[While more than 70 media outlets are reporting on the trial of Keith Raniere, at Frank Report, we believe we are providing the most comprehensive coverage. We are not always first to report [though we have broken many stories – we will give readers a thorough report on the trial and its import. Daniela testified today and she is expected to resume testimony on Tuesday when the trial resumes. She spoke for the whole day and the following is part 1 of a summary of what she said.]
By Dianne Lipson
Daniela [or Dani] is the Mexican woman who was confined to a room for nearly two years from 2010-2012. She testified on Thursday in the trial of Keith Raniere.
She was wearing a grey blazer, blue blouse, and black slacks. She is 33; seems to be about 5’7”, and is fairly slender. Her last name is not being used in court though many Nxivm members know it.
Sketch artists are not permitted to draw her face.
[BTW The judge started the day by saying the motion for a mistrial is denied. He also advised Raniere and his defense team that he could hear their conversations at the defense table. He said he didn’t want to hear conversation and told the defense, if they wish to communicate, to write things down and pass notes to each other.]
Daniela began a day of testimony starting with her family background.
She also stated her four milestones in her involvement with Nxivm.
- Sex with Keith, when she was 18 [he was 42].
- Crossing into the US illegally.
- A fight with Keith
- Being confined to a room at 12 Wilton Court in Clifton Park, from 2010 to 2012.
As for background, Daniela was born in Mexico. Her family is affluent. Her older sister was her best friend. [Her name is Mariana, and is mother of Keith’s youngest child. Daniela is also the older sister of Camilia, who is central to this case, being the women who was photographed nude when she was 15].
Daniela had dreams growing up. She wanted to be a biologist. She had perfect grades. She was fascinated by learning and loved to read the encyclopedia. She played tennis and because of her father’s influence, the whole family took English classes every day. She did well in high school and scored highest in her class.
For a time, she lived away from home with her sister Mariana – who developed an eating disorder. Mariana also was partying and drinking too much. Daniela was taking care of her older sister and went to nightclubs with Mariana to make sure she was safe.
Daniela applied to an expensive high school in Switzerland and was offered a scholarship. They only gave one scholarship away per year.
At this time, she got as a gift from her father, a paid-for 16 day Nxivm intensive. Her parents had already gone to an intensive and loved it.
Dani said, “I heard about NXIVM for the first time in the second semester of high school. My parents were always doing self-help programs and they dragged me to a few of those. While my parents were taking it, they kept talking about how the program wasn’t self-help but scientific and Raniere was the smartest man in the world.”
Daniella went to the 16-day intensive. Lauren Salzman was head trainer. Daniela’s impression of Lauren was that she was smart, bubbly and likable. But Daniela, who was 16, was intimidated by the many sophisticated. wealthy and successful people in the intensive. The fact that so many impressive people were at the intensive lent validity to the Nxivm program in her mind.
During the intensive, Keith was spoken about a lot with reverence. He was a scientist; he was unified. He was the world’s smartest man.
The prosecution asked her to define “unified.”
She said that it meant that someone had no disintegrations, the end point of what you were supposed to achieve. It meant you were no longer reacting to the external world. Only Keith was unified.
She understood at that time that he was a renunciate, living a simple life, like a monk. There was no sort of any kind of sexuality around Keith.
She also learned that, because people trying to better the world were, unlike Keith, disintegrated, the only real way to help the world was through [Nxivm] Executive Success Programs.
She learned about an important mathematical calculation which showed that unless more people become integrated, the world’s going to end in 15 years. [That was 2002 which means the world ended in 2017].
Dani had a mental image of Keith as a simple guy, a nerdy guy.
By the end of the intensive, Dani was having conversations with Lauren, who invited her to come and work for Nxivm.
Daniela was wondering what she could do She had studied programming, maybe that’s what she could do.
Subsequently, Dani was put in touch with Karen Unterreiner. Her parents felt that Keith was a great man doing great things. Dani was excited to take a year off school to go to Albany, even if she would lose here scholarship in Switzerland. Her parents were happy about her decision. She went to Albany, when she was almost 17. She turned 17 in October 2002.
Soon Dani met Keith. He was exactly what she expected. He looked smart. But there was something a little off about him. But she hadn’t met enough smart people to know ow peculiar he was.
When they first met, Keith called her by her name. He said she was very smart. He was attentive to her. She was flattered.
Now she feels like it was all a lie.
Her impression of Nancy Salzman was that she was energetic, loud and pushy. She was a little scared of Nancy. However, Karen was sweet and she felt comfortable with her.
Karen went on to become Dani’s boss. Karen was in charge of the administration office and maintained the computer systems of all the companies. Dani was impressed with Karen because she was very educated and had some high math degree.
At first Dani stayed in a room in an apartment of Edgar Boone’s. Sometimes he lived there. Sometimes he didn’t but she lived there with Loreta Garza. She was a teenager living with adults.
Dani did basic administrative work, entering data about new enrollees. She did other things like cleaning and organizing stuff. She felt shame that she couldn’t contribute more. She was not paid for her work at this time. But she understood she would get paid later.
In time, her sister Mariana took time off from school. She had a fantasy of being a model. She took a job as a waitress. She wasn’t living a good lifestyle. Her parents said Marianna was depressed and was drinking.
Daniela said, “Why not have Mariana join me?” “Mariana could take classes,” Daniela thought. “These could straighten Mariana out.”
Mariana came to Albany and stayed with Daniela at the Howard Johnson hotel. Mariana was depressed; she wouldn’t get out of bed some days; she spent almost the whole day in bed. Dani and Mariana would go to Nxivm classes together then Mariana would go right back to bed.
Somehow, Mariana made contact with Pam Cafritz and Pam took Mariana under her wing.
They became close. Pam started giving gifts to Mariana and brought her out of her depression. Mariana was doing better and not sleeping so much.
One day at volleyball, Dani got up the courage to approach Keith to tell him she was disappointed with her work. She was troubled by not being able to do more meaningful work.
She worked in NXIVM’s administration office inputting data.
She was not “changing the world” like she was promised. Dani wanted to go back to school and wanted Keith’s opinion.
Keith was attentive. He gave her practice math problems and told her to get back to him. Daniella felt flattered. She wanted to impress Keith.
Keith did not want her to go to school. He would teach her.
Raniere told her that “she was [a] genius” and promised “he could teach her”.
She kept working at the administrative office and learned how to set up checks and credit cards which were entered into the data. Cash wasn’t entered in, though there was a space for it to be entered. When a person paid by cash for Nxivm classes, they were listed as having been given a scholarship and the cash was put in a drawer. Dani understood the reason for this was that they wouldn’t pay taxes on the cash. And that the people who paid cash were not actually getting a Nxivm scholarship.
At one point, Dani stole a few thousand dollars of the cash. She felt terrible about taking this money. She began to feel paranoid. Her heart was racing. She couldn’t sleep. And while it was still in her possession, she put all of it back. She didn’t tell anyone. No one knew she had taken the money and put it back.
Dani eventually told Keith. She told him because she wanted to get some relief. She had started trust Keith. Keith might help her understand what she did.
Keith told her that he already knew she had taken this cash and returned it.
Her first reaction was “Oh, Keith has eyes everywhere.” But afterward she didn’t really believe that was true. She didn’t confront Keith on this. Dani didn’t feel like she had it in her or had the right to confront Keith.
Dani was not an equal.
But Daniela now had concerns about the core of herself. She felt she was not an honest person.
Keith said, “You’re a person who stole but chose not to steal and now you know more than other people about this aspect of yourself.”
Keith made her feel like it wasn’t the end of the world.
He said he would be there for her.
But Nancy came to find out about it. [From Keith] Nancy confronted Dani, asking her “How are you going to fix this?” [the taking of money and returning it].
Nancy was aggressive. This was like punishment. Dani felt shame. Barbara Jeske brought it up also- in front of people. Dani thought she deserved this treatment.
They spoke to Dani’s parents about it. This was terrible for Dani because her father, Hector, was an extremely honorable man. This was very humiliating for her.
When Nancy was talking to her, she was saying things like, “Why are you smiling? Is this funny to you?”
The word “suppressive” was brought up.
Dani thought she was in fact a suppressive.
AUSA Penza asked “what’s a suppressive?”
Daniela said “a suppressive wants to squash the good in the world, to destroy the world.”
Dani had a fear of being a suppressive, being called a suppressive was a serious accusation. Daniela was fired from the office. She didn’t know what to do. She was doing errands, looking for work.
After this, Daniela became closer to Keith. Keith was the one there for her, a shoulder to cry on. She felt like he was the only person who was on her side, who understood how Daniela felt.
Looking back, Daniela now feels that Keith set her up so that he would be the hero and make her dependent on him.
Stay tuned for part 2 of Dani’s testimony.