Bonzani Memorial Law Lecture
The John and Lawrence Bonzani Memorial Law Lecture is held in the fall semester and highlights a topic of interest related to the law. Prior lecturers have been Harpur College alumni who shared expertise in their field while engaging students interested in legal careers.
2022 Bonzani Lecture:
Takedown: Dismantling the NXIVM ‘Sex Cult’
Presented by: Moira Penza ’05
November 1, 2022 | 5 pm
ITC in Symposium Hall (also available via Zoom/remote attendance)
About the lecture:
Takedown: Dismantling the NXIVM ‘Sex Cult’: When Moira Penza, ‘05, first read in The New York Times about a secretive group outside Albany that was branding women, she knew she had to do something. A federal prosecutor at the time, Penza launched an investigation that would result in the dismantling of NXIVM, landing leader Keith Raniere in prison for 120 years. Her talk will take listeners behind the headlines for the true story of the government’s prosecution of Raniere and his inner circle on charges including racketeering and sex trafficking.
About the speaker:
A partner at Wilkinson Stekloff LLP, Moira Penza ’05 is an accomplished litigator with a record of success winning high-stakes civil and criminal trials. Penza’s legal commentary has been featured by many outlets, including The New York Times, NPR, Bloomberg, the BBC, The Guardian, The Daily Beast, Reuters and others.
Since joining Wilkinson Stekloff, Penza has been trial counsel and member of the trial team on some of the firm's most high-profile cases, including a recent antitrust case involving Altria Group, Inc., and its minority investment in JUUL; the Federal Trade Commission Claims were dismissed in their entirety. She previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, where she led numerous criminal investigations and prosecutions involving both white-collar and violent crime. Notably, her groundbreaking prosecution and trial conviction of Keith Raniere — the leader of purported self-help group NXIVM — generated worldwide media attention and has been credited with paving the way for other sex-trafficking prosecutions against powerful individuals.
Before becoming a federal prosecutor, Penza practiced at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where she handled product liability, mass tort, securities and other complex litigation matters. A lifelong New Yorker, she has dedicated much of her career to public service and pro bono work focused on the New York community, especially on behalf of victims of sexual violence.
She has been widely recognized for her work, including being named a Rising Star by Law 360 in the prestigious “Trials” category, honored by Bloomberg Law in the inaugural edition of its “They’ve Got Next: The 40 Under 40” list, and named to Crain’s New York Business 40 Under 40 list. Penza has also been named one of the most powerful lawyers in New York State for three consecutive years by City & State Magazine.