Barbara Bouchey is a hero who fought NXIVM at great cost


Born and raised in a low-income housing project in South Troy, NY., Barbara J. Bouchey’s mother died when she was eight years old. Her father was an alcoholic. Two of her three brothers were mentally disabled.

She became caretaker of her brothers and the household, and began working at odd jobs to help out when she was younger than 12.

Her father remarried and divorced three months later, and put his two special needs sons in institutions and forbid Barbara to have contact with them.  But, defiant, she went to see them  anyway – and was punished for it.

By age 12, her father finally agreed to let her see them as long as she never mentioned her visits in his presence—a promise she kept until he died of cancer when she was 24.

After high school she landed a job working as a secretary. At age 21, she began community college, and worked as a waitress to support herself.

By age 25, she became a financial planner, and continued to waitress at night to support herself.  Her first year she made only $200 a month as a financial planner.

But soon she went from seeing clients sitting at their kitchen tables, to building a financial planning firm that was staffed with four Certified Financial Planners, a CPA and other professionals.

By age 40, she had gross revenues exceeding $1 million annually, managing client assets of $90 million, with a company valued at $3 million. She had saved enough to retire.

A leader in her industry, a respected member of her community, she sat on numerous boards and charities, became involved in the local Chamber, and had great pride in funding her third brother, Steven Bouchey, in 1990, enabling him to become a financial planner himself. Today, he manages a $270 million firm.

Then she met “NXIVM,” the life coaching program that is supposed to change people’s lives.

At the time, a close childhood friend committed suicide and she was separating from an ill-fated, short-lived  marriage. One of her business clients, Nancy Salzman, urged her to take part in a workshop in her company NXIVM saying it would help her with separation and grief.

Salzman told her that NXIVM had a process to make the world a better place through ethics. Salzman described NXIVM founder, Keith Raniere, as a brilliant, honest, noble, highly evolved human being.

From the moment Raniere met Bouchey he pursued her romantically, telling her he had visions of the two of them having a child together and that child would be an avatar.

They ended up in a relationship which Raniere told Bouchey was a monogamous one.

Bouchey worked and sacrificed to help build her boyfriend. Raniere’s business and lent him her life savings which he lost in the commodities market.

She also found out that he was not monogamous and was sleeping with many of his students.

On top of that she discovered Raniere, Salzman and their confidantes covered up Raniere’s past history, including keeping secret how Raniere was prohibited from doing business in NYS by the Attorney General, and had been in violation of the law in more than a dozen states when he operated his former business.

Still Bouchey remained loyal, but started asking questions and demanding change. In time she discovered Raniere had major addictions. In addressing these, more disturbing things began to surface.  Raniere was as far from living up to the ‘ethical’ ideals he was marketing. NXIVM was based on hypocrisy.

After attempting to address these inequities to no avail, she decided to sever ties.

She also felt responsible to educate others as to why she was leaving since she had helped to grow the company, and coached many people.

After resigning from NXIVM, she demanded they pay her back the money Raniere borrowed.

It ws then that Raniere, and Clare and Sara Bronfman (Heiresses to Seagram’s), began a fierce legal attack to silence her and trying to force her to hand over records in her possession.

Bouchey went through these records and uncovered evidence of Bronfman/Raniere criminal activities.

NXIVM and the Bronfmans relentlessly attacked, drawing her into six of their existing, legal cases as a witness, seemingly to harass, threaten, and seek to destroy her as a credible whistleblower.

They also filed seven lawsuits against her. All told in 13 lawsuits as witness or defendant, she appeared before 10 Judges in 4 states.

Then NXIVM and Clare Bronfmans filed criminal charges and got her arrested.

Bouchey has been named as a source in literally a hundred news stories about NXIVM (Vanity Fair, Forbes, The Nation, Albany Times Union, and NY Post etc.), stories that blew the lid off of NXIVM.

As she attempted to inform and alert the public about NXIVM, she has spent close to $600,000 in legal defense fees, and was forced into filing for temporary relief under Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.  She lost all her assets and a large portion of her clientele.  She estimates she lost over $8 million in earnings since 2009 when NXIVM began legally attacking her.

But she did expose NXIVM.

Since severing ties back in 2009, numerous investigative stories have been done and have revealed Raneire’s past such as:  gambling addictions, accused of a Ponzi scheme by 23 Attorney Generals resulting in his company shutting down, possible tax evasion, money laundering, hiring illegal aliens, and sexual and psychological abuse.

Most disturbing were women who came forward alleging Raniere had sexual relations while they were between the ages of 12 to 15.  One woman at age 13 actually filed a police report.

The 13 lawsuits Bouchey has been dragged into have produced no judgement or ruling against her – no evidence of civil or criminal wrongdoing with most being dismissed.

Ironically when all the lawsuits failed, Raniere spent a literal Bronfman fortune on pursuing Bouchey criminally.

After a ridiculously disproportionate investigation – where three different prosecutors  declined to prosecute –  for a single alleged log on to a social media site of NXIVM’s – which hundreds of people have the passwords, Raniere “purchased” a special prosecutor who used to work for one of Raniere’s attorneys and Bouchey was indicted.

Ironically Raniere allegedly has done computer hacking into Bouchey and others’ computers.

Barbara Bouchey started life under adverse circumstances and rose to success.

She met Raniere and it led to her downfall.

After leaving him, she has been falsely accused, arrested, and indicted.

Yet everyone who has fought NXIVM and everyone in recent years who might have joined NXIVM but learned about how dangerous they are – and shied away – owes Bouchey a debt of gratitude.

Yes, NXIVM, the life coaching program founded by the ethical Raniere, is something to consider indeed. Just ask Barbara Bouchey.

And thank her for having the courage to expose their monstrous evil.

Barbara Bouchey with her brothers.

About the author

Frank Parlato

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[…] and Bronfman brought several lawsuits and filed criminal complaints against Bouchey. They did not succeed in winning any cases against […]

5 years ago

For more info on Barbara Bouchey and her involvement with NXIVM, check out

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083


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