referring to Frank Parlato because he’s a blogger, right?

A: Yes, he does articles. I stopped reading them when this all started happening, because I didn’t want to get complicated with what I remembered and what I was learning.

Q: That’s wise. Now, let’s — now Frank Parlato, when you were talking about the Plyam lawsuit, do you have an understanding that Frank Parlato was a civil defendant in the Plyam lawsuit?

THE COURT: Excuse me. What lawsuit?

AGNIFILO: The Plyam — Yuri — Yuri Plyam.

THE COURT: Go ahead.

A:  I don’t remember the role. I read it eight years ago. I have not reread the transcript. It was really long and boring. But I remember the name from that context …  when the statements were made, that I represented Edgar Bronfman, to Frank Parlato, with instructions about what to do with this property. None of that was true.

Q: Got it. And so the Parlato lawsuit was in relation to a real estate transaction of some sort that Clare and/or Sara were also involved?

A: My — remembering vaguely from the lawsuit was that they went out and purchased land. It was not doing well under the development. So they sued the developer [Plyam]. And Frank had some role, which I don’t really remember. I think he went out there to try to resolve the issue and then the next thing is that they’re in court.

Q: Okay. And so — and so Clare was an adversary, a legal adversary, with Frank Parlato, correct?

A:  I can’t be precise about that.

Q: They’re on opposite sides of a legal dispute?

A:  Well, I’m not sure of that. The vague memory I have is that they were accusing Edgar of the mess out there by saying that I communicated instructions to Parlato.

Q: That you communicated instructions to Parlato?

A:  A man I’ve never heard of before I read it [the transcripts].

Q: That was my next question. In fact, you never communicated anything to Parlato?

A: That’s when I got annoyed because I think perjury is a problem.

Q: Have you ever spoken with Frank Parlato?

A:  No.

Q:  Have you ever seen Frank Parlato?

A:  No, never been in the same room with him, to my knowledge.

Q: Now, you said that — you made reference in direct examination that certain people who left NXIVM were sued.  Do you know if those lawsuits were because of allegations that they hacked into the NXIVM computer?

A:  I do not know that specifically….

Q:  Okay. So now there’s the Rick Ross lawsuit. Tell me if this is your understanding. Is that proprietary information of NXIVM was taken from NXIVM and then used in a context that was inconsistent with the confidentiality agreement that the person signed?

A:  I never read any of the lawsuits…  involving Rick Ross.

Q: ….  you talked at some length about the relationship between Clare Bronfman and her father, Edgar, correct?….

A:  Yes….

Q:   … And fair to say that Clare was a member of NXIVM…  correct?

A:  … Yes.

Q: Take your time. I’m not going to have you for another five minutes.

A: That’s okay.

THE COURT: You have had him for five minutes. This is your second five minutes.

AGNIFILO: I was referring to the second.

THE COURT: I’m watching the clock. Don’t keep promises you can’t keep. Go ahead.

Q: All right. So — and now I lost my train of thought. Now it’s going to take me ten seconds. All right. So Clare was in NXIVM for a period of time, right?

A: Yes.

Q: All right. And she was trying to convince her father that this was a good thing, that she liked this and she wanted to convince Edgar this was helping her, and she wanted Edgar to try it, right?

A: Yes.

Q: And Edgar tried it and it wasn’t for Edgar; fair to say?

A:  Edgar tried ESP.

Q: ESP, okay. And —

A: And he said it wasn’t for him personally, but, you know, that was nothing he was worried about at that stage.

Q: Okay.

A: That was very early.

Q: And then at some time or another, Edgar is quoted in a media outlet saying that it was a cult. Do I have that right?

A: Yes…

Q: Okay. And do you know…  if Clare didn’t want her father to think this?

A: I wasn’t …  close enough that they …  would discuss that with me.

Q: Okay. Fair to say at the end of Edgar’s life, when Edgar passed away, Clare and Edgar were … together. I mean actually, physically together. Clare spent the last day of Edgar’s life with her father?….

A: Yes. She was there physically.

Q: She was with her father the day that Edgar passed away.

A: As was I.

Q: You were there?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you go to the funeral?

A: No.

Q: Do you know if Clare went to the funeral?

A:  I don’t know. I didn’t go.

Q: And so you were with Clare and Edgar when Edgar passed away?

A:  I was in his home at 4:00 in the afternoon. I was there until 5:00…. Clare was there.

Q: And so Clare was with him literally when her father passed away, Clare was with her father?

A:  Father passed away at 8:00. I wasn’t there between 5:00 and 8:00.

Q: And when you left, Clare was still there?

A: Clare was there when I left.

Q: And they had a complex relationship; fair to say?

A: Complex is a gentle word, yes.

Q: And sometimes in families where the father has multiple wives, and multiple children from different wives, the relations between a daughter and a father could be complex; fair to say?

A: I accept that as public knowledge.

Q: And something that you believe as well?

A: I have not had that many experiences with that many people with that many wives and that many children.

Q: In all of your dealings, have you ever met Keith Raniere?

A: No.

AGNIFILO: Nothing else.

REDIRECT EXAMINATION BY MR. LESKO:

Q: So when Mr. Agnifilo just asked you about whether or not Clare Bronfman was with her father when he passed away, you answered that she was there physically.

A: Right.

Q: What did you mean by that?

A: In the last year or so, 2013, second half the 2012.  I had in January 2012 removed myself from any further dealings between them [Edgar and Clare and Sara], because I was  … asked things [by Clare and Sara] that were, I felt, improper. Not just wrong or immoral. So I said, ‘I don’t want to be part of this anymore.’….  I was still in touch with the sons…  and they would comment to me about tensions, about suddenly after all these years —

AGNIFILO: Objection. Son’s comments.

THE COURT: Go ahead.

A: — were getting difficult because suddenly they [Clare and Sara] were reentering [Edgar’s] life in a way that suggested to them that there were money issues involved.

Q: And they, when you say they reentered?

A: The sons were beginning to believe that the girls were …  spending time with Edgar and doing these things for him, because he was beginning to decline.

Q: So when she, Clare Bronfman, was with her father the day he passed, you say she was physically there. Where was she mentally?

A: I can’t tell you where she was mentally.

LESKO: No further questions.

AGNIFILO: I just have one question.

RECROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR. AGNIFILO:

Q: So you’re actually going to begrudge a daughter and her last minutes with her father because of something you heard from her half brothers? Is that — do I understand this right?

A: I think you’re putting words in my mouth. My relationship with Edgar was one of absolute integrity and honesty. I never violated that with him. And anybody around and close to him will tell you that. That’s how I built my reputation and my life for him and for many, many other really important people.

I’m telling you the facts that I see them. ….  I spoke to him …  about those facts and the fact is this: … I watched them from 2005 to 2013. The … relationship was up and down… pressuring him and disappointing him, because he expressed that to me;  making it unpleasant for him; asking him to do things …  he asking me to do things on his behalf; asking him to do things for their behalf, which created problems for him and disappointment.

Towards 2012 and into 2012 and 2013, their behavior increased substantially by dates and times of visits. Those are facts. Those are checkable.

Q: Can I ask you a question?

THE COURT: Let him finish.

AGNIFILO: This wasn’t the question I asked, Judge.

THE COURT: Let him finish. You opened the door. Let him finish.

AGNIFILO: That’s fine, okay.

A: So I’m not begrudging them — the improper term, as far as I’m concerned, anything. I’m describing a situation as I saw it.

THE COURT: Next question.

Q: Do you know if Clare was going to see her father more often because she knew he was going to die and she wanted to spend time with him before he did?

A: I don’t know why Clare did what she did. I’m simply telling you that the pace of visits and the content of those visits increased dramatically as he got closer to death.

Q: Did you ever ask with Clare why she was coming to see her soon-to-be-passed-away father more often before he died?

LESKO: Objection.

A: I have no reason to.

AGNIFILO: I have nothing further.

THE COURT: Anything further?

LESKO: No, Your Honor.

THE COURT: The witness is excused. You may stand down, sir.

THE WITNESS: Thank you.

THE COURT: You’re welcome.

About the author

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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