Accused sex-cult leader Keith Raniere is such a coward that he hid from a woman he’d ordered held captive in a room for two years, after she finally escaped the psychological torture chamber to confront him, she testified Wednesday.
“I remember Keith running to hide, dodging through other people,” the ex-Nxivm member, identified only as Daniela, chuckled wryly as she described Raniere catching sight of her at a volleyball game in February 2012 after he’d ordered her shut in a bedroom indefinitely.
“I wanted to know why,” she said, but someone grabbed her, the now-33-year-old recalled, and shoved her in a car to be shuttled back to the upstate home where she’d been sequestered since March 9, 2010.
During her testimony, Daniela recalled the emotional toll of being left alone in a room with papered-over windows to atone for falling in love with another man.
“I was just hoping, somebody come get me,” the woman said through tears Wednesday, as she tried to explain to Brooklyn federal court jurors how she lost her mind in that isolation room.
Meanwhile, she was expected to write daily letters to Raniere in order to correct her perceived indiscretion, she said. “It was harder and harder to keep the darkness at bay,” she said mournfully.
The unlocked room had nothing but a foam mattress on the floor and paper and a pen so she could write letters to Raniere, Daniela testified. Daniela’s parents, who had become Nxivm devotees, had immigrated from Mexico and moved into the home where she was confined, near the group’s headquarters.
While there, she wore the same clothes for weeks and ate only when she was fed by her family, to whom she wasn’t allowed to speak, she said.
She snuck out a handful of times, once stealing her mother’s PlayStation Portable, she testified. Daniela said she used it to hack into her dad’s Facebook account just so she could see photos of her family, although they were living in the same house.
Daniela, who was in the country illegally, said she got to the point where she was hoarding cleaning supplies and planning to kill herself by drinking them.
She was about to go through with the suicide when she peeled back a corner of the paper covering the window and spotted a red bird.
“I don’t know what it was about that bird, but I thought, I’m going to live,” she remembered.
“F–k everybody. F–k you, mom, f–k you, dad, I’m never going to see you again, I give up. F–k you all, go f–k yourselves, but I’m going to live.”
She also testified Raniere sent her abusive e-mails in the years leading up to the solitary confinement regarding her weight, while also demanding she send him nude photos.
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