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NXIVM: Actress describes being subjected to unwanted sex while blindfolded

Dianne Lipson was in court for the ongoing Nxivm trial, and she has a report on the Friday morning session for us. But first, here are her impressions of Thursday afternoon’s testimony…

The witness this afternoon is Nicole (no last name), an attractive actress. She is very slender, which her narrow frame only accentuates. Several years ago, Nicole made a big change in her life, moving from Los Angeles to New York City. At almost age 28, and wanting someday to have a family, she felt it was now or never to make this move. She thought that New York actors were more focused and take the craft more seriously. Although she’d had success in commercials, she really wanted to act on the stage. In LA, she had an agent, a place to live (her parents owned a house there, and she only had to make a mortgage), a job, and friends. She gave up everything to move to New York.

In LA in 2013, Nicole had dated successful actor Mark Hildreth. They met in an acting class, with a teacher Nicole said was “amazing.” Hildreth said he was part of a program that worked on making someone a better person, with a better understanding of people. He told her that successful Smallville actresses, Kristen Kreuk and Allison Mack, were part of the program. He told her about wealthy members Emiliano Salinas, Clare Bronfman, and Richard Branson, who Nicole described as “very cool.”

Nicoles’s manner is very different from the other NXIVM witnesses, such as the serious Sylvie, the analytical Mark Vicente, or the cerebral Daniela. She has a casual way of speaking. She is emotionally expressive and spontaneous, sometimes laughing. At times it seemed like she spoke to Prosecutor Penza like she might chat to a girlfriend.


Hildreth lent Nicole the money to take her first 5-day intensive. She did no research on Nxivm beforehand. Hildreth advised her that it was better to go in with an open mind and no expectations. She shouldn’t Google. He said sometimes when people don’t understand something, they judge it. Some people who wrote things online had gotten it wrong. It was better if she had her own experience. Nicole trusted Hildreth.

She learned some interesting things in the intensive, but she was not a big fan of the secrecy aspect. If something is good, why must it be a secret? Even though Nicole had a background in Karate, the sashes made no sense to her as part of a self-help program.

After the 5-day intensive, Hildreth “drove her nuts” about how ESP (Executive Success Programs, part of Nxivm) could help her. If she was struggling in an acting class, he would bring it up again.


[Actor Mark Hildreth]

When Hildreth told her about the acting curriculum, The Source, Nicole decided to try it. She had left LA, but hadn’t yet gotten an apartment in NYC, so the timing was perfect. She borrowed the $6,000 fee from her parents. Allison Mack taught the class. Allison impressed Nicole as someone who was passionate about The Source. The Source was “her baby.” Allison wanted to be a serious actor and, like Nicole, was interested in stage work. Hildreth told her The Source was different from Nxivm. Allison spoke of a “Mr. Raniere” who had created the course with Allison.

Nicole got off to a rough start in NYC. There were fewer auditions for commercials in New York than LA, and many commercials were non-union (less money). Her agency changed its focus to musical theater, so the agency was of no more use to her anymore.

Nicole understood that she could potentially make money teaching The Source, meaning she wouldn’t have to wait on tables.

Taking her first ‘The Source’ course in Albany, Nicole shared a room with Allison and another student named Rebecca. “Allison said she was part of a really cool women’s mentorship.” It was for serious, strong women. Allison said that was all she was going to tell her about it. Nicole looked up to Allison. Allison was disciplined and serious about becoming a great actress. Nicole wanted that too. It was hard for Nicole to sleep in the shared room. People were coming in and out of the room at all hours, because of some sort of drill. Rebecca was constantly tired, sleeping through her alarm. Nicole didn’t feel she knew her well enough to say, “Yo, wake up!”

It struck Nicole as odd that Keith, who she had not met, was put on a pedestal. Nancy Salzman referred Keith as the smartest man in the world. Nicole thought at the time, how would you know who was the smartest man? “It sounded like bullshit to me!” At this, the courtroom exploded in laughter. Keith looked straight down at the writing pad in front of him, and his face was red.

Nicole met Emiliano Salinas and they went running together. When Nicole told him that the idolization of Keith felt weird to her, Emiliano said that Keith doesn’t want that. People put that on him, people project onto Keith. He told her not to worry about it. Nicole trusted Emiliano. He was well educated, a Harvard graduate.

In October, 2015, Nicole took another course in The Source, which put her part way to becoming certified as a teacher. Allison lent her $4,000 of the $6,000 fee. Nicole was told that as a teacher she would get 50 percent of the students’ fees. Nicole’s father was skeptical. Who finds the students? Struggling actors wouldn’t have the money for this. Allison countered these concerns by saying, people make things happen when they want to make things happen.

Allison invited Nicole for a walk and asked her many questions. What did she want in her life, how much did she care about her own growth, did she want her own family some day (she did), how much did her family mean to her, was she willing to let go of her attachment to having a family (she was not).

Nicole was having a hard time supporting herself in NYC, her restaurant job barely paid the bills. It was her first winter in New York. Nicole felt lonely, she was not moving forward with her career, and she missed her life in LA. Nicole became depressed, and she had thoughts of suicide. Allison had encouraged her to journal, and to email Allison the journal daily. Nicole wrote about these feelings in her journal email to Allison. Nicole was feeling scared, but oddly calm about her suicidal thoughts. Suicide could give her an out. But it was scary for Nicole to even be thinking this way. Nicole cried as she described her feelings. She was in a “long, dark, exhausting rabbit hole.”

The next day, Allison responded that she was coming to NYC and would make time for Nicole. They met at a Manhattan hotel, and Allison told Nicole about the women’s mentorship organization again. Allison felt this group would make everything better for her and was “exactly what you need right now.” This made Nicole feel hopeful. Allison said that if Nicole wanted more info, she would have to provide collateral. Collateral was to ensure secrecy, and could be the deed to a house or car. Nicole did not have a house or a car. So she was instructed to make a sex video, and to write damaging letters about her family.

Nicole provided the collateral. She now says she was not thinking rationally at that time. Nicole thought she could trust Allison. Allison had taken her under her wing. The video wasn’t that difficult for her, especially as she had been assured that nobody would ever see it. But she couldn’t write the letters. She loved her family too much. Allison told her she could lie in the letter. Allison told her that she, Allison, had written a letter accusing her father of sexual abuse toward her, and encouraged Nicole to write the same letter. Nicole was almost crying as she described this on the stand. Penza asked, “You wrote the letter?” “Yes”, said Nicole, now crying hard. She needed a moment to compose herself. Allison told Nicole it was an exercise in trust, and assured her no one would ever see the letters. They would be locked away. The letters were required to be signed, and put in an addressed envelope.

Allison told her about the group, then called The Vow, which became DOS. Allison said it was an intense, growing empowerment group; Women pushing each other to be strong mentally, emotionally, and physically. The Vow was a lifetime commitment. All women would get matching necklaces, and a brand like a small tattoo. Nicole thought the lifetime commitment was scary, but she liked the idea of being a strong woman. Allison gave Nicole 24 hours to decide whether to join. Nicole joined. Looking back, Nicole says she joined to feel hopeful, and to work on rebuilding her career. Nicole said, “I wanted to be like Wonder Woman,” and that was how the group sounded.

Allison never said that Keith was involved in the group. Nicole didn’t realize she was giving up her free will, and that eventually more collateral would be demanded. She didn’t know there would be a sexual component in the group. If she had known those things, she never would have joined.

Nicole’s initial impressions were positive. Allison was very loving, checking in on Nicole. Allison got Nicole her first audition for an off-Broadway play. And Allison set Nicole up with her agency, a very good acting agency.

Every morning Nicole was required to text Allison “Good Morning, Master” and at night, “Good Night, Master.” That felt weird. Communication was by text, What’sApp, email, Telegram (encrypted text), and Sideline, which provided alias phone numbers.

Hildreth had also moved to NYC. They were still dating on and off. Nicole’s first DOS assignment was to not sleep with Hildreth anymore. Their back-and-forth relationship was a distraction to her career. Nicole agreed to this; She wanted to focus on her career.

Nicole’s next assignment was to be celibate for 3 months. Nicole had started a new job, and she met a “cute boy” there, who asked for her number. When Nicole told Allison about this, Allison “flipped out.” She demanded to know if Nicole had given her number to him. Nicole said yes. She felt she could date. This would be a good way to get to know someone first, “a cool way to use this first challenge.” But Allison said Nicole had violated her word, not keeping her side of the bargain, and she needed to fix it.

Nicole felt “super unnerved,” at this extreme reaction. “I didn’t think this is for me.” Nicole was now doing better in her life. Her new job gave her more money, and she was now meeting people in New York. The job was at night, and she could audition during the day.

Nicole’s mother came to town, and Allison came down to meet her. They saw a play called “Blackbird.” Nicole described the play as about a man who falls in love with a neighbor’s daughter. It’s about a young girl seduced by an older neighbor. They have a relationship. Allison bought the tickets for this play. There was some awkwardness when Nicole’s mother eagerly asked about the cute boy Nicole had met, in front of Allison who told Nicole she had done wrong regarding the boy.

Nicole told Allison she was leaving DOS. Penza asked what happened then? Allison told Nicole that leaving wasn’t an option. Did Nicole want to give up her career and growth for a boy? It was a lifetime commitment. Nicole says she started to cry. Allison seemed upset by this. But she told Nicole that she couldn’t let her out no matter how hard she cried. It would show that Nicole could get out of thing by crying hard enough.

Allison told Nicole that her (Allison’s) master said that they would release Allison’s collateral if Allison didn’t “get her act together.” Allison said she quickly got her act together in response to this. Nicole later found out that Allison’s master was Keith.

Penza asked Nicole to describe the change in her feelings about DOS. Nicole said DOS now seemed scary. “What did I get myself into?” Now if she ever left, her collateral would be released.

In an email to Allison, Nicole said she felt she was losing hold of her ability to choose and think for herself. She also wrote, “But I also realize I can choose how to look at and experience things.” That was a theme in DOS. Allison replied, Why are you scaring yourself? You made a commitment. You can’t go back. It’s the choice you made. Don’t question, it wastes time. Just do.

Nicole was now given an assignment to reach out to Keith. She had never met Keith and did not know his email address. Allison wouldn’t give it to her, said Nicole had to find it for herself. Hildreth provided the address. He had to ask Keith’s permission first. Keith did not reply to Nicole’s email. Allison accused Nicole of being “slow as molasses”, and told her she had to keep reaching out to Keith. On Nicole’s Facebook page, Allison wrote, “How do you get the attention of the smartest man in the world?”

End of Day 18.

Friday morning, and Nicole continues her direct testimony.

Nicole has the assignment to communicate with Keith. And a deadline: by 3 pm. If she failed, then Allison would be punished and have to take a cold shower.

Nicole didn’t want that. But when Nicole would get an assignment her body would go into fight or flight mode.

Keith finally responded when Nicole explained that Nicole would have to take a cold shower if she failed.

Allison said she did a good job.

In emails to Keith, Nicole talked about acting, and what a struggle it was to get to a feeling of freedom.

Keith responded with DOS-related content, talking for example about the connection between love and pain.

This was in April and May of 2016, and DOS is becoming very stressful and scary. Nicole had very conflicting feelings about it.

She was having a rough time. She worked five days a week at a nightclub in New York, then had to run to Clifton Park for the weekends in DOS.

She tried to tell Allison that she couldn’t do everything. But it was important to her commitment, Allison told her.

She would stay at Allison’s house in Albany. And slept in her bed with her, which was uncomfortable.

Eventually, she had earned a walk with Keith. On that walk, Keith said he had a partner, Pam, and that he had more than one romantic partner. “It’s funny that this is our first date,” he told her. First date? What did that even mean, Nicole thought. When Keith said goodbye, she ran back to the house.

He asked her on another walk, but she had no romantic interest in him.

It felt like there was a plot to get her up to Clifton Park for him. Allison was glad that she told her about it, but said there was no plot.

Keith would seem to know the things that Nicole was struggling with. It was like Keith knew about DOS and what she was telling Allison. Was this coincidence? But she had no reason to believe Keith was part of DOS.

At one point, Allison told Nicole to go outside and tell Keith that she would do anything asked of her.

Keith asked her what’s the worst thing he could have her do? She thought, what if he asked me to jump off a roof? Or to hurt someone in her family?

Keith said to come back when she was ready to commit to doing anything for him.

She went back the next day and said it. Keith then took her by the hand to another house, to a table and chairs. Keith asked her to trust him.

Do you trust me no matter what happens? Yes, she said.

He asked her to take off all of her clothes. He then made comments about her body, including her pubic hair, which she had not shaved. But she said she had been celibate for three months.

He had her put her clothes back on, put on a blindfold, then took her somewhere in a car. Then they were walking in the woods somewhere. Then into a room.

He asked her to get undressed again and get on a table. Keith tied her wrists.

Then somebody went down on her. Nicole was trying to process this. She thought it must be Keith doing this to her. But then Keith started talking, and she realized there was someone else in the room.

She wondered how many people were in the room. Keith is walking around the room and asking her questions about her sexual history. If she’d ever been in a threesome and how many people she’d been with in her life.

He asked if she was OK, and she didn’t think she had any options and said she was OK.

After it was over, he helped her down. She got dressed and he drove her back, still blindfolded.

Keith said she was very brave, and talked about trust.

Nicole just wanted him to leave. She asked if she could go, and he said don’t tell anybody.

Nicole walked and saw Emiliano walking with Clare. She ran to him and hugged him, feeling safe with him.

At this point Nicole was fully crying on the witness stand.

When Nicole told Allison what happened, Allison didn’t seem to be aware of it, but said she was really brave. Nicole felt very alone. There was no one she could really talk to about her mental state. Nicole didn’t want to talk about what happened.

Nicole was still traveling to Clifton Park every week. She was emotionally upset. But in response to her complaints that her life was a mess, Allison told her she was entitled and spoiled. And that Nicole was attached to physical comfort. Allison signed that message I love you and I miss you, so it was a weird mixed message.

Keith told Nicole that he had created The Vow, which became DOS, and that he was Allison’s master and Nicole’s grandmaster. He said he could command her to have sex with him but he didn’t, because he didn’t want her to think that’s what it was all about.

Now things made a lot more sense to Nicole, that Keith knew what was going on in DOS.

Allison: “Isn’t it cool that K is working on my sexuality through you?”

Nicole felt that there would be retribution if she spoke out. She only had Keith to turn to, she wasn’t allowed to tell Allison things.

Allison had told Nicole that DOS was like an arranged marriage, and that Nicole would learn to love Keith.

(Dianne is back in court for the Friday afternoon session and more testimony from Nicole.)


Posted by Tony Ortega on June 7, 2019 at 14:05

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.)


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