Sylvie, the first witness called by the prosecution in the case of the U.S. v. Raniere, revealed how she was recruited to become a member of DOS.
The native of England was a member of NXIVM for 13 years – from the time she was 18 until she turned 31.
She quit soon after Frank Report – which was reading at the time – revealed the existence of DOS and the branding of its members with Keith Raniere’s initials.
Sylvie reported that she was “freaked out” when she first read about the brandings – which is understandable – especially since hers was scheduled to take place in just a few days.
During her time with NXIVM, Sylvie rose to the position of Coach with 3 Stripes.
The initial part of her testimony focused on the way in which new recruits were taught all of NXIVM’s rules and rituals.
Then, she went on to describe how she first met Keith – and her impressions of him (He was much shorter than she expected The Vanguard to be – and not nearly as impressive as he had been described to her).
When Sylvie first came to the U.S., she came on a Tourist Visa even though she had, in fact, been hired to work for Clare Bronfman at her horse farm in Duanesburg, NY (They had met through a mutual friend in England).
After her Tourist Visa ran out, Sylvie was able to return on a J-1 Visa that had been arranged for by Clare. That Visa was structured so that she could be trained in horseback riding by Clare.
But when Clare decided to abandon her own riding career, Sylvie was pretty much expected to follow suit.
And so it was that Sylvie moved from England to live with Clare, who “had a room in a house in Clifton Park”. While living with Clare, Sylvie slept on the floor in Clare’s bedroom.
Sylvie returned to England when her J-1 Visa ran out – and eventually started pursuing a career with Goldman Sachs.
At the same time, she also became a dedicated long-distance runner – and joined the Serpentine Running Club in London.
But Clare and Keith wanted Sylvie back in the U.S. – and kept trying to convince her that they could arrange for her to get various types of Visas for her to return (All of the related VISA applications were rejected).
What eventually convinced Sylvie to return to the U.S. was the promise that Keith would take over as her running coach – and prepare her to represent England in the Olympics.
While he was training her, Keith mentioned to her that if the two of them were to ever have a sexual relationship, they would first have to become “really good friends”.
Sylvie indicated, however, that she had no interest in having a sexual relationship with Keith because he was an “authority (figure and an) older man”.
As part of her training regimen, Raniere convinced Sylvie to take the Jness module – where she was first introduced to some of his teachings about the sexual roles of men and women.
“(For) men to be healthy or primitive men, they would have had sex with multiple people and had multiple partners and that was somehow kind of healthier or normal, whereas, women should be loyal to only one man or that’s what’s natural for them and if they go beyond that, it’s more likely to be something spiteful or, in
some way, yes, trying to get back at the man and it’s not the normal thing for them”.
But after taking the Jness module, Sylvie decided that she had taken enough of Raniere’s teachings – and rejected the suggestions of Clare and the now-deceased Pam Cafritz to take the Society Of Protectors modules.
That rejection resulted in Sylvie being required to participate in an Exploration of Meaning (EM) session with Dani Padilla.
But even with the EM session – and additional threats and cajoling from Clare – Sylvie refused to take the SOP modules the first time they were offered.
Eventually, however, Sylvie was convinced to take the SOP training – which she described as being primarily an exercise in humiliating women.
Throughout this time, Sylvie was still getting training instructions from Keith. Most of these instructions involved Sylvie running for as long as she could at a pace of 12 miles per hour.
But regardless of what results she achieved, every one of Sylvie’s training sessions was adjudged to be a failure by Keith (Sylvie had to submit daily reports to him and Clare).
And the cure for those failures was, of course, more EMs.
Sometimes with Dani Padilla – and other times with Karen Unterreiner, Siobahn Hotaling or Lauren Salzman.
Eventually, Sylvie’s body simply broke down from all the 6 hours of training that she was required to do each day – and she ended up with a massive abscess that required surgery.
Despite her doctor’s orders to the contrary, Sylvie continued to follow Keith’s training schedules even while she was recovering from the abscess surgery.
The one good thing that happened for Sylvie as a result of her association with NXIVM is that she met her future husband there.
Both she and John were working on The Knife, Raniere’s concept for spin-free journalism.
Knowing that such a relationship would need to be sanctioned by Keith, Sylvie went to him to tell him about her plan to marry John – and get her “green card” that way.
Although Raniere gave his permission for the marriage, he also told her she and John must have a platonic relationship for the first two years of the marriage.
He also stroked her arm – and told her that it was too bad she was getting married because she and him “could have had fun together”.
When the wedding took place on July 7th in 2015, Clare was there to remind Sylvie that she wasn’t supposed to have sex with her now-husband for at least 2 years.
Unbelievably, she and John agreed not to do so for the first two years of their marriage.
As a kind of consolation prize, Sylvie was invited to become a member of DOS.
The person who invited her was Monica Duran (It was the revelation of Monica’s last name that led Marc Agnifilo to ask for a mistrial in the case).
But, of course, Sylvie first had to provide some “collateral” in order to prove that she was worthy of becoming a member of DOS.
In her case, the collateral turned out to be a letter to her parents in which she admitted she had become a prostitute in the U.S. – and a full-frontal naked picture to go with the letter.
Soon, thereafter, Monica informed Sylvie that she would need to provide additional collateral on a monthly basis – and that each new collateral would need to be stronger than the previous one.
And then – surprise, surprise – Monica gave Sylvie her first assignment.
Which was to seduce Keith Raniere.
In doing so, Monica reminded Sylvie about the collateral she had provided as part of her membership in DOS.
And so, Sylvie set out to seduce Keith.
Which wasn’t very hard to do because Keith provided her with instructions on how to do it.
It started with naked pictures – including some closeup shots of her vagina.
That continued for several months – until her father, with whom she shared an iCloud account, found the photos and asked her about her “medical pictures”.
When she informed Monica and Keith that she would not be sending any more naked pictures, Sylvie was told that her next encounter with Keith would have to be “in person”.
And so it was that the now-married-but-not-having-sex-with-her-husband Sylvie ended up meeting Keith at his house in Clifton Park – probably his sex lair at 8 Hale Court.
And that’s where Keith – after having Sylvie pose for some more naked photos – instructed her to take off her clothes and lie down on her back on his bed.
Saying that she felt she was having an out-of-body experience, Sylvie did as she was told.
“So, I laid back on the bed and he, I guess you’d call it, went down on me.”
Afterward, when she told Keith that despite their sexual encounter, she intended to remain loyal to her husband, John, he replied: “No, your ultimate commitment is to me. I am your grand master”.
In March 2018, Sylvie and her husband, John, decided to move to England. He is still in the process of getting the equivalent of a”green card” to do that.
Tomorrow, we ‘ll have a report on Marc Agnifilo’s cross-examination of Sylvie.