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Carol Mead: Barbara Bouchey Was Not and Is Not a Fool

By Carol Mead (a former Nxivm student)

I have known Barbara Bouchey for 18 years. I met her through her cousin, Chris Carey, who was a dear friend of mine. In the beginning, I didn’t really relate to Barbara because I wasn’t a self-made millionaire, nor was I being groomed for the inner circle of ESP [Executive Success Programs] as it was known when I took my first intensive.

But what I have seen her go through, what she has told me, what I know personally of some of the players and what I have witnessed through the years is proof enough for me that:

(1) she had only the highest purpose in mind when she devoted time, energy and money to the organization;

(2) she had deep affection towards Keith, and experienced many years of distress when she discovered that he was involved with other women;

(3) at no time during the past nine years has she been free from harassment, belittlement in the press and on this blog; and

(4) in those years she has lost friends who either believed the malarkey that was being spread about her or were too afraid to speak on her behalf for fear of what the NXIVM litigation machine would do to them.

Barbara was not and is not a fool.

ESP/NXIVM is, in the early part of a person’s exposure to it, a way to move past roadblocks that were keeping a person from achieving whatever success meant to them. I achieved benefit from its modules, and only left when I realized that any questions I raised about the modules or the way in which coaches worked with their students were thrown back at me as being ‘my disintegration’. So, I left the group after only a few years.

Barbara remained to try to make it be the best possible resource for bettering ourselves and our world.

She faced more than 12 lawsuits spanning a 9 year period. She lost her life savings to someone [Keith Raniere] who was supposed to love and care for her. She tried very hard to reconcile the positive effects she experienced from the ESP curriculum with the dawning realization that leadership at NXIVM had no interest in fixing the issues that were at cross purposes to its stated mission.

As more and more inconsistencies, lies, attempts at manipulation and blaming everything she challenged on her ‘inconsistencies and needs for more EMs’ [Exploration of Meaning Therapy] grew, she finally was able to see the real underbelly that lay beneath the veneer of ‘self-improvement and a better world’ being spouted by Keith and his remaining inner circle, and had the courage to leave.

I don’t know many people who could have withstood the onslaught she did, and not cave into the empty promises handed to her to settle the lawsuits. She was smart enough to know that one lawsuit would never be enough: Once settled, another one would appear to punish her and try to drive her business into ruin.

I look upon Keith and his groupies as the Terminator – never resting, never giving their victim a chance to catch her breath, nurse her wounds, rebuild her fortune, regain her reputation, reconnect with her friends and former business associates. Her life, the one she worked so hard to build for herself, was in ruins.

Keith Raniere with Barbara Bouchey and other women of Nxivm.

And for those who wrote recently that ‘the time for Barbara to have spoken up was 10 years ago’, you have short memories or else came in late to the conversation.

Barbara was an integral source of information for James Odato’s amazing series [Secrets of Nxivm] in 2012 in the Times Union. She was extremely vocal. But no one, no one in law enforcement, in the judicial system, at tax, the attorney general’s office – no one took one moment to follow up on any of it.

So no, you are quite wrong when you say she should have stood up 10 years ago. She’s been standing up for 9 years and is finally, FINALLY able to sit down and breathe.

I would challenge anyone, myself included, to be as strong, and yet remain as compassionate, loving, giving and graceful a woman as Barbara.

But, that is Barbara. That is the woman they chose to mess with. And though certainly other victims brought the titillating details of branding, underage sex, money laundering, etc. to the fore, and let me be clear, I applaud and support their courage just as much, Barbara was among the first to bring attention to the fact that this emperor was not wearing any clothes.


About the author


News and art, national and local. Began as alternative weekly in 1990 in Buffalo, NY. Publishing content online since 1996.


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  • Why won’t Barbara Bouchey answer the questions regarding the number of law suits she is clamoring on and on about?

    Did she ever finish a civil legal battle with NXIVM and or the Bronfman’s… Nope

    Both the Bronfman’s and NXIVM civil matters were dismissed by the Judge in the matter by inactivity by both parties. Neither side won or loss.

    In the criminal matter Bouchey was involved in, she had more than fair warning to not go into their intranet using someone else’s username and password months before she did.

    Why did she do it? She has no one but herself to blame for bring herself into that criminal investigation.

  • On this much I will agree.
    Barb was not and is not a fool.
    She knew full well most of what was happening in NXIVM and she is actively now positioning herself to keep NXIVM alive.
    Barb is a cagey broad. She belongs with Keith.

  • The Barabra Bouchey situation is almost a mirror of the Scott Johnson situation.
    1) Both up to their necks in nefarious activities for many years
    2) Both recruited and exploited people
    3) Only AFTER losing everything did they decide to turn whistleblower. (That’s the key: had they continue to benefit financially, both would still be involved)
    4) Both now try and court the media (Scott runs a radio show)
    5) Neither express ANY remorse towards their victims.. the whistleblower act is really just to feed the ego)

    • The Barabra Bouchey situation is almost a mirror of the Scott Johnson situation. [Not even close.]

      1) Both up to their necks in nefarious activities for many years [You need to define the term “nefarious.” We don’t know what BB was involved in, or aware of, when it comes to NXIVM. It was before DOS, so you can throw out the cauterizing of Raniere’s initials into pubic area flesh, as well as the associated master/slave relationships and collateral/blackmail. Did she know about the tax evasion? We don’t know, she claims she never got involved in NXIVM financials. Did she hear the training on not paying taxes? We don’t know, but if she did and didn’t leave immediately and report this issue to law enforcement, that’s a major issue, especially given her financial advisor responsibilities. When we spoke about a year or so ago, I remarked it was “weird” that Raniere had multiple sex partners and she pushed back, saying there are many places around the world where this is normal. I thought her response was weird and felt that she lived in the United States, and that is not the usual acceptable behavior. I asked her to come on my radio show and she declined.

      On the other hand, NXIVM is a relatively tiny organization compared to Amway and other MLM scams, so what I was involved in was relatively main-stream. At the time, there was little to no information that the lack of retail sales to outside customers was “nefarious,” although I learned how critical it is later, and even developed a theory to explain why retail sales are required to demonstrate the MLM is not an illegal pyramid, which nobody else had done in as complete and bullet-proof of a manner. In fact, when I spoke to the then FTC lead attorney in the lawsuit against Herbalife, her answer was “precedent,” which is obviously true, but does not explain the why in a fundamental manner. The explanation can be found here, look for the paragraphs titled “Why Is Having All/Mostly Internal Sales An Illegal Pyramid?”: If the FTC regulated all MLMs to the same criteria as the recent Vemma and Herbalife cases, there would be virtually no MLMs around. The RICO fraud tool scam is described on virtually all of my radio shows: and is an even larger problem than lack of retail sales, in my opinion. However, to date the FTC has ignored this issue.]

      2) Both recruited and exploited people [Recruiting is not illegal. The military does it. All kinds of companies, churches, and other organizations do it. I don’t know what BB’s intent was, whether she honestly thought she was helping people or exploiting them. What I do know is I felt Amway was a legitimate business at the time, and there was no intent to exploit. Unknown to me at the time, Amway and other MLMs are illegal pyramids and RICO frauds, as described above. So you need to explain how I was exploiting people.]

      3) Only AFTER losing everything did they decide to turn whistleblower. (That’s the key: had they continue to benefit financially, both would still be involved) [I lost a lot of both time and money, but I didn’t lose everything. I found out about Amway’s tool scam and instantly stopped recruiting and started educating others. I am not interested in benefiting financially if it involves an illegal pyramid and/or RICO fraud. You are simply an anonymous liar who does not know me. You are probably too much of a coward to come on my radio show and debate these issues.]

      4) Both now try and court the media (Scott runs a radio show) [I do try to court the media, in order to get more attention focused on MLM scams to get them to make drastic changes, which would probably result in them collapsing. I also court the general public with my websites, I also court executive and legislative branches of government, business organizations, etc. I also look for others who are willing to help in that effort. I was even willing to be sued by Amway and won the settlement agreement, which you can read on my website: and continue to educate others. Why do you consider all of that a problem? I am willing to help others with no financial benefit to myself.]

      5) Neither express ANY remorse towards their victims.. the whistleblower act is really just to feed the ego) [Accoring to the dictionary: remorse means guilt, shameful, hurtful, or violent, among other things. I was unknowingly scammed and caused others to be scammed. The productive thing to do is to educate others, not to cry about it, claim that I am guilty when I’m not, fall on my “remorse sword,” etc. How is helping others not get scammed by Amway and other MLM scams feeding my ego? You are trying to make me feel guilty, it won’t work.]

    • TruthSeeker.,

      Are you trying to insinuate Barbara and Scott should date?

      BTW Amazing observation!!!!!

  • By the way, Carol, no one refers to Barb as a fool.
    Cagey, enthralled, narcissistic, a revisionist, attention seeker, that we use to describe her but a fool? Never! Barb knows full well what she says and does.
    Barb does not get a pass.

  • Barb might have been a nice person, but she was neck deep in the culture of tax evasion practiced by nearly everyone in NXIVM, especially those in the inner circle.

    And why did she make all those road trips to Mexico, eh? Probably nothing to do with money laundering, right?

    Bouchey was enthusiastically and actively part of the NXIVM criminal enterprise for many years.

  • A person can have a high purpose in mind, be affectionate, beleaguered and faced adversity and still act foolishly. A person can be both a victim and a fool, in fact the two qualities often come packaged as a set. We all know what the road to hell is paved with.

    Only a tiny percentage of the population get themselves involved in cults. Why is that? Because most of us recognize them for what they are and avoid them like land mines. A tiny percentage of the population has that unfortunate combination of credulity, neediness, and lack of self-will that makes them think, wow! this guy is brilliant! he has all the answers I’ve been looking for! here, take my money and sign me up!

    Most people can spot a con. Most of us know that that e-mail from that Nigerian prince is a scam and we don’t respond with our social security number and bank information. Most of us know that when our gullible friend reports breathless about this “cool” new group that promises a whole new ethical way of looking at the world, a way to win friends and influence people, and the path to happiness, success, and personal fulfillment, it’s probably a trap. She’s fallen for yet another scam. Poor her.

    Most of us know there are people out there who want to cheat us. If some stranger is acting unaccountably friendly, he’s probably selling something. The warning signs are pretty obvious. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Buyer beware. It’s always okay to say no and walk away. Don’t be a fool.

  • Another defender of Barb.


    Barb, go away, go far away.
    Get thee to a nunnery.
    Just go.
    You, and your “Keith was a wonderful bf” schlock ain’t foolin’ us.
    Or your resurgence of NXIVM.
    Clifton Park wants the stink of NXIVM gone.
    All of the area wants NXIVM gone.

    We ain’t buyin’ it.
    So go, just go.

  • Why is it that Barbara Bouchey was not called as a witness for the prosecution? Or, was she called, but then refused?

  • Narcissists like Keith are experts at deception. All narcissists have Jekyll & Hyde-type personalities, so its not surprising that Keith was able to hide his dark side from her for so long. Unless you’ve personally been in a relationship with a narcissist, you can’t truly understand how she feels.

  • If Barbara B isn’t a fool and never was one

    Then why does she act like one?

    She acts like the world revolves around her. And it sounds like she’s still in love Raniere.

    Move on Lady. Move on.

  • Hey Carol, being a former NXIVM student yourself…

    Why did you attend NXIVM cult classes like a brainless sheep, being taught by batshit crazy instructors?

    Does that make you a brainwashable idiot?

    I never attended cult classes. I have more common sense than that.

    I’m guessing you flunked out of NXIVM for being too fucken dumb even by their low standards. 🙂

  • Hey Carol,

    Why not ask your friend, Irish Barb, how Keith managed to evade having 1099’s issued in his own personal name to the IRS.

    After all, she was his financial planner and trader, right? 🙂

    Barb was just too honest to assist Keith with flying under the IRS radar for years, right Carol? She’d never do that.

    She was as pure as the driven snow, right Carol? 🙂

    I’m sure she spent her days helping blind people cross the street.

  • Here’s a line from my version of Auld Lang Syne:

    “Let auld acquaintance be forgot, for the sake of peace of mind.”

    Thats the best advice that nobody ever paid for.

  • The sooner she can move on and leave Tubby and NXIVM behind her, the better for her.

    Hopefully, once Raniere has been sentenced she’ll be able to begin the process of finally freeing herself from what took place.

    • I betcha a box of Thin Mints that Barb will visit Keith in prison once he’s sentenced. C’mon Barb! Seem’s like you have some unsettled business on your shoulders. Don’t use the media to vent, go see him in person.

  • Barbara Bouchey was one of the named plaintiffs in NXIVM’s first lawsuit against me back in 2005. She has never apologized to me for that.

    According to her, Barbara enrolled hundreds of people into NXIVM. I wonder how many of those she has reached out to – and apologized to them.

    I don’t think Barbara is an evil person. But I think she ought to spend more time and energy making peace with those she wronged and less time chasing after media figures.

    Just sayin’…

    • Wait for it…Once Keith Raniere is sentenced, the spin campaign to put him in a sympathetic light will commence- She will be on primetime, Oprah, etc…
      Its already the plan. Who’s plan is it though?

    • Maybe Barbara just “forgot” about filing a lawsuit against you?

  • I find Barb comes across as a codependent narcissist. She likes her version of events as much as Bates in Misery.

    Any possibility all of her playing dumb is an attempt to rebrand and rebuild as a new age healer?

    Barb the Ethical Living Expert live on Hay House radio right after the medical psychics and intuitive life coaches… sign up now for a week long intensive at the Kripalu Center in Lenox, MA. Long walks, raw juice fasting, group dynamics, sisterhood ceremony, reconnect with your inner warrior.

    • Barb has openly stated she wants to bring the BEST of NXIVM to us.
      There is no best.
      Yeah, she has grand designs and I bet Keith will pull the strings because Barb is still enthralled by Keith.

  • I’m done with her. I used to like her but she can’t have it both ways. Raniere and Nancy Salzman are two criminals.

  • Thank you, Carol. I submitted a comment to a post about Barbara the other day in support of her, but it apparently got lost somewhere in webspace. Why do people have to begrudge Barbara for sometimes missing aspects of what she considered some amazing times in her life? She was sensible and strong enough to come to understand that NXIVM and Keith weren’t really upholding the principles they touted. She tried in vain to reveal what a despicable organization it really was. And I believe she was never involved in any of the criminal aspects. Indeed, she tried to reveal NXIVM’s criminal acts to law enforcement, to no avail. Maybe Barbara still has some healing to do, and while she may recognize the vile person Keith is and is looking forward to hopefully seeing him go to jail for a long time, it doesn’t mean that she won’t ever look back at some aspects with fond memories. Do people think that couples who separate or divorce look back at the entire time they were together and change or erase the good memories? No. That doesn’t happen. Anyway, I wish Barbara all the best. She’s been through hell and back and is still managing to stay afloat and rebuild her business.

    • Ah, golly gee whiz, we should feel for Barb? Why?
      She wants attention, defends the indefensible and has delusions of rehabbing NXIVM.
      Why is she always grabbing the mic, hmmm?
      Attention seeker and still delusional, attempting to give us a revisionist history of NXIVM.

    • It is also a slow poison that is destructive to people’s lives directly or indirectly, as it was to mine.

  • Carol,

    I think Barbara Bouchey is a good person at heart.

    The problem that most of Barbara’s critics have including myself is the fact that Barbara still claims the program did lots of good.

    The modules (programs) were based on Scientology and NLP – two pseudosciences that have no scientific validity or value.

    The courses of Nxivm were sold to the public at large with typical high-pressure sales techniques.
    Sarah Edmondson admitted on a podcast she would say the following:

    “If you needed money for an operation to save your life, who would you ask?”

    Carol, anyone following the Nxivm story knows the program was a crock of sh*t.

    The program has no more scientific validity than attending church or Tony Robbins’s seminar.

    Barbara is a good person that believes in bullshit.

    • In addition the courses were exorbitantly priced to to manipulate the student. I am not going into an ad nauseam or debate it.

      Rick Ross the cult deprogrammer has all ready outlined it look it up.

    • We don’t have a problem.
      We see very clearly because she has stated it herself, Barb’s agenda.
      Sara moved on.
      Kristin moved on.
      Hopefully, India moved on.
      But Barb is still attempting to sell us this garbage.
      She has a problem plus she craves all the attention.
      Your defense of her irritates.

  • I hear you and acknowledge what you are saying. What I’ve also seen and heard of her via her written work and videos is that she is attention grasping – and both self-pitying and self-aggrandizing. She basically seems pretty narcissistic. If that is not who she is, perhaps she needs to look at her own style of public communication; she is off-putting. I applaud her efforts in exposing KAR and NXIVM and hope she has professional help to recover from the pain of all this soon.

  • Fair enough, but does she still have feelings for him? I submit yes. Yes she does. A part of her will hurt to see him locked up for a long time. She sympathizes with him. She is not done healing.

    • Her interview on Megan Kelly fully showed she is still in love with Keith.
      We all saw it then.

    • I’ve been told that with ended relationships, the opposite of love is not hate – it’s indifference. And freedom comes when you no longer care what happens to the person who hurt you.

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