By Barbara Bouchey
I’d like to commend Mark Vicente on his courage and conviction to leave NXIVM when he did, and not go quietly into the night. He chose to inform as many others as possible, along with Sarah Edmondson, which resulted in hundreds leaving. They did so at great risk to themselves given the well-known legal retaliation practices of Keith Raniere.
I am proud of Mark’s role and efforts in bringing about Keith and his inner circle’s arrests – something that took strength, bravery, tenacity, compassion, and commitment.
I watched Mark’s testimony in court, and found him articulate, succinct, credible and doing an excellent job at revealing information about NXIVM’s inner world. Mark paid a price for this heroism, enduring criticism, ridicule, shame, and accusations. And I believe his journey brought him enormous trauma, anxiety, loss, confusion, and suffering.
I am proud of his tireless efforts to stop Keith, bring NXIVM down, hold the inner circle accountable, and bare his soul in a public forum – in order to allow the truth to emerge, justice to be served, and, hopefully, for Keith to remain in jail for the remainder of his days.
Thank you, Mark Vicente!
By way of clarification, I thought sharing the facts and events surrounding Mark’s enrollment might be helpful. It will further demonstrate how Keith and his inner circle uses, abuses and manipulates people.
In August 2004, I enrolled the famous physicist and systems theorist, Dr. Fritjof Capra (author of the bestseller “The Tao of Physics”) to attend a planned 7-day NXIVM workshop for scientists to study Keith’s methodology concerning the mind-body connection.
Dr. Capra referred me to 15 of his colleagues, including Dr. Candance Pert (author of the bestseller “Molecules of Emotions” and perhaps the foremost scientist in mind-body connection). Dr. Pert also committed to take the Nxivm training – which was scheduled for November 29, 2004.
In October, I saw the movie “What the Bleep”, directed by Mark Vicente, William Arnz and Betsey Chasse, and was delighted to see Dr. Capra and Dr. Pert appear in the movie. I sent all three of the movie’s directors a letter informing them about this special Nxivm scientific training that Dr. Capra was attending.
That letter was not written by Nancy Salzman, nor did she see the movie or know anything about Mark. Five days later, on a plane, flying to San Francisco to meet Dr. Capra, bringing Nancy Salzman along to meet him, and coordinate details of the training – Mark Vicente called me. I offered to fly down to LA after meeting Dr. Capra and asked Nancy to join me.
After our meeting, Mark was interested in learning more and said he might like to attend the November Nxivm scientific training.
I then enrolled other scientists and arranged meetings with seven notable scientists over a three-day period, which included several who appeared in the What the Bleep movie.
Sara Bronfman wanted to learn how I enrolled people and asked to join me, offering to fly me on her jet. I agreed. I also invited Mark to join us, since he knew several of the scientists. He agreed.
Mark offered to arrange a meeting with Dr. Joe Dispenza who he knew from the Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment, to which they both belonged. (https://www.ramtha.com)
The day before leaving on this three-day trip which I arranged, Nancy and Keith sat me down to inform me that I should not go to these meetings since I had an “ethical breach with Keith” which really meant he and I had tension in our relationship. My “breach” was my continual confrontation with Keith as his girlfriend over his treatment of me which I considered disrespectful, inconsiderate, and punishing.
Also, being a businesswoman, I would debate, argue, or point out flaws in his business model (which I thought sucked) along with disliking such things as the rules/rituals, reading the mission statement, and using sashes.
At this meeting with Keith and Nancy, they advised me that my love of enrollment was really my “satiating” (their term for indulging) versus doing the best thing for my personal growth, which would be to stay home and “work my issues.”
Nancy offered to go in my place for these three days of meetings with scientists, and the inner circle pressured me not to go, which I reluctantly consented to, thinking my “personal growth” was a higher value.
At the time, neither Nancy nor Sara had seen What the Bleep and knew nothing about Mark. Nor did they know anything about the scientists I had arranged to meet. In addition, Sara and Nancy were not very effective in enrolling people. I was worried that the hard work I did arranging this Nxivm scientific training and these valuable meetings I set up with the scientists would not go well.
Before they left, I spent time with Nancy and Sara trying to educate them about the scientists (many whose books I had read) and prayed they would handle them well.
When Mark testified at court, he said these were Nancy and Sara’s meetings, with them inviting him on Sara’s jet, but he didn’t elaborate on the details or mention that I had set the original meetings up.
In hindsight, and knowing what I know now about Keith’s insidious ways, I think Keith and Nancy deliberately deterred me from my own enrollment meetings with these scientists in order to “gain control” of these powerful people. Most likely so that Keith and Nancy could control what was said to them. I also surmised that this is when Keith and Nancy began planting seeds of doubt about my character with Sara Bronfman and Mark in order to temper my direct, candid way of speaking, and my confrontations with Keith and his inner circle.
It’s quite possible from early on that Mark was told untrue things about me to discredit me, just in case I became a problem (which I did later). He may not know to this day what was true – or untrue – about what was said about me.
My concern about Nancy and Sara handling the meetings with the scientists came true. They were unable to enroll a single scientist. They also refused to inform and update me on any of the meetings so I could not follow up – something that puzzled and frustrated me. Again, in hindsight, I realize this strategy was to maintain “control” over important people I had enrolled.
Not surprisingly, the Nxivm scientific training did not occur.
Here is why: Around this time, Nancy had been coaching Edgar Bronfman, Sr. personally for six months. He flew his helicopter to Albany, picked her up, and brought her to his home for one weekend a month. They had an arrangement that she would not charge him if, at the end, he would refer her to two famous directors.
Edgar had attended a 5-day NXIVM workshop in NYC in 2003, after seeing what he thought were positive results with his daughters, Clare and Sara. After his first training, he wrote a glowing testimonial about the workshop and Nancy.
However, towards the end of the six months of training with Nancy, he became aware that Clare and Sara lent Keith and Nancy $2 million – at the treasury bond rate. Edgar was alarmed, fearing that NXIVM may be a cult who might take advantage of his daughters’ wealth.
How did Edgar become aware of this?
You may have heard about Mark’s testimony where he said that Clare had an “ethical breach”, having done something wrong, which was a mystery to him.
However, it is not a mystery to me. Here is what happened: Clare and Sara were paying Nancy a large amount to personally coach them. Clare felt Nancy was giving Sara more attention and got angry. She told her father, Edgar, about the $2 million loan.
At the same time, Forbes Magazine was interviewing people at NXIVM for what we thought was going to be a positive article. However, it turned out to be not positive. That’s the article where this $2 million loan was mentioned, and Edgar said of Nxivm, “I think they are a cult.”
After the article was published, Keith and Nancy told Clare that her angry outburst to her father, revealing this loan, is what caused the negative article, and it was an ethical breach she needed to heal.
Of course, the negative press against NXIVM only got worse from that point on, which meant that Clare had to continually make amends to try to reverse or fix “her ethical breach.”
I leave the rest to readers to consider all the various ways Keith and Nancy encouraged Clare and Sara to, if you will, heal their breach.
But, the clincher as to why the November 29, 2004 Nxivm scientific training was canceled was due to Dr. Fritjof Capra, the first scientist I enrolled to take the training. It was one of those “it’s a small world” occurrences.
Edgar Bronfman’s wife, Jan influenced the cancellation. She was part of the six-month coaching that Nancy did while at their home, and she did not care much for Nancy. Jan was close friends with Dr. Capra’s wife and she shared her concerns with her. This caused Dr. Capra to write a letter saying that due to the “controversial media” regarding NXIVM and his own good reputation, he could not risk associating with NXIVM – although he was intrigued, and wanted to take the workshop. He requested that we not contact him again, and, in his letter, there was no mention of the two wives knowing each other.
At the time, I was unaware of the close friendship between the wives – but Clare and Sara knew, having heard it from their father and Jan. They told Keith, Nancy and the inner circle. However, none of them revealed this critical piece of information to me. I didn’t learn about it until a couple of years later.
In the meantime, Keith twisted things, blaming me for Dr. Capra canceling, claiming it was due to my inability to work through my “ethical breach with him”, that somehow this was my karma, and the cause!
I thought that was a bunch of hogwash and told them so, but they really punished me over this.
It wasn’t until two years later that I ran into Dr. Fritjof Capra at an event. It was then he shared with me that his wife knew Edgar’s wife and this was the cause of him canceling. That was quite a shock. We maintained contact for a while, and, after I resigned from NXIVM, I sent Fritjof a heartfelt letter to apologize, and inform him that I left Nxivm.
Did anyone ever confront Keith Raniere?
In general, most did not. As Mark testified, if anyone did, they were labeled “suppressive” and/or the community was told they had an ethical breach against Keith.
However, it was well known that I confronted Keith regularly about all kinds of things, which, over the years, caused problems for Keith and his inner circle. I became a thorn in Keith’s side. Two years before quitting, I stepped down from the board, stopped enrolling people and attending committee meetings. I was boycotting and attempting to use this as leverage to get them to address ethical issues that I “could see.”
One year before I quit – in March 2008 – I ended my intimate personal relationship with Keith stating I would only stay at NXIVM under two conditions: One, that he and I figure out how to maintain a platonic relationship because I still believed in the community and the work we were doing. And second, that he remove Nancy as president since she was ineffective in that role, in my opinion. I thought Nancy was an incredible teacher, trainer and therapist but lacked business skills to be president. She was also punishing and showed favoritism, among other flaws.
I did NOT ask, or want to be president, and it was a dilemma to me as to who we might appoint.
Keith said that Nancy needed to learn how to be a good president, and we should support her in this role. I thought differently. As you can imagine, Keith was not pleased about my breaking up with him.
This began the months of my silent treatment, with Keith sending in his inner circle daily, attempting to convince me that this was my ethical breach, trying to conform me. It didn’t work. I held to my convictions.
I also told the Bronfmans that I wanted to “fire them” as my clients, as it was clear that Keith and Nancy had turned them against me, making my role as their financial advisor very difficult.
Unbeknownst to me, at that time, Keith saw the “writing on the wall”. He knew it was only a matter of time before I connected enough dots and would leave NXIVM.
He feared if I did that, I might try to bring the whole organization down (when I did leave, I did try to do that). The following month [April 2008], Keith and Nancy brought Mark Vicente into their fold of people who were against me, convincing him that I had “taken the fall” (AKA I was a suppressive or sociopath), that I was a pathological liar, that I had a huge ethical breach with Keith, harming him (This was a mystery to Mark since he knew nothing of my intimate relationship with Keith and no one told him), and that I was going to try to destroy the company.
Keith and his inner circle can be persuasive in their reframing, twisting and weaving tales. It appeared Mark believed them.
The following month, mysteriously, Sarah Edmondson changed field trainers from me to Barbara Jeske. Why? Because Keith knew my organization was large, with Hollywood people, and they feared, if I left, I would influence them to leave too. They needed to carefully begin turning key people in my group, like Mark and Sarah, against me to preserve those people.
Soon, others within the community started to distance themselves from me believing it was my troubled state and the confrontations were me just “being a troublemaker” and that I was “crazy.”
All the while, Nancy, Mark and the inner circle were putting up a front, trying to convince me how much they loved me, that they didn’t want me to leave, and that they planned to address the ethical issues I raised out of my concern with the direction Nxivm was taking.
This series of events continued, which ultimately led to my influencing, one year later [April 2009] eight key members (aka The NXIVM 9: Susan Dones, Kim Woolhouse, Angela Ucci, Sheila Cote, Kathy Ethier, Ellen Gibson, Nina Cowell, Jan Heim) to meet me and discuss all the issues within the organization. I then revealed to them my past intimate personal relationship with Keith, along with telling them about a few other women I knew for certain had intimate relations with Keith.
I then convinced Keith to meet with us, which he agreed to. These meetings, where we “confronted” Keith, lasted 10.5 hours, and were filmed (I own a copy of the video of the meetings, which I have safely protected and have not shown to anyone).
It was during those 10.5 hours that I got to observe Keith for the first time without his ‘sheep’s clothing’ and was horrified to watch him deceive, lie and manipulate the other eight women, claiming I was misleading them, telling them untruths. He continually denied things and didn’t accept responsibility for most things. It was like having an out-of-body experience to observe Keith become rattled, his face beet red, sweating at times, sometimes looking fearful or angry, talking garbage, making no sense; not his typical calm demeanor. He was blatantly lying, hoping to persuade them to be on his side, deeming “me” the problem, wanting them to talk to his inner circle for more of the “true facts.”
He almost did convince Susan Dones and Kim Woolhouse, convincing them to keep a “secret”, after he pulled them aside, telling them how special they were, and wanting them to “mentor him.” This was so that he could use them to disseminate false info about me and gain their confidence.
Fortunately, after hours, Kim “got it”, seeing this was PRECISELY how Keith manipulates, divides and conquers by using secrets. Once Kim got it, then the others did – and finally – Susan got it.
For a brief time, during that time, I did feel like I was going crazy, as these eight women could not totally grasp what Keith had cleverly done. Thankfully, due to their personally experiencing it, and seeing this deceitful, evil side of Keith – it was at that moment that we, the NXIVM 9, decided to resign.
After I quit NXIVM in April 2009, I got a call from someone close to Mark Vicente who confirmed the precise day about a year earlier [in April 2008] when the “smear propaganda campaign” against me began – with the hierarchy labeling me a suppressive that they needed to deal with before I destroyed the company.
Within 18 hours of my quitting – like dominoes – that smear campaign went into full force which dissuaded most members from speaking to me. This was a form of shunning, and yes, Keith successfully inspired hundreds to shun me.
As Mark testified, when Proctor Ed Kinum left, speaking to the media unfavorably, Keith created a module on “shunning” to indoctrinate the community better into why, when, and how to shun someone.
I imagine that Mark, and other NXIVM members, may not know what was falsely propagated about me while I was involved with NXIVM, and that propaganda lasts to this day. I hope someday they might learn.
Anyway, I am proud to have been one of the NXIVM 9 resigning in April 2009, which opened the NXIVM Pandora’s Box – something that continues to this day.
I am looking forward to Mark’s continued testimony in court on Monday and have great confidence that he will become a key and compelling witness in the trial against Keith. I applaud his taking the stand to speak what he knows and help further present evidence against Keith. I pray that Keith remains in jail the remainder of his life for the harm caused to many.
I don’t believe he can be rehabilitated.