Judge Nicholas Garaufis abruptly stopped the cross-examination of Lauren Salzman at the end of day, May 22, in the trial of Keith Alan Raniere.
It is interesting to me in part because the judge chose to terminate Lauren’s cross-examination instead of calling it a day and letting it resume the following day. He suspended the cross-examination at close to 5 pm – when the court would have ended its day.
I am in no position to judge the appropriateness of this decision, but other [appellate] judges will likely do so at some point in the future. That’s because this decision to end Lauren’s cross-examination will almost certainly form one of – if not the main – bases of the inevitable appeal – if, as expected, Keith Raniere is convicted.
The cross-examination of Lauren Salzman began before lunch and lasted through the afternoon. It would have likely gone on the following day had the judge not ruled it was excessive and unnecessary.
Lauren, the longtime associate of Keith Alan Raniere, pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy – and is, thus far, the only co-defendant of Raniere to testify against him. She signed a cooperation agreement – and was testifying, I think it is obvious to state, at least in part to lessen her prison sentence.
The judge presiding over her testimony in court is the same judge who will determine her sentence. Her sentence date is currently scheduled for September 11.
Lauren faces a maximum sentence literally of 40 years in prison [20 max for each count]. But this kind of draconian sentence is extremely unlikely. There is no minimum sentence. The applicable federal sentencing guidelines, which the judge is not bound to adhere to, are, I believe, in the range of 3-5 years.
But the judge may make a downward departure on sentencing guidelines [down to zero]. Lauren’s testimony for the prosecution and her cooperation is intended to persuade the judge that she should get such consideration.
Since the judge stopped the cross-examination – clearly, I believe, [and as we shall see] sympathizing with Lauren – this may [or may not] indicate his view of Raniere [as villain] and her as being, at least in part, his victim.
I am not speaking for the judge. I am simply presenting events that occurred and my impression of them. The sudden ending of the cross-examination by the judge amid Lauren’s breakdown into uncontrollable tears, nearly at the end of the day, caused Raniere’s lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, to seek a mistrial the following morning. That motion was denied by the judge.
The ending of Lauren’s cross-examination will undoubtedly form part – perhaps a major part – of an appeal if Raniere is convicted. So it is germane for those who are following the trial.
Agnifilo will almost certainly point to the ending of Lauren’s cross-examination as a game-changing event in the direction of the trial. The judge’s thwarting of his due process right to fully confront a witness who had very damaging direct testimony about his client will be appealed.
In short, Agnifilo will argue that he was stopped at the crucial moment when he was on the way to truly impeaching her.
How much of this is actually true and how strong his argument will be on appeal is hard to gauge. Clearly, Judge Garaufis thought Agnifilo was merely badgering Lauren, with no genuine value to his continuing questions but to break her and cause a potential nervous breakdown right in his courtroom.
I think readers might like to review the cross-examination, especially some crucial parts, to judge for themselves whether they think it should have been terminated by the judge when he did so.
The cross is lengthy [in total nearly half a novel] and much of it is tedious – and is the review of exhibits and rehashing testimony said on direct examination. I will present the highlights of the cross [with the exact language and taken from the transcripts]. I will present it in several parts and abbreviated.
This is Part 1.
Where I have eliminated basic repetition and skipped portions of the cross examination it is indicated wither with […] when it is merely a sentence of two and with [***] when questions and answers are skipped.
BY MR. AGNIFILO:
Q Good morning, Ms. Salzman.
A Good morning.
Q We’ve met before?
A Yes, we have.
Q I want to introduce myself anyway. My name is Marc Agnifilo, I represent Keith Raniere. I am going to ask you some questions today. If I ask you a question that you don’t understand, please tell me that. And if you would like me to rephrase it or ask a different question, I’m happy to do that.
Now, you said in the beginning of your direct examination that Keith Raniere was the most important person to you?
Q You said he was your mentor?
A Yes, he was.
Q You said he was your teacher?
Q You and he had a romantic relationship?
A Yes, we did.
Q And you loved him?
Q And he loved you?
ASSISTANT US ATTORNEY TANYA HAJJAR: Objection, Your Honor.
BY MR. AGNIFILO:
Q Did he ever tell you — I’ll ask it — did he tell you that he loved you?
A He has told me that.
Q You wanted to have children with him?
A I did, yes.
Q You once wanted to share your life with him?
Q Now, Ms. Hajjar asked you whether your relationship with Keith has ended. Do you remember her asking that question?
Q And your answer was: “For me.” Do you remember giving that answer?
Q Can you explain that answer?
A Well, I had hoped at one point in time I would be able to speak to Keith about the ending of our relationship, but that was not possible through this [legal] process, and so I was just communicating where I was at. He and I have not discussed where he’s at, or anything beyond that.
Q Okay. Now, you and Keith had a life commitment, right?
Q And there is no indication from Keith that that’s been broken?
A You could say that, yes.
[Lauren, being questioned, spoke about her first meeting with Keith, her impressions, that she was 21, that she had been backpacking through Europe, coming home to Albany, of her having friends and spending a lot of time alone, etc.]
Q … what was the nature of your relationship with Keith?
A He was my mother’s friend and business partner, and he had started a school [ESP, Executive Success Programs] with her, and I was taking classes in that school.
A We had weekly classes that Keith taught and it was a goal-setting program…. Keith usually ran two classes a week…
[Lauren was living with her mother Nancy]
Q … did Keith … inspire you to move somewhere else….
A He told me that a friend of mine, Jory, had moved out and started asking me when I was going to move out, and also I think he inspired my mom to start charging me rent in the house and help me to understand things come from somewhere and somebody’s providing that and help me learn to provide that for myself.
Q And did you have any feelings over the fact that Keith inspired your mother to charge you rent for living at home?
A … at first, I didn’t like that, but then I came to understand that … what it would take to be self-reliant.
Q Now, at the time this was happening, when you moved out of the house with your mom, Keith was living at 3 Flintlock?
A Yes, he was.
Q … Keith was living with three women at the time?
Q And did you know … that Keith had an intimate relationship with each of the three women at the time?
A … yes.
Q … tell us a little bit about [Pam Cafritz].
A … she was the person who was around Keith … she was supportive of and she befriended most of the women that he was in relationships with…. she helped build a type of rapport that was helpful to him….
Q …did you grow to have a relationship with Pam yourself?…
A Pam … was a mentor, an advisor to me. She was a close personal friend. We had an intimate and sexual relationship for some period of time. I loved Pam very much. She was one of the closer friends I’ve had in my life.
[Pam’s illness was discussed, then some of the women Keith was having sexual relationships with.}
Q At some point… you started developing feelings, romantic feelings for Keith?
A Yes, that’s correct.
Q At about 2000?
[It was about a year after she met him]
A … I would spend social time with him. He and I would go for walks and I was invited to hang out at 3 Flintlock, so we were spending time together. He would come over to my mom’s house while I was living there.
Q And at some point did you see or conclude that he had feelings for you as well?
Q …. the first time that you had an intimate contact with Keith was April 1, 2001; is that right?
Q And this was completely consensual on your part, am I right?
A Yes, it was.
Q Now, did you have concerns at the time, back in April of 2001, when you were starting to get involved with Keith, about his lifestyle, the fact that he was living with three women, that he seemed to be close with other women? Did any of that concern you?
A Yes. Some of the things about it. It was difficult. I mean, I felt insecure, you know, but I also at that time believed that Keith’s relationships were very selective and special, you know, and it was a small group of people that he was choosing to have them with, and, so I felt special to be part of that.
Q And did you understand that there were certain rules… that Keith had for people that he was in a relationship with?
A Yes, that they not have relationships with other people.
Q …. One of them was that his partner would have to be honest and transparent?
Q Second is that his partners had to be monogamous and committed to him?
Q Third is that the partners had to inform Keith before leaving the relationship; correct?
Q But one of the rules wasn’t that Keith had to be monogamous in return?
Q …. Keith …was … expecting you to be fully committed, monogamous with him, but he wasn’t planning to be monogamous with you or any of the other women he was with?
A That’s true.
Q … why did you choose to pursue this relationship with Keith given what you knew about him and what his conditions were?
A Because I believed that Keith had a world view and a certain set of values and principles that were in line with things that I really admired and wanted to be like, wanted to have and uphold in my life and that relating with him and having him in my life would help me do that better.
Q … what were those principles…?
A That he was humanitarian, that he had this vision for how we could all be, the word we used was ‘interdependent’ but worked as a team as kind of a collective humanity and learned to be compassionate and care for each other and support each other in non-violent ways with ethics, and I wanted that.
Q And how was it that you were able to see that?
A Mostly through the teachings, the curriculums that he put out, my interactions with those, and how he would advise me in my life and with some of the struggles I had.
Q … [you] and Keith were in an intimate relationship between 2001 and about 2008 …?
Q During that period of time, was he ever inappropriately aggressive sexually with you?
A In a situation with Dawn … [at 3 Flintlock, Keith’s home that he shared with three women]
Q O… he was sort of trying to pull your pants down?…. you were with Keith and Dawn Morrison; right?
Q And you didn’t want to do that?
Q You told [him] a number of times and he stopped?
A Yes, he did.
Q Did you ever express to Keith at any point, other than the Dawn Morrison situation… that he was asking of you or encouraging you to do of a sexual nature that you didn’t want to do?
A … when different women would approach me to have group sex with him that that wasn’t something that I wanted to do….
Q … There were occasions where you had sexual contact with Keith and another woman where you wanted to do that?
Q And then there were occasions where you just said women would approach you to possibly have sexual contact with you and Keith where you didn’t want to do it?
A … there were occasions where I went along with having sexual experiences with women with Keith that I didn’t want to, but I did it anyway … I would act unhappy in the circumstance, but I would go through it anyway.
Q … Did you ever tell him, even after the fact, ‘I didn’t want to do that’ or ‘I don’t ever want to do that again’ or anything along those lines?
A No, I didn’t feel able to communicate that…. I didn’t want him to be displeased with me.
Q …. did he ever yell at you, anything like that?
A Yes, he has yelled at me.
Q … Has he ever touched you in a hurtful way, … hit you, kicked you, slapped you?
A Accidentally, not on purpose.
Q The times when he would yell at you… give me a few examples…
A He would say that I was having … a temper tantrum or my behavior was difficult for him and he wasn’t going to talk to me about things if I was going to be like this.
One time he kicked me out of the house until I came back and apologized for my behavior, but generally, it would take place in situations where I would express upset or frustration over the things that were going on with us, or our relationship, or the circumstances around us.
Q … it wasn’t easy being in a relationship with Keith, in part, because he had these other romantic interests?
Q And there were times when you didn’t think you wanted to put up with that?
A Yes. … I didn’t feel like we were in a relationship because we weren’t even interacting for years.
Q … after 2008 or 2009 your intimate relationship started to wane; correct?
A Correct. And he told me he put it on hold.
Q — … he was still having intimate relations with other people?
Q And that was hurtful?
A It was painful.
Q I think you said … Keith was highly respected, highly regarded in your community?
Q And he was viewed as an authority on different topics?
A Yes. … we edified him and the teachings and, so, he became highly regarded…
Q So people would say things about him. Fair to say it was almost like a myth around Keith?
A To a degree, yeah.
Q People said he could affect the weather?
A Yes. He said he could, or [said] these things happened around him and he could never explain them.
Q Right. He told you the time he was with Toni Natalie, right? … it was raining?
A I didn’t know it was Toni Natalie. I heard the story with the rain.
Q And it was raining on Toni and not on Keith, this is the story that he told?
Q … was he conveying to you that because of some great force he wasn’t being rained on?
A …. there were these things that happened to him that he couldn’t account for and that there was something really unique or special about him … therefore, we should really take seriously — like the way he was saying … it wasn’t raining on … him and it was raining on her because somehow her behavior… was out of line and she wasn’t listening to what he was saying and that what he was saying was so …. important, that ‘it’s not even raining on me, look, this is how you can believe what I’m saying, that what I’m conveying is of such importance … and who I am is so different.’
Q You’ve seen it rain on him? He gets rained on like everybody else?
A Of course.
Q … Keith seemed very afraid to have women leave him. Does that seem right?
A Yes…. He didn’t ever want anybody leaving. I mean, he wouldn’t end of the relationships even when they were over…. some of the women were having real emotional and addictive problems that were potentially life threatening, he wouldn’t end the relationship to allow them to move on…. he got us all to collateralize life vows to never leave no matter what.
Q So [Keith] never left Pam? Was with her until the day she died; right?
Q Barbara Jeske was with her until —
A I have issues with the term with her. He didn’t end the relationships.
Q So when you say you have problems with regard to her [Jeske], go ahead, tell us what you mean.
A … in the last years of Barbara’s life, he wasn’t interacting with her very much and in the time she was sick, he didn’t go to visit her almost at all…. he never formally ended the relationship, but he wasn’t actively participating in the relationship … I expressed to him … concerns that I had because I observed …. Barbara, who wanted to have a child at one point in time, Pam as well…. [Keith] made a number of promises [to have children] and those years passed by. And when… women became past their fertile years… he was like, oh, he had somehow misgauged this, or whatever, and I would express this to him on an ongoing basis, that ‘I don’t want our relationship to be like that,’ to not make me promises if he’s not going to do that [sire a baby for Lauren] [and] that I saw this happen with other women…. I related more with …. the way … he related with Barbara and that my concern was that we were going to have this relationship that was not active and in the end, I would die alone, that he wouldn’t come visit me either.
And, so, he was with [women was … he never formally said ‘I don’t want to be in this relationship anymore.’ He wanted them to stay loyal and monogamous with him, but he wanted to be able to not have to invest further in the relationship and just go do other things that he wanted to do while they were still there waiting, hoping that it would change and feeling very feel emotional things or having issues with it, that he would, in my experience, not empathetic to and that he felt that they were — they could just learn to be joyful and they should be able to just get over those issues and be happy no matter what the circumstance was.
And in some cases that he thought it was better for them to stay with him because if they left and had a relationship with someone else that relationship … would be very damaging or destructive to them…
Q Did he seem to really believe that?
A Yes, I think so. I think he did.
Q And you didn’t leave him?
A I didn’t. Correct.
Q Dawn Morrison, another person I think you mentioned was in a relationship with Keith for a period of time; correct?
Q Do you know if Keith had a relationship of some sort with your mother?
A Briefly, he did.
Q Many, many years ago?
A Yeah, before mine.
Q And then there’s yourself. Then there’s Barbara Bouchey. And Keith had an intimate relationship with Barbara; correct?
Q Kathy Russell the same?
A The same.
Q Daniella the same?
Q Marianna the same?
Q Camila the same?
Q Monica Duran the same?
Q Ivy Nevares the same?
Q Loretta Garza the same?
Q I think you said a couple of days ago Keith had a relationship with Clare Bronfman?
A I believe so, yes.
Q Jim Del Negro?
Q Emiliano Salinas no?
Q Mark Vicente no?
Q Nicki Clyne yes?
Q Rosa Laura Junco, I think you said you didn’t think he had a relationship with?
A He told me no and she told me no.
Q Dani Padilla Bergeron yes?
Q Allison Mack yes?
Q And Alex Bentancourt, Jack Levy no?
Q So the only woman … [of his inner circle], that he did not seem to have a relationship with is Rosa Laura?
Q What rank was Rosa Laura?
A Rosa Laura was a proctor in the ESP. I’m not sure how many stripes she had.
Q I mean, a pretty high level?
Q Other [than] Allison Mack… all of the romantic relationships that Keith had were before DOS was ever created?
Q So Pam, Barbara, Karen, Kristin, Dawn, Nancy, yourself, Barbara, Kathy, Daniella, Marianna, Camila, Monica, Ivy, Loretta, Clare, Nicki, all before DOS?
Q Fair to say Keith’s lifestyle from when you knew him was that he had many relationships with many different women for extended periods of time?
A Yes, and he would change the rules on it… when this started, I thought that it was this small select group of people and he said that’s true and then at some point that changed. … he would change things and tell me several years after the fact….
Q … regardless of the individual rules at any point, it was pretty well known… Keith had many relations with many different women and that this went back to the late ’90s?
Q Now, fair to say Keith never said to you that your position in NXIVM was in any way independent on whether or not you had an intimate relationship with him?
Q He never linked the two; right?
Q He never said to you “if you want to be a proctor, if you want to have an … orange sash or a green sash, you’re better off if you have an intimate relationship with me?” He never said it?
A No, but the women who did were treated differently and the women who left were treated differently.
[Stay tuned for Part 2 – which concerns Lauren’s role in confining Dani].
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Author: Frank Parlato