May 10, 2019

Motion for mistrial denied in Nxivm founder’s sex trafficking case

Keith Raniere, center, depicted in a courtroom drawing with his lawyers
NY Post
Emily Saul and Lia Eustachewich 
May 8, 2019

A Brooklyn judge on [May 8, 2019] denied a motion for a mistrial in Nxivm founder Keith Raniere’s sex trafficking case.

The request from Marc Agnifilo, the lawyer representing the 58-year-old alleged sex cult leader, centered around witnesses in the trial testifying using only their first names.

He said the procedure makes it look as though Raniere is guilty.

“There was no sex trafficking, in my view,” Agnifilo said in court before jurors were called in for the day. “The problem we have now is I am being forced to adopt to the system. It is repugnant to my theory of the case.”

Several of Raniere’s alleged “slave” victims are expected to testify against him. Over the weekend, Brooklyn federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled that only their first names would be used in court to protect their identities.

On [May 8, 2019], prosecutor Moira Penza noted “extreme privacy concerns” in the case.
“The nature of this case is so extreme and this is the heartland,” Penza said about the alleged slave witnesses. “[Raniere] should not be allowed to further humiliate these people.”

In denying Agnifilo’s motion, Garaufis said “any issue can be cured by a jury instruction.”

A hearing over the technicality came just before the trial’s first witness, Sylvie, returned to the stand to continue testimony. On Tuesday, the 32-year-old Briton gave jurors an in-depth look into how she was coaxed into joining Raniere’s exclusive harem of slaves.

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