Oct 11, 2015

NXIVM attorneys pressed criminal case

Brendan J. Lyons
Times Union
October 10, 2015

Lori Van Buren
Lori Van Buren

Attorneys for the secretive NXIVM corporation were heavily involved in a State Police investigation that resulted in criminal charges against four people accused of hacking into the organization's computer system, according to court records.
Records from the two-year investigation, which began in April 2012, indicate the State Police's lead investigator in the case, Rodger Kirsopp, had contact dozens of times with NXIVM's attorneys, who pressured him to file criminal charges. The records show NXIVM officials, and their attorneys, also provided much of the evidence used by Kirsopp to build the unusual criminal case against the four defendants, all of whom were considered adversaries of NXIVM.

By the time the investigation ended in March 2014, three attorneys from the Albany law firm of O'Connell & Aronowitz, whose attorneys have represented NXIVM for years, had contact with the investigator more than 30 times, including attending interviews he conducted with NXIVM employees and delivering documents and other evidence, including computer records, to the investigator's State Police barracks in Clifton Park.

The details of the investigation were made public in recent court filings in which one of the defendants, Barbara J. Bouchey, who is a former NXIVM executive board member, accused Kirsopp of distorting facts to build the criminal case against her. In a motion seeking a dismissal of the felony charge against her, Bouchey also accuses NXIVM and two of its longtime leaders, Clare and Sarah Bronfman, of using court proceedings, including the criminal case, to punish Bouchey after she left NXIVM in 2009.

"NXIVM has maintained an enemy's list and over the years have attacked certain individuals who have chosen to leave their organization," said the pending motion filed by Pamela D. Hayes, one of Bouchey's attorneys. A judge has not ruled on the motion to dismiss the case.

Bouchey claims an audio recording of her telephone interview with Kirsopp shows the investigator attributed statements to her that she never made, including an allegation that she accessed proprietary materials in NXIVM's website. Her attorneys, to buttress their position that Bouchey did not hack into NXIVM's computer servers, also filed a copy of an email sent to Bouchey by a NXIVM technician who gave her the sign-on and password for another former student and instructed her to "give it a try." It was Bouchey's use of that sign-on information, in January 2014, that was used to charge her with a felony computer trespassing count.

The criminal probe by Kirsopp, who did not respond to a request for comment, centered on allegations that multiple people, including two journalists, used accounts and passwords assigned to former NXIVM students to gain access to the organization's secure, password-protected website. NXIVM's representatives, in court filings, claim the computer access was not authorized and that some of the materials viewed — including clients lists and training manuals — were proprietary trade secrets. The journalists, former Times Union reporter James Odato, and Suzanna Andrews, a freelance journalist who has written about NXIVM for Vanity Fair magazine, were not charged in the criminal case but were named as defendants in a related federal lawsuit filed by NXIVM in 2013. The lawsuit was thrown out last month by a federal judge in Albany.


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