Editor’s note: You be the judge. Was Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis right to halt the cross-examination of Lauren Salzman?
This is Part 6 of Lauren Salzman: Cross-Examination Stopped by Judge. It is the final installment of our report on her cross-examination.
Marc Agnifilo is continuing his cross-examination of Lauren Salzman. She has been on the stand for hours. The date is May 22, 2019. Judge Nicholas Garaufis is on the bench.
The defendant, Keith Raniere, is at the defense table with his other lawyers. He is manically writing messages to Agnifilo on yellow Post-It Notes – and having Teny Geragos deliver them to the podium where Agnifilo is standing while he questions Lauren.
Marc Agnifilo begins to try to elicit from Lauren the possibility that she was upset by what she learned in discovery – after she was indicted – that might have led her to turn away from Raniere and prompted her to change her view about him post facto.
Keith and Cami
Q Part of what’s happened is that, through the discovery process, you have learned more about Keith’s relationships with other women; fair to say?
Q You have learned more about Keith’s relationship with Cami, for instance?
A That’s true.
Q And you always were concerned that Keith held Cami in sort of a special place in his heart?
A … I felt insecure about it, but that wasn’t what was troubling to me. Learning that Cami and Keith had a special relationship is not what was troubling to me.
Q But … you’ve read the … chats between Keith and Cami…?
Q In discovery?
A Yes. Yeah, where he says …. there is going to be the part of DOS that other people know and then there’s going to be this other secret sex part of DOS where we’re going to get slaves to pleasure us… that was not what I signed up for.
Keith’s Lies to Lauren
Q You didn’t know that Keith and Cami had a relationship…?
A… I knew they had a relationship…. But what was more troubling is not that they had a relationship … it was Keith’s consistent misrepresentations of things… he made promises to me that I gave up real other opportunities of things that I wanted and … he knew that I wanted, and … he didn’t fulfill those promises … Keith said, in the curriculum, that ultimately we want to make our words so strong, like so strong that when we tell people we will do something, it will be done. That it will be done…. he made me a promise, and … when I said “you didn’t uphold the promise,” he said I didn’t live my word.
So that’s like just one example. And then he characterized the … reasons for why he didn’t uphold his word to me as being because it was so difficult that two of our best friends died of terminal illnesses [Pam Cafritz and Barbara Jeske] and the void that that left in our community, and how much extra work fell on him and how hard it’s been because of all of our failures and ineptitudes and the political situation. And then I found out, during that time, he started like twelve new [sexual] relationships with people who were not compensating for those holes that were left in the organization [by Pam and Barbara Jeske] … many of them didn’t even share … any of our values. And I didn’t have a problem. I stayed with Keith despite all the other [sexual] relationships, and that was something that he could have been honest with me about, and mischaracterizing and making me feel sorry for him because his life is so hard because we lost our friends and I can’t get my shit together is not what was going on.
Pam’s Death Created DOS
Q I think you said on direct examination that you thought Keith changed when Pam passed away?
A …. I think that Pam’s passing away relates to the start of DOS.
Q In what way?
A Because I think Keith … had a whole bunch of people [DOS first line women] to meet his objectives and serving him… in a way that Pam facilitated before. I think Pam facilitated a number of Keith’s personal and romantic relationships and kept them alive throughout the years…. Pam talked me back into my relationship with Keith over the years, many times, and Pam facilitated my relationship with Keith initially. And I think DOS took the place of that, in large part, because now you have slaves going out specifically looking for sexual relationships and personal relationships for Keith.
Q … In terms of you and your slaves, that didn’t happen, right?…
A My personal knowledge of what was going on in the other [slave] groups, based on what the women were sharing —
Q No, I’m talking about —
A — with me was happening.
Q I’m sorry, I’m asking what you know —
A I did not do that. I did not do that in my group [get Keith sex slaves].
Q Let me just ask you the question. I’m asking about what you know, what you know based on what you saw and what you saw other people doing with your own senses, eyewitness-type stuff; you didn’t see any of that?
A Well, if I don’t believe anything that any of my friends say, then I didn’t experience any of that. But most of my first-line DOS masters were telling me things that were gravely concerning to me that they were doing.
Q I’m going to ask you the question again.
A I didn’t observe them doing it.
HAJJAR: Objection, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Asked and answered. Next question.
Agnifilo now switched to Dani who at this point had not yet testified but had been brought up by Lauren in her direct testimony.
Q Keith had a child with Kristin Keefe; right?
A Yes, correct.
On Kristin Keeffe
Q Kristin Keeffe, you said, was in the legal sort of part NXIVM, she was in the legal department?
A That was my understanding, yes.
Q And from time to time, Kristin would write e-mails as though it was Hector [Dani and Cami’s father]; correct, she did that from time to time?
A She would draft the e-mail and suggest that the family use it and then Hector would use Kristin’s drafted e-mail, yes. That happened at least once that I know of.
Q Right. And then sometimes Hector would send his own e-mails… ?
A I believe so.
Q And you said that Kristin told you, and a group of people, that she brought Daniella over the border…
Q Did she leave the community suddenly?
A Yes, she did.
Q Okay. Tell the jury about that.
A Kristin left the community with Gaelyn, their son, in … 2014….
Q And she just left like one day. She was here and one day she was gone?
A I think it was progressive. She was more and more upset. I remember concern that she was voicing upset she had, so I don’t think it was completely out of the blue.
Q Do you know if a box of her belongings was taken to your mother’s house?
A I don’t recall. I don’t know that. … the part about her leaving suddenly… I had conversations with Keith quite some time before she left where he wasn’t sure he should spend time developing a close relationship with his son because of Kristin, and that if at some point he got close to Gaelyn, there might be some rift or separation between them that would be damaging to his son, so I think he foresaw that. And we saw that coming, I don’t think [Kristin leaving] … was suddenly.
Tapes Lauren Heard
Agnifilo referred audiotapes [and transcripts of the tapes] of meetings held for DOS in 2016 – before Lauren joined DOS.
Q You learned about these meetings for the first time when the Government gave you these recordings to listen to?
Q In the last couple of weeks?
Q And these are meetings between Keith, Monica Duran, Dani Padilla, and Loreta Garza, right?
A Yes, and I think there were some with Allison [Mack] and Rosa Laura [Junco] too.
Q And with the exception of Rosa Laura, Keith slept with all of those women?
Q So here you are, listening to Keith talk to these women about DOS and the creation of DOS, you’re not there, and you’re listening to these recordings; correct?
A Yes. Correct.
Q …. and this is at a time when you and Keith are still talking about you possibly having children in the spring of 2016; correct?
A Yes, but it was at a time when … Keith and I weren’t interacting very much [during] the two years that Pam was sick and dying….
Q … you were still holding out hope, as of June 2016 when these conversations  are taking place [with the other first-line DOS slaves] these meetings between Keith and these other women, [at this time] you are still holding out hope that you might end up with Keith?
Q So the Government plays these recordings for you; right?
Q Meetings you didn’t know about; right?
A Yes, correct.
Q You just said before that one of your concerns with Keith is that he was with all these other women, you know, rather than being with Pam as she’s dying, that he started I think you said twelve new relationships; correct?
A Yes. I mean, one of my concerns though is that Keith was not being honest with me about what was going on, and he was mischaracterizing things and making promises to me that were influencing my life decisions when I could have gone in other ways and was expressing that I wanted to.
Q One of the ways you know that Keith was lying to you is because you listened to these recordings; right?
A I just listened to these recordings the day before yesterday for the first time.
Q Right, you didn’t know about?
Q Were you surprised?
A Was I surprised about the recordings?
Q Yeah, were you surprised that Keith was having these kinds of interactions with these women, most of whom he was sleeping with?
A No. Everything they were talking about is stuff that we talked about in DOS and that I knew already when I listened to that, except the fact that there were the seven of them and they planned to stay, the seven of them.
Q I’m not talking about the content.
A Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t understand the question.
Q Let me ask you the question. The fact that Keith is off with these women doing anything, in this case creating DOS, you didn’t know that he was there? You didn’t know he was with them at those times?
A Yes, correct. I didn’t know that.
Q You know that now —
A I knew there was some project that they were working on at one point in time. I didn’t know what it was.
Q But you know that now because the Government gave you the recordings to listen to of the meetings that you weren’t in?
A Well, yes. And also — I mean, I knew it because when I joined DOS there was something that had been created over a period of time that seemed pretty extensive. There were a lot of things created and they had all been created and implemented in my absence, so I knew that I had come into something, that there had been things before. The relationships I learned about when I joined … but it wasn’t confusing to me that there had been time spent developing those things. The Government didn’t teach me that…. I knew that before.
Q You didn’t know the specifics of the conversations because you weren’t there; right?
A Correct, I didn’t.
Did You Love Keith?
Q So you heard conversations — well, can I ask you a question, do you love Keith?
THE COURT: We have been through this. Sustained.
AGNIFILO: Judge? Judge, can we have a sidebar?
THE COURT: No, we can’t have a sidebar. Move on.
Q Did you love Keith in June of 2017?
Q Did you know he was having these kinds of conversations with these women?
A Generally. Not specifically.
Q Was it hard to hear his voice with their voices in these recordings that you transcribed?
A That wasn’t what made it hard.
Q But was that hard?
THE COURT: Asked and answered.
AGNIFILO: I don’t think she did. She said that’s not what made it hard.
THE COURT: You said that’s not what made it hard?
THE WITNESS: Yeah.
THE COURT: You may ask your question. I misheard the answer.
AGNIFILO: I’m sorry.
THE COURT: You can ask the question.
AGNIFILO: Yeah, okay.
Q Was it hard to listen to the conversations?
A The conversations sound different to me now than they did before and so I don’t hear them the same way and that’s difficult.
Suffered for Keith
Q … You said … [in the direct examination] when Keith was arrested in Mexico, Mexican police came in and they had machine guns?
Q And they were pointing them at you?
Q You’ve been through a lot for Keith; right?
Q And one — that’s one of the things that you went through; right?
Q And you didn’t want to have to go through this criminal trial with him; is that fair to say?
A I didn’t want — I didn’t want to sit — I didn’t want to defend the things that I did that were bad and that were criminal as good. I didn’t want to sit at the defense table and tell a false story about what happened. And when I found that I had done things that I believe are wrongful, and also criminal, I did exactly what Keith taught me to do, which is take responsibility for and figure out how to fix it.
[Lauren is growing visibly upset and is crying]
Agnifilo Grills Lauren
Q Now, you just said when you “found out” that you did things that were criminal, did you intend to do things that were criminal as you did them?
A Some of them.
Q Did you intend to commit a racketeering violation at the time that you did it?
A I didn’t know specifically it was a racketeering violation, but I knew things were illegal that I was doing and I did them anyway.
Q Did you intend to commit extortion at the time that you did it?
HAJJAR: Objection, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Sustained.
Q Did you intend to commit extortion —
THE COURT: Sustained.
Q You said on direct examination that you committed extortion; right?
A Yes. [she is alternately tearing up and holding back tears.]
Q Did they tell you to say that?
Q Do you think you committed extortion?
Q You do?
Q What did you do?
A I took collateral from people who were afraid to not give it to me, because I already had their collateral, and they were calling it extortion at the time and I even discussed it with Keith and he was, like, it’s not extortion, they agreed to it.
Q Did you think it was extortion when you took the stuff? Were you doing it to scare them?
THE COURT: You may answer.
A I had concerns that it was problematic and I chose to go with what Keith said. If I didn’t think it was problematic, I wouldn’t have raised it.
Q Did you intend to hurt anyone, did you intend to scare anyone?
THE COURT: Sustained.
AGNIFILO: Means you don’t answer.
THE COURT: I’m sorry?
AGNIFILO: No, no, I thought she was about to answer, so I told her not to.
Q When you were in DOS before anybody was arrested, were you doing things intentionally to break the law?
THE COURT: That requires a legal conclusion.
Q Was your intention to hurt people or was it to help people?
Q What was your intention when you were in DOS?
THE COURT: You may answer.
Lauren is growing more upset. She is crying as she speaks.
A My intention was to prove to Keith that I was not so far below the ethical standard that he holds that I was — I don’t even know how far below I am. I was trying to prove my self-worth, and salvage this string of a hope of what I thought my relationship might someday be, and I put it above everything else; I put it above my friends and I put it above other people, helping them in their best interest. That’s what I did when I was in DOS.
Lauren is sobbing uncontrollably by the time she finished her answer.
THE COURT: Okay, that’s it. We are done.
AGNIFILO: Okay, Judge. Thank you.
THE COURT: You are done.
AGNIFILO: I know. I am done.
THE COURT: No, I said you’re done.
AGNIFILO: I know. I am.
THE COURT: So you can sit down. Redirect?
HAJJAR: No, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Nothing?
THE COURT: All right, the witness is excused. You may stand down.
Lauren stepped down. The jury was dismissed. Everyone rises for the jury.
Judge Discusses Reason He Halted Cross
THE COURT: Is there anything else from the Government for tonight?
PENZA: No, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Anything else from the defense?
AGNIFILO: Yes, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Go ahead.
AGNIFILO: I don’t know why Your Honor cut off my cross-examination.
THE COURT: If you want to know, you went way over the line as far as I’m concerned with regard to this witness. You could have asked your questions and moved on to the next question, but you kept coming back, and I am not going to have someone have a nervous breakdown on the witness stand in front of — excuse me, this is not DOS. This is not the allegations. This is a broken person, as far as I can tell.
And whether she’s telling the truth, whether the jury believes her, I think it’s absolutely necessary that there be a certain level of consideration for someone’s condition. And that’s really what this was. You had plenty of — if you had other things to say, you could have gone on and said them. But what I had here was, I had a crisis here. And not in my courtroom. So you have your record, and if there is a conviction, you can appeal my decision to the Second Circuit, okay?
AGNIFILO: Your Honor, most respectfully – and I am not going to belabor the point — I think it is an important — she talked about the change in perspective, she did, and I’m trying to explore that change. I —
THE COURT: You did, in many different ways. Sir, I have a right and an obligation to control the extent to which something like this is put to a witness and you had that opportunity. You made your points. It’s all there, it’s on the record. And if I made a mistake, then you will have your opportunity if you should not be successful in gaining your client’s acquittal, and I’m just going to leave it at that. But I’m telling you, I was watching this witness.
AGNIFILO: I’m more concerned, quite frankly, about, I thought I took great pains to be appropriate and even-keeled.
THE COURT: Well —
AGNIFILO: I never raised my voice.
THE COURT: Look, I am not saying you are not a man — you are not a lawyer who maintains his composure. I am not talking about that. I am worried about her composure in this case.
I have to sentence this defendant and what you did was, basically, ask her to make legal judgments about whether what she did in pleading guilty was farcical that she took somebody else’s advice, some lawyer, so she could get out from under a trial. I thought that really went pretty far beyond the pale, frankly.
AGNIFILO: Your Honor, I —
THE COURT: I took her guilty plea, sir. All right?
AGNIFILO: I am not trying to argue with you. I am not trying to argue with you.
THE COURT: Then don’t argue with me.
AGNIFILO: No —
THE COURT: You can take your appeal if you should not be successful. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I thought it was extremely excruciating. When I tried to cut off the line of questioning, you just went right back to the line of questioning. You could have gone on to something else. You could have.
I may not get everything right up here, but I will tell you, as a human being, it was the right decision.
Alright? And before I’m a judge, I’m a human being. And that goes for everybody in this room, and it includes you and the Government. And I am not going to allow someone to be placed in this circumstance and then let it continue. I am the one who is disappointed. I’m done.
Then Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis rose. Everyone rose. And he exited the courtroom.