Pre-Raniere arrest: The journalists who took on NXIVM and their top stories

James Odato wrote an award winning series on Keith Raniere and NXIVM.

By Frank Parlato

Here is my list of NXIVM’s Greatest Hits – in the press – up to the New York Times story of Oct 17, 2017.


Back in 2003, Dennis Yusco got the ball rolling in the Albany Times Union – or rather Keith Raniere got the ball rolling – by suing Rick Ross.  He didn’t want Ross to call NXIVM a cult and that was news. Ultimately, Raniere got the whole world to call NXIVM a cult.

World’s smartest man.

Group sues its critics over claims it is a cult

Albany Times Union

By Dennis Yusko

August 8, 2003


Keith Raniere’s effort to get good press by cooperating with the press resulted in a story 100 percent the opposite of what he expected. He liked to blame Edgar Bronfman Sr. — but he really should have blamed himself. His lawsuit against Toni Natalie resulted in public records which led Michael Freedman to contact her – and did she ever hijack the story.

He is the world’s smartest man, true, but he did not see this one coming.

Cult of Personality

Michael Feedman


Dennis Yusco sent chills throughout NXIVM – and a lot of readers – when he reported on Kristin Snyder’s disappearance.

An Espian’s brief life

Once a dynamic overachiever, a woman’s world deteriorated after she took classes offered by a Halfmoon-based group.

Times Union/February 1, 2004
By Dennis Yusko

Kristin Snyder disappeared after telling people she was pregnant with Keith’s baby.


Yusco was the original beat reporter on NXIVM  and when the world smartest man sued Joe O’Hara and O’Hara fought back, Yusco wrote about it.

Ex-aide calls Nxivm ‘extremely dangerous’

Company attorney denies allegations; neighbors concerned about home

Albany Times-Union/November 3, 2005
By Dennis Yusko


Fear and tears after NXIVM class

Woman claims stressful, probing conditions used at leadership seminar in Colonie

Albany Times-Union/August 6, 2006

By Dennis Yusko


A serious change in atmospherics occurred when Chet Hardin from the weekly Albany Metroland joined Yusco in writing about NXIVM. Hardin wrote one of the most famously damning stories. It was so sound and potent and so often quoted that it became [along with the Forbes story] the most seminal and pivotal story ever written about NXIVM for years.

It caused great stress in NXIVM too. Chet – like Dennis – was to write many more stories about NXIVM. And the field for recruitment in hometown Albany became almost nil.

Stress in the Family

To some, it is a useful training program; to others, a cult. Either way, NXIVM and founder Keith Raniere remain embroiled in controversy

Metroland, New York/August 10, 2006
By Chet Hardin


Next to join the small group of reporters covering NXIVM was Jeane Macintosh of the New York Post – her short, pithy and snarky projectile missiles gave greater awareness to NXIVM beyond the Albany area – and in her inimitable style, she provoked a degree of ridicule and caution concerning the cult founded by the world’s smartest fellow.


NXIVM’s vexing effect on believers

New York Post/October 1, 2007

Hillary’s $30,000 fans are her ‘cult’ following

New York Post/October 1, 2007



The world’s smartest man decided that bringing the Dalai Lama in to endorse him might undo the bad press he was getting. It got him a ton of bad press and, ultimately, totally backfired.

Dalai Lama cancels his visit to Albany

Albany Times-Union/April 6, 2009



Another seminal story was Chet Hardin’s expose that revealed how NXIVM and Raniere loved to sue.

Sue Happy

Metroland, New York/December 18, 2009



Jeane Macintosh reported on the vast amount of money blown by Clare and Sara Bronfman. How did she find out?  Because the world’s smartest man sued Barbara Bouchey and it came out in discovery.

Seagram ‘cult’ sisters’ trust fund on the rocks

The New York Post/March 26, 2010



Enter James Odato – and his chilling report on a child at NXIVM – who was the baby? The world’s smartest and most ethical man was claiming he was an orphan whose mother died giving him birth and his father was unknown. In reality, Raniere was the father and the mother was one of his harem members.

Secret mission: A child

Albany Times-Union/July 25, 2010


NXIVM critic’s plea over child gets little action

Albany Times-Union/August 3, 2010



A rare mainstream magazine story – at the time – The New York Observer wrote a satirical and damning piece about two fools.

Poor Little Rich Girls: The Ballad of Sara and Clare Bronfman

The New York Observer/August 10, 2010


John Tighe — an innocent man ? A life destroyed by NXIVM? 

At this juncture, I think it is important to mention another man – not a true journalist but a crusader – a rough and ready man – who contributed mightily to the written word that helped take down NXIVM. John Tighe started writing about NXIVM on his Saratoga In Decline blog back around 2010 and he continued it until 2013 when he was arrested by NXIVM.

His story is reserved for another day. He is presently in federal prison. Raniere put him there. Whether the charges against him are true or not, I cannot say but I rather suspect that Raniere planted the criminal evidence on Tighe’s computer that led to his incarceration.


Odato continued to pound away – taking over where Yusco left off – the local daily covering the curious doings of their hometown sicko group.

Ex-NXIVM student: ‘I think it’s a cult’

The Albany Times-Union/September 7, 2010



Macleans Magazine of Canada found the two Bronfman fools worthy of a feature story. Once again, they found out about the loss of $100 million from the lawsuits Raniere initiated to attack and pound his enemies into bankruptcy and oblivion.

How to lose $100 million

A bizarre guru, menacing detectives, a mess of lawsuits: a tale of two heiresses of the legendary Bronfman dynasty

Macleans Magazine, Canada/September 9, 2010



Then, in one of the most explosive pieces ever – Macintosh revealed the Susan Dones taped interview with Barbara Bouchey and the world’s smartest monster – wherein he claims he had people killed,

Cult’ leader Keith Raniere makes killer claim on newly

released video

The New York Post/October 22, 2010



Then, comes one of the most fiery and best read pieces on those two gullible stooges, Clare and Sara. Suzanna Andrews’ story was a terrible blow to NXIVM – and they responded by using perjury to sue her and a bunch of other people – which is another story for another day.  But that backfired too.


The Heiresses and the Cult

To family friends, Seagram heiresses Sara and Clare Bronfman are victims of a frightening, secretive “cult” called nxivm, which has swallowed as much as $150 million of their fortune. But the organization’s leader, Keith Raniere, seems also to have tapped into a complex emotional rift between the sisters and their father, billionaire philanthropist Edgar Bronfman Sr. The author investigates the accusations that are now flying-blackmail, perjury, forgery-in a many-sided legal war.

Vanity Fair/November 2010



Meantime, Odato continued to draw from the well of lawsuits that NXIVM had initiated against its enemeies. The world’s smartest man kept suing and the media kept reporting on the amazing things that were revealed in those lawsuits.


Ex-NXIVM trainer: Students are prey

The Albany Times-Union/November 22, 2010



Macintosh did the same – drawing from the well of lawsuits – particularly the suits against Bouchey. Though these article pointed out clear evidence of illegal activities, somehow in the Northern District nothing happened.


Guru: Blow off taxes

The New York Post/January 31, 2011



Odato again – with a gripping story about Barbara Bouchey…and the abuse she took at the hands of – you guessed it- the World’s Smartest Man.

Nine years with NXIVM

Buried under deluge of lawsuits, woman begins to reveal her life inside secretive group

The Albany Times-Union/July 29, 2011

Keith Raniere attacked his former lover Barbara Bouchey as is the wont of the world’s most ethical man.


Then, in what could be described as the most amazing, revealing and shocking stories ever written about NXIVM, Odato came out with his award winning Secrets of NXIVM series. Everyone thought this would kill NXIVM. It didn’t..

Secrets of NXIVM

Some experts say Keith Raniere, the guru behind an unusual training business, is really a cult leader

Albany Times-Union/February 12, 2012


NXIVM leader urges going ‘off the grid’

Raniere disciples have history of tax liens

Albany Times-Union/February 17, 2012

‘Ample evidence’ to justify investigation

Experts say Keith Raniere’s business model warrants an inquiry by authorities

Albany Times-Union/February 17, 2012


Of all the shocking stories in the series, “In Raniere’s Shadows” was the most astounding. Here, his pedophilia was revealed for the first time in the press. But people like Kristin Kreuk, Allison Mack, Clare Bronfman, Sara Bronfman, Emiliano Salinas and other members of NXIVM’s High Rank stayed on, assuring the people they lured in that everything was fine – it was all lies in the media.

Raniere raped this 12-year old. But the news report about it did not affect his followers much because they did not believe it.  Why? Because Keith and Nancy told them it was not true. And even if they did believe a little, they knew that he must have raped her ethically.

In Raniere’s shadows

Women recall manipulation, underage encounters

Albany Times-Union/February 19, 2012


Odato again went to the lawsuits to warn the public about how Raniere would sue the daylights out of you – with Bronfman money.

NXIVM is a litigation machine’

Criticize Keith Raniere or tell the public NXIVM’s secrets and you’ll be sued, several subjects say

Albany Times-Union/Updated March 13, 2012


Then another seminal event happened. Kristin Keeffe left Raniere and took their child with her. She was talking too – and she knew plenty. Enough to sink Raniere. Did this attract the attention of local law enforcement officals. Nope! Were they bought off or scared off? Time will tell…

A split from NXIVM

Emails purportedly sent by former legal liaison contain allegations of criminal acts by leader

The Albany Times-Union/May 10, 2014

By James M. Odato



Instead, law enforcement was interested in going after whistle blowers. With Bronfman money and top attorneys – the criminals succeeded in getting the whistle blowers indicted. Brendan Lyons took over where Odato left off. Odato left his job at the Times Union amid the turmoil of the lawsuit against him by NXIVM.

NXIVM attorneys pressed criminal case

Details of inquiry into computer hacking case revealed through records filed in court recently

Albany Times-Union/October 10, 2015

By Brendan J. Lyons



Even open and notorious crimes were not investigated if the Raniere/Bronfman crime syndicate was behind them. Instead, local law enforcement went after whistleblowers for minor alleged transgressions. Her,e Lyons reports on allegations of a serious crime by Bronfman. Nothing happened of course. The irony is stunning: Bouchey is charged criminally for a single entry on the social media section of NXIVM’s website – having been given the password of a member — but the Bronfmans are caught spying on federal judges and nothing is done about it.

Legal papers: NXIVM officials probed finances of 6 federal

judges, Senator Schumer, others

Ex-confidant of founder says group scanned fiscal records of six federal judges, Schumer and others

The Albany Times-Union/September 20, 2015

By Brendan J. Lyons



This was a crime that the Northern District ignored – – that Clare hacked her father’s emails. Happily,  it was a crime charged against Clare in the Eastern District – which proves that not all DOJ offices are created equal.

Records: NXIVM hacked billionaire’s emails with Hillary

Clinton, world leaders

Former member alleges computer spying, plot to imprison foes

The Albany Times-Union/October 19, 2015

By Brendan J. Lyons



After the world’s smartest man told the world’s dumbest heiress to go to the grand jury in the Western District and perjure herself to get me indicted, The Niagara Falls Reporter – which is owned by me – started publishing a series on the various crimes of the Bronfman-Raniere crfime syndicate.

Later, the EDNY charged Bronfman-Raniere with some [not all] of those crimes. My stories were blueprints of what the RICO case is now all about. In my hometown, instead of the Western District going after Bronfman-Raniere, they went after me – and I was indicted.

The Bronfman-Raniere Cult Demands Investigation.

By Frank Parlato.


I also started a series in my publication Artvoice.

I was indicted the following day for bogus crimes – after reporting these actual crimes of Bronfman -Raniere.



by Frank Parlato Nov. 19 2015



I then started the Frank Report and wrote some 1,800 stories on Raniere and became a resource for NXIVM defectors to tell their stories.


Brock Wilbur had a hit with this story exposing a branch of the cult. Well written and widely read.

The Knife of Aristotle Isn’t Just a Fake “Fake News” Site—It’s

a Cult

Paste/May 30, 2017

By Brock Wilbur



In late May of 2018, I got the break I needed to truly expose NXIVM when Catherine Oxenberg called to tall me her daughter had been branded. I confirmed the story with other members and published the most shocking story for NXIVM members ever – causing a hundred or more members to quit on the spot.

Within 13 days, I wrote 12 stories in the series – and we were off to the races. I wrote more than 1,800 stories altogether pounding away daily and helping those who came to me escape.

The cult was cratering and by V-Week [late August 2017], more than 300 people had defected.

Part 1: Branded Slaves and Master Raniere; Sources … –

Frank Report

Jun 5, 2017 – This is the first story to appear on the blackmail and branding scheme known as DOS 

I followed up with

Part 2:Branded slaves and Master Raniere; More … – Frank


June 8, 2017 – A necklace, belly chain or ankle bracelet is worn by DOS members as a symbolic but secret display of being under the collar of their masters, …
 Branding is slipped on like a noose and by surprise.
June 9, 2017. By Frank Parlato. 
By the end of June 2017, Barry Meier of the New York Times contacted me – [and Catherine and others] and by October, his world famous story appeared in the Times – and the rest is history…. The Eastern District became interested and arrests followed.

Inside a Secretive Group Where Women Are Branded

The New York Times/October 17, 2017

By Barry Meier



It took years of reporting and follow-up to get this done. It was a case of the power of the pen being mightier the world’s smartest moron.

But consider – if the earlier stories did not prompt action – and it took the NY Times story to wake up law enforcement – how many lives were saved by the press over the years? How many people might have joined this cult of horrors – but used Google instead and got an eye opener – from Odato or Hardin or Macintosh etc.?

I know this is true, for literally hundreds have called or emailed me – prospective NXIVM members – to verify what I had written was true – and I told them – and these people ran away from NXIVM – as fast as they could.

Yeah, I interfered with his business – of ruining people’s lives.

But then again, that’s what he planned for me – to ruin my life – and he almost succeeded.

He just wasn’t quite smart enough…




About the author

Frank Parlato

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[…] have just read your journalistic chronology that is so utterly brilliant because it has put together the articles I found between 2016 and […]


[…] have just read your journalistic chronology this is so utterly brilliant because it has put together the articles I found between 2016 and […]

5 years ago

This is a great overview Frank, what a history of very precise and courageous reporting and how it throws into relief all those in positions of power who should have been listening and acting for all this intensely well documented time. Thanks to all you above, there’s clearly a lot of terrified people out there, judging from the venom this site increasingly draws. Interesting times. I’m hoping there’s a hefty book in the offing from you.

5 years ago

Looks like Frank is once again displaying his obsessive, perverted bias, lumping in Kreuk with the Bronfmans and Salinas, trying to imply that she was a member of NXIVM’s High Rank while deliberately leaving out people like Vicente and Edmondson who joined before, stayed long after, and probably did far more recruiting and assuring with the centers they ran and things like SOP. Oxenberg even writes about how Vincente told her not to believe what she read about Keith since he had a lot of enemies who had “spent a lot of money in an effort to destroy his public image,” when she confronted him about the Times Union piece in 2013. In 2012-2013, Kreuk, would have been focused on Beauty and the Beast, shooting the pilot, relocating to Toronto, and working, working, working once they started filming the first season which would probably have been from July – April given most network shooting schedules.

Too bad Frank didn’t have the courage or was too selfish to speak up himself publicly in 2012. Oxenberg said that Frank had “aggregated piles of evidence OVER THE YEARS” but was “like a fire-breathing dragon sitting on his mountain of loot.” When I read that, I thought of Frank as Gollum. LOL

5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

“In 2012-2013, Kreuk, would have been focused on Beauty and the Beast, shooting the pilot, relocating to Toronto, and working, working, working once they started filming the first season which would probably have been from July – April given most network shooting schedules.”

Despite Kreuk filming Beauty and the Beast in 2012/13, she was still coaching in Albany and LA during that time. The Times Union expose, which named Kreuk as a member, had women come forward and talk about being raped by Raniere as children and the police report was published. Kreuk did not care. She carried on coaching. On day one of intensives, coaches, including Kreuk would tell people that NXIVM was not a cult and to ignore everything.

The same month the Times Union expose came out, Kreuk was named in Joe O’Hara’s criminal lawsuit against NXIVM.

The same month also, John Tigue release the Necker Island photographs and info of the NXIVM cult summit where he claimed the attendees, which included Kreuk, discussed money laundering, including hiding money in the Caribbean.

Kreuk broke up with her boyfriend Mark Hildreth in 2013 and moved full time to Toronto where she filmed four seasons of Beauty and the Beast and that is when she allegedly left, on very good terms and not anti-NXIVM at all.

In April/May 2015, she was in Vancouver before going back to Toronto to film the fourth and final season of Beauty and the Beast and was still very much a supporter of NXIVM.

She used her fame to promote the cult and counter the cult claims but never used her fame to speak out against the cult, because she still supported the cult. She helped build up the company massively and has a lot to be held accountable for.

5 years ago

All anyone wants from Kristen Kruek is to stand up and tell the truth, she could have prevented victims from being branded by coming forward when she first left the cult, even if she didn’t know it was coming just letting her fans know Nxivm was a shady , scary cultish entity. She left for a reason, she chose a life in the public eye, so yes she owes us an explanation. Your career will be in serious danger when the truth comes out and proves you had knowledge of crimes. Are you protecting Nxivm or yourself?

5 years ago
Reply to  Heather

Kristin Kreuk certainly knows a lot more than she wants to admit. She was one of the top NXIVM coaches and used her fame to combat the bad publicity she knew the cult had. She was named in Joe O’Hara’s criminal lawsuit, revealed by John Tigue to of been on Necker Island for a cult summit where he accused the attendees, which included Kreuk, of discussing money laundering including hiding money in the Caribbean. She was named in the Times Union expose as a cult member, where victims of Keith Raniere spoke about being raped by him as children. She stayed on in the cult teaching in LA and Albany. She claims to of left in 2013 but she was still a supporter of the cult as recently as at least 2015. She was in Vancouver in April/May 2015 before filming the fourth and final season of Beauty and the Beast in Toronto, where she was definitely still very much pro NXIVM. She wants to be famous and in the public eye but arrogantly wants it all her way and the CW Network is wrongly shielding her by making sure reporters don’t ask her anything about NXIVM so Kreuk can continue pretending nothing has happened. Kreuk recruited tons of people from the CW Network. Not just actors. She even recruited her CW publicist Suzanne Gomez.

5 years ago

So many articles. The World’s Smartest Monster is quite fitting.

NXSCUM members also really hated Rick Ross.

I remember the DragonLady (Ginger) going on and on about how much she hated Rick Ross.

Well. Ginger, it wasn’t Rick Ross that made you sleep in a cubicle in the basement of your own home!

Gin an juice
Gin an juice
5 years ago

I got involved with a NXVIM woman, I was advised to rum away as fast and far as I could. I didn’t listen. I wished I had. Anyhow, as for the articles above, welcome to the corrupt state of New Pork, where you get nothing other then FUCKED.

5 years ago
Reply to  Gin an juice

Why do you wish you had not?

Gin an juice
Gin an juice
5 years ago
Reply to  Anon

I wrote “I wished I had”…..took the advise an ran-to clearify.

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


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