This is part 2 of the cross-examination of Lauren Salzman which was to be halted by Judge Nicholas Garaufis at the end of the day.
The cross-examination is being presented so that readers can at least glimpse how Marc Agnifilo, Keith Raniere’s attorney, conducted the cross-examination and for readers to consider whether the judge was correct in choosing to stop the questioning.
Since it will almost certainly be used as a major reason for an appeal, I think it is of interest to followers of the trial and the world of Keith Alan Raniere.
Part 1 left off with questions about how Keith having or not having sex with various women affected their roles in Nxivm. Part 2 begins with questions about the Nxivm 9 – a group of nine Nixvm women, led by Susan Dones – who led the women to quit Nxivm following revelations made by one of Keith Raniere’s harem members, Barbara Bouchey [who also left]. Dones’ group has often been referred to as the Nxivm 9.
A What was the problem? [as alleged by the Nxivm 9] … as you understood, as Keith expressed it at the time?
A What I understood at the time was that there were allegations being made that all the people on the [Nxivm] executive board were in [sexual] relationships with Keith and having sex with each other and that it was incredibly nepotistic….
Q And, so, what happened to the board?
A The whole [Nxivm Executive] board got fired, [Keith] created a whole new board, and then, eventually, I was back on the board because nobody on the new board was doing my job function…
Q And you’re being on the board and being effective on the board had nothing to do with the fact that you had had or didn’t have a relationship with Keith; correct, you were good at your job?
A … I actually got fired from the board for a period of time because I had a relationship with Keith, but, yes, I got back on the board because I was good at my job.
Lauren Shunned Her Father
Q … for a period of time your father was shunned; am I right about this?
Q … because he was connected with someone named Nina?
Q And do you recall writing a letter to your father about this situation?
A Yes, I wrote several letters to my father about the situation.
Q And what did you tell your father in these letters?
A Urging him to please support me and Keith and … NXIVM and … not support people who are trying to destroy us as an organization.
[Nina was an employee of Lauren’s father and one of the NXIVM 9]
Q And what did you want your father to the do with Nina?
A To either convince Nina to withdraw her support from the 9 or to fire her.
Q And did he?
A No, he didn’t. … He wanted to be neutral. And, you know, Keith’s point, and that was my point at the time too, was that is there isn’t ‘neutral’ because he’s my father, so his vote counts in a different way than other people’s votes, and I should take a stand on this.
Q And the stand that you took is you tried to convince your father to fire … Nina.
A By leveraging the relationship, by withholding it from him.
Q By withholding?
A The relationship, our relationship from my father.
Q … When you say you were ‘withholding your relationship with your father,’ describe … what you were doing.
A I stopped seeing him or being willing to talk to him unless he would … do what I was asking.
Q…you described this … as a form of shunning by NXIVM, correct?
A … There were discussions about it between me and the other community members. And, so, it became part of that.
Q But you made the decision on your own?
A I made the decision with Keith.
Q And at the time, how old were you?
A You know, thirtysomething, early thirties.
Q And this is your sort of adult relationship with your father, correct?
A It’s my adult relationship with my father based in counseling and advisement from Keith about a subject that Keith felt very strong about. …. I don’t view it the same way right now.
Q … At the time, you believed that …Nina was a member of a group … that was … damaging to NXIVM, correct?
A … Nina got involved in the group [Nxivm 9]… Nina was… taking a stand… and my dad was hiring her.
Q And you wanted to communicate … very clearly [to her father] that: ‘If you continue to work with this person Nina, I, your daughter, am not going to have a relationship with you.’ Right?
A Based on going for walks, many walks, with Keith, where he said, ‘I don’t think your father loves you. This is an example of not love. If he really loved you, he would do this, and I don’t understand why he won’t support us.’ And my dad didn’t want to take a stand that would put him in a position to be on the receiving end of a bunch of negative press associated with NXIVM and public scrutiny.
Q Did Keith ever threaten you or say if you didn’t write these letters to your father something bad would happen to you?
A Keith… never threatened me…. But if I didn’t follow through on it, there would have been many more talks until I had been willing to uphold the ethical position or I would have been viewed as somebody who isn’t willing to do the ethical thing, or the good thing, or the right thing. And others, for example, Rosa Laura [Junco] or the Bronfmans, who had similar issues with their parents but were financially in a different place [they had wealthy fathers] and were financial backers [of Raniere], were not put in positions to do that [where they had to shun their fathers].
Q And did you tell Keith you didn’t want to take this position with your father?
A No, I didn’t. But I did discuss with him over the years what it meant and why was it such an issue with me and why did he make such a point of it with me when he didn’t push the others [the wealthy women to shun their fathers] or make such a point of it with them. [Rosa Laura Junco’s father the world famous Alejandro Junco was actively against Keith as was Edgar Bronfman Sr. while Lauren’s father was merely neutral – but Keith did not require his wealthy heiress followers to shun their fathers].
Q But fair to say you took this position with your father because that’s what you wanted to do?
A Yes, and part of my wanting to do that is, more than anything else I wanted in the world, was Keith’s approval and that Keith thought I was a definition of a good person by doing the things that Keith laid out … to be a good person. And I did that time and time again.
Q Did you talk to your mother about it?
Q And what was your mother’s position?
A Everyone’s position within NXIVM who was loyal to Keith … had the same perspectives. And if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have been viewed as supporting the initiatives or the mission of NXIVM….
Lauren Never Asked Keith to Let Dani out of the Room
[Discussions about Mark Vicente and Daniela followed. Lauren oversaw Daniela’s confinement to a room for nearly two years.]
Q … did you tell Keith that ‘I think we should let her out, I think it’s time, I think this has gone too far, we should let her out of the room?’
A I always questioned myself, not Keith. Even when I had questions about Keith, or doubts like that, I always … deferred to what Keith thought … and I thought that it was me, my fears, my limitations, or issues, and that.. Keith … knew what was right or … what was ethical.
Q But you didn’t —
A … I avoided the whole situation altogether [about Daniela being confined to a room] because I couldn’t really handle what was going on there.
Q You didn’t bring it up to him, you didn’t go up to him and say, ‘hey, Keith, I think this has gone too far?’
A I didn’t feel able to, no. I just avoided it. I left her in the room all alone for months at a time.
Q Because at the time you thought that was the right thing?
A Because at the time I couldn’t handle any aspect of thinking it might not be [right].
Q You could have just gone to Keith … did you think that Keith valued your opinion?
A To a degree, but … commensurate with what was going on in the room was the NXIVM 9 had left …. and there was a lot of feedback that I was getting from Keith about how I was directly responsible for that; my failures, my mom’s failures had caused that [the Nxivm 9 leaving], and I didn’t want to be somebody who failed and caused hardship and destroyed the company… I was especially focused during this time at doing a good job at whatever needed to be done.
Family Supported Dani being confined
Q … Hector, [Dani’s] father, was fully on board with Dani remaining in the room, correct?
A Hector, the father, in my experience, is an incredibly weak personality and could have been enrolled to be on board if Marianna was on board, or if Cami was on board. Like if the whole family said we’re not on board, then I think that Hector would not have been on board.
Q … Hector, weak-willed or not weak-willed, he said, as the father of his daughter, he supported her staying in that room, correct?
A It’s true, and he withheld her documents in the end as well.
Q And the mother had concerns about it, but the mother was supportive of her being in the room as well?
A Yes, that’s true.
Q And her two sisters [Cami and Mariana] were supportive of her staying in the room as well, correct?
A They were — they had issues with it, but they were.
Q And her brother, Fluffy – Adrian… wasn’t objecting to her being in the room… ?
A Adrian had objections … and there were times that Keith asked me to talk to the other siblings… to help Adrian reform his perspective and stop having those reservations [about his sister being kept in a room for two years].
Q And how old was [Dani] at the time that she left the room…?
A In her mid to late twenties.
Q Okay, so a mid to late 20-year-old person chose to leave the room and she was driven by her father and Kristin Keeffe to the Mexican border, correct?
A Yes. Yes, correct.
Q Now, Hector had a fairly successful business, didn’t he?
A That’s my understanding, yes.
Q He was a successful businessman?
Q … And here, this successful businessman is telling all these other people ‘my daughter stole from me and she hacked into my Facebook account,’ right?
Q That’s what he’s saying?
Q So, he obviously made arrangements for her to be safe in Mexico because he had [his] accountant … meet her over the border, right?
A… he made arrangements for her to be safely transported from the border to a city and then left.
Q Okay, at a certain point, his twenty-something-year-old daughter was going to have to fend for herself?
A With a $126, or $128, and no papers or identification or history in any way, when she had never fended for herself before, and had just been kept in a room for two years and left her entire family in Albany.
Q Because that’s the decision Hector, the father, made after his daughter stole from him and hacked into his Facebook account, right?
Agnifilo questions her further on Dani and her confinement and Lauren then says:
A … I did a lot of shitty things when I was in my twenties. It took me a long time to figure out how to get my shit together, and I just don’t think [what Dani did] raises to the level of keeping her in a room for two years and then disowning her and sending her back to Mexico with $120…..
Lauren Questioned About Her Age
Q How old were you in 2012?
A (No response.)
THE COURT: What was the question?
AGNIFILO: How old was Ms. Salzman in 2012?
A (No response.)
Q Take a moment.
A I don’t know. It’s not because I’m upset; I’m dyslexic and really bad at math. Sorry.
Q It’s all right.
A I just —
Q Tell me whenever you’re ready.
A I’m ready, I just can’t do the math right at this second.
Q Okay, I won’t ask you again. That’s all right. How old are you now?
Q Okay, I apologize for asking. All right, so it’s seven years ago. Okay, so it’s —
Q Thirty-five, all right….
[Agnifilo then continues to question Lauren – at length – about her role in Dani’s confinement and about her emails – when Dani was confined – where she clearly supports and takes an active part in Dani being confined to her room. The time for lunch came, and after lunch, Agnfiilo returned to his cross-examination of Lauren.
Nxivm Was A Good Time for Lauren
Q You said on direct examination that Keith would use nicknames for different people.
Q And you said one of the nicknames Marianna had the nickname “Monkey”?
Q And Dani was “BoBo”?
Q And Kathy Russell was “Ms. Kathy”?
Q Were these nicknames meant to hurt these people’s feelings or were they good-natured?
A I think they were good-natured.
Q And a lot of people in the community had nicknames, right?
Q Back in the day, you guys had a lot of fun together, right?
Q You did a lot of things together. You would go to V-Week together, right?
Q And you would take these courses together, right?
A Yes, we did.
Q And you all lived in different houses but pretty close to each other, right?
A Yes, we did.
Q And you had picnics and barbecues and played Frisbee, right?
Q A lot of volleyball, right, in the middle of the night when the gym was cheaper to rent, right?
Agnifilo then showed Lauren a series of photographs [which he introduced in evidence]:
Q That’s you and who?
A Pamela Cafritz.
Q Any idea where you are there?
A Yes. This is New Year’s in Fiji.
Q How many times did you go to Fiji?
Q What were the reasons you went to Fiji; was it a work thing, a pleasure thing, both?
A It was a social thing. Pam was diagnosed with cancer and wanted to go to Fiji and spend time with the people who were close to her.
Q And do you remember who went on that trip with you and Pam?
A A number of people went on the trip. The first trip was much more people, but, yeah, this was a smaller group.
He shows another picture
Q Who else is that in the picture with you?
A From left to right, Daniella Padilla, Nicki Clyne, Marianna, and Omar Boone [in Fiji]
Other pictures showed Lauren, Keith, Marianna, their son, Nicki Clyne and Norma [a teacher in Rainbow and Keith’s son’s Rainbow nanny – she spoke Arabic] in Chacala Mexico taken shortly before Raniere was arrested in March 2018.
In other pictures, Lauren identifies herself with, among others, Michelle Hatchette, Loretta Garza, Diane Goodman, Danielle Roberts, Gabby Baker, Pam Cafritz, Daniella Padilla, Nancy Salzman, Kerstin Ohlander and Norma
Rainbow Explained By Lauren
Agnifilo asks about Norma.
Q Was she a teacher of Arabic in Rainbow?
A Yes, she was.
Q Do you know if Keith’s son was learning Arabic?
A I believe so.
Q And Rainbow Cultural Gardens … was sort of a language and cultural immersion program for children.
Q And lots of different languages were taught in Rainbow, correct?
Q And the idea was that kids would be exposed to different languages at a very early age.
Q And how did Rainbow sort of interface with the mission of NXIVM, generally?
A That the idea was that the children would have very early experiences and, thus, experiential reference points to people … of different cultures and experiences of the cultures themselves through the people [nannies] and, thus, when they became older they would be — I think Keith called them… “citizens of the world.” They would have a deep, experiential reference point from early childhood of many different cultures and feel a part of them personally and a love for each of them.
Stay tuned for Part 3