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NXIVM: After brutal cross of Lauren Salzman, judge admonishes Keith Raniere’s lawyer

[Attorney Marc Agnifilo and Lauren Salzman]

Our correspondent Dianne Lipson has a report from a contentious afternoon at the Nxivm trial…

Judge Nicholas Garaufis admonished Keith Raniere’s attorney Marc Agnifilo at the end of this long day. I’ll get to that.

This afternoon, Agnifilo continued his cross-examination of former Nxivm member Lauren Salzman.

Agnifilo asked Lauren how collateral and penance worked before DOS was created. Lauren answered these questions by saying that collateral was to back your word, and if you failed at something you would take on some penance. It should be something painful or uncomfortable. You should uphold your commitment no matter what. Lauren did manage to say that women were considered to be unreliable and lacking in commitment.

Agnifilo’s next like of questioning was to establish that Keith created everything in NXIVM. No one other than Keith created the concepts, the companies or the projects. I’m not sure what Agnifilo’s purpose was in this. My speculation: Maybe it was to show that it should be considered OK for Keith have a role on DOS, since he had a role in everything else?


It came out in court that the initials on the brand did not relate to Allison Mack.

In some of Agnifilo’s questioning this afternoon, it was easier than before to see what he was getting at. For instance, Agnifilo asked questions about the readiness drills. These were drills where DOS or SOP members had to respond to a text within 60 seconds. There was penance if someone responded late. If someone didn’t respond at all, efforts were made to find that person. Agnifilo asked questions like: Readiness drills were meant to make people stronger about preparedness. In Mexico, kidnapping is a concern, and a DOS member had been impacted by a kidnapping. This was to mobilize people at a moment’s notice, and the readiness drill helped to find someone who was missing in Europe. A readiness drill also helped to find someone who was detained by police in Mexico. Lauren agreed to all of these statements. But she did manage to say that readiness in DOS was part of a collateralized vow. Under Agnifilo’s questioning, Lauren admitted that no collateral had ever been released because of DOS members’ readiness drill failures.

Agnifilo proposed that the purpose of the the ‘acts of care’ was to build character. Keith wanted powerful and influential women in DOS, and hoped for DOS to be an influential force which would play a role in elections. Lauren agreed to these things. Agnifilo: DOS would be powerful and influential women, for women. Lauren agreed ‘in theory.’ Agnifilo asked Lauren if she believed this influence was a good thing. Lauren: I believed in the theory of it. Agnifilo: You could be involved in building something wonderful and important? Lauren: Yes, and I also wanted to grow.

Agnifilo asked why the concept of overcoming pain for a principle appealed to her. Previously Lauren had testified that this concept was part of what made her accept the brand. Lauren: In the Human Pain curriculum, it is taught that we know love through pain. You should be able to do difficult things counter to your own interests, for the sake of love. As a hypothetical example, if I were to visit Keith and Marina and their baby, even though I didn’t have that (a baby), the amount of pain I would feel by doing that, would make me stronger. It’s about doing things only for the sake of love.

Agnifilo: Did you call Allison Mack regarding concerns about DOS? Lauren: Around the time of Marina’s pregnancy I called Allison and asked ‘Tell me again why I’m doing this.’ Lauren was also able to say that Keith invited her into DOS to bring them close together, then dropped the bomb about Marina’s pregnancy, and it made her question who Keith was. I have no idea where Agnifilo was going with this, except maybe to show that Lauren hadn’t left the group.

Agnifilo got Lauren to say that no collateral had ever been released. But Lauren also pointed out that prior to the public exposure of the group, only one woman had left DOS. And there had been discussions about releasing collateral, prior to the public exposure. Agnifilo got Lauren to say that at the time, the branding had been a bonding experience. And that everyone had gone through with the branding, even though they saw how much Jimena suffered. Lauren admitted she had not told anybody they had to go through with the brand, except when Jimena wanted it to stop and Lauren told her “You can’t stop.”

Agnifilo tried to suggest that perhaps Daniela, who ordered and paid for the sex toys, might be into that type of thing. Lauren didn’t know if Daniela was into that, because any discussion of the sex toys only happened in the context of DOS. Agnifilo: Do you know if Daniela bought these things for the dungeon? Lauren: Yes, it was for the dungeon because Danila was glad she was able to get the order cancelled.

Next they discussed the DOS book, and the high ideals espoused in it. A highlight was when Agnifilo interpreted a passage in the book as meaning: Even worshiping a bad guru can bring you enlightenment. Lauren said yes, that’s what the passage meant.

In text messages to Audrey, Agnifilo asked Lauren if she expressed the idea that a collateralized vow was not to hurt or punish people, but to help them. Lauren said yes.

Agnifilo pointed out that after the public exposure of DOS, when many were leaving NXIVM, Lauren was saying things to NXians that were not true. That the only chance to keep the business going was to say that Keith was not involved with DOS. Audrey ended up leaving DOS. Agnifilo: Was there any threat to release her collateral? Lauren: There was discussion about releasing collateral behind the scenes. Agnifilo asked if Lauren had ever threatened Audrey with release of her collateral, and Lauren said no. Lauren was just saddened by Audrey’s leaving.

Agnifilo asked if Mark Vicente was feeding information to blogger Frank Parlato, but Lauren didn’t know if that was the case. Lauren also said she didn’t know the details of Parlato’s dealings with Keith.

Agnifilo pointed out that when Audrey left, they expressed their love for each other. Dozens of people were leaving DOS but no collateral was released. Lauren said that releasing the collateral at that time would have legitimized what was being said about DOS. Lauen said that that the people who left were using NXIVM’s client list and getting them to de-enroll by sharing their concerns. And that taking a position against Sarah would have been seen as being abusive to a victim. At the time Lauren said many things in support of DOS, such as that men in fraternities had brands. She told an audience there were huge injustices happening.

When Agnifilo asked Lauren the mission of DOS, she broke into tears, saying it was to raise the ethics of the world. But Lauren said: Ultimately why I’m here is because I did things that were not ethical. Lauren was able to say that what was troubling was Keith’s misrepresentations. Lauren had given up things she wanted, to stay with him. Keith didn’t uphold his word. Keith blamed things on other’s failures, and was making Lauren feel sorry for him. (I feel that this testimony may show that Lauren feels that Keith didn’t practice the philosophy he preached. He didn’t keep his promises, and he acted like a victim.)

The video recordings played in court were meetings Lauren was not at, she was not yet a member. Agnifilo tried to show that Lauren’s change of heart about Keith may have been over these recordings, which she had not seen until recently.

Lauren said that when she found out that she had done things that were criminal, she did what Keith taught, she took responsibility. She did not want to sit at the defense table. She was crying as she said this.

Here Agnifilo asked Lauren a series of questions on whether she intended to commit crimes, did she think she was committing extortion? Lauren did say she knew some things were illegal. But the prosecution was objecting to some of these questions, especially when Agnifilo asked if Lauren knew she had committed racketeering (which was what she pleaded guilty to.) The prosecution objected, and the judge said that was asking the witness to render a legal judgment. Finally Agnifilo was permitted to ask: When you were in DOS was it your intention to hurt people. At this point Lauren had a big meltdown, sobbing that she was trying to prove herself to Keith, and trying to prove her own self-worth. She was trying to salvage their relationship.

At this point Judge Garaufis told Agnifilo very firmly, ‘You’re done.” There was something in the Judge’s tone that indicated that he was not just saying that because it was 5 pm. After the jury and the witness left, the judge asked the lawyers if they had any concerns. Agnifilo asked a question that i couldn’t hear, which sounded like it was regarding his questioning at the end. Judge Garaufis answered, in a tone that I’ll describe as controlled yet angry, (close paraphrase): You went way over the line. You kept coming back. I’m not going to have someone have a nervous breakdown in my court. This is a broken person. It’s necessary to have a certain level of consideration for her condition. I had a crisis here in my courtroom. If this case ends in a conviction, you can appeal.

Agnifilo asserted that the questions he asked were important.

Judge Garaufis: I have a right and an obligation to control the extent to which you can do this. I was watching this witness.

Agnifilo: I didn’t raise my voice.

Judge Garaufis: I’m not saying you didn’t maintain composure. I’m worried about her composure. You asked her about legal judgments. I took her guilty plea. I thought it was extremely excruciating. You went back to the line of questioning. I may not get everything right, I’m human. Before I’m a judge I’m a human being. I’m not going to allow this to continue!

End of day 11.


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 22, 2019 at 23:30

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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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