Former Cult Member: Will Clare keep the Nxivm fires burning?

By G., a former cult member [not Nxivm] 

I can only tell you my experience, nothing more. The Internet has made it fairly easy to keep track of those I once knew in the cult I was in.

Most, if not all, of those who had leadership roles are still there, at the main campus still in authority, and the others, who broke away, started their own groups, teaching the same lies, scamming people as usual.

Many “believers” followed them when they left, while the more hardcore remained on, and/or live close to the main campus. But this happened within a year after the founder’s death and jockeying for power happened. Many thought they had paid their dues and now wanted their just desserts.

Keep in mind, though, their sole livelihood was the ministry where, just as Kristin Kreuk has a career outside of NXIVM and, unlike Scientology, NXIVM has no relationship with Hollywood.

One can readily see Kreuk is doing all she can to distance herself from NXIVM.  Notice how quickly Lauren Salzman knew Allison was more susceptible to love bombing. Mommy Nancy taught her well.

My money would be on Clare doing such. Outside of NXIVM, Clare has not made her mark in the world, either scholarly, nor in dressage. She has no gold, silver or bronze medals.

I often wonder if she knows Peter Van Guysling or Mia Nielsen and, if so, what opinion they have of her horsemanship.  Clare doesn’t even have a GED!

In fact, I have a bet with someone that Clare has enough money, enough tentacles out there, that she could readily find someone to bypass the ankle monitor and whisk herself away via a private jet to some non-extraditing country ala Roman Polanski or to her resort in Fiji.

It’s said she has 200 million left. More than enough to live on.

So, speculation only, my money is on Clare keeping the NXIVM fires burning, if at all.

Then, again, the idle rich can use money to erase their past so easily.

All NXIVM was/is, in my opinion, when it comes to the Bronfman’s, was to prove to their father, and relatives, that they were movers and shakers among the best.

I am a tad wordy in responding. My apologies but, you see, this cult thing is a complex issue.

I know what I know – having been in one for a length of time and hung around with two other “famous” cults and read every paper, every tome, anything I could get my hands on over many years time.  Hindsight is 20/20.

See, it is true we go from one cult to the next, though I was only an observer of the other two, yet over many years time.  In fact, one of them, the state head quarters, is just 2 miles down the road I live on.


About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • Clare Bronfman does not have her GED? In addition to being insecure and awkward.. she is uneducated as well. She probably was picked on in school incessantly and dropped out.

    So many of the “villains” in this story are at the same time victims to a degree.
    Bronfman used her money, it’s been mentioned many times, to legally crucify people.
    The image of Clare Bronfman the persecutor contrasted with the image of Clare Bronfman the lonely poor little rich girl are such contradictory images.

    How many of these people would be living relatively normal lives if Vanguard has never existed?

  • It’s so valuable to hear from someone with real cult experience. Thank you, G. We appreciate your willingness to share. It must be painful to do so.

    I do believe Clare can escape if she wishes. But then what? She would have no platform and no authority over NXIVM members. Just back to the lonely, pampered life that apparently was not enough for her before.

    IMO Keith Raniere would vanish without question, if released. None of us really knows the status of the $8M Pamela Cafritz estate or whether Clare can anonymously funnel him funds.

    If Keith gets sentenced, I believe others will try to resurrect NXIVM (maybe under another name) or duplicate it, if there is easy money to be made and underlings to control. That’s all it ever was about, wasn’t it? They can point to a portrait of KAR on the wall and call him a martyre – one who tried to change the world for the better, and was persecuted for it.

    The possibilities are endless. But at least now the Albany area law enforcement collusion has been breached.

  • You’re right about Clare being the only one who could keep NXIVM running, or as you say, some other cult or a byproduct of NXIVM. A broken off faction maybe. But do I believe she will? No and yes. If it is true that people go from one cult to another, then yes she will. She isn’t smart enough, but she can finance another one. The other part of me says no. She’ll love on somewhere with her unearned money and rot out her life somewhere. Not that she would give up an opportunity to finance another one. No one will ask her to. People find ways of financing their schemes. She isn’t necessary to anyone. She’s high profile, so anyone with a devious plan of running a cult won’t use her or her money. It would shed too much of a spotlight on what they’re doing. The world is watching her now more than ever. So I’m saying she’s stupid enough to do it, but she won’t get the chance and will thus live out her days enjoying whatever money is left.

  • Clare could never be a cult leader. She doesn’t have the personality to be one.

    Clare’s rise in NXIVM was only due to her money and Raniere’s ability to get his grubby little paws on every last penny she is willing to give him.

    NXIVM is dead and with its top leadership going to prison for a long time those that need to be followers will find another cult leader to tell them what to think and do.

    Educational level has nothing to do with cults, nor does psychology. If one was able to stop long enough and take an inventory of their lives, they have a deep belief in something that makes up their ideology.

    Some people work all week and bindge watch Netflix all weekend. Some people cannot get enough church, political party talk or Facebook. Some cannot stop posting about Allison Mack. It’s their CRACK

  • Thank you for this g – I see a lot of value in what you are saying about Clare and believe if people came to her she would continue the cult way of life. From what Frank has written about her it seems, to me, that she doesn’t seek things out but they find her. I think she was recruited into the circle by KAR and Nancy. I also don’t know if Clare is smart enough to head such a structure on her own.

  • Hearing stories from former cult members always depresses me. The idea that ‘getting out’ means starting the search for a new cult speaks to what they do to you in there.

    G – you mention the education level of a NXIVM member. How much do you think lack of education has to do with belonging to cults? Do you think someone is better able to separate from a cult if they have more education, or is this just a function of psychology?

    • To Smith

      No, education has little to do with it.
      I have known those on the lower level of education up through doctors, lawyers, psyvhologists, PhD’s , etc.
      It crosses the spectrum.
      I have yet to figure out what is it inate in us who become attached to any cult, ideology, etc. I can say, those I knew intimately, why they were.
      I can name names of those in the tri cities, famous family names, names of power and prestige, whose family members have been in a cult for decades.
      I won’t publish others names because that is up to them to reveal.
      So, no, educational level, financial level, appears to be a moot point in those who become attracted to a cult. I only mention Claire’s lack of even a high scholl diploma much less higher education because I find it shocking with her family name, and money, she could attend school anywhere.

      To Scott

      I have no right to publish others’ names.
      You can try to bait me all you want…but it wont work.
      Frankly you offer little to the mix except to attempt to foment dissent.

      • G,

        Insightful and illuminating, both the article and comments. I always believed people who joined a cult were uneducated or unintelligent.

        Does anyone know if Keith Raniere is the first actual relationship Clare had?

        Ps, G don’t let Scott bring you down. Scott is like an actual updated version of …..

        … Archie Bunker.

      • You have every right to publish others’ names. In fact, you have the RESPONSIBILITY to publish their names. Frank names names, I name names, why can’t you name names? I saw this show last night, and it reminds me of people not speaking up against NXIVM, Amway, and other MLM scams: If you feel guilty about not speaking up, it’s because you ARE guilty of not speaking up. If you don’t feel guilty, you have no soul.

        • Scott….as I said, nice try but you cannot bait me.
          You are like a fly in the ointment.
          I do not have the right to name names. Some of those I know of are nice folks, very gracious, always decent to me.
          I would no more “out” them without their permission than I would break my word to a friend.
          So….did you get enough negative attention here, hmmmm?

          • I’m not trying to bait you, “g.” I’m telling you to do the right thing. Your silence allows these scam artists to continue to take advantage of others, much like the girl who refused to wear a wire to nail Raniere decades ago. Your claim that your “friendships” are more important than people being scammed is disgusting. I’m not concerned about “negative” attention from a bunch of losers.

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.

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Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083