NY Times commenter relates cautionary NXIVM story

(L-r) Juan Pablo Vignon, Michelle Salzman, Vany Huber, Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, Ildieg

The post below appeared in the comments section of the New York Times story  by Vanessa Grigoriadis about the wonderful Vanguard of Clifton Park and his lovely NXIVM self-help group.


By David Clarkson

My high school teacher was in Nxium. He told us all about his experience – he started going when he was young and still dating the woman he would one day marry. She had joined for one reason or another and encouraged him to go.

At first it seemed harmless – just friendly people talking to you about your troubles, and helping you take control of your life. Even when people started calling him at all hours of the night, asking him to talk about his problems, he said it felt ok – these people seemed friendly and helpful, not malicious, and they were just trying to help him in sometimes socially awkward ways

He said he only realized he was in a cult when their dear leader came to visit, and his using the incorrect title when addressing a question to him caused the group to scream at him until they were blue in the face.

For him, leaving was easy, because he was never totally entranced by them, but merely tolerated them. He said it was harder to convince his wife, that he had to make a list of all the abnormal things they’d come to tolerate for her to believe him (the late night calls, unannounced visits, group shaming, and other subtle social controls)

I’m glad he told me. When I moved to New York, neighbors invited me to join a self help group, and I immediately recognized it was a cult. I don’t think I would have otherwise. Cults don’t look creepy – they look friendly, and they recruit you by instantly befriending you. Know that, and learn the signs, everyone!


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Frank Parlato


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  • I wasn’t invited to a recruitment meeting, because I was invited to attend an intensive without paying, and I trusted my “friend” who invited me. If they had been honest and told me I didn’t have to pay because Raniere might be interested, I think I would have been creeped out enough to have turned it down.
    I was pretty suspicious when, several days in already, I had to watch an insanely long video by Nancy Salzman about how it wasn’t a cult, and then continue to be lectured about it and fill in my binder pages all about how it wasn’t a cult.
    With feeling starved from not having any protein for days on end, and the sleep deprivation of being in that damn room 14+ hours a day, I think I wasn’t supposed to notice what they were trying to do there.
    The insane amount of peer pressure to continue for another 11 days in spite of the fact that it would unethically violate my important commitments to other people was just the icing on the cake.

    • With all due respect…

      Then why the fuck did you stay there for 3-4 days under starving and sleep deprived conditions?

      Why the fuck didn’t you leave earlier? Sounds like you lack common sense or are one of those people who follow orders like a good sheeple. Baaah! Baaah! That’s a good little sheeple. 🙂

      …and who finally told you the price was free just cuz Vanguard wanted to invite you to a tune-up session? I doubt anybody would disclose that.

      Sounds to me like you hung around just long enough to realize that Vanguard didn’t like you or had rejected you…..and that’s why you finally left. 🙂

      • Are you drinking and posting or something?

        There is a lot more respect due than you are demonstrating, and I just lost any respect I had for you from previous intelligent posts you had made.

        You are a lookie-loo, and have no business attacking anybody for attending one intensive.

        I finished the intensive because I had committed to it, and wanted to see if there was any benefit to be derived from it.

        Later, I went to one other even to try to see my friend who I couldn’t see outside of NXIVM, and Raniere stalked me all over the place. Multiple people came and kept trying to push me into going to talk to him, and I ended up just leaving the event. It wasn’t until a decade later I found out that I attended the intensive for free because that was one of their ways of trying to rope in women he would be interested in.

        Shame on you, Mike.

  • I don’t understand why the people shown in this picture are still walking around free and haven’t been arrested yet. If the citizens of the internet can figure out they are sociopathic criminals, why can’t the FBI?

  • Sorry Mr. Clarkson, but your warning about cults is rather lacking in substance.

    It’s not the love bombing (best friending) that gives away the cult. Because some people might just really like you if either you or them are new to a neighborhood.

    It’s when they actively try to recruit you to attend a first meeting of any type, that’s the true warning sign.

    True self help groups (which aren’t MLM or cults) don’t go around actively recruiting their family, friends and neighbors “blindly” to attend meetings (e.g. if you’re a drunk and an AA member is recruiting you, that’s not “blindly”).

    Both attempts to recruit me into Amway failed instantly, even though they never mentioned ‘Amway’ until after they failed. It was their persistent effort of trying to get me to attend a meeting that instantly told me it was an MLM scam or cult. No matter how politely I said ‘no’, they’d come at me again and try to create pressure to attend a meeting.

  • “When I moved to New York, neighbors invited me to join a self help group, and I immediately recognized it was a cult. I don’t think I would have otherwise. Cults don’t look creepy – they look friendly, and they recruit you by instantly befriending you. Know that, and learn the signs, everyone!”

    Yes. A clear sign is when the group identity is too strong or they have something to sell you.

  • Vany huber is in the picture., the one who introduced catherine oxenberg at first with nexvium. She failed to recrut the mother but managed to recrut the daughter. Shame on her to have destroyed a family, she must be proud.

    • Comment below is copied and pasted from Artvoice, link below:

      “Casper Robert Mitchum Van Dien
      April 12, 2018 at 9:19 pm
      Hi my name is Casper. My family likes to call me Bo. My ex step mother is Catherine Oxenberg. To be completely honest with you, Catherine is a piece of work. The fact that she has the gall to write and say all of this while being the reason my entire family went to ESP (NXIVM). I spent my entire inheritance on ESP at Catherine’s command. She has no right to say any of what she said about my sister nor does she have any right to say that she’s innocent. She is the reason I was there. She is the reason India is there. And she is not to be trusted with any information.”


      • It s Carrie Mitchum who troll oxenberg. She was mocking her for the situation many times because she was mad that Grace has stopped to talk to her. In this post it is said that she enrolled all the family but why grace isn t an espian. I saw the message of Mitchum and she is obsessed with oxenberg. She looked like a stupid bully. It s totally incoherent and if this were true no worry that Casper van dien would incrimine Catherine with pleasure.

        • The step son’s comment seem to say that C Oxenberg made them spend money on classes but not all of them got in as deep as India and ended up brainwashed. Don’t know if what he says is true, but if you look at C’s twitter she certainly seemed to be enjoying spending time between 2011-2014 with Vany Huber and a of the other women who supposedly ended up in DOS. And maybe she’s got stuff on her ex-husband to keep him from blabbing to the press.

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.

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