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Victim Impact Statements 101: Who Can Submit – and When and How To Do So

Several Frank Report readers have recently asked for information about submitting “Victim Impact Statements” with respect to the upcoming sentencing of Clare Webb Bronfman (September 30th) and Keith Alan Raniere (October 27th).

Before we get into the details of who can submit such a statement – and how to do so – let’s take note of the most recent filings in the case and the ones that are scheduled to take place in the near future.

Clare Bronfman’s Recent Status Conference

Back on August 18th, the presiding judge in the case, Nicholas G. Garaufis, held a Status Conference for Clare. During that conference, the judge ordered her latest attorney, Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr., to submit, on or before August 28th, (a) a list of any facts contained in her “Pre-Sentencing Report” that she disputes, (b) the reason(s) for any such disputes, and (c) whether a Fatico hearing will be necessary to resolve them.

MK10ART’s painting of Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis.

During that same August 18th Status Conference, the judge also ordered the prosecution to submit, on or before September 11th, its response to Clare’s filing – including, if applicable, whether a Fatico hearing will be necessary to resolve any disputes that were identified by Mr. Sullivan.

Keith Raniere’s Recent Status Conference

Back on August 14th, Judge Garaufis held a similar Status Conference for Keith. During that conference, the judge issued the following orders:

  • The government is to file its sentencing recommendation on or before August 28th;
  • Keith attorneys (Marc Agnifilo and Paul DerOhannesian) are to file their reply to the government’s filing on or before October 9th;
  • Also, on or before October 9th, the government is to file under seal – and provide Keith’s attorneys with a copy of – any written “Victim Impact Statements” that it would like the judge to consider; and
  • On or before October 20th, the government is to file under seal – and provide Keith’s attorneys with a copy of – a letter that lists any victims who plan to attend the October 27th sentencing in-person and that indicates which of them, if any, intend to make an oral statement at that hearing.

Victim Impact Statements

Except in very limited circumstances, victims have the right to attend all public court proceedings that involve the perpetrator who harmed them – including, of course, the sentencing hearing.

The courtroom in which sentences will be meted out to all six of the NXIVM criminals who were charged by the EDNY: Clare Webb Bronfman, Keith Alan Raniere, Nancy ‘Prefecft’ Salzman, Lauren Salzman, Allison Mack, and the hapless Kathy Russell. 

Victims also have the right to be heard at the sentencing hearing – either through a previously-submitted written “Victim Impact Statement” and/or through an oral statement at the hearing (Victims actually have the option of submitting both a written “Victim Impact Statement” – and of reading that same statement or a different statement at the sentencing hearing).

In general, “Victim Impact Statements” allow those who have been harmed by the defendant to describe the emotional, financial, mental, and physical impact they have suffered as a result of the defendant’s crime(s). They also allow some victims to achieve some measure of closure regarding what they’ve been through as a result of the defendant’s criminal activity.

So, Who’s a Victim?

In theory, victims are those individuals who were directly affected in a negative way by the crime(s) to which the defendant pleaded guilty – or of which the defendant was found guilty.

Were that standard to be strictly enforced in this case, then the only individuals who could submit/read “Victim Impact Statements” with respect to Clare’s sentencing would likely be  Sylvie and someone representing Pam Cafritz’s estate. That’s because Clare only pleaded guilty to harboring an illegal immigrant (i.e., Sylvie) – and enabling credit card fraud against Pam Cafritz’s estate.

Pam Cafritz – before she lost her head over her Vanguard.

Similarly, if that standard were strictly enforced, the only individuals who could submit/read “Victim Impact Statements” concerning Keith’s sentencing would be those who were directly impacted by the various crimes of which he was convicted (e.g., sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, human trafficking, racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, etc.).

In reality, however, judges tend to be very lenient in allowing individuals to self-identify themselves as “victims” – and, based on some of the people who we know have already submitted “Victim Impact Statements”, it appears that will be the rule in this case.

Does a Victim Have to Have Monetary Damages to Submit a “Victim Impact Statement”?

Not necessarily.

Once again, judges and prosecutors tend to be very open-minded when it comes to the submission of “Victim Impact Statements”.

So, it is unlikely that anyone who seeks to submit a “Victim Impact Statement” with respect to Clare or Keith will be denied the opportunity to do so simply because they’re not seeking monetary damages from either of them.

What Should Be Included in a “Victim Impact Statement”?

By their very nature, “Victim Impact Statements” are meant to be personal. So, if you’re going to write/read one of these, be sure to put it in your own words.

Tell the judge how Clare and/or Keith harmed you.

How they hurt you, your family, your loved ones, your friends, etc.

And, if applicable, focus on the long-term and/or ongoing effects of what they did to you. Just as having a permanent limp is far different than having a scraped knee that healed, so too is it different to have suffered an ongoing trauma at the hands of Clare and Keith rather than a temporary one.

Where to Submit Written “Victim Impact Statements” and/or Request Permission to Read One

The charges against both Clare and Keith were based on their criminal activities in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY)

The EDNY is comprised of three boroughs of New York City (Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island) – and both suburban counties on Long Island (Nassau County and Suffolk County).

EDNY Map

Thus, even though Clare and Keith committed many more crimes in the Northern District of New York and the Western District of New York, all of their victims will be required to submit their written statements – and/or to register to read their statements – with the EDNY.

The mailing address for victims who wish to do either (or both) is as follows:

Tanya Hajjar, Esq.

Assistant U.S. Attorney

Eastern District of New York

271 Cadman Plaza East

Brooklyn, NY 11201

To find out if you can submit your statement/request electronically, you can contact Tanya’s office at 718.254.7000.

And the EDNY’s fax number for both of the Frank Report readers who still use fax machines is 718.254.7508

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Written “Victim Impact Statements” are normally filed under seal – and not made public. However, as a public service, the Frank Report will publish any “Victim Impact Statement” that it receives without disclosing the identity of the person who submitted it.


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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