Famed German Magazine “STERN” reports: ‘A bizarre cult scandal shakes the US’

The story of Keith Raniere continues to spread all over the world:

The German magazine STERN has published:

So funktioniert die bizarre Sex-Sekte mit Brandzeichen und Hollywood-Stars

That translates to: 

US Secret Society: This is how the bizarre sex sect with branding and Hollywood stars works

The article is in German and is by Gernot Kramper. There is also an interesting vid.eo

Here is the Online Translator version into English of the STERN article:


Disguised as a self-help group for women, a secret Sado Maso sect is said to have spread in the US. The daughter of a “Dynasty” actress is said to be trapped in the organization.

A bizarre cult scandal shakes the US. The private online report by Frank Parlato revealed the structures of the sex cult. The sect is said to have recruited its members through brainwashing and simple extortion. About 70 to 80 women are said to be trapped inside.

The actress Catherine Oxenberg from the series “Dynasty” claims that the group also influenced her young daughter, India. She is said to have met with prosecutors in New York and made serious allegations against the alleged leader of the cult, Keith Raniere. “I was pissed off when I heard about it,” Oxenberg said. She noticed, because of the sect membership, her 26-year-old daughter India, because of the required diet, is emaciated. India told her mother that she did not have a menstrual period for one year and that her hair fell out. The daughter firmly believed that these exercises would strengthen her character.

 India posted on Facebook: “I’m fine, just great … These are my friends and colleagues.”

The revelations came in mid-year through former member Frank Parlato. Parlato spent about a year working for the public part of the self-help group NXIVM. In June, he published his first entry under the heading “Branded Slaves and Master Raniere”. Parlato himself is involved in legal disputes with group members. His revelations are motivated by personal motives, but are now confirmed by former members of the cult.


Well-known self-help group

Headquartered in Albany, NXIVM is represented throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. Since the 1990s, about 16,000 people have attended the courses. Here, mental and emotional barriers are to be eliminated, thereby the members are better able to realize themselves and become more successful. Most participants go through these workshops without further ties to the group. Parlato says the self-help courses only serve to recruit rich, famous or good-looking women for the inner circle. The real trick should be that the inner circle first appears as a pure group of women. And only women are used to pull other women under the spell of the group. “The whole thing is sold as something fascinating, a group for women.

He told the Sun that women were afraid of abandoning the cult because they feared that their most intimate secrets would be made public.

In The New York Times

The New York Times (Inside a Secretive Group Where Women Are Branded) talked to ex-members of the cult. In the sheet they described how the reception rituals of the secret sorority ran. In order to gain access to the inner circle, the women had to blackmail themselves and deliver intimate nude shots, but also make financial commitments. The secret group of women should pay homage to a crude Sado Maso cult. According to Parlato, women must follow strict diets of 500 to 800 calories per day, because cult leader Raniere prefers lean women. New “slaves” are to be violently branded, so Parlato. On his unveiling page he shows the brand marks of numerous women. The intricate lines of the brand marks are supposed to represent the initials of the cult leaders. “They are not branded immediately,” Parlato told the Sun. ” The branding comes as a surprise. You are told that you get a small tattoo. But then a doctor takes this hot iron. The sign looks like a symbol, but it’s actually Raniere’s initials – KR and an actress. “For legal reasons, the name of the star is not mentioned, but it should have been an important member for new recruiting.

Power and secrecy

Canadian actress Sarah Edmondson confirmed in the “New York Times” the revelations Parlato made about the branding ritual. She, too, was lured with the power of a Masonic type connection. She was promised that secretly the Sisterhood would be able to decide elections and influence the course of history. Also, she was told that she would only get a small tattoo as part of the inauguration. She had to undress and lay on a massage table while three other women held her by the legs and shoulders. Then they had to say the following: “Master, please brand me, it’s an honor for me.” A doctor then made the complicated brand with a medical device, not a branding iron. That should take about 20 to 30 minutes. As long as screams and the smell of burning flesh filled the room. “I was screaming and crying all the time,” Edmondson told The New York Times.

Sarah Edmondson was an important member of NXIVM.

 © Sarah Edmondson


The objective of this and other rituals is a mental alienation of women from her body. As part of this brainwashing the budding nurses would also see gruesome movies with shots of murdered and dismembered women.

Legal steps have been silted up so far

Rumors of brainwashing and manipulation at NXIVM have been around earlier. But only when the secret sisterhood and the branding ritual was made public, several members left the group and talked about the practices. Earlier criminal charges against the cult leader and involved doctors were not pursued because the acts were carried out with the consent of the women alleged.

The association NXIVM rejects all allegations and announced itself legal action.



Stern Magazine is published in Hamburg, Germany, by Gruner + Jahr. It is a weekly news magazine. Its first issue appeared on August 1, 1948. Its print circulation as of 2014 was 750,810. It also has a large online viewership.


About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • This is what is going to happen:

    Sarah: I got branded.
    Judge: how that happen?
    Sarah: I agree that because I was brainwashed.
    Judge: so you give your consent?
    Sarah: Yes but…
    Judge: Let me put this straight, you agree to that shit and now you complain about it.
    Sarah: Yes but…
    Judge: You seem to be just plain stupid and childish
    Sarah: I was brainwashed
    Judge: Next case please.

    • Brainwashing is coercive thought reform.

      The keyword here is *coercive*, which means “forced”, as in “forced into doing something against your will”, which is the opposite of doing something voluntary, and hence, cannot be consensual.

      She gave consent to a tattoo. She was tricked into being held onto a table by four women and branded. Even if she wanted to run away she was naked, which was just another way to psychologically prevent fleeing., she had been conditioned for years to “buck up”, and was probably frozen and disassociated due to the shock of the situation.


      • Judge: Were you force to leave?
        Sarah: I just said I was brainwashed.
        Judge: were you force to leave the room? Someone stop you or force you with physical strength?
        Sarah: Nope. I was brainwashed.
        Judge: you must be shitting me.
        Sarah: No. I was brainwashed
        Judge: Next case please.

        • Luke, wow you know the law now son.
          You left out coercion. A woman was found guilty of manslaughter through texting her boyfriend about getting back into his truck to commit suicide after several attempts of him saying he was gonna get out because he was having second thoughts . She sent him several text saying just get back in you been talking about this for a long time .
          This is called coercion , you think a judge is gonna say you’re shitting me ? How about when more women come forward other than just Sarah saying the same story do you think it’s just you’re shitting me ?
          Luke , you’re the one he’s being brainwashed and you only want to hear what you want to hear . You’re the one who needs to do some research and find out what’s really going on . You’re the one who’s gonna look like the little stupid boy from Vancouver . What do your parents think about all of this ? Do they even know that you’re out on this blog harassing women?
          Bad thing about the Internet Luke , is it never really goes away . These words that you write are gonna follow you for the rest your life . So when you grow up I want to find a real job and a real wife this is only gonna make it harder for you because these words are only gonna come back to haunt you .

          • Everytime Luke writes another comment he just proves how stupid he really is, so keep them coming Luke, ..(.whoever you really are). Can Frank check your IP and see if you really are in Vancouver?
            That would be interesting to see…Maybe I could pay you a visit at that Starbucks you hang out at, since I need some help fixing my hacked phone, Luke…

          • The truth is she wasn’t force, she wasn’t obligated, she wasn’t treated. She sign a consent. She is an adult (well, at least to the law she is).
            Look, I don’t like branding, not even tattoos, I found them disgusting practices; but if you agree to do those things, go ahead. What pisses me is the complain after you agreed, the excuses of brainwashed and, above all, the stupid you were to accept things that you regret later. Sorry Hon, the price to pay for beig stupid is expensive.
            You don’t call cult leader to your friend that insisting you in get a branding, you call yourself stupid for agreeing doing that. Well Sarah, you have my sympathy but you agree all that shit. Take it.

          • But Luke, she DIDN’T AGREE to it. I read her story. She trusted her best friend Lauren, who told her it was a small tattoo. Then the women were told to take off their clothes (supposedly a female bonding part of this initation) but in reality a way to keep them from escaping. It’s kind of difficult to run outide totally naked, no phone or ID, in an unfamiliar location Would you do that Luke?. . Probably even scarier if you’re a woman, right. Think about this Luke. Pretend like you have some empathy and some common sense.

          • So if that was the cause, sue them for kidnaping, don’t you think? But that wasn’t the case. She could leave at any time, no one stop her or even make her difficult to leave. At the worst, she wanted to make them happy or smt, and she should blame hersef for that.
            I do agree with you, about being vulnerable and alone in a foreign place, but there was no crime et all. And they know that, otherwise they would sue them for a proven case of kidnapping.
            I would love to see the consent, and what actually she agree.

          • If it happened to me I would feel it was a crime – to be tricked by someone you trusted and then painfully burned and permanently mutilated. Use your common sense here and figure it out – they reason they were lied to and tricked is because the people who did this knew they would not agree to be branded …so they had to trick them. This is a crime Luke. This is DEFINITELY a criminal act for the doctors involved, and they may lose their licences now.

          • Let see the consent. That would clarify the matter. What they signed for, and what they get in return. Only then we will find out if it was a crime or not. Any abuse or extra limit of the consent would be considere a crime. I encourage them to sue them, base in the consent, otherwise we just speculate about it, with zero gain in the possible abuse of right of people.

            And for other side, you don’t have to participate or be part of any group, I mean, if it requiere to get a tattoo or brand, hell no, I don’t want to go, even if you look excited about.

            We all perfectly fine, any extra thing that is out there is a bonus. Use your common sense.

          • You totally miss the point here Luke. These women were told a certain thing was going to happen (a small tattoo) which they did agree to get, but then they were forced into getting a painful brand. And yes, being held down is forced. Being lied to and tricked is criminal, and most certainly not ETHICAL (NXIVMs favourite word) but never a word they abide by.
            Luke, if you really are Lucas in Vancouver, you would be smart to go the the authorities and tell them what you know ..now instead of later If you are fearful to do that, then that just proves my point . Correct?

        • I’m not missing the point. If we can’t have access to the consent, we are in a discussion about your word against mine. You must agree that is a pointless discussion.

          • No Luke
            You DO miss the point . Consent given under false pretenses is neither legal nor ethical. You know this. Quit sticking up for evil. You know Sarah isn’t lying. Do the right thing before it’s too late for you.

      • Look. When you said “false pretenses”, we cannot follow a logic argument anymore. You move the topic into the intensional arena. If we are going to talk about your intention or mine, or her, or theirs.
        The facts are: a signed consent; a free will choice to sign.
        I insist in to read the consent, I hope our friend Frank can get it. Look, if you receive smt different of that, that is a criminal act. Otherwise, it is not. They weren’t drunk, they are adults. The argument is they signed because they were brainwashed, I get it, but to be honest is a very weak argument in court.
        I would love to see the sue against NXIVM, because we could have access to documents and proofs. I would love the justice system address this matter.

        • I would think if a contract is drawn up that says you are signing to agree to a tattoo, but then you are held down and branded, that contract would not legally binding….you would therefore have the right to sue.
          I base my opinions on the stories of these women who sound honest to me. I have to think that a doctor who would agree to do such a thing is a very sick, sick person who should never practice medicine again.

          • I’m agree, the allegations are base in the testimony of these women. They can be true, or not. I hope these topic end up with the police or in court, with a resolution of an impartial party.

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


Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com