Where Was Karen Heggen? Why Didn’t She Prosecute NXIVM?

If it wasn’t for the Albany Times Union and brave individuals like actress Catherine Oxenberg, whose daughter India was caught up in the cult, NXIVM may still be doing its thing in Saratoga County.

In a May 11, 2019 editorial, as Keith Reniere’s trial was about to begin, the TU wrote:

That something was seriously wrong at NXIVM was apparent at least as early as 2012, when a Times Union series exposed Mr. Raniere’s alleged abuse of young girls and claims that NXIVM was, as one expert put it, an “extreme cult,” using relentless litigation funded by Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman and other tactics to intimidate and punish critics. Ms. Bronfman is among five defendants who have already pleaded guilty. Mr. Raniere, 58, is on trial for sex trafficking, forced labor, wire fraud conspiracy and racketeering.

At all levels — federal, state and local — the government for years seems to have shrugged off NXIVM defectors whose stories were told by this newspaper and others. What response did we see from federal prosecutors in the Northern District, or from the FBI, the New York attorney general, district attorney offices in Albany and Saratoga counties, the New York State Police and the Internal Revenue Service? Even after a blog in Western New York reported that doctors had branded women with Mr. Raniere’s initials as part of a “master-slave” club and had done unsanctioned brain activity experiments, the state Department of Health was slow to respond.

Michael Phillips, the Democratic/Justice and Public Safety candidate for Saratoga County District Attorney wants to know why Karen Heggen, who was in the DA’s office for over 25 years–many of them as District Attorney–didn’t do anything about this? 

NXIVM’s criminal activity went on for 15 years and she didn’t lift a finger. Why?

These are questions that needs answering.

Heggen Schooled on Miles Case
Everyone in the legal community who spoke with Michael agreed—Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen SHOULD NOT have appealed Saratoga Springs City Court Judge Francine Vero’s decision to dismiss the DA’s case against Jamaica Miles.

But, she didn’t listen. She appealed. She wasted taxpayer dollars. And, Heggen just got schooled by the Fulton County Court Judge, Chad W. Brown. He wrote that the DA’s office failed to meet the basic guidelines of appealing a decision. He was quite clear—prosecuting or convicting Miles, a local Black Lives Matter activist, would have resulted in an “injustice.”

We all—the kind of questionable legal arguments Heggen brought to bear were one sided and politically motivated. It’s time for One Standard of Justice in the Saratoga District Attorney’s office. That’s why Michael is running for Saratoga County District Attorney—we should not have one standard for the politically connected and a different one for everyone else.

Saratoga County hasn’t had a choice in electing a DA in 50 years. Michael is running to change that. But, he needs your support. We’ve got the volunteers. We’ve got the drive. We’ve got the issues. We just need your support to get the message out today.