False Confession?: Allison Mack was ‘pressured,’ likely coerced, by sex cult leader, into confessing branding women was her idea!

Allison Mack walks out of court. She has been charged with sex trafficking and forced labor conspiracy.

By Frank Parlato

I think most people who have experience with the inner workings of NXIVM would agree that no one does anything important without Keith Raniere’s approval.  That certainly includes Allison Mack. Her on-the-record confession to New York Times contributor Vanessa Grigoriadis that she conceived of the idea of branding women was almost certainly pre-approved by Raniere.

Some in the media are heralding this confession as a major discovery — big news – without the context: She was likely ordered by Raniere to confess. Without knowing the cult’s inner workings, it might be easy to accept Mack’s confession at face value.

Mack is a DOS “slave” – a direct slave to Raniere [to whom she gave blackmail material to hold as collateral for her obedience]. Mack was – at the time of her “confession” – and may still be – financially dependent on cult member Clare Bronfman (Rumors are that Clare is footing the bill for Mack’s attorneys).

Mack may have made a false confession. {DOS slaves regularly made false confessions for collateral].

Her confession was recorded in her Brooklyn apartment – with recordings of the interview by NXIVM/Mack and likely, simultaneously, by NY Times reporter Vanessa Grigoriadis.

Mack’s confession is mentioned in the following paragraph in the Times story:

“I was surprised to hear Mack take full responsibility for coming up with the DOS cauterized brand. She told me, ‘I was like: “Y’all, a tattoo? People get drunk and tattooed on their ankle ‘BFF,” or a tramp stamp. I have two tattoos and they mean nothing.” She wanted to do something more meaningful, something that took guts.”

For those who know NXIVM, they know that this confession was likely preplanned, and perhaps scripted by Raniere – with the aid, evidently, of Lauren Salzman and Clare Bronfman.

In the next paragraph, The Times offers a reveal [more important to NXIVM watchers perhaps than Mack’s confession]:

“To be honest, I was surprised that she [Mack] was sitting there at all. And Mack told me that she’d been experiencing some anxiety talking to a reporter. It felt “scary and pressureful,” she said. But Lauren Salzman, who along with Raniere and Clare Bronfman had guided my highly controlled tour of their world, helped her by telling Mack to cast her mind back to when she was a child and received praise at the same time that other kids didn’t. This made Mack feel uncomfortable. But now she was surmounting her fear. “So when I was 8, I created a conclusion and built a foundation of my assumptions that was faulty,” she told me. “Now that I’m 35, I can look back at that 8-year-old’s belief. And I can say, ‘Oh, that doesn’t make any sense anymore.’ ” She continued, “Boom, my belief system is upgraded.”

Two words in the above paragraph are insightful – “pressureful” which I take to mean Mack was pressured to do the interview. And “helped. Salzman, Raniere and Bronfman “helped” her get over her fear.  With the result that, Mack says, by confessing to a potential crime her “belief system is upgraded”

Is the upgrading of a belief system another way of saying brainwashed? She was “helped” by self interested, possible FBI targets, Lauren Salzman, Clare Bronfman and Raniere.  She was “helped” to confess.

They “helped” her overcome her own self interest to not confess anything to a reporter about potential criminal acts during an ongoing criminal investigation by three FBI targets.  She was ‘helped” by them comparing Mack’s childhood angst of being praised with her present fear of confessing to a reporter.

The Times continues to reveal Mack’s brainwashing, with the next sentence in the story: “Belief is a tricky thing, particularly when it involves taking responsibility for the idea of branding women and being encouraged to talk to a journalist when it may not be in your self-interest to do so. All the more when you include a guru [Raniere] who is an ‘evolved’ being.”

This tells me that Mack did not volunteer for the interview. She did not volunteer to confess branding was her idea. It might not have been her idea but she was pressured or coerced into [falsely?} confessing it to the world.  It did not work the way Raniere probably planned. While Mack confessed prior to their arrest, the story was not published until after the arrest of Raniere and Mack. It did not likely influence any decision to arrest or not arrest Raniere by the FBI/DOJ.



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Frank Parlato


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  • The NXIVM court case in october may not be the trial of the century, but certainly will be a very interesting one. The defense has said “at the end of the the all comes down to consent. This is a consent case.” So the prosecusion will have to prove that there was cohertion, blackmail, penances, sex abuse and control, but overall mind control and brain washing. This when the thing gets really interesting. How to prove that?

    • Everybody is ultimately convicted by their own words (this is why there is a right against self-incrimination and smart lawyers tell people to shut up). The Feds have years of communications that Raniere never thought might be accessed with a search warrant. When this goes to trial, we are all going to see the inside of Raniere’s head in a way nobody thought possible (or probably ever really wanted).

      The fact that they use the term collateral themselves is enough. It is very clearly used with the intent of enforcement b threat of release. Raniere saying, “but we haven’t released any of it” does not somehow make it okay that these seriously damaging materials have been collected on women and held over their heads. The point has also been made that nobody was told in the beginning that it wasn’t just the one collateral, that it would be permanently ongoing collection of new, additional collateral.

      They are also using the master and slave terms themselves, and it is clearly going beyond simple role playing.

      Another factor, who knows what is going to be available video wise from the “library”, as well as computers and the safe at Nancy Salzman’s house. I would pretty much lay money evidence is going to turn up involving underage girls.

      Even with what Frank Parlato has exposed, I believe we have only the seen the tip of the iceberg. Part of me is afraid to know the extent of Raniere’s depravity.

  • anyone have a theory on the most likely belief she had when she was eight and what it could have changed to that would be relevant?

    • probably had a dream she would grow up to marry a decent chap and have children. But then she learned how this was all bullshit because as a women her word was worth sweet FA, and her genetically monogamous predisposition would never be matched by any man because according to the protocols of nxivm, all men are whores, or, exquisitely honourable polyamorists, if you are whatshername from the NY Post.

    • She probably had some vague notions of her previous life as a Nazi. Raniere merely caused this awareness to be higher in her mind [SATIRE].

      What does it matter what she thought when she was 8? 8 year olds have lots of ideas, many of which don’t make any sense.

      • because she specifically mentions it as a trigger point that was used to rewire her adult brain, so it must have been pretty important to her until then. you dont “upgrade” anyone’s anything by debunking something that never mattered to them in the first place. the way to break and rebuild is to attack their strongest beliefs/morals/goals so that they no longer have any sense of direction or trust of their own perspective and will pretty much accept anything you feed them in its place.

        i’m also curious how it specifically relates to her being nervous to talk to a reporter and was led to by encouraging her to think back to when she was praised and others werent (which apparently made her uncomfortable, so it wasnt just a matter of using that as a confidence boost)

        most thoughts we have in childhood are discarded ourselves as we grow up. if something stuck around this long and was worth “upgrading,” i think it’s very relevant to understanding her perspective and frame of reference in general

  • Allison Mack could be the tough guy when forcing a woman to take a hot brand on the bare flesh but when the Federal Heat is on Allison Mack turns into a brainwashed little girl.

    Allison Mack was forceful in collecting blackmail information against other women but now poor Allison is an innocent lamb.

    Mack was proud to be called “The Madam.”
    Was Allison Mack too stupid to understand what “The Madam” means?

  • Yes it does sound like a possibility that Allison was coached to take the fall. And let’s not forget that she is a trained actress.

  • The word brainwashing is used far too often.
    In 1968 Michigan Governor George Romney (Mitt’s father) was running for President and claimed US Generals brainwashed him on the issue of the Vietnam War.
    George Romney was laughed out of the race as a weak man.

    If Allison Mack is brainwashed, then her testimony is inherently unreliable.

    • The theory of brainwashing has been widely critiqued and defended, but the Romney example just does not apply to the concept.

  • The Vanessa New York Times article writes that RICO charges are coming. That doesn’t get written in a newspaper unless she has a source saying it is true.

    • Criminal RICO
      To violate RICO, a person must engage in a pattern of racketeering activity connected to an enterprise. The law defines 35 offenses as constituting racketeering, including gambling, murder, kidnapping, arson, drug dealing, bribery. Significantly, mail and wire fraud are included on the list. These crimes are known as “predicate” offenses. To charge under RICO, at least two predicate crimes within 10 years must have been committed through the enterprise.

      Note that an enterprise is required. This might be a crime family, a street gang or a drug cartel. But it may also be a corporation, a political party, or a managed care company. The enterprise just has to be a discrete entity; but an enterprise is not the same as an individual. Thus, a corporation may be the enterprise through which individuals commit crimes, but it can’t be both an individual and the enterprise.

      The criminal RICO statute provides for prison terms of 20 years and severe financial penalties. The law also allows prosecutors to attach assets, so they can’t be whisked out of the country before judgment.

      RICO also includes blackmail.

  • I can count about 8 to 10 Crimes that would fall under the Rico stature. Not sure if they all will be proven. RICO 4 year statue of limitations applies to RICO civil cases I think.

  • I wonder whether there were any other plants or stories designed to divert attention away from Raniere.

  • The branding probably means very little to the case. However the collateral and coerced sex acts that at least a couple of the women were forced into (because their collateral might have been used against them) will count a lot. The branding may have been non-consensual when a woman says “no” and it continues but I’m not sure how that shakes down against Keith. Hopefully the whole thing causes him and his cronies to go to jail for life.

    • A woman being terrified to say no because of what others will say / think of / do to her if she says no, completely eliminates even a possibility of consent.

      • Not completely, but substantially eliminates the possibility of consent. I agree with the prison for life point. These monsters need to be removed from society.

  • And they are correct. While the salacious and horrifying story about branding instantly captured the world’s attention, and resulted in Keith Raniere arranging Allison Mack’s private (the apropos nxivm mtg) and public (nyt) seppuku, the federal case against Keith Raniere and his cultists is far more extensive.

    • You are so right ! Kidnapping, mail and wire fraud, money laundering, extortion, obstruction of justice, bribery, AND possibly Murder.
      Just to name a few Covered under RICO statue. I’m sure there are more. These RICO stat crimes come with longer sentences and will put them away for much longer than the branding will.

      • What a complicated web Keith Raniere’ has spun. And the Feds have the records! More records than I suspect Raniere realized.

        Raniere thought he was immune and for so many years he was, the Bronfman fortune and jets shielding him. Then the branding went public. Allison Mack was paraded with scarlet letter in desperate attempt to cauterize the threat to Keith (what he thought was the threat, the Feds got so much more), tramp stamp, brand, and all.

        Mack saying, “Boom, my belief system is upgraded” is seriously creepy. Lauren Salzman incinerating Mack over childhood stuff is even creepier. And positively evil.

      • If RICO crimes are those federal crimes connected to a criminal organization in NXIVM all leads to Nancy Salzman who owns everything from the tech to the houses. Thus, there is no way to nail KR. If his name is no where found in the papers, AM takes the fall for the brandings, and everything else is hearsay, he walks.

        • His name runs through the entire enterprise like ‘kiss me quick’ through a stick of candy-rock: emails, recorded conversations, including one in which he refers to his capacity for ‘murder’. The only ‘walking’ Raniere will be doing is round and round his cell and to the loo, conveniently placed at the foot of his bed. Perhaps, in the future he can look forward to his walks being expanded to include the exercise yard, or canteen queue. Perhaps. He used to love his tippy-toe walks through the woods, still, maybe he continues to do that every night in his dreams. From long woodland walks in Albany to sleep walks in a prison cell. Another opportunity to celebrate the relentless triumph of nxivm protocols “Viva Executive Success!”

          • Just like Keith Raniere’s accustomed to!

        • The RICO act was designed precisely to capture the slippery heads of criminal enterprises. It is powerful and sweeping. And it will sweep Keith Raniere away to prison for the rest of his life.

  • As the previous poster said…

    The branding isn’t really a huge part of the charges, since the whole case comes down to coerced sex and labor. However, the branding will still hold the jury’s attention in terms of showing that these neatly dressed people (I’m assuming they’ll be neatly dressed at trial) are extreme perverts of the highest magnitude.

    The branding will erase any doubt about any ‘normalcy’ to this group. So I think it’s important in that respect. The jury won’t care who originally thought of the idea, they’ll only care who participated in DOS.


    *Let’s not forget that NXIVM has videos of the branding sessions which they may decide to show the jury……to prove that the girls verbally consented.

    Although the girls were alleged to be crying/screaming the whole time and also being held down by other women…..they were all instructed to say “Brand me master, it would be an honor” just prior to the branding (according to news articles). So the videos will show verbal consent.

    But it’s risky for the defense to show these videos, since the jury will likely just see the girls being held down and screaming/crying (indicating they REALLY don’t want to be there)……and even though they verbally consented, the “blackmail collateral” being held over them will show “coercion” and legally nullify that consent.

    So it’s lose/lose for the defense.

    • Verbal consent under threat, duress and coercion does not make for valid consent.

      It would take one hell of an actress to pull that statement off without sheer terror in her voice and eyes.

  • Conceiving the idea just means she thought of it. It does not mean Raniere did not approve it, know about it or maybe present when she conceived it. The are sitting around talking about this DOS group of women who will come on to Reniere sexually, his slaves and they are throwing ideas back and forth. I wonder what ideas he had?

  • Curious as to why so many people are focused on branding, when that is starting to look more like the tip of an iceberg on a bigger RICO case. At any rate, whatever the NYT published is inadmissible as evidence.

    • RICO.The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as the RICO Act or simply RICO, is a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.
      To violate RICO, a person must engage in a pattern of racketeering activity connected to an enterprise. The law defines 35 offenses as constituting racketeering, including gambling, murder, kidnapping, arson, drug dealing, bribery. Significantly, mail and wire fraud are included on the list. Other examples of racketeering activity include extortion, money laundering, loan sharking, obstruction of justice and bribery. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act became U.S. law in 1970, permitting law enforcement to charge individuals or groups with racketeering.

  • There are too many slaves around who can tell authorities that the branding was enforced by Allison standing over them and warning them to receive the brand because Keith would be so much more appreciate them.. that means he knew in advance and agreed with it.

    • Authorities already said they have Keith’s private messages from his messaging account……which they say prove Keith not only knew about DOS, but that he also created it.

      What Allison says really won’t be important either way. The authorities will have Keith’s own messages and communications to bury him.

  • I did some reading about Patty Hearst today and one thing I was surprised to learn is that she apparently scored much lower on an IQ test after being kidnapped and abused. I wonder if abuse impairs one’s critical thinking? At least it sounds more believable than an abstract concept of ‘brainwashing’.

    • es cuestión de autoestima de como era antes y como era después con el lavado de cerebro sucede lo mismo aunque externamente parece normal internamente se deteriora progresivamente ya que se generan relaciones de dominante y sumiso lo cual funciona en una mentalidad de manada pero los humanos somos mas complejos que eso así por defecto se disminuye la autoestima

      • Estoy de acuerdo, la apariencia externa de la autoestima no necesariamente coincide con la realidad interna y si la persona es consciente del cisma, se esforzará más y más para dar la impresión de que todo está bien y esto solo aumenta la impresión de neurosis y arrogancia, que al final no pasará ninguna prueba que busque establecer auténticos niveles de habilidad. El ‘truco de la confianza’ solo funciona en relación con la criminalidad.

    • I kind is wish Patty would jump in on this thing. She was abused and brainwashed, and understands more than any person what’s happened here.

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.” He also appeared in "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM, and was 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 premieres on May 22, 2022.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

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