Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Mark Geragos makes the case for why Clare Bronfman deserves a separate trial

[Mark Geragos and his client, Clare Bronfman]

Now that Nxivm leader Keith Raniere has been hit with new charges of sexually exploiting a child and child pornography, his co-defendant, Seagram heiress Clare Bronfman, more than ever deserves her own trial.

That’s the argument that her attorneys, including Mark Geragos, make in a new motion to Judge Nicholas Garaufis, with the April 29 trial start rapidly approaching.

We have the document for you below, and here are some highlights.

Calling it “horrendously unfair” to try Bronfman with the others, Geragos says that the situation has gotten much worse with the new charges against Raniere.

In addition to the earlier charges, Raniere is charged with sexually exploiting a child and possessing child pornography. If incendiary allegations of this sort did not require a severance, Rule 14 would be meaningless and unconstitutional…Bronfman must be severed, and she cannot be tried with Raniere, Mack, or Lauren Salzman.


The second superseding indictment only “deepens the divide” between Bronfman and the other defendants.

As before, Raniere, Mack, and Lauren Salzman are charged with operating DOS, an alleged sex-trafficking and forced-labor ring in which young women were allegedly enslaved, branded with a cauterizing iron, and coerced into sex. As before, Raniere and Lauren Salzman are also accused of confining a young woman in a room for two years, which the government has described as “psychological torture” and charged as labor trafficking and document servitude.

But now Raniere is also charged with sexual exploitation of a minor and child pornography, which Geragos then details…

These charges relate to Raniere’s alleged sexual relationship with a fifteen-year-old girl when he was in his late forties. Inevitably, the government will present the alleged child pornography to the jury. And inevitably, the government will seek to introduce the purported evidence it has described at length concerning Raniere’s alleged history of “sexual assault and other abuse of girls and women,” including a twelve-year-old with whom he allegedly had “regular sexual intercourse” under the guise of tutoring her.

Geragos cites numerous cases to make the point that this kind of evidence can really amp up a jury. And that will prejudice them against his client.

Bronfman is not accused of any similar crimes. She continues to be charged with plain-vanilla conduct relating to identity theft and immigration offenses. But she held high-level positions in Raniere’s organization, NXIVM. She is charged in the same overarching RICO conspiracy as Raniere. She was his close friend and, according to the government, was involved in an intimate relationship with him. The jurors…could easily find Bronfman “guilty by association.”

Geragos anticipates the government’s argument, which it has made before, that the defendants need to be tried together because of the charges regarding an overarching racketeering enterprise.

The government will inevitably contend that, like the DOS offenses, Raniere’s alleged child exploitation and child pornography offenses are part of the RICO conspiracy, and therefore a severance would make no difference.

But Geragos says he has already debunked this argument, and he also says the government’s appeal to efficiency doesn’t cut the mustard.

Efficiency cannot trump Bronfman’s right to a fair trial. Due process requires a severance.

So what do you think? The government probably will make the same argument it has in the past, that the need to lay out the racketeering enterprise is why the defendants should be tried together. And if Allison Mack, Lauren Salzman, and Kathy Russell all plead guilty as Nancy Salzman has, will it make sense to separate only Raniere and Bronfman into separate trials?

Here’s the document…

Nxivm Document454: Motion t… by on Scribd


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 22, 2019 at 18:40

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Tony Ortega is a journalist who was formerly the editor of The Village Voice. He’s written about Scientology since 1995, and in May 2015 released a book about Scientology’s harassment of Paulette Cooper titled ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely,’ and more recently a compilation of his stories, ‘Battlefield Scientology.’ He continues to monitor breaking developments in the Scientology world, as well as other subjects at The Underground Bunker. You can reach him by sending him a message at tonyo94 AT (Drop him a line if you’d like to get an e-mail whenever a new story is posted.)


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email