This is a verified on the record letter from Susan Dones. Ms. Dones was the head of the Seattle Center of Executive Success Programs (ESP). It closed in 2009, when she and eight other women left ESP.
For the ease of law enforcement, I am putting in bold red the portions of this letter where Ms. Dones recalls members of NXIVM/ESP admitting to potential crimes.
By Susan Dones
My name is Susan Dones, and I left NXIVM in 2009. I’ve been reading the Frank Report for a while now – which is how I found out that Alex Betancourt has managed to involve me in false criminal charges in Mexico. At first, I wasn’t going to respond to this latest attempt to punish me for leaving NXIVM. But knowing how bullies work, I realize that doing nothing would be interpreted as encouraging them to do more to me or others.
Alex, Keith Raniere and, most likely, Clare Bronfman threw not only “the first punch” but, in reality, lots of punches since I left. If you take the time to read my story, you’ll see how it fits into the pattern of behavior that NXIVM follows whenever it chooses to punish someone.
I also heard from a friend of mine that I was responsible for helping to close NXIVM’s Center in Vancouver BC. In reality, I didn’t know it had closed until after I read about it on the Frank Report; nor had I talked to anyone from the Vancouver Center until after it had closed. I would not put it past Raniere, Nancy Salzman and/or Clare Bronfman to sue me over the closing of the Vancouver BC Center. There is no proof, of course, but NXIVM’s lawsuits are often based on unfounded allegations.
I spent ten years with the “training side” of NXIVM. During that time, I lived on the other side of the United States, far away from Albany, NY – and, regardless of how hard they tried, they were never able to pull me into what I now know is the “cult side” of NXIVM.
Other than a couple of stories about Consumer’s Buyline, there was nothing on the internet about Raniere or Executive Success Programs (ESP) which it was called at the time when I went for my first training program. The leadership at the time had a plausible explanation concerning Consumer’s Buyline – and, thus, I went into the training with an open mind but, as with other training of these types, looked for “cult-like behaviors”. There were none.
Over the years, I sensed there was something “wrong” within the NXIVM/ESP leadership and attempted to keep my training center “pure training” without the manipulation and punishment that I saw going on in Albany. I didn’t ask people to spend money on training they couldn’t afford. I took a lot of verbal beatings for not re-enrolling enough people when they couldn’t afford it, asking them to mortgage their homes or take out another credit card to take one more training. I tried my hardest to get people to not move to Albany as I saw people move there with the hopes that Salzman or Raniere promised to help them become successful at something and they’d end up with a dead-end job working for NXIVM/ESP for $10.00 – $15.00 an hour.
I had long suspected Raniere’s sexual behavior through observation and asking Nancy Salzman questions “Is Keith sleeping with so & so” (As far as I’m concerned, trainers of any kind should not sleep with their clients because it’s unethical). Salzman gave it away every time by her reaction: “No one is to know that; you can’t speak of that.” Salzman never denied it, when I asked about any women I suspected.
I closed my ESP Training Center after nine women (which included myself) met with Keith Raniere in an attempt to work out our concerns with how he and Nancy Salzman were running the company. All my suspicions were confirmed to be true during the three-days of meetings regarding Raniere’s sexual misconduct that were alleged by a former lover of his who knew each of “his women.”
I cannot speak for the other eight women, but my main concerns were that;
- Raniere was having sex with multiple women at the same time – and lying that he was monogamous with each of them. It’s a conflict of interest to sleep with most of the members of the Executive Board and unethical to sleep with your clients.
- Raniere was borrowing large amounts of money from “students” and losing that money in the commodities market and real estate ventures. Nancy Salzman, the President of NXIVM, told me this fact. Not only did he “borrow” from the Bronfman sister but others. Some have never gotten their money back. Borrowing money from your clients is unethical. One shouldn’t even ask.
- NXIVM brought large amounts of “cash” over the border from Mexico trainings and did not report it as income – which is money laundering and tax evasion. Nancy Salzman, the President of NXIVM, told me this herself.
- NXIVM does not pay their State or Federal taxes – which is something else that Nancy Salzman told me. Salzman even verbally abused me more than once for paying my state business and occupation taxes and federal taxes because she said that taxes were “unethical.” I found out after leaving NXIVM that NXIVM had lied to the State of Washington, saying they’ve leased their coursework to me and that I was not a contractor to avoid paying taxes to the State of Washington. Another lie, I was a contractor, and they told the court in Washington when they sued me I was a contractor.
During the three days of meetings, Keith Raniere, attempted at every turn to manipulate us into seeing things his way. It was only through the ability to debrief after daily meetings with him –and the strength of nine of us working together – that he could not use his tools of brainwashing, NLP, and hypnosis against us.
Raniere is a master manipulator; that is how he has gotten away with all he has over the years. He uses these tools to convince people of his lies in one-on-one situations or when people don’t know how to see what he’s doing. When his leadership team is running around upholding and edifying him, it’s just one of the ways he gets away with his plots to extract value out of people.
I decided I was going to leave the evening after Day #2 of meeting with Raniere. I had enough of his “here we go round the mulberry bush” behavior. I remember the exact moment, and it was like someone put a pair of glasses on me, and I could finally see clearly for the first time in years.
My time in NXIVM slowly flashed before me. I could see every time the leadership used NXIVM’s so-called “technology” to abuse me and others. Mostly, it was Nancy Salzman and those they chose to coach me who abused me the most, but other leaders were also involved. I had spent very little time with Raniere, as I asked too many point blank questions. The leadership acted as if they knew better than I did as to what was best for me. When I didn’t listen, first I was labeled as “defiant.” Later, towards the end, they labeled me as a “suppressive” in the organization to distant others from me as they knew it was only a matter of time before I would leave and it’s how they best do their damage control to keep others on their ship.
I saw how they verbally manipulated me, used fear tactics like taking away money I had earned, being a head trainer and trying to take away my [Seattle] Training Center I had put my life savings (plus more) into in an attempt to change my ethics and morality.
They knew I had gone deeply into debt to build my Training Center and filing for bankruptcy was the last thing I ever wanted to do. I stood strong in upholding myself and called their bluff each time, and it was Salzman who had to back down to these threats because the Training Center I had opened would close if I walked away and they knew it.
Finally, for the first time in years, I could see clearly and fully the game they were playing. How could the people I had trusted for so many years be doing this – not only to me but to so many others? It was like being dunked in an ice cold bathtub; I was numb for weeks, and after eight years I still go to therapy for PTSD.
I knew I was strong enough to pull myself out of the tailspin I was in, but how could I save others who would not even begin to believe me? Their blinders were so glued to their faces, they could not see what was really going on. Remember that I was the defiant and suppressive one; they had their Prefect, Vanguard, and the mission they believe so strongly in and could not see what was on the other side of the curtain of lies.
The game was afoot. On the surface is the training. It looks normal, no cult in sight. You show up, and it’s like every other self-help group. Sure, some funny things are happening but easily explained away.
It’s what goes on behind the training where the con shows up. NXIVM’s leadership uses the training to find people’s weakness as a way to wedge themselves into the person. They seek out those who have wealth they can extract by love-bombing them and promoting them quickly in the organization. Promotions are much easier to do you have the Executive Board compromised. NXIVM knows which person in the leadership is the best person to do the “wedging” – and what to promise a person if they just “keep coming back.” I saw it happen over and over.
Then the slow drip of “kool-aid” starts. You don’t even know it’s happening. It’s like the frog in a pot of water. Put the frog in hot water – and it will do what it needs to do to jump out. Put the frog in “just right” water and slowly turn it up – and the frog will cook to its death as it adapts to the slow changes. I now understand why NXIVM has so many different trainings/coaching programs, social events/clubs and why V-week is so long. Slow, frequent infusions of mind-bending. You don’t even know it’s happening. Those like me who lived at a distance were better off; we got more time to detox while we were gone.
The training is a hunting ground so Raniere can pick out the women who he finds attractive. He doesn’t even approach them. He has one of his high-ranking “women” go to them, befriend them and/or pay special attention to them. A message gets out that Raniere wants to spend time alone with them. Special one-on-one training: a walk, or help with a skill they want to learn or improve. Who better to help than “the smartest man in the world”? Something that is believable to the woman; then the manipulation continues, courting begins, and before they know it, they are in bed with him. It will help them heal themselves – on a spiritual level.
During my time in NXIVM, the lie was that Raniere was single and did not have sex. The truth was he lying to each woman that he would only have sex with them. No one was to know they were having sex with him; it had to be a secret. How can it be public when Keith Raniere is having sex with multiple women, when a woman thinks she is the only one? Why not just be truthful and let each woman make up her mind if that’s the kind of relationship she wants with him? Well, where is the fun in that if you want to lie and abuse women around their relationships issues? Some might call that emotional abuse or torture.
NXIVM also looks for those who will be the worker bees. Those who want to “build NXIVM’s mission” – which is to make the world a better place. This mission does not exist, but some want to think it does. We built Centers for them; some moved to Albany to help out since NXIVM is a toxic place with one bad news article after another. I’d viewed it after my blinders came off as a way to pump more money into Raniere’s real game plan. New training programs were developed (and most likely still are) all the time. A good question is how many of those have only taken one training and how many have spent thousands on training after training?
I liken it to the Wizard of Oz where everyone thinks Keith Raniere is the Great and Powerful Vanguard and the leadership backs this up because they profit off the story one way or another. It’s how they make their living. No students = no more big paychecks coming in.
Some look up to Raniere for answers, but he’s not available to them because they have nothing he wants from them. Also, some are fearful of him when going to him for answers. Some have to sleep with him for answers; some now have to get branded for answers.
I never was gaga over Raniere, and this was called “My Ethical Breach” against him. I found him creepy, suspected him of being a womanizer, and I certainly did not find him attractive, noble or super smart. I couldn’t see anything he’d been successful at, and NXIVM was going down the drain with one bad press release and one lawsuit after another.
When my blinders came off, I saw who he truly was – and that my suspicions were true. Raniere’s just a guy telling lies to a community about who he is. He cannot back up any of his claims about himself. Raniere has not produced any successful businesses or person. Raniere breaks the law by working with Salzman not to pay company taxes; they bring cash across the Mexican border; Raniere has lost millions of students’ money and then cons them into how “noble” it is to “gift him the money” that he cannot pay back. Raniere has done experiments on people, and now he is getting others to do the same, and it looks like two doctors can lose their medical license over these unethical practices.
Salzman’s attempts to get me not to pay taxes was to get me to do something illegal that they could hold over my head so they could later use if I ever jumped ship. It didn’t work; I don’t break the law. If she and Raniere attempted this with me, who else has she tried this with – and how many of them became compromised? I know of one woman who illegally married a man from Mexico so he could stay in the United States (She told me while she was cleaning Salzman’s house she was going to do that, and that it was Salzman’s idea). I shared with her it was illegal to do that. Her answer was it was the “noble” thing to do.
Everyone knows that regardless of who the figurehead of NXIVM is (at the time it was Nancy Salzman, now it appears to be Clare Bronfman), Raniere runs the show and makes ALL the decisions of who is doing what and when. I know Salzman wouldn’t do anything without asking “Vanguard.” My bet is Clare Bronfman would not either since she refers the Raniere as “The Vanguard,” as she did at my trial.
After leaving and shutting the doors to my Training Center, I feared for my life and the lives of others. After hearing Keith Raniere saying he “…had people killed for (his) beliefs” in the three days of meetings with him and upon investigation of things he had done to others after they left, I was more fearful of what he could do if painted him into a corner.
A link to the video of our meeting with him stating “I’ve had people killed” was sent to a small number of people asking that if anything happened to me that seemed “fishy,” to please contact the police. I did not know how far – nor do I know how far – Raniere will go today to punish his enemies and I’m sure I’m still on his “Most Wanted” list. Someone on the list I sent the video to leaked the video to the Saratoga in Decline blog, and it ended up becoming public. I’m sure some of you who recently left hated the video while you were still in NXIVM. Now, maybe you understand my concern and why I sent it to a small group of my friends.
When I first left, NXIVM did three ‘Town Hall’ Meetings” against me and the other eight women who left. One in Albany, one in Seattle and one in Vancouver BC. Damage control was necessary to keep lots of other people from jumping ship with us. I heard a recording of the Seattle meeting and the lies about why we left. NXIVM leaders were telling people why we left and the criminal acts we did upon leaving, which were untrue and crazy.
Since the Los Angeles Center and Vancouver Center closed, people have contacted me to say they were sorry for treating me badly and for what was said behind my back after I left. I fully understood; their blinders were too tight, and they could not see the truth then. What is important now is their healing.
After I left, NXIVM’s leadership, including Clare Bronfman, sued me in an attempt to silence me – and to make an example out of me so others would keep their mouths shut.
NXIVM leaders don’t want their secret behaviors disclosed. This way they can continue to con people to profit off their “Shell Game,” and fleece people out of thousands and sometimes millions of dollars.
I won my case against all their “serious charges”. The judge, Brian D. Lynch, pointed this out, as I stood pro se against seven of NXIVM’s expensive lawyers. I couldn’t afford a lawyer; I was deep in debt. I knew, however, NXIVM lied about every charge, but Judge Lynch did not. I believed that they would not be able to keep their made-up stories straight. The people they sent to testify against me – Jim Del Nigno and Clare Bronfman certainly couldn’t. It was going to be up to me to expose each one of their lies with the truth to win my case – which I did every time we went to court. The clerk’s office even attended as they had never seen a case with so many filings.
NXIVM uses their “Confidentiality Agreement” as a weapon when people leave. They say you cannot talk about anything – but that’s a lie. They say their clients belong to them, and you cannot talk to them after you leave. That’s also a lie.
Judge Lynch ruled that only when a sash is worn, the reading of the mission statement happens and a paid-for course is taught does the “Confidentiality Agreement” come into play. It only covers their course content. Nothing other than that. A personal conversation you have during the training – you can talk about. A conversation during a breakout group is not a part of the technology; it’s someone’s personal story and not covered. If you felt abused in training, this is your personal story and not covered by their “Confidentiality Agreement.”
Other than that, NXIVM’s “Confidentiality Agreement” holds no weight in a court of law. NXIVM wants you to believe if you have a little pillow talk with Vanguard, that’s covered – but it’s not. More recently, they want you to believe that if you were branded in DOS, you can’t talk about it. That’s also not true. For the “Confidentiality Agreement” to be applicable, you have to be wearing your sash, recite the mission statement, and then engage in a training class.
I’m not your punching bag, NXIVM Leadership
Punch #1 was lying to me about NXIVM and what it stood for and conning me with your lies. I invested a large sum of money into building my dream with you because of those lies. Your con is water under the bridge now so let me move on with my life and rebuild what I can.
Punch #2 was emotionally abusing me throughout the time I was there. I still suffer from PTSD from this abuse and go to therapy regularly.
Punch #3 was filing a lawsuit against me that was false and full of lies. It took 10 months of my life to fight it and luckily I had a judge that believes in the right to a speedy trial.
The only thing fun about it, was it cost Clare Bronfman $500,000 and she lost all that money. Even better, when she testified against me, she made herself look like a clown on the stand. She wouldn’t answer certain questions and more than once I had to ask the Judge to order her to answer the questions I asked.
Jim Del Negro couldn’t even remember the name of the company for which he served as president. His company paid a part of my sales commission, though it was most likely one way to launder some cash. Wendy Rosen Brooks also had a company that paid part of my commissions. Why all of a sudden did Wendy, and Jim start paying part of anyone’s sales commission? Sorry, NXIVM, I’m not giving away your “trade secrets.” Instead, I’m just asking why Wendy and Jim, people not officers in NXIVM, checks were written out of their companies bank accounts started paying part of my commissions?
Punch #4 was trying to involve me in their federal “computer trespassing” case by falsifying their data to make it look like I illegally went on their site using someone else’s username and passcode. I found out about this through someone else’s discovery. I never was on their NXIVM’s computers after I left.
Just can’t leave me alone for some reason, can you?
Punch #5 occurred when Raniere and Emiliano Salinas tried a few years ago to get four women, myself included, to come to Mexico of our own free will to talk to a Mexican reporter. We said no way, NXIVM will kidnap us and we will never be heard from again. We found out later from NXIVM’s ex-legal liaison that Raniere and Salinas had already had trumped up charges filed via Emiliano Salinas bribing a Judge. They planned to have us thrown in a Mexican prison, raped and tortured until one of us signed a confession that we lied about all we said about NXIVM.
I believe Raniere and Salinas then planned to have us all killed after the confession was signed. Wow, “I’ve had people killed for my beliefs”, Raniere said. Which belief would that be?
Punch #6 just happened – and it involves Raniere, Alex Betancourt and who knows who else in NXIVM trying to lure me and others to Mexico on another trumped up extortion charge that I was somehow involved with Barbara Bouchey and Toni Zarattini and who knows who else? The funny thing is, I haven’t talked with Toni Zarattini since 2006 and I barely talk with Barbara Bouchey. Not enough to plan such a complex criminal activity.
Toni Zarattini, from what I’ve heard, was very happily involved in NXIVM until a few months ago when he found out about DOS. What I’ve found out is the extortion charges go back 18 months. So while Toni is happily in NXIVM, he was planning with Bouchey and myself a criminal plot? Maybe it was on a parallel universe that this extortion plot against Alex happened. Maybe we are the smartest people in the universe to pull this one off.
From what I’ve read, Alex is using the resignation letter that was sent back in 2009 by me and the other women who left NXIVM as “proof” of the extortion. Back in 2009, he wasn’t on the board, and the United States justice system did not press charges against anyone over that letter. How does he think the United States justice system would send us to Mexico if NXIVM couldn’t get criminal charges pressed against us in 2009?
Punch #7 occurred right after I left to file criminal extortion charges. I only received a letter from NXIVM saying they were contacting the police over my resignation letter; the authorities never contacted me. In their civil suit against me, they tried again to convince the judge in their case against me that I attempted to extort money from them. The judge ruled they had no evidence against me and that in our resignation letter, we were just asking Nancy Salzman and Keith Raniere, the only ones who received the letter, for payment of money owed, for money the company owed us. No other board member received a copy of a request for money owed, just our resignation letters.
With all that has been – and is being – exposed;
- The branding of women and the doctor who did the branding
- The unsanctioned research project and the misappropriation of foundation funds to support it
- The Centers that have closed
- The people leaving NXIVM
- The absurdly limited diets and the health effects of a 500 calorie intake
- The tax evasion
- The cash coming across the border
- The unlicensed Rainbow Cultural Garden daycare and/or educational program
- What appears to be human trafficking
- The numerous visa issues with Mexican workers
- Keith Raniere sleeping with underage girls, which is considered statutory rape
Who knows what or how far Keith Raniere, Emiliano Salinas, Alex Betancourt, Clare Bronfman or other NXIVM leaders will do to save their sinking ships.
Since they can’t seem to win a court case in the United States, they are trying to do so in Mexico where bribery runs rampant. The problem is, how to get Americans and Canadians to Mexico? These latest charges are fake, and you have to convince each government there is enough evidence to extradite us to Mexico to stand trial. How about kidnapping us and bringing us over the border, will that work? How about hiring someone to take us out? That’s crossed my mind a few times. Would they go that far?
Don’t worry, Keith; hiring someone to take us out is not a projection on my part. I have a soul, and a conscience and will not have to explain murder to God upon my death. I know you NXIVM types, and you twist things you want into projection and will try to make my statement into me and or others threatening to take you out. Not going to happen, we are not criminals.
I think I have some insurance that hopefully protects me from either being kidnapped or killed. I have the film from all three days of the meetings with Keith Raniere (I used my video camera to record those meetings). NXIVM tried to say they owned the rights to the video. The judge in my case disagreed and ordered that because I filmed it with my camera and everyone agreed to have me film it, I have ownership rights. So neither NXIVM nor anyone else has rights to the video.
I have an order by the court to not show these videos, and I will not show them. I will, however, turn them over to law enforcement if I am ordered to do so, and the judge approves that. NXIVM does have a copy of these videos and could at any time release them, making it look as if I did in an attempt to get me in trouble with the court. The problem for them is they have to go back to the judge in my case to do so. He knows what kind of people they are now.
I have set up a limited power of attorney for these videos with a group of attorneys. The videos are in safe keeping in three off-site locations other than my home, my computer or any cloud I own. No family member or friends have a copy. They are sealed and with attorneys who have my limited power of attorney. Upon my death (other than natural cause through a verified disease process) or if I’m missing more than three days, these videos will be turned over to the press. I am not suicidal, and I see a therapist on a regular basis who will testify to this fact that I have never had any suicidal ideation during the time I have seen her, so a suicide would be considered murder and a reason to grant a turnover of the videos upon my untimely death.
The only reason I mention the videos is due to what is exposed the past few weeks. Now, authorities are saying they are going to investigate the recent allegations
I have nothing to do with the exposing of DOS, branding, recent sexual relationships, research, the closing of the LA and Vancouver BC Centers or anyone who has left in Mexico.
My story is older, which is old news, and has been printed in newspapers and magazine articles. I’ve been taken to court; told my story and was found not guilty of breaking my contract.
NXIVM folded when pressed to turn over their financials to me as part of discovery in the lawsuit. I wanted these financials so I could hire an accountant to go over them to prove I didn’t destroy their business and that their students would have new information regarding the leadership behavior.
NXIVM does not want to turn over their financials. When forced to turn over their real financials other than a fake Excel spreadsheet in my case and after two warnings from the court, NXIVM dropped some charges against me on their own, and the judge cut a lot of other charges out as they could not prove the damages without allowing me discovery.
Good news for others against whom they are claiming financial damages.
Since I’ve left, I’ve attempted to move on with my life and rebuild my life and what got stolen from me. Raniere and his criminal enterprise aren’t willing to let me go on with my life.
Raniere’s major downfall.
Raniere and his ego will not let go of his “Most Wanted” hit list. If he’d just let people move on, his past would stop haunting him. He can’t help himself; it is a part of his psychological profile. He must harm those who leave him and take others with them. Only the quiet ones get off without a life sentence of punishment.
I can’t travel to Mexico, as my civil rights have been taken away from me regarding free travel due to NXIVM leadership’s false charges.
After I left, I kept asking how could this happen and I friend of mine showed me a video by Derren Brown – The Heist. It helped to explain how by using skills of NLP, hypnosis and selectively weeding people out the mix, you can slowly mind control people to do certain things. Some very bad things.
Hope you have found this helpful.
NXIVM, is you are thinking of suing me over this, think again! It would be double jeopardy, you already tried, and my judge said I could talk about my concerns regarding your behaviors, which is all I have done here. Nothing in this post contains any of your “technology” for which the patent was denied in the United States anyway, and I have not posted anything that is copyrighted.