Friedman’s story grants us a peek into NXIVM life

Becca Friedman spent 25 months as a student of NXIVM.

The late Barbara Jeske, possessor of a purple sash, and third in the hierarchy of the organization, recruited Friedman in March 2005, calling her with course information and insisting on meeting her after Friedman applied online to NXIVM.

Jeske, who had ascended in the organization because of her ability to recruit  –  Nancy Salzman was Jeske’s coach –  agreed to pay for Friedman’s coursework until she could pay her back.

Many of the people were awestruck by top leaders like Jeske, who they believed possessed answers to issues in their lives.   Most of the students were dealing with problems of self-esteem.

Jeske became Friedman’s mentor. Friedman would make frequent trips from her home in Woodstock to take courses and would rent a room in NXIVM hostels for $20 per night.

Friedman had about 100 exploration of meaning (EM) sessions that led her to believe the most important thing in life was to find joy.  She came to believe she was happiest with NXIVM and not her family.

After two years, Friedman, paying $182 in monthly NXIVM membership fees, plus other costs for training  and intensives [day and night seminars], had been promoted from the white sash of a student to the next level, yellow sash, after she brought in three new students.

She also decided to find her joy and left her home in Woodstock and her two daughters and husband in the spring of 2007 to move to Clifton Park to be closer to NXIVM.

She spent the first night with Jeske, but she was feeling unsure of her decision.

Jeske led an EM in which Friedman concluded her husband was manipulative.

Friedman believes Jeske helped her conclude that her husband did not adequately address her needs.

The next day she moved into a room at the Clifton Park home of Esther Chiappone, a green sash,  who had moved from Alaska with her four children. Chiappone housed NXIVM students for a charge.  Besides Chiappone and her children, another woman and her daughter were living at the Chiappone residence, as well as four others, some from Mexico.

Chiappone was part of Jeske’s organization, having been enrolled under her and had risen in the organization through her recruiting abilities.

In the spring of 2007, Jeske told Friedman a whopper of a lie. Jeske said a friend had called with the opportunity to adopt a boy born to the woman’s daughter, who had died in childbirth. Jeske and [Kristin Keeffe- the actual mother] allegedly drove a long way to adopt the baby, Friedman recalled. She said when she was in Jeske’s home she was surprised to learn that the baby, Gaelen, was living elsewhere, in a home closer to Keith Raniere. [The child was not adopted but was Raniere’s and Keeffe’s child which Jeske knew. This lie was told to NXIVM students to hide the fact that Raniere was sleeping with his students].

Friedman missed her children and worried about losing them.

Seeing her distressed, a friend, chiropractor, Edward Kinum of Scotia, possessor of an orange sash, conducted an EM with her at the cafe in the headquarters at New Karner Road.

“Ed gave me my last EM,” Friedman said. “It was on the basis of me losing my kids. Wouldn’t it make sense to be happy alone? One choice was me with my family not feeling happy not feeling fulfilled; and the other choice was not having my family and being alone. It was the only time with an EM feeling really trapped… I didn’t want to leave my family; but the only way to make the EM end was to pick being alone.”

The session with Kinum, who was the boyfriend of Chiappone at the time, lasted 20 minutes.

She quit after her husband drove from Woodstock to Colonie and confronted her with a file of news stories and Internet material about NXIVM which made her second-guess NXIVM.

She went back to Chiappone’s home and collected her things.

Chiappone asked why she was leaving. When told, Chiappone asked why she believed what was written in news stories and on the Internet about NXIVM.


Friedman returned to her home in Woodstock and her husband and children.

Kinum told the Times Union that he recalled the EM counseling session he gave Friedman.

He denied steering her or anyone else in the dozens of EMs he led.

He also said he stopped training and teaching at NXIVM after 13 years because he became “unsettled by controversies arising from litigation involving NXIVM and former members.”

While he said he is a “big fan of the curriculum” he would “not want his children to enroll”.


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Frank Parlato

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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.

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


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