New York — In the wake of online threats to publicly identify litigants anonymously suing imprisoned NXIVM leader Keith Raniere, a federal judge on Thursday ordered three of Raniere’s co-defendants in the civil case to cease all contact with the plaintiffs.
But in a twist, U.S. District Judge Eric Komitee said his order also applied to the plaintiffs, whom he said must avoid the same level of direct — or indirect — contact with the people they are suing.
“We’re going to try this case in the courtroom, not in the court of the media or Facebook,” Komitee said in a sixth-floor courtroom in the same federal courthouse where Raniere, the disgraced personal growth guru known as “Vanguard,” was convicted in 2019.
The judge delivered the order to former “Battlestar Galactica” actress Nicki Clyne and ex-Capital Region doctors Brandon Porter and Danielle Roberts, all longtime supporters of NXIVM and Raniere. The judge had ordered the trio to appear in court in connection with online threats to publicly identify plaintiffs suing them and other top NXIVM members on allegations of racketeering, sexual assault, forced labor and indebted servitude.
Neil Glazer, the attorney for the dozens of plaintiffs, stopped short of saying Clyne, Porter and Roberts made the threats, but informed the judge they endorsed efforts by another NXIVM loyalist, Michele Hatchette, to publicly identify plaintiffs identified in the lawsuit by pseudonyms or as “Jane Doe.”
At Raniere’s criminal trial, witnesses were permitted to testify anonymously or while using pseudonyms. Komitee has thus far allowed the same in the civil case.
On Thursday, the judge reminded Clyne, Roberts and Porter that under his recent preliminary order, they are not to identify any of the anonymous plaintiffs in the case. They indicated they would oblige. He said as defendants they will know the names of every accuser suing them.
Hatchette, however, is not a defendant in the suit. Komitee said third parties faced no barriers under his order, but added, “It would be unfortunate if a third party would seek to embarrass people in this case for no reason other than spite.”
Earlier Thursday, Glazer told the judge that there had been an “escalation” of threats to plaintiffs.
“We’re concerned for where it looks like it might be heading,” Glazer said of the recent threats.