Jailed Cult Leader Hinges Retrial Bid on Civil Suit by Victims

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) — Convicted cult leader Keith Raniere demanded a new trial Monday, arguing that witnesses in his 2019 Brooklyn federal trial, including two of his assault victims, lied about their plans to sue him civilly.

“The government allowing false testimony, failing to correct it or at a minimum conduct an appropriate investigation when they were plainly on notice that some group of potential plaintiffs were contemplating a civil lawsuit against Raniere and others requires a new trial,” Marc Agnifilo, a lawyer for Raniere, said in a new court filing.

In the sex-trafficking trial of NXIVM leader Keith Raniere, prosecutors introduced this photo showing the “first-line masters” of DOS, a secretive sex cult within the group. Raniere, their “master,” is pictured at center. (Source: US Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York.)

Part of a 25-page memorandum of law, Agnifilo says prosecutors either knew or should have known about the planned civil suit by the witnesses and their lawyer, Neil Glazer, because they were “on notice” throughout their investigation.

“Simply put, Daniela and Nicole lied to the jury, the court and the parties,” Agnifilo wrote, referring to two victims of Raniere who testified against him. “The lie was material because it directly went to both witnesses’ bias to testify falsely against Raniere. The truth was that they were motivated by money the whole time, motivated by the prospect of a pay-day following the conviction of Raniere and how such a conviction would greatly increase the chances of a civil recovery.”

The defense even warned prosecutors of the impending litigation in a motion prior to trial, said Agnifilo, who said the government should have been tipped off by Glazer’s representation of at least 16 people interviewed by the government, as well as the “countless hours” he poured in to working on it over two years.

Marc Vicente, a former member of Raniere’s NXIVM cult who testified for the government, likewise mentioned in open court that Glazer was representing him “in potential civil matters,” Agnifilo wrote, referencing the trial transcript.

Daniela, who testified under her first name only, said Raniere held her in a room alone for two years when she showed interest in another man. She called Glazer her lawyer on the witness stand but said she had no intention of bringing a civil action. Agnifilo says Daniela is Jane Doe 1 in the civil action filed against Raniere earlier this year, seven months after the jury’s verdict.

Nicole, who testified to being tied to a table while another woman sexually assaulted her at Raniere’s command, also denied on the witness stand any intention to join or bring a civil case against him.

“Even if the government can conceivably fashion an argument that it did not know that Nicole and Daniela were committing perjury, they clearly should have known,” Agnifilo wrote.

He added: “The government should have known that Glazer, who appeared for at least thirty-three other interviews — despite maintaining an office in Philadelphia and servicing ‘impoverished’ clients — was likely representing Daniela and Nicole in ‘potential civil matters’ as well.”

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