Vanessa Grigoriadis went on NPR the other day. Simon Scott hosted the talented writer – who wangled a rare media interview with Keith Raniere as well as Clare Bronfman, Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, and Allison Mack. The funny thing is that every one of those people is now a criminal defendant in a RICO-based criminal case.
In fact, it was Vanessa who got Allison to confess to originating the idea of branding women – not Keith Raniere.
Here are some excerpts of the interview:
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:… So what [does NXIVM] promise? What’s so alluring?
GRIGORIADIS: Well, NXIVM, on the face of it, is one of these intensive therapy outfits that offers courses that maybe last a weekend or several days, 12 hours a day. Very wealthy people were involved in this, right? You could spend $200,000, $300,000 on their classes no problem. They claimed that they could help people overcome childhood trauma, a divorce, by integrating – is what they called it – those experiences into their lives. And they were using kind of a form of hypnosis to help people see their way through these terrible events in their lives. And it worked for a lot of people by many accounts.
GRIGORIADIS: I think [NXIVM] is squarely in that tradition of self-help, and certainly, there is a secret side to it, much like Scientology, where we are now learning that there were some things going on in this group that were extremely unsavory.
SIMON: Like what…?
GRIGORIADIS: Well, you know, it’s clear that the group was demanding fealty not only to the ideas that they had but also to the leader, Keith Raniere, middle-aged guy, lived in New York all his life. They called him Vanguard, and they believed he was some sort of evolved being. So behind the scenes, there was also a lot of – you know, he had many, many girlfriends. And in the last couple of years, he was using some of the women in the group to bring other women to his bed with what we think are pretty coercive tactics.
SIMON: What’s a coercive tactic?
GRIGORIADIS: The women claimed to other women that they could kind of move more quickly down their personal growth path if they joined this women’s-only international self-help group. There was a man who was involved in this group, and it was the leader, Keith, who knew much of what was going on. He was in at least one case, if not more. Those women were coming to his bed, and he was then seducing them….. they were branded with a symbol that [was] his initials K and R. And the women were not told that.
SIMON: How does this boorish and reprehensible behavior become sex trafficking or a sex cult?
GRIGORIADIS: You know, the argument that the prosecutors are making is that there was, you know, coercive sex here that some of the women were actually acting – or specifically Allison Mack, this actress, she was coercing women into having sex with him and that she was indeed kind of a madam where she was bringing in these women, and she was also getting some sort of financial benefit within the group from Keith himself.
SIMON: So financial reward for sexual favors.
GRIGORIADIS: Financial reward for sexual favors – exactly.
SIMON: Even after these charges, is the group still operating?
GRIGORIADIS: Well, they’ve closed down all of their classes. You cannot go to them anymore and try to work out your problems. But even after the news came out at The New York Times about women being branded, at least a hundred members stayed with the group. They think that they have not done anything wrong, and they believe that they’ll be vindicated.
This suggests to me that Vanessa is hardly completely supportive of NXIVM. If I understand her correctly, she thinks there may have been some good in NXIVM and seems to condemn Allison and Keith for their coercive and deceptive practices.