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Nxivm: Cross of Mark Vicente begins, Keith Raniere’s attorney digs into HBO project

[Raniere’s attorney Marc Agnifilo. Photo by Dianne Lipson]

Dianne Lipson is out of the court after the Nxivm trial’s morning session, which saw the conclusion of Mark Vicente’s direct testimony and the beginning of his cross-examination by Keith Raniere’s attorney, Marc Agnifilo. Here are her impressions…

First, there didn’t appear to be a ruling yet on the evidentiary matter that was brought up in court yesterday.

Vicente continued his testimony, saying that in March 2017, a Sara (not Bronfman) tried to get him to influence his wife. Vicente asked her, are you being asked to do this? She said yes.

At this point Vicente was having real doubts about Nxivm, and he told Keith that perhaps it was time for him to move on. But Keith told him, you’re the person who can take my place, which surprised Vicente. Vicente told him he wasn’t interested in that.

Vicente had been trying to resign from the executive board for two years, but he was told it was too damaging.


Meanwhile, Vicente was hearing about a secret society and talk of blackmail. Sara said if that was going on, the people in it couldn’t talk about it.

A DOS member called Kayla told Vicente that she had seen a vow on Allison Mack’s computer. It said that Mack was never to leave. If she left, she would give up any childrean and all of her possessions.

In April 2017, Vicente said he finally asked himself the question he was terrified to ask: What if Keith is not the person I think he is? What if he is the exact opposite of the way he presents himself? What if he’s evil? What if this is a mask he wears?

But he still thought the educational material in Nxivm might be OK.

His conversations with Keith got disturbing. At one point Keith told him that one of his limitations was his attachment to morality.

Vicente felt good about his morality, especially after coming from apartheid South Africa. Vicente began to feel that Keith was trying to get him to give up his morality.

Is there a greater morality I’m not aware of? he wondered. No. Morality is morality. Has Keith lost touch with morality?

Inside the organization, if you had doubts they were dealt with. But Vicente’s doubts didn’t go away: He kept getting the feeling that something deeply bad was going on.

In Nxivm, intuition was considered a problem. It was characterized as “viscera.” Intuition was not based on data and you had to override it. But Vicente said he asked himself, what if that’s not true? What if there’s something good about your instincts?

Vicente told a couple of guys he knew in Nxivm to keep their girlfriends away, they might get asked to be in a secret society.

Around this time Vicente became involved in a project interviewing trafficking victims. It made him think about what he’d heard about a secret society and blackmail. Again he brought up the issue, and Sara told him that if someone was involved in something like that they couldn’t talk about it.

Vicente asked Sara if she was involved. She admitted she was. He told her she needed to get out. Sara revealed that she’d been branded.

That’s when the walls came down, Vicente says.

Sara seemed exhausted. She was on constant stand-by. She hid this from her husband. She had to recruit other women . She talked about master-slave relationship. Lauren was her master.

Vicente saw an image of the brand.

He discussed leaving the secret society with her. He told her that she must make peace with her collateral being released, it was better than being trapped in the society. He suggested that she apologize now to the people who would be hurt with the release of collateral.

Vicente now sent three letters of resignation, to Nxivm, to the Society of Protectors, and to the Green Sashes. He thought this would put him in danger. So he tried to make it benign, saying in the letters that he was going to focus on his career. He didn’t discuss the slave-master issue.

Asked to have his access to Nxivm computer network cut off, thinking he might be framed otherwise.

He went to Catherine to talk to her about her daughter, telling her that her daughter was in danger. (We assume this is Catherine Oxenberg and her daughter India, but Vicente didn’t say the last name.)

He also made some phone calls to convince some women not to go to a branding ceremony.

Vicente then brought up a woman he called only “J.” This woman was an actress and model, and had control of collateral in her ‘pod.’ MV asked her to give it him, to take to the authorities.

The collateral was shown to jury and attorneys, not rest of room. They contained images of women with their legs spread, and faces visible.

At this point, in May 2017, MV went to find a trusted person in northern district FBI. A special agent called, and they began having conversations.

Then, we go back to October 2012, and an audio recording is played of a discussion during an SOP council meeting. It’s about vows and leadership.

On the recording, Keith can be heard to say that if someone defects, it’s damaging. We need people who are committed. Keith said collateral had to be something important, something worth $100,000 not $10.

He said that when you know your word, collateral is trivial. But when you don’t know your word, collateral is important. An honorable person is happy to give collateral. It becomes an honor to give collataral. Giving collateral was a sign of strength.

Vicente’s four days of direct examination were finally finished.

Keith Raniere’s attorney, Marc Agnifilo began his cross-examination by asking about the upcoming HBO docu series and Vicente’s involvement in it.

Agnifilo seemed to be raising a question of Vicente’s motives for creating footage that will appear in the HBO project.

But Vicente said he had been recording things for himself, he didn’t intend it for a project. He was afraid he might go to prison and he wanted to document things.

Agnifilo also asked about how much money Vicente had made in Nxivm, and about the movie he had shot in Mexico. The film was to show Raniere’s role in creating a non-violent movement in Mexico.

Vicente’s involvement in the film “What the Bleep Do We Know?” also came up. In that movie, Vicente explained, he had been trying to draw connections between mind, spirit, and reality. How reality could be affected by the mind. “I don’t sell this idea anymore,” Vicente said. “It was a phase I was going through.”

More cross-examination coming in the afternoon session!


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 14, 2019 at 14:25

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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.)


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