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Nxivm witness: Even after his wife ditched the authoritarian group, he tried to stick it out

[Mark Vicente]

Our correspondent, Dianne Lipson, tells us that there will be no new testimony in the Nxivm trial today because an alternate juror is ill.

But here’s her account of yesterday’s afternoon session, with more testimony from filmmaker Mark Vicente…

I made it into the courtroom itself today, it wasn’t even full. Keith was wearing a royal blue sweater over a white button down shirt. Keith now has a short haircut. But he still looks physically unappealing. At 3 pm I left for the greater comfort of the observation room. All day there was still direct questioning of Mark Vicente. Cross has not yet started.

Vicente described the concerns of a woman named Debra, who was disturbed that, at an event, Keith had been “all over her.” Then she told Vicente that a woman named Amanda wanted to enroll her in a secret society and wanted collateral. Vicente was concerned about this and brought it up to Keith. Unfortunately I was not able to pick up what Keith’s reaction was.

Unlike in other countries where Nxivm operated, Vicente said the Mexican members were very wealthy people. The came from prestigious families in the upper echelons of Mexican society. As far as Vicente knew, at this time Keith had never gone to Mexico. Vicente himself went to Clare’s island in Fiji, Wakaya Island. According to media reports, Clare owns 80 percent of this island.

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Much of the rest of the time was spent looking at videos Vicente made which were shot inside Keith’s library. Much time was spent going to specific places in the video, and this took more than an hour. Adrian (brother to the three Mexican sisters) shot the video.

Vicente understood that the Library was for study. It looked like a “man den,” and there were many books on science, philosophy, computers, and many other subjects. The library contained a raised bed with a hot tub underneath.

In the beginning of the first video, Keith is looking at Vicente’s wedding album. Keith had not been at the wedding, but he had designed the vows. The video showed Keith’s desk, and a hard drive that was sitting on a shelf to the right of the seating area. Vicente circled the hard drive with a device, and said there was another hard drive out of frame, but visible in a pan, later in the video. I believe I know why these hard drives where shown where ever they appeared in the video. The defense previously asserted that the hard drive in Keith’s library, that contained the naked pictures of the underage girl, was seized by the FBI improperly. The government maintained that the FBI acted properly, because even though the hard drive was not specified in the warrant, it was ‘in plain sight.’ My impression was bolstered when Vicente said that Keith was very specific that nothing should be changed, location wise, in the library. Anything taken was to be put back in its place.

Vicente said that in the video, Keith made reference to a joke about sex with sheep, and then a joke about sex with goats. In another video Keith said, “If I take my glasses off I get tired and horny.” Referring to a place in the video where Keith was lying on the floor, Keith said he does a lot of his thinking lying down. Vicente brought up that Marianna’s nickname, which everybody used, was “Monkey.” My guess is that these examples were to show Keith’s obsession with sex, and that he was saying things a supposed “celibate” ought not to be saying. I speculate that the nickname “Monkey” might have a sexual connotation.

After the videos, Vicente described a letter he wrote to Salzman and the Executive Board. In the letter, Vicente pointed out that Nxians were demeaning to knowledgeable people when they were first coming in, because they didn’t yet know about Keith’s humanitarian philosophy. The company was not promoting people’s dreams. Instead they were squashing those dreams. Vicente was concerned that Keith was treated like a god, concerned about the religious nature of the devotion to him. There was a fear of offending people in the upper ranks, and Vicente said he even felt afraid writing the letter.

The response was that Vicente was not “at cause.” In Nxivm, if you were emotional about an issue, that meant what you were saying had no validity. People were told to ignore what Vicente had brought up.

During Vanguard Week 2016, Vicente was concerned that the Society of Protectors had failures, they were not enrolling enough people. Here I am a little fuzzy, but I believe a penance was set up where the leadership of SOP had to talk to Keith every day, and if they did not find him they were to stand for one hour by his cabin.

Keith knew about this penance, but one night he did not show up. Vicente was shining his flashlight in different places. He happened to shine it at a cabin, and saw Keith in bed with a woman. Their legs were intertwined. Vicente thought this was strange. He turned off the flashlight and walked back to the group, saying nothing about what he had seen. Vicente saw the woman leave. He was deeply disturbed by the whole thing.

When Pam Cafritz died, Vicente couldn’t fathom why her death was kept a secret for a time.

In January 2017, Vicente’s wife Bonnie officially resigned from the organization. She had had a discussion with Raniere, in which she expressed that the organization was built on coercion, fear, obligation, and rules. Bonnie had expressed concern about The Source (which taught Nxivm-style acting classes), and Nancy EM’d her, and told her to come back the next day for another EM. But the next day Nancy got angry with Bonnie and accused her of trying to take control, saying Bonnie was power hungry.

Vicente did not leave with Bonnie. He was still loyal, he wanted to stick it out. He thought Keith was a shining light, and the problems were with other people. Keith was blameless.

At one point a woman named Sara (not Bronfman) and her husband solicited Vicente’s help in finding a house in Clifton Park, in the Albany area. Vicente told them, don’t move here. People who move here don’t do well.

In February 2017, Vicente participated in an intensive in Orange County, CA. Alex (Betancourt) and Lauren suggested Vicente meet with them, but he dissuaded them, he had a sense of how it would go. You get EM’d into oblivion. Vicente felt he would rather try to figure out things on his own.

Vicente began to realize that it didn’t seem to be an accident that people in the company were doing poorly, it was by design. Growth was crushed, people were rule-bound, and it was by design. Vicente told Keith that the ranking system didn’t make sense. People of high rank were supposed to have wisdom and maturity, but instead they were rule-bound. Vicente said he still respected the ranking system, and Keith liked that.

Vicente became concerned regarding an intensive he attended at this time. In this intensive, the philosophy was stressed, that if somebody complained about abuse, they themselves were the abuser. Vicente felt this intensive had been designed for him specifically. It was designed to turn him against his wife. Vicente had seen intensives that were designed for specific people. Vicente’s impression was reinforced when Lauren said, about their philosophy regarding complaining about abuse, “And this is the issue with Bonnie.” Vicente said, We are not talking anymore, this is over. Vicente asked Lauren about all the skinny women. Lauren pretended she did not know what he was talking about, but Vicente didn’t buy this. Vicente expressed concern about Lauren personally, that she looked terrible, and Lauren seemed afraid to talk about it. Keith claimed that the material in the intensive was not designed for Vicente, but was old material. Later Nancy said that she had just been “downloaded” with the material, so there was a lie there. Downloading was when Keith had a discussion with Nancy, who then turned it into educational material. Vicente felt like the whole thing was turning into a fishing expedition, and he was tired of having everything turned around on him, made to seem like it was his issue. He refused to do that anymore.

Regarding Rick Ross, Vicente was told that Ross was an enemy, a bad man, and he was being paid huge sums for what he was doing, money he did not earn on his own. Keith told Vicente that Rick Ross was responsible for what happened at Waco.

Testimony ended early, at 4 pm today. End of day 4.

 
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Posted by Tony Ortega on May 14, 2019 at 12:35

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 gmail.com (Drop him a line if you’d like to get an e-mail whenever a new story is posted.)

 

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