By Joe O’Hara
I have read with great interest all the comments about what should be expected of those who were involved with NXIVM after they decide to leave. As the first person who quit providing services to the cult after finding out some of what was going on behind the scenes, I’ve had a lot of time to think about this matter. Here are my thoughts on the issue:
– First and foremost, everyone who quits the cult – or who stops providing services to it and its members – should be applauded. Even if they do none of the other things that I happen to think they should do, I never want to do anything – or say anything – to make them have second thoughts about leaving.
– In an ideal world, it would be nice if those who leave would simply admit what their involvement was with the cult. Did you recruit others? Did you make money? Did you help the cult do illegal things (I STRONGLY SUGGEST YOU CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY BEFORE YOU ANSWER THAT LAST QUESTION)? What exactly was your role in the cult?
– I also think it would be nice if people apologized for any harm they may have caused to others while they were involved with the cult – and, to the extent they can do so, that they try to mitigate that harm. These apologies need not be public unless they choose to publicly speak out about their decision to leave. And these people need not reimburse those they recruited for the fees spent on NXIVM’s courses – or make any other financial contributions to them – unless, of course, they have the wherewithal to do so.
– Do something to help ensure that NXIVM is totally and forever destroyed. If you have information about any of the cult’s illegal activities, share it with the law enforcement officials who are investigating – and prosecuting – NXIVM-related people (If you want to remain anonymous, contact Frank to get the name of an attorney who can ensure your anonymity). If all you have are suspicions, share those too – but be sure to identify them as such.
These are simply my opinions – and I don’t mean to impose them on anyone else. But they’re the opinions that guide how I react to those who have left – which is why I refuse to have any contact with some of them (They know who they are).
In my case, I served as a consultant to NXIVM for approximately 15 months. Mostly what I did is identify people and companies that NXIVM could hire to address the various problems it was facing: e.g., accountants, attorneys, lobbyists, private investigators, public relations firms, etc.
I received a monthly fee for the first six months I worked for the cult. After that, Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman arranged for me to receive a loan from Clare Bronfman and Sara Bronfman-Igtet that I used (a) to purchase a piece of land in Greene County that I wanted to develop; and (b) to expand what was my business at the time.
When I informed Raniere and Salzman that I was quitting, they first tried to entice me to stay on by making me several lucrative offers. When that didn’t work, they had Richard Mays, one of their legal hired guns and a guy who really deserves to be investigated by the Feds, threaten me (Mays told me in detail what NXIVM would do to destroy me personally and professionally – and most of those things subsequently happened).
NXIVM initiated several legal actions against me – and got the Albany County District Attorney, P. David Soares, to twice indict me on trumped-up charges. Eventually, they drove me into bankruptcy – and became the “tipping point” for several personal relationships. They also hacked into my computer and stole a great deal of personal information – and they hired at least one firm to illegally obtain my bank records, health records, phone records, etc.
The great irony in all this is that I’m the one who put together the “machine” that NXIVM subsequently used to destroy me and others. I’m the one who recruited the law firms, the lobbyists, the private investigators, etc. that, fueled with the Bronfmans’ money and Raniere’s insatiable desire to punish his “enemies”, eventually grew into the “machine” that hurt so many people. I wish that weren’t the case but it is.
In response to all this, I vowed that I would do whatever I could to help bring the entire NXIVM operation down. I started out by reaching out to Toni Natalie more than 13 years ago – and ever since then, I’ve been working with her and others to do whatever I could to help ensure that Raniere and his followers would be brought to justice.
Along the way, those of us who have been part of the anti-NXIVM force have had plenty of disappointments. Law enforcement officials who feigned interest – and promised to follow-up on the evidence that we turned over to them but never did. Politicians who promised to launch investigations – but never did.
It was not until June of last year that I actually started to believe that the NXIVM cult could be taken down. Because it was then that I first learned about the branding – which I immediately knew was a fatal mistake. My exact words at the time were: “You can do a lot of illegal things in this country and never get prosecuted – especially if you’ve got money. But, regardless of who you are, you cannot brand people and avoid prosecution”.
Getting involved with NXIVM is the worst mistake I ever made in life – and, trust me, I’ve made quite a few. And although there is nothing that I’ll ever be able to do to offset all the harm that I helped cause to lots of people, I will keep doing what I can to see that the Raniere/Bronfman reign of terror is over.
Let me finish with the same thought I started out with. Let’s applaud everyone who leaves the cult – and let’s applaud even louder for those who leave, take responsibility for what they did, apologize to those they harmed, and help to ensure that NXIVM is totally and forever destroyed.