[This excellent report came to me by email and is well worth reading. The writer, who identified herself, has asked to remain anonymous.]
By A Rejected Juror
I came across your blog, as I was almost selected to serve on the jury in the trial of Keith Raniere and am incredibly curious about the whole thing. Now I wish I was on the jury to send this asshole right to the pits of max for the rest of his life.
I’m currently a Ph.D student in clinical psychology focusing on neural changes within PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] and how this ultimately impacts reasoning, judgement, and memory. I’ve been in trauma research labs since I was 18 and only stopped when I was a teacher.
During jury selection, when the charges were read out, there was an audible gasp as well as people saying “he’s guilty” (He looked like a dirty hippie arrogant piece of shit the day we saw him).
It was so bizarre because I had never seen such a large group of people react that way.
I cannot imagine the group of people who were chosen to be impartial. I certainly would not have been. The judge was very stern and repeated many times that this was very high profile and none of us were to look at media coverage of any sort until we were excused.
Obviously, he said no discussing the case with each other since we were all on the hook for four weeks after the initial date, but, as soon as everyone left, they were all talking about how disgusting the case is. So it doesn’t sound like it’ll go great.
I’m kind of bummed. I was excused because, as a woman who meets all of Raniere’s preferred criteria (mostly), I would have loved to make sure he was given a life sentence. I can only imagine how he would have felt seeing someone he could imagine “recruiting” dictating his future.
My impression of Raniere and his crew [then-co-defendants, Kathy Russell and Clare Bronfman]:
I actually had trouble figuring out who were the defendants and who were the attorneys until they were introduced, along with their titles. Like I said before, Ranere looked like a dirty hippie with a man-bun, but he definitely blended enough with the attorneys that I didn’t know who he was at first.
When he turned around, he had this stupid, smug look on his face and waved to the room full of potential jurors. I can definitely see how women would be attracted to him despite him being an average looking guy at best – the air of confidence was there.
I’m sure once Kathy Russell and Clare Bronfman pleaded out, that changed, but those two women looked exhausted. I was uncomfortable with Raniere’s glare though, when he turned around. I was directly in front of him.
I think before charges were read out people were confused because none of them looked like they could be guilty (I guess the power of money does that). But, after the charges were read, the room was full of hushed whispers.
I’m lucky that I have a high-powered hearing aid and was able to overhear a lot of people saying things like “he’s definitely guilty,” “what the fuck, who molests a child,” “disgusting,” and my personal favorite “this fucker is guilty I don’t want to be on this jury.”
It seems most people had the same disgusted reaction I had. I can only imagine what they wrote on their juror questionnaires about being impartial to child molestation/rape charges because I wrote that “anyone who says they can be impartial is lying.”
DANI, A TRAUMA VICTIM
I intended to go to the trial to see Dani’s testimony after reading your blog, but I didn’t have the opportunity. She’s unbelievable and sounds so well composed. It’s very rare for trauma victims to be as composed as she sounded on your blog, especially when they are directly in front of the person who perpetrated the trauma. Her resilience is amazing and I’m in awe of her.
Earlier I almost emailed you to say that the testimony from Lauren Salzman showed a woman who, although she committed heinous crimes, shows symptoms consistent with trauma, ESPECIALLY the disassociation and impaired judgment.
Dani’s testimony for sure showed a trauma victim but her resilience is amazing. From what I’ve read, Dani has been under Raniere’s thumb since age 16.
It is expected that, under those circumstances, and the grooming that happened, that she was conditioned to listen to him. She can’t explain why she continued to listen, but I would think she was conditioned like Pavlov’s dog almost. It seems almost reflexive to listen to him for most of these women.
At 23, the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed in anyone, so decision making and things that really require higher order thinking aren’t as formed. But that’s only a partial explanation of why she was still listening to these people that she was disgusted by.
What I think is that the traumatization process left her feeling like there wasn’t alternatives available for her. Yes, she might have her free will, but I think she had succumbed to her circumstances in other ways.
Each person responds differently to their traumas and it seems, for her, her family was important, and she knew she could only get to them by listening to these other people. Prolonged responses to trauma (even in people who don’t recognize themselves as experiencing reoccurring traumatic experiences) are generally depression, repression of emotion, attempts to “fix” the situation, anxiety, and the belief that their own efforts can act as a protection.
To me, this explains why she didn’t leave. Dani assumed she could restore her life through her own actions by complying with what Raniere/everyone else said to fix her “ethical breach.” The book reports she was told to do seem to be done mostly to get her family back and restore some semblance of normalcy even if she doesn’t recognize it herself.
She’s not exactly a textbook case and has defied most expectations of what a trauma survivor looks like.
I also saw your post Judge Rules Expert Witnesses Can Testify on Solitary Confinement [Dani] and Sexual Abuse about the expert witness testimony and I was thinking a few days before you published it how the prosecution 100% needs a trauma expert to testify.
I’m excited to see the psychologist/psychiatrist [Dr. Grassian and Dr. Dawn Hughes] testify because their testimony is sure to cement in the jury’s mind that Raniere is guilty as hell.
I hope to attend the trial to see the clinical psychologist Dr. Hughes, as my research almost directly aligns with hers. I want to see how Raniere’s attorney, Marc Agnifilo, tries to sway these professionals and if he will take more post-it questions from Raniere.
What I would expect is Agnifilo will try to discredit their research, but the jokes on him since peer review is excruciating enough that all holes are likely poked out already. That’s generally the only way to make research look faulty.
The work by Dr. Hughes will likely make the jury perk up – the part about false recollection is so integral in trauma research and has been shown so many times and it’s due to changes in neural wiring. If she makes that point, it’s game over.
I would prefer to remain anonymous only because I’m working on my Ph.D and will be applying for “residency” soon. I also don’t trust the remaining Raniere clan to not interrupt my life as I establish a psychology career. But you are free to check my social media and whatnot to verify I am who I am/my degrees/whatever lol.
Thank you for all your hard work and reporting!