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Cult of NXIVM Series Part 10: The Love Cult of NXIVM
by Frank Parlato
When I was hired as a consultant by NXIVM, in September 2007, the company was embroiled in multiple litigations. In addition, reporters were sniffing around and writing stories about the “life coaching” group–mostly bad stories. Critics claimed NXIVM was a cult. One of my tasks was to explore how to stop the negative publicity and reshape it to something more positive.
At that time, students of NXIVM paid monthly membership fees of about $180 per month, plus another $2,000 to $7,000 several times per year for special training seminars called ‘intensives” that were needed for one to advance in the course (one could also progress by bringing in new students).
Students who achieved success in these courses were given a rank indicated by sashes of various colors–similar to the colored belts in martial arts. Black being the highest; white the lowest. Keith Raniere, NXIVM’s founder and leader, gave himself the only black sash. This indicated to the students that he was the only one who had achieved the highest state of human consciousness, something Raniere called “unification,” a term he invented for himself, implying he was an enlightened human being who had reached the equivalent of Buddhism’s state of Nirvana.
In fact, NXIVM teachers, mostly women, professed that Raniere was like a Buddhist monk living beyond the lust of the senses. Living in near seclusion, he needed nothing. He came out only because he cared about the welfare of his students.
However, as a consultant living in the NXIVM Village, I was close at hand both day and night and I soon discovered that Raniere was anything but a monk. It was apparent that Raniere had something like a harem of a dozen or more intelligent, attractive, well dressed, always slender, always vegetarian women, generally with long, lustrous hair. These were consenting women in their late 20’s, 30’s and even 40’s, who evidently knew about each other. Many of the women were the very teachers who were telling NXIVM students that Raniere was like a celibate monk.
It might have been a challenge for me personally to rehabilitate NXIVM and Raniere’s public image after discovering that his students were being lied to. However, any challenge I might have faced became moot after I discovered something far more disturbing than his secret harem.
I discovered that Raniere had “lost” $65.6 million of the Bronfman sisters’ money gambling in the commodities market. He claimed the money was lost in bad commodity trades. On top of that, Raniere advised the sisters to invest another $26.3 million in a real estate deal in Los Angeles that he was handling with his friend Yuri Plyam. However, I actually went to Los Angeles and discovered that the real estate deal was a scam and that the “friend” had stolen $10 million from the Bronfmans.
I blew the whistle on the real estate deal; but when I discovered the real estate developer and the Los Angeles broker in Raniere’s commodities losses were the same person, Yuri Plyam, I started asking questions, maybe too many questions. Raniere fired me and went on the attack using the Bronfman millions.
But one of his harem women, Barbara Bouchey was truly devastated by the discovery that the Bronfmans were being swindled. Bouchey was a NXIVM board member. She also owned a financial asset management company and had become the personal financial administrator to the Bronfman sisters. All the checks for all the Bronfman money lost were written by her company. Checks written at the direction of her lover and guru Keith Raniere with his assurances the money was being used wisely. Discovering $100 million was lost, Bouchey assessed the situation. She was either a check writing scapegoat for Raniere’s thievery or Raniere was insanely reckless with Bronfman money and the sisters were too ignorant to see it or too spellbound with Raniere to care. Bouchey realized she’d been seduced into believing in a high-minded NXIVM Nirvana but it was really just a pedestrian world of ignorance, thievery and sex. She resigned from the board of NXIVM and led eight other women to leave also. All told, nine women – all major players in NXIVM - broke ties.
I was the first to tell the media about Raniere losing, or perhaps swindling, $100 million belonging to the Bronfmans. Bouchey told it under oath in court proceedings. The Albany Times Union, Vanity Fair, The New York Observer, the New York Post, McLean’s and other media wrote stories about it. With so much press coverage why law enforcement never chose to investigate how $100 million could simply disappear is a mystery which I am attempting to unravel.
Circling back around to our “unified” celibate monk, what also came out in court proceedings was Raniere’s secret sexual life. The women who left NXIVM told their stories, then other women came forward. In 2012, Times Union reporter James Odato, wrote an excellent piece titled “In Raniere’s Shadow” (http://goo.gl/v7FJgm) where he interviewed a number of women who claim they were more Raniere’s sex victims than sex partners – including some who were under the age of consent at the time Raniere deflowered them.
Testimony in the court case strongly suggest Raniere has a gambling problem (using other people’s money) and that he’s both a sex addict and a sexual predator. And that the adoring harem that services Raniere is not enough for his sexual appetite. In fact, he enlists his harem women to act as wing women – to procure more and more women for his enjoyment.
After my falling out with Raniere he was able to secure an investigation of me by federal authorities. This is a pattern of harassment practiced against all NXIVM enemies. In response I began to investigate him and to also examine his manipulation of women.
When I worked for Raniere back in 2007-2008, I began to suspect that he wanted the litigation and the bad press they were getting. It was integral to his relationship with the women around him that there was always an air of sorrow for him and a sense that there were enemies everywhere. The women needed to constantly feel this fragile, beautiful man had to be protected.
Therapist Sandra Knauer writes in her book “Recovering From Sexual Abuse” that “Perpetrators make demands that require their victims to take care of them.” They also make their victims feel guilt and/or shame. Raniere is a master of both of these forms of manipulation.
In this way he drew Clare and Sara Bronfman closer. In fact, he blamed Clare for the $100 million in “losses” in commodities and real estate that he had handled. Raniere told her that her billionaire father, Edgar Bronfman Sr., crooked the commodities markets against him, bought off judges and the media. Clare was wracked with guilt. She felt she caused the trouble when she unwisely revealed her relationship with Keith to her father and she wept over how her father was attacking the world’s most ethical teacher. The $100 million lost was unimportant to her, what was important was her father was preventing the greatest teacher in the world from getting his message out.
Raniere’s harem women would also weep about the injustices they felt Keith was enduring. They had mystical interpretations that some world-shaking consequence was sure to come out his suffering since Raniere was so Christlike, his pain a Crucifixion.
Raniere, in fact, sought to have his harem believe that he was so spiritually sensitive that any bad thoughts or actions from them or attacks by the media might even cause him to die from grief. Fortunately, Raniere’s hyper-vulnerability didn’t prevent his enjoying nights of rollicking sex with one or more of the women.
The harem are only part of the story of Keith Raniere, sexual predator. To be continued.blog comments powered by Disqus
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