A large group – not one individual – took NXIVM down! – but that battle is not over yet…

I think it’s important to point out that the ongoing takedown of the NXIVM sex-slaver cult – like most notable victories – was the result of the hard work and determination of numerous contributors; some big, some small; some known and some unknown.

Have I – and The Frank Report – been a part of this collaborative effort? Yes, I think so.  But I doubt my efforts alone would have generated enough attention to get the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York to open a full-scale investigation of NXIVM and its leaders.

People have been battling NXIVM for almost 20-years and without their work to build upon, nothing would have happened this year or maybe for many years to come.

In the early years, it was Raniere’s ex-girlfriend Toni Natalie [she was the first – the true pioneer of the anti-NXIVM movement]; cult deprogrammer Rick Ross; and former NXIVM consultant Joe O’Hara. 

There were also reporters who listened to their stories and wrote early media reports about the cult: e.g., Times Union reporters Jim Odato and Dennis Yusco, Metroland reporter Chet Hardin; New York Post reporter Jeane MacIntosh.  All helped shine a spotlight on Raniere – without which NXIVM probably would have grown by leaps and bounds and been much harder to stop.

It is also reasonable to mention the Forbes article, Cult of Personality, by Michael Freedman in 2003, that started it all, and Suzanna Andrews’ Vanity Fair piece in 2010 The Heiress and the Cult . And fair to also mention that the biggest, behind-the-scenes {and on the record] anti -NXIVM source and resource for both stories was Toni Natalie.

Another to take up arms against NXIVM was John Tighe, a blogger based in Saratoga Springs, NY, who got involved when he learned that the cult was trying to establish a new center in his hometown. Tighe brought a fiery, even vicious style to the battle and showed he was unafraid to say anything about Raniere and his followers. He also culled inside information from cult members who were willing to share details about some of the more nefarious goings on inside the cult. His work was important.

Another benchmark in the NXIVM War was the departure of the “NXIVM Nine”, a group of NXIVM women who were appalled to find out that the NXIVM cult leader, Keith Raniere, had been sleeping with members of the cult’s Executive Board and other students. Led by Susan Dones and Barbara Bouchey, this group included Shelia Cotey, Nina Cowell, Kathy Ethier, Ellen Gibson, Jan Hines, Angela Ucci, and Kim Woolhouse.

Dones played a unique role after she left. She, representing herself, defeated a battery of NXIVM lawyers, making a fool of members James Del Negro and Clare Bronfman when she had a chance to cross-examine them – and showing that NXIVM emperor Raniere was not invincible.

Bouchey also played an important role as she gave a lesson in persistence. She faced a slew of lawsuits. Because of the onslaught of litigation, she was forced to file for bankruptcy. And she wound up representing herself in many cases. Along the way, Raniere got her indicted through Bronfman perjury and nearly destroyed her life through the stress of being criminally indicted and by the ruthless, endless, civil litigation she faced.

In the end, Bouchey lost no cases, but the cost was tremendous financially and personally. Through it all, she never caved. She had chances to settle but she wouldn’t. Her full story has yet to be told.

Then there was the 2012 expose in the Albany Times Union. It was an incredible series written by Odato [who wound up losing his job thanks to NXIVM]. The series brought out more brave women: Gina Melita, Heidi Hutchinson and Rhiannon – all victims or witnesses to Raniere’s pedophilia. [Once again, it was Toni Natalie who enrolled these women and brought them forward to speak on the record]. It took a lot of courage for these women – who had been abused by Raniere as teens to come forward at a time when Raniere’s power was at its height.  One suspects it had a marvelous deterrent effect for untold numbers of future potential enrollees who never joined because these women spoke up.

In addition to the Odato series, over the years, there were a lot of reporters and media outlets that wrote about NXIVM, creating a cumulative effect. Had their work not been published, who knows how many more might have joined NXIVM? Thankfully, there was a body of information on the internet available for cautious people to review before joining.

Along the way, I became another of Raniere’s enemies – and enmeshed in the NXIVM War. Like many others before me, I was not given an option: it was either take them down or be taken down.

Not everyone who has been attacked by the NXIVM litigation machine has chosen to fight back. Some, like Doug Rutnik, the father of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, simply gave back every dollar he had been paid by NXIVM – and slunk away from the battlefield. Had he chosen to fight – and used his political connections – Raniere may never have developed into the dangerous and sadistic megalomaniac he became.

Some of the famous actors who became members of NXIVM simply snuck away. Kristin Kreuk, Mark Hildreth, and Grace Park cowered in the shadows when their voices would have added a lot of credibility to the anti-NXIVM cause. The irony of it is that all of them like to play roles of brave and crusading heroes on TV.

Maybe they are partly victims also.  Like any war, the NXIVM War has resulted in lots of collateral damage. Truly innocent people who got sucked into Raniere’s web of deceit, lies, and intimidation – and lost thousands of dollars, thousands of hours, or both. Some lost their lives [but that is a story for another day.]

The most recent warriors to step forth include Catherine Oxenberg, a mother who is simply unwilling to abandon her daughter to the clutches of Raniere.  She was the first and only parent who had the courage and gumption to put herself out on the line. [It is true Edgar Bronfman was the first parent to call NXIVM a cult. But he stopped his efforts and accepted the fact that his daughters were doomed in a vicious and horribly evil cult. I was told he went to his grave a broken man because of it.]

Catherine was different. She was the first person who told me about the human branding – in May 2017. I broke the story in June 2017 which led to mainstream media coverage.  She is the reason branding was revealed to the world. After I published the first branding story, many people in NXIVM learned about it and quit. The story on Frank Report caused the cratering of the company in Vancouver, Los Angeles and, to a degree, in Albany.  Catherine also personally intervened and warned other women her daughter was about to lead them into a branding session and saved them literally from the hot branding iron. Catherine spoke with the New York Times giving their bombshell [but fantastical] story credibility, verified as it was from a well known public figure.

Catherine also spoke to other media and lent her good name – to a scandal-risking retaliation by Bronfman/Raniere/Salinas and the enmity of her daughter. Sadly, she was fought in this by her ex-husband, India’s stepfather, who thought it would be better that India remain secretly in the cult that brands women then get exposed publicly for being in a cult.

Then there was the role of Sarah Edmondson and Mark Vicente, two former High-Rank members of the cult who finally saw through Raniere’s bogus mysticism and bullshit – and saw him for what he really is: a narcissistic sociopath who has no conscience and who is deteriorating into a madman in the same manner that others like him have done before: e.g., Jim Jones, David Koresh, Adolph Hitler, etc.

Vicente provided a voice of reason and credibility that was essential in making the true story, that sounds fantastic, believable. He also helped many escape the cult behind the scenes. Edmondson did one of the most daring acts in modern PR history. She showed her brand to the world. It was a watershed moment when the NY Times photographed her and her brand — and published it on Page 1 of its Sunday edition. It was an act of courage without which it would have been far more difficult to make the world believe this crazy story.  Talk is big but her action was bigger. It was perhaps the single most momentous act in the takedown to date – with the exception of Raniere’s arrest in Mexico.

Even before she showed her brand, Sarah provided Frank Report with invaluable information. She was a confirming source not only for me, but importantly for many NXIVM members who read Frank Report but were doubtful if the crazy allegations I wrote about were true.  Many called Sarah to confirm what I wrote was true and she told them the truth. The branding and blackmail were real. Women who were scheduled to go under the cauterizing pen of Dr. Danielle Roberts [thinking it was to be a little tattoo] were able to avoid it – thanks to her. It should be obvious also that Edmondson was the one who took the actual biggest risk of having her collateral released.

Others that deserve notice [and gratitude] are Jen Kobelt, who exposed the human fright experiments of Dr. Brandon PorterToni Zarattini, in Mexico, who, at the risk literally of his life, helped implode the cult there. Anthony Ames, who made an explosion at Coach Summit that rocked the cult, after he found out his wife, Sarah Edmondson, was branded. Bonnie Piesse, who helped her husband, Mark Vicente, get out of NXIVM; who first told Catherine Oxenberg about her daughter being branded, and who was willing to speak, alongside her husband [and be photographed] in the New York Times. This takes courage to let the world know that what you once stood for was in reality something all false.

Then there was the excellent work of Albany Times Union reporter Brendan Lyons, who broke many key aspects of the story and the work, of course, of Barry Meir for the New York Time, who wrote the explosive story that captured the world’s attention.  Both of their newspapers were pivotal in exposing the cult for what it was and still is.

Then there were the women identified only as “Jane Does”. I spoke to most of them and in fact encouraged them [along with Catherine Oxenberg] in going forward to tell their stories to the FBI.  While they have not come out publicly, they provided an essential role in the anti-cult effort. There would be no criminal charges today without them.

There were scores of other people who chose not to be named who provided important information: in Mexico, USA, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia and, in particular, Albany. {The woman who goes by the name Laura Darby and Chris Burbs provided important info and, in Mexico, two important sources, provided an ongoing report on events and kept watch on Raniere – enabling me to break the news that Raniere was in Mexico.]

And there were attorneys – one in particular – who does not wish me to mention him – whose work with victims and law enforcement was crucial and who worked pro bono. Many of you know who I am referring to. He is one of the true unsung heroes. Sooner or later, his name will come out as a valiant fighter in the NXIVM War.  And, of course, there is a list of other attorneys who fought the endless legal battles against the Bronfman-Raniere litigation machine. Some worked pro-bono and others were paid, but all of them were in the battle. Michael Grygiel and Peter Skolnik are two names that stand out. But there were others.

A word also – for those who condemn Kristin Keeffe. Of all the High Rank members who defected, she was the highest ranking. She was incredibly close to Raniere and had a child with him. She did a lot of his work to legally destroy others – including having a hand in Bronfman-Raneire’s dirty work to get me indicted.  But – out of regard for her son – and a growing awareness that Raniere is pure evil, if not insane – she left the cult  at great personal risk.

After she left, Raniere-Bronfman spent more than a million dollars with private detectives to hunt her down and, based on evidence I obtained recently, they may have intended to murder her [She would have disappeared on a kayak]. If Keeffe helped the cult, she also made real and substantive efforts to bring Raniere down after she left in February 2014.  She provided crucial information that got the bogus criminal and civil computer trespassing cases thrown out and the corrupt indictments dropped against Natalie, O’Hara, and Bouchey.   She also provided information on other criminal actions of Raniere – including Raniere-Salinas’ scheme to lure Natalie, Bouchey, Dones and others to Mexico and have them falsely imprisoned and raped.

Credit also goes to the worldwide media who have taken this story up after the branding became known. They helped express the conscience of the people. They helped keep the story alive and were indicators of how a jury might look at the cruel deeds of Bronfman- Raniere. [I won’t say Allison Mack for she was a useful idiot, despite Raniere’s ruthless push to make her the fall girl and save himself].

Finally, let me name U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue and his staff, the first law enforcement officials at any level who were not bought off, scared off, or just uninterested in taking on Raniere and his financial backers, Clare Bronfman and Sarah Bronfman-Igtet. Without their commitment to justice – and their willingness to take on the well-financed cult defense lawyers – there was no chance of victory.

Among the workers in this is: the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section; Assistant United States Attorneys Moira Kim Penza and Tanya Hajjar, who are in charge of the prosecution; Assistant United States Attorney Karin Orenstein who is in charge of the forfeiture portion of the case, and FBI Special Agent Micheal Lever and his colleagues who investigated this case with intelligence, aggressiveness and intrepidity [and are still investigating].

There are probably others who also participated who I should name. I hope my readers will help me in that in the comments section.

As the NXIVM War goes forward and more of its leaders and enablers are brought to justice, there will be others who participate in the takedown.

Welcome to the fight.


About the author

Frank Parlato

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5 years ago

Tighe new who he was up against , he would never have kept child porn or anything else that could be used against him unfortunately even he didn’t see how truly evil and willing to go to any lengths they might go to, I sincerely hope he is vindicated if innocent.

Hurting Head
Hurting Head
5 years ago

Do you think any members are helping the feds from inside?

5 years ago

I loved John Tighe’s Saratoga in Decline blog and was a faithful reader for years. People think Frank is abrasive, but holy shit, Tighe often took it even FURTHER, if you can imagine. Tighe was SO shockingly caustic in criticizing NXIVM, and he had unimaginable nerve. He attended V-Week as a visitor twice. Drove himself from the Saratoga Springs area to Silver Bay in the middle of the Adirondacks and tried to walk right in, LOL. He would goad NXIANS on the blog, then challenge them to meet him face-to-face at a sidewalk seating area at a coffee shop in Saratoga where he’d post photos of himself sitting and waiting. He was followed and harassed, NXIANS called the cops on him, but did not give a fuck whatsoever, and he’d just keep egging them on. And unlike Frank, Tighe was not an attorney, just a working class guy with a high school education and very little money, which made it all even more remarkable. I recall at least once where he encountered a NXIAN in public and had words with the guy. The pushback he got from the cult only encouraged him to go even HARDER at all of them. When I see Frank mocking and photoshopping Keith, it reminds me of how Tighe used the same angle to relentlessly mock Raniere in order to show NXIAN readers and others that Raniere was nothing more than a shyster and criminal and worthy of humiliation.

As some readers may or may not know, NXIVM went after Tighe for allegedly obtaining a password to a NXIVM website. When investigators looked at his computer, they allegedly found child pornography, and Tighe avoided trial by taking a plea and is now imprisoned. Considering NXIVM’s well-known penchant for cyber warfare, many people believed that the child porn was planted on Tighe’s computer to discredit and neutralize Tighe. Even Clare is known to have planted a keylogger on her own father’s PC. It’s entirely possible that the child porn was planted by someone Tighe thought was an inside source. Granted, there is also the possibility that Tighe did knowingly possess the illegal material, but it all just seemed too convenient. And he always wrote about his deep love and appreciation for his wife, so when faced with a trial, he may have taken a plea to protect her.

Wouldn’t it be something if the FBI finds evidence that Tighe was framed?

Anyway, there are many many heroes and heroines in the fight against NXIVM, some we “know” and some we don’t, but Tighe was played an important role in the fall of NXIVM, opening many people’s eyes to their evil, and he did it with balls of steel and zero regard for his own well-being.

Darth VanDouche
Darth VanDouche
5 years ago

– Some of the famous actors who became members of NXIVM simply snuck away. Kristin Kreuk, Mark Hildreth, and Grace Park cowered in the shadows when their voices would have added a lot of credibility to the anti-NXIVM cause. The irony of it is that all of them like to play roles of brave and crusading heroes on TV.

Kreuk left in 2012 after that TU article by James Odato before Park or her old boyfriend left – and even Vicente and Edmondson left – who all left five years later, so she was smarter or less brainwashed than them. This was well before the branding happened so I’m not sure what she could’ve spoke out about back then. Even Keeffe didn’t leave until 2014 though I’m sure she was planning it well before then.

Regardless, actors are just entertainers doing a job. Third party evidence and personal experience shows that nearly all of them don’t live up to any standards they portray on TV. Most humans don’t as they sometimes portray exceptional characters. Celebrities only give these groups “credibility” because average people are infatuated with their star power and nothing in particular they bring to the table outside of it. I don’t even think people care about the celebrity of Edmondson and Vicente so it with respect to them speaking out means nothing. For all of these actors, their celebrity seems to work against them as most people who denigrate them see them as complicit or idiots for joining such an “obvious” cult. They are more tainted by this group than anything else when innocent.

5 years ago

I would say YouTube content creators should be credited for promoting awareness though I can’t name any of them specifically. However if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have come across the story.

Mike S.
Mike S.
5 years ago

Frank, maybe you can write an article on — and help mainstream media develop an interest in — the topic of ex-girlfriends of Vanguard who were legally harassed beyond all reason.

Specifically, the percentage of ex-GF’s who faced mean spirited and endless litigation which had nothing to do with NXIVM recovering money. If it’s not 100% of his ex-GF’s who left NXIVM, it’s probably close.

The NY Times puff piece kinda downplayed that angle, implying that a few people here and there might have faced a bit of litigation.

…And your own LONG litigation article is great for law enforcement agencies to see everything from A to Z, but it’s way too long for mainstream media to really take any interest in.

It seems to me that nearly 100% of Vanguard’s ex-GF’s (who left NXIVM) have all faced life changing ‘harassment’ designed to bankrupt them.

Not only that, but they also faced other vindictive actions which had nothing to do with being sued for money…….such as NXIVM hiring legal firms & investigators for the sole purpose of trying to convince state & federal agencies to indict these women or their family members (the motivation for which seems to be spite or vindictiveness).

Natalie, Bouchey and Keeffe were all longtime GF’s (who left NXIVM) and all suffered the same fate. I don’t know how many other longtime GF’s he had that left NXIVM (Cafritz died and never left).

That type of legal harassment of every ex-GF (and their family in some cases) is just pure vindictiveness. It’s just mean spirited revenge from a boyfriend whose ego couldn’t handle women leaving him.

The mainstream media needs to focus on this issue and expose both he and his financial backers as the petty & vindictive people they really are……especially in light of the fact that both Keith and NXIVM present themselves as ethical creatures seeking to enrich humanity with joy and love. LOL.

Full Moon
Full Moon
5 years ago

And there are countless others who when they saw what was going on with Raniere and his harem-took their gut instinct and left including myself.

Temple Kung Fool
Temple Kung Fool
5 years ago

Thank you Frank!

We have very nearly righted some of the many wrongs of Keith Raniere. I will likely never get my $9,000 back from NXIVM (ESP, Jness, DOS, SOP, The Knife Media, etc.) but I am sure I have cost Keith more than he cost me.

I am very happy to be a contributor to the Frank Report and tell my stories.

My inner compass was right when I suspected my wife was being led off the NXIVM cliff, indoctrinated into a believe system that would have destroyed our marriage and our family. Fortunately, we escaped this fate and have a stronger relationship as a result. She resented me for a good year before releasing her resentment when Frank, Sarah, and Mark finally put an end to the smoke and mirror show NXIVM performed for many years.

We have remained anonymous for personal reasons but will continue to fight NXIVM; Frank always respected that request.

Sometimes the best defence is a good offense.

To those that I recommended going after Clare and Keith aggressively, thank you for being brave and following through on that advice. I still believe it was the best option given Keith and Clare’s record of tying defectors up in the courts for years.

We were only exposed to ESP and Jness for approximately a year before the discord in our marriage left us a hard impasse. The real ugly parts of ESP had not infiltrated our lives before we called an end to the insanity.

I witnessed much of the pain caused in Vancouver shortly after several women were exposed to DOS. NXIVM is so very wrong, it’s sick!
Some of the folks, however misled, were extremely nice people; I hope they all recover and carry on with truly joyful lives.
The folks that remain are very, very ill indeed. I feel sorry for them and anyone willing to listen to Keith’s gibberish, they are living in a warped reality created by a madman.

To men who do not deserve to be called men (Lucas Roberts, James Del Negro, Erick Jens Gould…), you are the least manly men I have ever met, pathetic. I hope you all go to jail and feel some of the pain Keith inflicted on children and women.

To the folks that take the time to write and tell the ugly truth regarding NXIVM, to legal counsel; to all the journalists, who were often exposed to very real legal threats, to the EXPIANS, and to the many women who were victims of a vile abuser, thank you for doing the right thing and taking this destructive organization out to the trash and sending Keith to jail.

Well done everyone!

5 years ago

Good people one and all. God bless and Sliante!

5 years ago

Frank has done A GREAT DEAL with this blog. Here, we can interface, exchange ideas, and continue the fight.

I told this to Toni Natalie (who is my She-Ro). Alone we are weak, TOGETHER WE ARE STRONG!

We must keep up the fight against NXSCUM. The first step is destroying the myth of Keith Raniere.

The day members realize: 1) his background is a total lie, 2) his program is a scam, and 3) he is a Psychopath – the bonds of MENTAL SLAVERY WILL BE BROKEN!!!

Onwards and Upwards!!!

Some more early warriors
Some more early warriors
5 years ago

The Sutton family, who hired Rick Ross to counsel their son out of NXIVM. This resulted in Rick Ross being given NXIVM instruction material, which he gave to academics John Hochman and Paul Martin, and publishing their analyses of NXIVM (spoiler: they thought it was a cult)


The illegal retaliation against Rick Ross caused Joe O’Hara to quit as NXIVM’s legal advisor.

NXIVM pursued the Sutton’s, Ross, and O’Hara in the courts for literally decades.

5 years ago

Great article , Frank. I hadn’t heard this part about the plans to murder Keith’s ex, Kristen, by staging her disappearance on a kayak trip. Isn’t that how another former member died under mysterious circumstances?

I agree with you that if those who were aware of the corruption had had the courage to fight back, instead of just giving in to NXIVMs demands, the abuse may had not lasted as long as it did. Unfortunately, not everyone has the courage to fight.

5 years ago

Quote: “After she left (Kristin Keeffe_, Raniere-Bronfman spent more than a million dollars with private detectives to hunt her down and, based on evidence I obtained recently, they may have intended to murder her [she would have disappeared on a kayak].”

The kayak thing! Remember Kristin Snyder. We need to learn more about this allegation! And it would be very nice if Keeffe came out to speak publicly (maybe in court?), she knows so much!

Ron B.
Ron B.
5 years ago

This is the best type of article.

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
Email: frankreport76@gmail.com


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