“We are going to trial,” said Keith Raniere’s lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, outside of court on Friday, following the guilty plea deals of Clare Bronfman and Kathy Russell.
“We don’t believe Ms. Russell and Ms. Bronfman should have been charged, and we are happy they’re out of the case,” Agnifilo said, speaking for both himself and his client Keith Alan Raniere.
As far as is known, Agnifilo did not say the same of Lauren Salzman, Nancy Salzman or Allison Mack when they pleaded guilty earlier this year.
In the past, Agnifilo said Raniere’s sexual encounters with women were all consensual, and denied the child pornography allegations.
He said of one of the predicate acts included in the recent second superseding indictment – the allegation of Raniere possessing child porn and his sexual exploitation of a minor – that they “serve only to taint the jury pool. If the charges were legitimate, they would have brought them a year ago” when Raniere was first indicted.
Prosecutors found sexually explicit images of a Mexican girl they allege was 15 years old at the time Raniere allegedly took the photographs. The images were found on a hard drive seized by the FBI from Raniere’s sex lair at 8 Hale Dr. in Clifton Park.
In previous filings, Agnifilo dismissed prosecutors’ accusations of Raniere engaging in relationships with underage girls as “hearsay.”
In recent filings, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said they intend to introduce the images of the 15 year-old girl as evidence at trial.
Agnifilo has repeatedly said, “everything was consensual” and that branding women near their vaginas is not anything to be overly critical of.
“There are well-known groups of men who brand themselves,” he said to NBC News some months ago. “A group of women do that and suddenly they’re victims.”
When pressed further about the branding allegations, he replied, “I’m not qualified to say what is normal.”
How Agnifilo intends to rebut allegations of Raniere both possessing and posing the girl in sexually explicit poses which he allegedly photographed with his camera, raises some interesting questions.
Raniere is not charged with child porn or sexual exploitation of a minor in the present case [though he may be charged for that later in the Northern District].
The prosecution is intending to show the jury the pictures to prove a pattern of racketeering – which pattern includes his slaves and harem women finding other women and girls for him to fuck.
If Agnfilo can cast doubt on the then-15 year old girl’s images – – if he can suggest she was older than she was – that the photos were allegedly taken in 2005 – he may be able to nullify the impact on the jury.
The then 15 year old girl – who is now 29 and in Mexico, reportedly still loyal to Raniere – is not expected to testify for the prosecution.
If Raniere can arrange for her to testify via closed circuit TV [a motion is pending] she may testify for Raniere. Indeed she may tell the jury she was older than the age of consent when the picutres were taken, The age of consent is 17 in New York.
Who knows she might even say [ethically] it is not her in the pictures.
According to our Mexican sources, the woman – referenced as Jane Doe #2 in the second superseding indictment – has been served with a subpoena by the US DOJ.
It is believed she has been advised by Nxivm leaders that the subpoena has no force of law in Mexico.
She is living in Guadalajara and works for Rainbow Cultural Garden and Nxivm.
One of Jane Doe’s sisters is also a steadfast loyalist to Raniere and both sisters are part of Raniere’s harem – though it remains unclear when, if ever, he will have the chance to be with them again.
In any event, the jury cannot charge Raniere, and are not asked to charge him, for possessing or taking the photos of the girl. It remains only a predicate act to help establish the kind of criminal enterprise Raniere allegedly operated.
Agnifilo’s statement that he is glad that Bronfman and Russell are out of the case, suggests that neither are going to be called as witnesses against him.
And while Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman and Allison Mack will not be sentenced until September, both Russell and Bronfman will be sentenced in late July, which is probably shortly after the trial will be concluded.
This does not necessarily mean that Bronfman and Russell still stand behind their Vanguard.
It could mean that the prosecution does not need them, having more than ample evidence and witnesses ready to testify.
As far as we know, neither Bronfman nor Russell mentioned Raniere during their allocutions.
This is in sharp contrast to Allison Mack who repeatedly blamed Raniere for her crimes.
And it was in sharp contrast to Lauren and Nancy Salzman who both admitted that Nxivm – which Raniere ran – was a racketeering enterprise.
Neither Russell nor Bronfman pleaded guilty to racketeering and face the lightest sentences of the defendants.
This may be fair in the case of hapless Kathy Russell – who was a low level minion of Bronfman and Raniere, but seems a travesty in the case of the wealthy Clare Bronfman – who was director of operations and was in charge of most of the criminal operations of the enterprise.
It is unclear why the prosecution agreed to drop the racketeering charges against her.
Meantime, it now appears that Keith Raniere will stand trial – as the sole defendant and it should be quite a
We’ll be there covering it for readers.