Lauren Salzman and Allison Mack posed nude for Keith Raniere - in similar poses.

Allison Mack and Lauren Salzman Deserve Mercy and Leniency From US District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis

In my opinion – to reiterate the headline – both Allison Mack and Lauren Salzman deserve both mercy and leniency from US District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, their sentencing judge.

They may have done some ugly things, and they made allocutions before the judge to doing criminal things, while following their master.

They did not intend to be criminals, in my opinion.  I believe, they followed their master, Keith Alan Raniere, because they believed in his goodness. They were wrong and both of them lost years of their lives because of their mistake.

Keith Raniere and Allison Mack. She did more than follow Keith, she loved him. She believed he had a vision of truth that far surpassed her own.

Allison lost 14 years, from 2006 to the present. She was 23 when she came to Raniere. She is now 37. And her torment is not over. She will forever be remembered as the actress who joined a vicious, sex-slaver cult.

Her fame works constantly against her. It will be hard to find obscurity. Kathy Russell, or example, or even Lauren Salzman, can go to most places in this country and not be recognized. No one knows their names. They have a chance at living private lives, when their sentence is over.

But Allison, almost everywhere she goes, for decades to come, will be recognized. If not for her work on Smallville, for her notoriety in the cult. She cannot step out anywhere without being recognized and perhaps taunted, heckled, admonished.

She must live with what is a kind of opposite of fame, which is notoriety. She cannot easily have obscurity, which might be the one thing she desires most right now – to be forgotten by the world.
Lauren Salzman leaves court in Brooklyn.

As for Lauren, she is 43. She came to Raniere, in large part, thanks to her mother, when she was around 21, in 1998.

She wanted to move forward with her life. Find a husband, find a career. But her mother wanted her to be involved in Nxivm, then known as Executive Success Programs. She told Lauren to stay with Nxivm for six months and if she did not like it, she could move on and Mama would pay for her college or help her in whatever she wanted to do next.

Perhaps one cannot blame the mother. She believe in it too. She thought she was building something noble and profitable and that Lauren could rise in the family business.

In less than six months, Raniere started playing with her life.  She was 22, he was 40. He seduced her. He manipulated her to move out of her mother’s house. She promised her a child, and that she would be his number one wife or lover.

At the end of 20 years, and after mother and daughter were convicted of racketeering, the family business called Nxivm is caput. They still have each other, it seems, and perhaps can be a strength and help to each other in recovering from years of the monster’s influence.

The monster, Keith Raniere with Nancy Salzman.

The monster, Keith Raniere, with Lauren Salzman

Lauren stayed with him right up to the moment of his arrest in 2018, a full 20 years, and for more than two years after his arrest, she is still being punished. She was indicted. She was headed for trial. She took a plea deal and consented to cooperate with the feds, and, as the world learned, she bared her whole story at trial, in days of damning testimony, which impaled the creature, caused jurors to cry and the judge to actually suspend her cross examination when she herself went into a fit of uncontrollable tears and headed toward a total breakdown.

It was probably the most impactful moment of the entire six weeks of trial. And if there were any jurors with any doubt about the need to incarcerate the monster, it most assuredly left them at that moment when the tears of a woman deceived for two decades flowed down her face and she cried before them uncontrollably, almost hysterically, as the force of what this monster did to her and for whom she had sacrificed all, became apparent to anyone who was present.

The shame and the pain for Lauren Salzman must haunt her to this day. She awaits sentencing for racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges.

Lauren logged in 22 years of being in the dark shadows of Raniere, or in anticipation of being punished by the law, because of her devotion to Raniere.  Allison and Lauren lost the best years of their lives to the sinister Raniere.

Allison Mack was a TV star before she was introduced to Nxivm.

Allison gave up a lucrative and successful acting career in 2010, because she believed Raniere had a higher calling for her.  She left her star role in Smallville, and moved to Albany, eschewing other acting roles in order to spend more time near Keith, learning what she thought were his deeper truths and thrilling to the idea that she could be part of a life and world changing mission.

She wanted to share this joy with others. She was not looking to deprive others of joy. She wanted to share what she thought was the golden vision of Keith Raniere, as if he was some unique godly man akin to Gandhi or Buddha or Christ.

Think of this. She had a million dollar a year career, and adoring fans and because she thought his teachings and the man himself were what the world needed, she gave up her career as it were mere tinsel puff and sold all she had in effect and followed him.

Lauren also gave up her whole adult life, always on the verge of believing she would be his wife [or one of his wives – she believed herself unworthy to be the sole wife of one so exalted] – and that she would bear his child.

A pathetic story is told of Lauren. In her house she set aside a nursery with all the items one would equip a nursery with, for a child that never came.

Lauren Salzman and Allison Mack both followed Keith Raniere and were led to ruin.

So what about punishment?

Let’s look at the reasons to not punish either one of them.

I do not believe either of these women are at high risk of being repeat offenders. Not now. Both women have suffered fear and torment for years by their harrowing prosecution, and both women suffered for years under Raniere.

Both women were there at the day of Raniere’s doom, the day he was arrested in Mexico. Lauren had machine guns pointed at her head, and only then revealed where Keith was hiding – which was in a closet.

Allison Mack shows fear as Keith Raniere is being seated in the back of a Mexican federal police car. She and Lauren got in a car and followed police.

Yes, they had good days and happy days with Nxivm. They had a community, they had sisterhood, they had love. They had a shared ideal, a mission they believed would somehow improve the world.

And they had moments with their lover, Keith, the man they thought loved them more than anyone else.

They did not know, what we know now, what they too know now — that Keith was out to destroy them, semi-starve them, sleep-deprive them. Hypnotize them, manipulate them, lead them to utter ruin for his own joy and he succeeded. The only thing the “world’s smartest man” forgot was that, as he set out to destroy others, especially those who loved and trusted him, was that he was also laying the foundation for his own destruction.

He got the worst if it, after all. He is the only one among the Nxivm convicts likely to die in prison.

Keith Raniere sitting inside a Mexican police vehicle on March 26, 2018. It is our last known photograph of the Vanguard.

While Raniere must be incarcerated [and he has been in custody for more than two years, and will likely be sentenced to decades in prison – and he is almost 60, so it may mean a life sentence] what good will it do for anyone to incarcerate Lauren or Allison?

It will take them years to heal as it is, and no amount of time in a physical prison will speed that up. In fact it will only retard it.

While I agree that Raniere must get a long prison sentence to prevent him from harming others, I do not see any risk of Allison or Lauren – both followers, not leaders – harming others.

Perhaps a fair sentence might be probation, or, if need be, home arrest, followed by perhaps a ban on joining any life-coaching companies, or cults [if they can be defined] and providing any kind of therapy to others, as they did in Nxivm.

It might also be good to ban them from getting branded, of branding others, and offering nude photographs or taking them and of giving or taking confessions for collateral.  It might be further suggested that they avoid anyone who proposes that they join a women’s empowerment sorority led by a man who also requires blackmail to ensure members’ silence.

This is not facetious. But, if it could be assured somehow that they would avoid any kind of a situation where they could be misled into enabling another cult leader with seriously destructive tendencies, then I ask, what harm could they do to society?

They were enabler, not initiators.

The very nature of the absurdity of the above, the things they did, show me they are victims more than perpetrators.

If Allison or Lauren had not been branded and had not given blackmail material to Raniere, I think one could argue that they were not victims. But, it is a fact that they did the same things the victims did. The only one in DOS who did not give collateral was Raniere. Allison and Lauren were subject to the same coercion that the other, indisputable victims were subject to.

This makes them, at least in part, if not large part, victims. And victims deserve mercy.

The time has come to close this ugly chapter and place the blame on the man who devised it all, who led everyone, the man who did not place his name on anything because if the law came down he thought it would absolve him of culpability. He was wrong.  Justice was right. He was the one man who deserves all the blame and all the punishment for Nxivm. He is the “but for whom” – none of this would have happened.

Had Allison or Lauren not met the monster, I doubt they would have gone about branding women or engaging in racketeering enterprises. Their mistake was following a satanic creature who had the ability to fool them into thinking he was divine.

Allison would have gone on to perhaps greater stardom, and Lauren, intelligent and personable, would have a career and a husband, and children now.

They were fooled no doubt. But they were not deep down evil. They did not intend to be evil. They did evil because they abandoned their consciences and subjugated them to Raniere, substituting Raniere as their ethicist.

He made moral decisions for them.  As such, they abandoned intellect and morality to what they thought was a higher, more noble intellect and superior morality. When they did not understand the reason for what seemed to be wrong actions he dictated, they subordinated their own thinking to his, thinking that he knew best, because he was better and higher than they.

To me this madness on their part, this colossal mistake, obviates intent. They did not intend to commit crimes. They felt they were obeying a higher power.

They followed Keith Raniere as he ravaged their lives.

I think it is enough. Their punishment is a ravaged life which will be hard to ever put back together.

The judge has the freedom to sentence upwards or downwards from the sentencing guidelines.  Allison and Lauren both pled guilty to the same two felonies, racketeering and racketeering conspiracy. The sentencing guidelines appear to be in the three to 5 year range.

I would hope that the judge would consider a downward departure in sentencing and let their shame and sorrow and the waste of years be punishment enough. The cage for these women, who have repented of their gruesome mistake, is not only unnecessary, it is barbaric.

As it is, their punishment, without incarceration, will continue for haunt them perhaps for the rest of their lives, in the shame and cognizance of their foolishness and misguided love. They might learn to forgive themselves more easily if society, as represented by the judge, offers them leniency and mercy, symbolic of forgiveness.

They sought the divine in Raniere, a most unforgiving creature, and with a dose of mercy by one who has the power of punishment at his command, they might touch closer to it, for mercy is perhaps the closest that human beings can get to the divine.

Lauren Salzman and Allison Mack when both women were commanded to be on super low cal diets, after being branded.

About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • I disagree strongly with almost everything said here. I think this is remarkably sexist- stating that Raniere is a “monster” and these poor, poor women just fell head over heels for him and had no culpability.
    First, it’s dangerous for us to describe other human beings as monsters. Keith Raniere was just a dude… a dude who was smart and manipulative enough to pull wool over people’s eyes for a long time – long enough to convince all these people to believe his intentions were good. He is a human being who did horrible things, and convinced others to also do horrible things. He did not act alone, unfortunately.
    Many can argue that a lot of the women involved made choices, however; the women at the “top” pushing Keith’s agenda THE MOST to convince those “beneath” them to make these choices were Allison Mack and Lauren Salzman. Even when the proof of what was being done was presented to them and others in the group pleaded with them to stop/leave and see things for what they were… they sided with your Monster, and eventually, they ran.
    You know what guilty people do? They run.
    It would not be fair to sentence Keith Raniere to 120 years and let these women off with a slap on the wrist. They are culpable, they should answer for their part in all of this.

  • You are out of your mind. “It might also be good to ban them from getting branded, of branding others, and offering nude photographs or taking them and of giving or taking confessions for collateral.” The fact that you even have to say this is next level and shows the absurdity of this entire piece.

    Of course they fell under his spell; they also made the choice to BRAND other women and keep them as sex slaves. What is wrong with you? Yes, there is power of persuasion – but neither of these women were looking to leave. They were staunchly by his side until he was arrested. People who enable are guilty. These women are accessories to Raniere’s crimes and criminals in their own right.

    Thank God you are not the one handing down their sentences.

  • All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God….what does that speak to you???
    All….every single one…you, me, them, us..
    God is a righteous judge, and He is a merciful God.
    We must leave the judgment of others to Him, while remembering in sober humility the forgiveness and mercy we have been shown,…if we have been shown… not one iota of which we were deserving, but based solely on His Grace and Mercy…we do not know who God will call to repentance, or if your enemy today will be your brother or sister tomorrow..only He knows. We are to pray for the lost, pray for His light, His mercy, for them to be brought to a saving knowledge of the only one through whom salvation comes,..If it has come for you,..Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the only one who can save, and leave the judgment and outcome to Him..and will be able to show forth grace and mercy..if we have been made conscious of our own desperate need…Glaring sin, or hidden inner sin….Nothing is hidden from God. Even amidst the most severe of consequences of our vilest blackest sin…can be repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation to a Holy and Merciful God.
    Jesus was the only one with a pure conscience who was able to point a finger of condemnation at anyone…but He didn’t come to condemn, He came to save…
    An old white napkin looks very white, And is very pleased with itself, It is quick to point out the other napkins with all of their stains and dirt…until it is held beside one that is New..pure white..And then it sees the dirt that has contaminated it…The dirt it wasn’t even aware of, and no amount of soap can change that color…only if that napkin be dyed in that pure white dye can it ever be made new…And when it is, despite the fact that this undeserving self- righteous napkin deserved nothing but the garbage can, this same napkin can’t wait to tell all the other napkins about the dying process….It begs the question,
    What shade of white are we???

  • You say they weren’t leaders. That is false. They were leaders in the group, but not THE leader. They have some culpability. 3-5 years is not much and I’m sure they’ll get the low end of that (if anything) but I don’t agree they were both just victims of being “in love” with a man romantically. That’s actually quite patronizing and even sexist. Crimes against others are not excused by “being in love” anyhow. They did active recruiting and active enforcement of these coercive and degrading tactics. Sarah Edmondson left and sacrificed everything to do so. How was it not possible for these two women to do the same?

  • Didn’t Lauren keep a Mexican woman locked in a room for months and threaten her wiry deportation? Why don’t you ask her if Lauren deserves jail time.

  • Do you let pedophiles off the hook because they were abused as children, too?

    Allison and Lauren causes pain/trauma by THEIR actions alone in the crimes they committed against others.

    Yeah, it’s sad they were brainwashed. That’s outweighed with the devastation they left in their wake.

  • This sounds like it was written by a child. These women committed heinous acts. They were adults, they were educated and they were of sound mind. They knew right from wrong. Lauren even held a woman captive in a room for two years straight threatening her with deportation. Weather these women repeat their offenses or not, they still committed these crimes. There were victims and the victims deserve justice. This article is basically absolving these women of their crimes simply because they are women. As if women are too weak minded to know right from wrong. The implication is that women are easily manipulated and therefore shouldn’t be held to the same standards as men. Innocent ppl are shot by police in the street for being “suspected” of a crime. These two have admitted to committing violent crimes against others. They deserve to be punished!

  • I’ve read this through the lens of a civil war era southern belle, who got arrested for crippling someone else’s slave, because she was taught that it was ok to do that, and it served her place in the hierarchy of her culture. Or bought slaves specifically to indoctrinate them into Christianity and spread the “good word” by force and threat.

    There is such a wealth of information being released, every layer is worse and yet there is a gap in the narrative about what long term high ranking people knew, witnessed and did nothing. If only it was that they did nothing, they participated. Your plea leaves out the whole purpose and ideology of this cult, what it promises and what these people thought they were going to gain. Hierarchy was highlighted through accessories, but it was that very hierarchical classism and entitlement that kept them there. Humanitarians, people that actually get things done to “do good”, don’t do anything remotely like this. Greedy narcissists got played and abused, and their very flaws were used to manipulate others. They can be simultaneously victims and perpetrators, there was a line they crossed long ago and they kept crossing it.

    These women actively recruited other women to be abused and enslaved. That’s premeditated torture and violence. They were around long enough to see the darkness, on themselves and others. They were the new primary harem.

    The entire lot deserve to feel the full force of the consequences of their actions.

  • People need to be held accountable for their own actions. To say otherwise is to diminish other abuse victims that manage to make it through life without harming others. Same goes for that woman who helped her abusive husband kidnap and torture another woman for years…when you hurt others, you are now a perpetrator of a crime.
    Our jails are filled with people who have been abused at one point or another and made the decision to cross the line and become the abuser, they are held accountable, so should these women.

  • Sadly, I believe Allison will eventually take her own life over this. Fame and fortune ruin some people. She was 23 when she joined Raniere. That is a legal age, so she has to answer for her wrongdoings.

  • I agree with you. I was married to a sociopath. The amount of brainwashing that happens can’t be overestimated. And one of the best books on domestic violence, called Steps to Freedom, talks about freeing from guilt the women who participated in sexual acts they never would have done without their abuser. This man abused both of these women. That’s the nature of coercive control. They have certainly suffered already. I did not witness the trial or the sentencing but, it seems, the court and the world outside of it still understand very little about the persuasiveness charismatic cult leaders possess.

    • I completely disagree with you. I am sympathetic to what you have gone through. However if you are educated at even a basic level in any capacity, then at some point you were taught right from wrong. You allowed yourself to be in the situation you were in, for whatever reasons you were in them. You are responsible for yourself and your own wellbeing. If something doesn’t seem right it’s on you to get out of that situation. If you ignore the signs it’s on you. I’m sorry if that is harsh but it’s the truth.

  • How about “We are going to punish you for your evil deeds in the hopes that you are never even able to consider doing this again and the sadistic pervert will think twice about their crime worth 40 years in prison.” Or they might think “well, if I get a good enough lawyer and can cite precedent in the Mack case, I could possibly get away with this even if I’m caught.” Has your brain stopped working?

  • They are as sick and villanous as he is. Hitler also needed many, many villains and devils.

  • Hollywood trash, both of them. Easily recruited into a sex cult because low morals seem to be a requirement to be a “star”. They get what they deserve. They hurt other people. What do they think these two witches should get, a slap on the hand?? I doubt that seriously. Hollywood “elite” don’t deserve any special treatment. Get a grip.

    • Umm k. Mack’s crime wasn’t being a “Hollywood elite” whatever tf that means. And Lauren Salzman had nothing to do with Hollywood or acting. Do your research before spouting off.

  • Trash article. Mack deserves to burn. The guy who wrote this is a total beta apologist.

  • Frank, you’re a clown. Lauren Salzman admitted to holding an immigrant captive in a room for two years. Get a clue you moron.

  • Why does this article read like it was written by a 10 year old? This is frustratingly bad.

  • This is why this guy and these articles com3e up first in Google. It’s all one big agenda. We’re awake, dude. Go tell your Handlers that the war is over. God wins every time.

  • This is why this guy and these articles com3e up first in Google. It’s all one big agenda. We’re awake, dude. Go tell your Handlers that the war is over. God wins every time.

  • Frank you are a sick pathetic worthless human. It’s sad people die young yet we are still stuck with you. Defending these pigs. Makes you wonder… what’s frank into? Phenomenal “journalism”

  • nothing about child abuse or trafficking… everyone associated to this sick cult should be hung and you should do your job better for all the poor victims.

    • I don’t think a reasonable person could argue that without the influence of Keith, these women would not have constituted a child sex ring. However, both women were in the 30’s during the DOS years, plenty old enough to know better. If these two perpetrators get off without any punitive measures, that signals that all child sex traffickers that are likewise under the influence of an evil older man, should get off free. That is lawlessness and a society can not tolerate that.

      If as you state, the sentence of 3 to 5 years occurs as a result of their mutual plea deals, considering the years of damage they did to others, I think that would be on the lighter side of what is proportional. A ten to 15 year sentence for what could be 20 years per each of the 2 counts they plead guilty to seems reasonable to me.

      Much like the Charles Manson gals, these two grown women (not girls) choose to serve deviant Keith in all of his perversions, and did so each and every day, and until Sarah Edmondson help to shut down the operation, might well be doing it today. Both women we intelligent and came from backgrounds of privilege.

      It is kind of you to want to lean into one’s more forgiving side, as you have done in this posting. However, there are broader societal obligations and responsibility to ensure that this type of behavior, either inherent to a person or through high influence, needs to be discouraged and punished, and perpetrators need to be responsible for their deeds.

      In fact, part of the NVIVM curriculum specifically addresses the issue of personal responsibility for one’s actions.

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