Three old ‘friends’ recall Raniere before he became Vanguard on Facebook

Three people who knew Keith Raniere in the 1980s began discussing him on a Facebook thread of Jim Kasprzak.  You can find the thread on October 19th on Jim’s Facebook. My editorial notes are in RED.

I first meet Keith & Lilly [One of Keith’s early girlfriends] … in the summer of ’82. He was very easy to talk to, and we stayed friends for many years. My Grandmother even rented an apartment to him for a time. The apartment, and some of the minors [underage girls Keith statutorily raped] who were there…   One I dated for a time…. I started hanging out with him around 16, [Keith was 22] and the girls I knew there really weren’t acting like the 14 year old’s they were….

He disappeared owing my grandmother several months of rent. [This might be the landlord Keith later blamed for the loss of his records proving he was East Coast Judo Champion; record setter in 100 yard dash, and various school records establishing his scholastic supremacy.] I saw him a few times after that.

I met Karen [Unterreiner] when he first moved in with her. He would talk about her the same way as he did Lilly and some others I will not name.

‘Polyamorous’ implies actual affection, and just screwing around on the side, which is what Keith did. I don’t know all that happened after he and Lilly split. … at first … it was pretty acrimonious, but not at the level it became after I moved to Hartford. [Keith terrorized Lilly for a long time after they broke up.]

He hid things well. I think he was always like this, just it was easier to hide before he was so “successful”. He had a lot of us fooled for a long time.


Eric J. Roode 

Eric Rood


From the mid 80s to the early 90s, I was as close to Keith as anyone. We lived quite close to each other in Troy, and, after he moved to Halfmoon, I would drive up and spend a lot of time at his place….

I was involved with Consumers’ Buy Line from the start. I was an active part of the meetings where we designed the sales/rewards structure. Keith and I had been in Amway together, and we were big believers in MLM at that time. We were careful to keep it product-focused, and not be a pyramid scheme. I was part of the sales and recruiting meetings. But, when it really started taking off, I was spending most of my time designing and programming the database system to track it all.

Ultimately, I failed at that. I was pretty green at database work at the time, and I was under a lot of other stress at the time (which had nothing to do with Keith or Buy Line). Then in 1993, I was laid off from my day job and moved to New Hampshire. Since then, I have had almost no contact with him or any of that circle.

Keith is highly intelligent. Is he one of the top three brains in the world? I’m not qualified to say. But he did earn three degrees from RPI in four years, and we spent many hours shooting the breeze, exchanging lots of recreational math puzzles, and so on. He’s bright.

And he’s charming. He is a nice person, or was 25 years ago. He was especially charming with women, and many swooned over him. Was he polyamorous? I don’t know. It didn’t seem to me that he was, but then, I didn’t ask, and maybe I’m not the most perceptive person. But the only woman he ever talked to me about being with was Karen [Unterreiner], the woman he shared the house with in Halfmoon. Take that for what it’s worth. But I would not be surprised at all if he were.

Allegations that he is some sort of mesmer, with cult-leader aspirations, have always dogged him, even in the 80s. The first of those I heard of originated with a group of RPI folks, mostly Players people, who were friends with an ex of his [Lilly]. They *hated* him, and were convinced that he was trying to get back at, and control, this ex. [He did the same to other women who broke up with him.]

I never saw this aspect of him. He and I were friends for many years. I came and went as I pleased, and so far as I could tell, so did everyone else in our group. It’s easy to see, however, how one can get a cult-leader vibe from him. Soft-spoken, handsome but unkempt, with a dreamy air and tending toward philosophical-spiritual talk…

In the early 1990s, we were idealistic, having fun, trying to make it big. He was eccentric, but no cult leader….

Back around 1990, [Keith Raniere] talked to a lot of people in my social circle about this “buyers’ club” [Consumers’ Buy Linethat was supposed to get you discounts on products, and also bring you commissions for each new member you signed up.

It sounded an awful lot like a pyramid scam to me, and I declined his “business opportunity” as politely as I could. He felt to me like a B.S. artist and possible fraudulent businessman, and apparently the Attorney General’s office of New York State felt the same way….[The NYS Attorney General sued Keith Raniere and others connected to Consumers’ Buy Line alleging it was a pyramid scheme. Keith settled the lawsuit by agreeing to pay a $40,000 fine without admission of wrongdoing. He closed the business and was sued by former members and Attorneys General in several states.]

He was a nice guy, very outgoing and easy to talk to, from the conversations that I had with him.

Keith built his business and it went bust. But the sweater was certainly a success.
Gina Hutchinson was one of the teenage girls Keith raped. Her death in 2002 was ruled a suicide.


Keith loved to have sex with women and girls. When they broke up with him, he would terrorize them for years.


Keith Raniere at the time he was raping 12 – 15 year old girls.
Before he became Vanguard, Keith Raniere started Consumers’ Buyline.
Rhiannon was 12 when Keith started raping her.
Keith Raniere told one of his employees he would tutor her daughter, 12 year old Rhiannon, in Latin and algebra. Instead he raped her. Keith was 30 years old.
Gina Melita was raped when she was a teenage girl by Keith Raniere.

About the author

Frank Parlato

1 Comment

Click here to post a comment

Please leave a comment: Your opinion is important to us! (Email & username are optional)

  • So what is being said is he’s been a sick man even when he was in college and he’s just gotten worse over the years.
    Now is he branding women, starving them , restricting their diets and sleep and showing showing them snuff films.
    Where the help is the Governor, government, FBI, IRS
    Put him behind bars for tax evasion for chrissakes stop this madman

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.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

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 premieres on May 22, 2022.

IMDb — Frank Parlato,_Jr.

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