NXIVM Founder Keith Raniere arraigned in Federal Court_Barbara Bouchey attended & interviewed

Well, the big day finally arrived with Keith being arraigned in Brooklyn on Friday the 13th – a bad omen for him?

The month prior I planned a trip to NYC before knowing Keith was arrested. Was the universe orchestrating for me to attend? Just too funny. Still, I did not want to go thinking it might be traumatic. Friends convinced me though saying, “After so many years of trauma – what is one more day and now the tables have turned with your sitting on the other side of this man who tortured and tried to destroy you for over a decade.” Yup, good point. Plus, I have not felt safe since leaving as Keith had me stalked, hacked into and followed. Could my being there to “see” and “hear” the Judge permanently detain Keith change the surreal-ness of it all and make it more real? Would my presence standing as a witness make a difference?

So, I finally decided to attend only the day before.

On that fateful day I awoke feeling nauseated and anxious. This was a long time in coming. I had a lot of mixed feelings. One was immense relief, but a bit nervous about the outcome given Keith had gotten away with so much. But, there was renewed hope in my heart that this time – it might be different.

I was informed it was to be a full house with a tiny courtroom and to show up early if I hoped to get a seat. I arrived at 11am for the 2pm hearing wanting to be sure. Thankfully, my dear friend Joyce spontaneously took the redeye flying across the country as I was scared to go in alone.

As it turned out there was no one there early, except me, and lots of media. Fate? So, there I was giving interviews. After 9 yrs nonstop legal stalking being dragged into 14 lawsuits in 4 states by Keith and Sara & Clare Bronfman (Seagram Seven Heiresses who were ex-clients of mine) with court restraining orders while Judges lectured me to not talk – I finally felt “safe” to begin telling my story. The question of the day was “what was so compelling about Keith and good about NXIVM to attract so many good, intelligent people from around the world ?” I responded by saying, “there was a lot of good” and began to share details not many know nor been told by ex-members about the “good” and the bad. As in any relationship, job or business partnership we continually evaluate the good vs bad in deciding to remain – and this was no different at NXIVM. I think possibly because the bad grew so extreme that many outsiders have a hard time imagining there was any good. But, how does one explain why 16,000 people including thought leaders and those considered highly respected from around the world came through the doors with many staying if it were not for the good? I really believe that when the “whole” story comes out, it will begin to make sense.

Well, it’s time to begin telling it all…no?

Two other key people attended the hearing as well. Actress Catherine Oxenberg whose daughter Indie is still involved and Toni Natalie who was Keith’s girlfriend in the 90’s.

The most compelling reason that I attended was one s dear friend pointed out that “this may be the only and last time to ever lay eyes on Keith and you should be there to witness the effects of yours and others actions that brought this day about and have closure.” Indeed.

It wasn’t until around 1:30pm that the courthouse began to fill. Very surprising as I had expected more people and even imagined a bus-load of devoted NXIVM members to show up in support of their leader. BUT, THEY DID NOT. In fact, in the 11th hour the powerful, influential contingency of NXIVM in Mexico City ran by Emiliano Salinas (son of ex-President Carlos Salinas) and Alex Betancourt announced officially “closing” their center after 15 years ceding ownership. I was shocked!

Could it be they were finally waking up with the irrefutable evidence presented last week by the prosecutor of Keith‘s personal yahoo emails revealing his involvement in the creation of this bizarre abusive women’s secret society making it clear he and his hierarchy lied betraying their member’s trust? I know for many of us the last straw was finally figuring out the undeniable fact that Keith is deceitful, lies and extremely manipulative, which that prosecutor complaint proves.

Needless to say, we all sat with bated breathe awaiting Keith to emerge from the small door in front. There was much to do with many people from the prosecutor team coming and going. I think there were 8 people? The lead prosecutor was a small, unassuming women with long brown hair looking no older than 20 years old. My guess is she is a fellow warrior with all 100 lbs of her!

Two older women came in with artist palettes to draw their impressions of Keith including the cutest set of small binoculars. Yes, binoculars when they were sitting a mere 20 feet away! Omg…just too funny.

The minutes ticked by like an eternity while those around us spoke of how mysterious this delay was saying it’s normally punctual. I even had a fleeting thought that Keith had somehow rigged something slipping through the cracks. Listen, I’ve seen funnier things happen. Finally, at 2:20pm Keith emerged through the door. If you have ever observed Keith walk then you know he has an unusual gait. He walks forward on his toes with a skip up at times. Well, he bounded into the courtroom with an exaggerated hop skip to his step that made me chuckle out loud. My observations are that this was Keith’s attempt to portray “I’m an innocent, good boy skipping and hopping.” Does he not realize that we are no longer fooled? He was dressed in a bizarre jail uniform in a color not seen before, which was an odd shade of sage green. He was adorning his typical look when he wants to appear the impish naive college nerd with his round glasses and clean shaven face. Gone were the long dregs and beard looking like Jesus (a look many of us told him to get rid of). Unkempt was his hair as if they denied him shampoo. His face was blood pressure red – like a cooked lobster. The only other time I saw him looking this unglued, nervous, agitated and red-faced was when I and eight other key women (aka “The Nxivm 9”) confronted him for 11 hours on film getting a rare glimpse inside his mind and seeing who he really was (crazy) concluding we had no other choice but to resign. It was clear that Keith was not use to anyone putting him on the hot seat or confronting him on his abuse of power – nor holding him accountable. It would appear that this was also true of his time in jail…hmmm?

My impression after spending 9 intimate yrs with Keith is he was terrified looking confused all the while trying to act humble, displaying what I perceived was an earnestness for the judge to hopefully see him as good. I know others perceived he was ‘arrogant and smug’ – but I did not detect that at all – nor did others I asked. When answering questions, Keith did what I’d call, “I’m a bashful good boy” leaning forward earnestly towards the Judge with as much respect and sincerity he could muster. The Judge might not know any difference from one who might be genuine in that way.

It was brief, over in less than 4 minutes. Keith’s attorneys stated that they were not seeking release on bail (wise choice) and the Judge ordered “permanent detention” with a stipulation that a future hearing request was admissible. I’m not an attorney nor expert at these things (although many humble attempts were made defending myself) is that this seemed a concession it was hopeless to ask for bail. The judge was very cordial in his brief appearance and in his addressing Keith.

It ended before it began!

I felt enormously relieved to know he was being kept behind bars. A burden lifted. And yet, I simultaneously felt a deep sorrow and grief of a brilliant man who had the capacity to positively impact the world – and yet here he was a fallen man who was lead astray by the dark forces seemingly uncontrollable within him, creating a wake of abuse and great harm to many.

Today was a victorious day.

Today was a day to celebrate.

Today restores and renews the faith within each one of us that in the end “truth does prevail and justice is served.”

Today I feel closure and am glad that I could stand and be a witness.

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