Barbara Bouchey’s place in Nxivm history

Barbara Bouchey always shared what information she has to help the public understand Nxivm. This is good since it may prevent repeat crimes

Today, the public knows that Nxivm is a criminal enterprise.

Five high-ranking members of the enterprise have already pleaded guilty to felony charges.  And its leader, Keith Alan Raniere, faces trial in little more than a week.

But, back in the day, when only a handful were trying to expose Raniere and his chief lieutenant, Clare Webb Bronfman, Barbara Bouchey was fighting almost alone.

She endured at least six civil lawsuits filed by NXIVM and/or the Bronfmans. Those lawsuits were backed by Bronfman millions. These were wars of attrition, terror by litigation, directed by Raniere, where they outspend you a thousand to one.  They hire disreputable, corrupt attorneys; shysters who don’t care about justice – and who will do anything they’re asked to do, regardless of whether it’s ethical or legal. Billable hours is their only goal.

Imagine being up against even one of these giant lawsuits. She had six, in different states, with different lawyers.  She won too. All of the lawsuits were dismissed with no findings of wrongdoing against her. But it cost her all her savings and years of energy and effort and stress to defend herself.

Clare and Sara Bronfman, those ill-born wastrels, those two demented fools born of the same parents, grown demons, also filed a complaint against her with the Certified Financial Planning Ethics Board in an attempt to remove her business license. In other words, while they were suing the hell out of her, they were simultaneously trying to take away all her income. That too failed.

Then there were at least five attempts to have law enforcement arrest Barbara on bogus extortion charges. That went nowhere. She did not extort Raniere. All she did was ask for the money Keith owed her – that and her rightful commissions.

And remember, although she did not extort Raniere, false allegations didn’t stop law enforcement, when Bronfman millions backed an indictment, in that cesspool known as the Capital Region of New York.

Yes, though she won each time, Barb was punished again and again. Her life was shattered. She had to look over her shoulder. She never knew when the next shoe would drop.

She, who was once his lover, got the brunt of Keith’s hatred and Clare’s lust for punishing others. Clare, I suppose, went after Barb in part to please her master – and in part because she loved to hurt others. The secret of Clare Bronfman – and of Keith Raniere’s manipulation of her – is that she was like a bad guard dog. She could serve only her master – but she loved to bite people – and needed little excuse and prompting from her master to be sicced on anyone.

The story of Barb and Nxivm is a sad one, pathetic in ways. But it is also heroic.  She trusted Raniere and was fooled by him and, at the same time, she thought there was something good in this group. In it, she found a family. She described the community of Nxivm  – of Nxivm Village in Clifton Park – as, at one time, kind of a Camelot.

I am not talking about whether she knew there were 3 or 12 other women in his harem – or how she trusted Keith, or how he lied and tricked her into signing her commodity account over to his control as an authorized trader – and how, because she trusted him, she wound up losing $1.6 million of her own money on margin calls.

Remember, it was her money. She didn’t lose other people’s money. No, not at all. That’s a matter of public record.

Barbara Bouchey helped build Nxivm. She recruited hundreds because she believed in it, and was the social engineer of much of what was good, or could have been good in the community of Nxivm – like volleyball and social gatherings and V-Week.

Indeed, if you took the V out of V-Week, it might have been a fine gathering of people on retreat who, deep down, wanted to do good – but were mistaken in their choice of a leader.

In 2009, Barb left with eight other women – and this began the crack in the walls of Nxivm.  She was, in a sense, the Coriolanus of Nxivm.  When she was with them, they prospered. When she was against them, they gradually fell.

Maybe Nxivm would still be around if Keith would have let Barb go quietly. He may be, in fact, one of the world’s least competent problem solvers.  He is certainly one of the world’s best problem creators.  When he tried to create problems for Barb, she fought back. And it wound up hurting him and those who followed him.

She fought back just by defending herself – and defending yourself is fighting – it is not surrender. She could have surrendered. She could have gone quietly. But she would not do that. She demanded what was hers – the return of the money he swindled from her – some $1.6 million – that he had promised to pay back and had been promising for years to pay back – and she demanded the commissions she rightfully earned.

Unlike the coward, she boldly left.  She confronted Raniere first. Filmed him even, as she addressed her concerns. Gave him a chance to acknowledge what he had done and to take corrective action. He wouldn’t.

Then she told him she was leaving and put it in writing.

it was then that he went after her with lawsuits and attempts to criminalize her simple desire for closure. Of course, his strength came from the evil Bronfman sisters who funded this.  They knew it was him who had blown through their millions in bad and dishonest investments and legal wars. But those two idiot sisters joined Raniere in attacking Barbara and lent their then good name toward her destruction.

It backfired.  Barb withstood not only Raniere and Nxivm but the Bronfman name and fortune.  Yet, in reality, Barb was their true friend.

I well remember her speaking to me about her concerns – back in 2007 – almost a year and a half before she left – about the Los Angeles real estate deal – and how truth was more important than defending Raniere – which it seems Nancy Salzman and others were well prepared to do. They wanted to cover up for Keith, but Barb wanted the truth discovered and helped me with important information concerning that project that helped me recover some $26 million in real estate for Bronfman – for which Raniere never forgave me.

In the end, I think Barb would have had a good chance at surrendering to Raniere and disappearing quietly by simply giving up her request for the return of her money and turning over some 17 boxes of evidence to Bronfman and Raniere.  Most people probably would have done that.  She chose to stand and fight.

Through it all, she remained a gracious woman, gentle with people. Not vicious. Quite welcoming. Most forgiving. Among those who fought, she fought as hard as anyone. In many ways, she was one of the most pivotal players.

Some are fond of telling and retelling their narratives – rewriting a little more each time – of how they fought and survived.  Barbara’s story remains consistent. She made mistakes, she admits it. She was fooled. But she chose to leave and did it boldly. Her leaving was proactive. She did not slither away like some – but left and took eight women with her – the Nxivm 9 – in 2009.

And through the lawsuits leveled against her, she brilliantly revealed colossal revelations – stupendous facts of depravity and mind-boggling lunacy, idiocy, cupidity perpetrated by Raniere and Bronfman.

The world was put on notice that this was a dangerous group by Barbara Bouchey in stunning and exquisite detail.  In story after story in the Albany Times Union, the New York Post, the Albany Metroland, Vanity Fair, and others, the truth got out.

Three years before James Odato came out with his series on the Secrets of Nxivm, Barbara Bouchey was out there pitching.  And, of course, she was one of the critical, on the record sources for Odato for his 2012 series.

Because of her, in large part, Nxivm recruitment ended in the Albany area and in America on any meaningful scale. They still had active recruiting in Mexico and because of Sarah Edmondson’s vivacious and trustworthy personality, they still had active recruiting in Vancouver.  But in the US, recruitment all but died when Bouchey left.

Not only because she was the heart and soul of what was good about Nxivm – and a top recruiter – but because her fight – which they spent millions on to thwart – revealed to the world that Nxivm was dangerous – not only kooky and bizarre but dangerous and wildly irrational.  And Google then was coming into its own.

That is not to say that there were no stories online before her lawsuits became public. But when she was added to what Joe O’Hara, Toni Natalie, and Rick Ross were doing, it caught fire.  Anybody connected to the internet could quickly find out what Nxivm was about – via the legal fights with Barbara Bouchey.  She was a game changer.

And let us not forget she worked with that mastermind of strategy, another deadly Nxivm enemy, Joe O’Hara – and she worked with Kristin Keeffe – to get information – which she intelligently introduced on the public record.

She went time and again to law enforcement to try to gain their interest. But in corrupt Albany and in the Northern District – law enforcement was not interested in going up against the Bronfman sisters’ wealth.

Instead, Barbara got indicted on a bullshit criminal computer trespassing charge. She fought and fought hard and, of course, she won. The case was dismissed against her and Joe and Toni Natalie.

For my own part, as much as anyone else, Barb, directly and indirectly, helped reveal dirt and crimes about Raniere. The early Frank Report – before I broke the branding story in June 2017 – relied heavily on court documents – Barb’s revelations in depositions and court filings – to unravel the criminal and morally bankrupt enterprise led by Bronfman-Raniere.

During that bleak period when she was under indictment, Barb’s persistence also paid off.  Who will ever forget – of those of us who fought the three-headed Bronfman/Bronfman/Raniere monster – how she and Kristin Keeffe laid out the very blueprint of criminal charges against Nxivm – in a recording and transcript that Barb filed in the computer trespass case.

When the charges were ultimately dropped against Barb, they were also dropped against Joe O’Hara and Toni Natalie.

And it was, of course, wickedness to charge them, and the law firm of O’Connell and Aronowitz, with their curious connections to the Albany County District Attorney, ought to be investigated – as should the New York State trooper who made the arrests.  They may have suborned perjury.

In the end, the criminal case was dismissed against Barb because Clare perjured herself.  She lied about where the computer servers were located in order to get jurisdiction. But, for Clare, lawsuits and perjury are synonymous. In every lawsuit against Barb, there was always Bronfman perjury.

Barbara was the brunt of as much Bronfman perjury and hostility as anyone living. And ironically, now, her former lover and erstwhile teacher, Keith Alan Raniere, is in jail. Bronfman may be headed there shortly [although don’t count on it].

Barb is free to live her life without fear of the Bronfmans or Raniere.

Of course, there are still the false Mexican extortion charges likely pending against her. It goes without saying that Barb [and indeed any Nxivm enemy] should never travel to Mexico.

The moral of the story is that those victims who refuse to give up may one day get vindication and justice. Barb is a victim. But unlike many victims, she fought back and transcended her role as victim to become an avenger.

As we think about the history of Nxivm, and who is who and what happened, I think we ought to give credit to Barbara Bouchey for enduring, and her role in the fight.

This much is fact: She came into Nxivm trying to do good; she stayed loyal until she realized Keith was incorrigible. She left honestly and not through the back door – and afterward, she went through the wringer and managed to survive. And did more.

She was in the arena. The doer of deeds.  Marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strove valiantly. And, in the end, prevailed.


About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • Seems to me that Barbara has been very consistent. Consistent in her fighting back. Consistent in her stance on NXIVM not being all bad. Consistent in her personality.
    IMO, many want her to lie and say that she thinks NXIVM is 100% evil. Others are put off by her personality. I totally buy in to Frank’s take on Barbara.

    • Nutjob,

      If you have the time to go through things Bouchey has said over the years, you will find that not everything she has said is consistent. She has not answered questions on this blog from the past.

      Now Frank will not even allow these questions to be posted this time. Frank will not let the truth about the number of her court cases come to light either.

      It makes one wonder, what Bouchey is holding over Frank’s head? She did work for the Bronfman’s and they started the legal case against him that is still pending with the FEDs. Is Bouchey holding something over Frank’s head?

  • Is this really what Barbara Bouchey wants her place in history to be known for?

    What is it about Ex-lovers of cult members who cannot move on with their lives?

    Why must Bouchey bang her drum on and on about how wonderful she was while in NXIVM and after she left?

    • I chose to write this story – and it was not requested by Barbara. I think Barbara has been the subject of a lot of unwarranted criticism and I wanted to present my perspective.

      • No one believes you Frank. You had to get the information from somewhere and it sound just like Bouchey. It’s OK, it’s a slow week for the report

        • I believe Frank. However, I choose to believe Barb did some good things and also did some very bad things. I don’t take any single article or point of view as the total truth.

      • So, did you agree to keep what you think is unwarranted criticism comments off this post also Frank?

        Normally, Bouchey posts get a lot more comments than this. You must be filtering out those that have a different point of view and only allowing those that share your perspective get to share their thoughts.

  • It’s too bad that Ms. Bouchey place in history is one of exclusivity.

    Bouchey is not the only one who went through legal hell, lost everything or fought NXIVM for decades.

    For whatever reason its important to Ms. Bouchey to be the frontrunner in all aspect of what she did inside and outside of the cult.

    She was the best at building NXIVM

    She needs to be the worst victim and lost the most

    She needs to have had the most law suits, but many were the same. They were moved from one court to another by Bouchey’s doing.

    Ms. Bouchey acts like she is the Great and powerful Oz of the NXIVM take down.

    While in NXIVM Ms. Bouchey was involved in legal cases that she sided with NXIVM to help take down their enemies.

    Ms. Bouchey lied under oath in the Ross case for NXIVM. She tried to get a Times Union reporter fired for writing factual articles about NXIVM/Raniere.

    • The comments that are purely mean and attack other commenters with no effort to address matters contained in the posts tend to clutter up the comments section.

      • So you will let Pea on you make comments but wont let factual information about the legal cases get posted?

        Seems like there is more going on behind your relationship with Ms Bouchey than your letting on with your readers.

        Is there some hanky pranky between the two of you?

  • Dear Frank,

    Thank you for writing this lovely post and sharing with readers some aspects about me, which many might be unaware of. I’m very touched and moved at how heartfelt it was and beautifully written – means a lot and I appreciate it. I’d like to respond a bit more, but unable to do so until later or tomorrow.

    Kind Regards,

  • So, Barb justified her doing “good” as you say promoting a never ending ponzi scheme that belittled women, impoverished many, etc.
    With help like that….geez…..keep her do gooding far away from us, please.

  • Yet Barb wants to ressucitate the “best parts” of NXIVM.
    Methinks I smell a Trojan horse here.
    Barb, you are deluded beyond repair if you reaaly believe there is one iota of redeemable qualities about NXIVM.
    None of it is original. Keith plagarized all of it.
    Yet you still hold onto these falacious dreams of Keith and NXIVM.
    Get on with your life, Barb. Find someone actually worthy of your love and real friends, not this fake bunch.
    In the end you see they all pleaded out. So much for last man standing, loyalty and standing by one”s word.
    Just a bunch of sex crazed narcissists seeking domination over others and women who betrayed their own sex, many times over.
    When one speaks of the good NXIVM figure heads did it brings to mind Allison holding down her sisters while their tender flesh was seared by a laser.
    It brings to mind Nancy having a young woman held hostage in her home in Halfmoon for 18 months. Isn’t that kidnapping? Hmmm?
    Keith….ah yes, Keith the guy you are still in love with telling a woman to run head first into a tree and drink from a puddle.
    The same guy who asked for a “fuck toy.”
    For brevities sake I won’t list the many other atrocities that have come to light, like how Keith claims he can fuck a lesbian straight. Or the “suicides.”
    One would be better off, both mentally and financially, to go on Amazon and buy a self help book instead.
    Consider your stunt of monopolizing the stage at the TU event as your swan song.
    Get on with your life, as best you can and leave any dreams of revitalizing this demonic group behind.
    Waterford, Clifton Park, Halfmoon, Colonie, Knox et al, would like to be rid of NXIVM, Brandon Porter, Nancy, Lauren and Michelle, Clare, Allison, Kathy Russell the lot of you.
    We would have all of you scattered to the 4 corners of the earth to live out your lives without ever harming ours once more.
    Just go away, please, far away and leave us be.

    • In regards to Barbara Bouchey:
      You don’t have to praise yourself more than you actually deserve.
      Even though Barbara Bouchey did a lot to expose NXIVM and Raniere,
      they weren’t the decisive factor to start investigations against Raniere
      and the others. Her contribution was just one of many.

  • Thank you for speaking for Barbara Bouchey, she was in deed a victim for trusting this monster. He lost all of her savings in the comodity market and then convinced it was her fault. Such manipulative destructive snake.

  • With all due respect. Where’d the money go? You don’t “just loose” 60 million dollars in bad trades.
    It’s inconceivable. Does Mr. Raniere owe that to the Bronfman sisters and if so does he have to pay it back?

  • Frank, do you know who leaked info and pictures of the Necker Island trip to John Tigue? He said it was someone in the photographs.

  • “…she stayed loyal until she realized Keith was incorrigible.” Ah yes, Incorrigible himself! Then along came his six alter egos: Depraved, Conscienceless the Most and Schweattie Balls. These were followed by their younger brothers, Hairy, Predatory and, last but not least, Rancid.

    The seven dwarves of the chakras. Hoo ha Keithy-weethy. Not Hugh Hefner. Not Don Juan del Marco. Not even fucking Alfred E. Neuman(hood.) Is the surreal and constant suffering valve turned up high enough yet on Raniere? Can he say Whitey B.#viva Zapata? Paranoid much?

    Mr. Parlato keeps hitting it right out of the park. And it does the heart good to hear of a rare heroine such as la Bouchey. Thank both of you for that, and applause! Here’s looking at you, kiddos. Encore, encore!

  • I believe Barbara is good person who made a mistake. I believe she is one of the few that left purely for ethical and moral reasons.

    I wish her the best!

  • Barb. You know You left the finest man the world has ever known. You can’t undo that. You left Keith and hurt him. This is not a heroine. This is a bad woman.

  • A sad reminder that the legal system is about the law, which is not always the same as ethics or justice. It’s a flawed system, and since it’s pay-to-play, injustice happens. Or as a wise man once said, “you get as much justice as you can afford.”

    Still, it’s better than nothing. It took decades, but it looks like Raniere is finally going to get what he deserves, a substantial prison term. It’s my hope that NXIVM is finished in the U.S. As for Mexico and Canada, well, the U.S. justice system has no jurisdiction. Hopefully, at least one of those countries will take notice and bust the criminal enterprise there.

    And while justice has been slow in coming and some fish have escaped the net, nobody has been swept up who didn’t deserve to be. That too is something to take note of.

    One more thing. As much as I loathe NXIUM’s machinations, no cult can operate without willing participants. People need to watch out for their own interests. Be careful. Be aware that there are people out there who want your money, who will trick you and cheat you. The government isn’t necessarily going to be there to protect you from your own foolish choices. In short, what kind of idiot falls for a clown like Keith Raniere? A boastful charlatan telling you he’s a genius. I mean, really! People were willing dupes for his scam; they fell for it hook, line, and sinker. I’m glad some people wised up and exposed the grift, but still wonder what took them so long.

  • I’m glad you wrote this story about Barbara Bouchey. She received a lot of criticism after the Times-Union talk — mostly for insisting that NXIVM did a lot of good and for taking up the majority of the speaking time. These were not unfounded criticisms, but there were few who defended what she did that was actually good. I don’t think many of us knew how tirelessly she worked to get the truth out; nor were we aware of the extreme challenges she faced while doing so. By presenting this side of the story, you have done what few journalists do these days: give us all the pertinent elements in a story so that we might be free to discover wherein lies the truth. Thank you, Frank Report and thank you Barbara Bouchey. Who knows how many lives your courage has saved.

    • Still to this day no one has specified what ” good ” has come from NXIVM. I asked hoping that Barb would answer this. Maybe its because she doesn’t actually know.

      • Barbara Bouchey doesn’t answer those kind of questions. She’s like a dog at a drive-thru, she wants the treat.

        Give her what a great person she is and what a hero she is and you will get a response.

      • I agree that the “good” does seem vague and unexplained, Anonymous. It would be cool to hear about it from someone who went through it and could be specific. But what I imagine it might be is something not tangible but something that the people experienced there for themselves. I can’t speak for Barbara, but I’ve heard people say that it made them feel stronger and made them face fears. I’d say the good that came from it, is exemplified in how she left! She stuck to her principals and her own ethics and didn’t slither away, as Frank said, but she fought for what was right no matter how scary that might have seemed. Now whether she was capable of that has anything to do with NXIVM or if it was qualities she possessed already, I don’t know. But it would be ironic, if “the technology” had something to do with it.

        I’m also curious about that 60 million “lost”. That sounds pretty vague too.

    • The “good” when it comes to groups like this is always vague and ill defined as it is in all religious and self help movements. In the same way that religions receive tax free status due to them supposedly providing a public good that is never quantified. Any good that exists in any of these cults is because there are good people who get sucked into them who supply it even if the group is quick to hijack it as their own. Due to the warped philosophy they like to claim ownership any and all good and try to claim any negative consequence is the fault of the believer when usually the opposite is true. I believe this aspect is built into the NXIVM curriculum with their teachings on tributes.

      One example of a good that arguably came from NXIVM that I can think of though is Sarah Edmondson meeting and marrying her husband through the group if that’s how they met each other. They seem to have a happy marriage and they were able to both offer each other enough emotional support to leave the group together when they really saw how messed up it was and it hit home. The truth is there are a million ways people could meet each other that wouldn’t involve brainwashing and following a psychopathic pedophile, but that doesn’t negate the fact that they met that way and it worked out for them. The truth is anything good that could have come from NXIVM could have come from anywhere, but the specific brand of evil that NXIVM unleashed could only have been concocted by the odious Keith Raniere.

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.

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Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083