By Joe O’Hara
On this Independence Day, I think it is important to commemorate the many people who got independence, once and for all, from the arrest and conviction of sex slaver Keith Alan Raniere – and to thank the people who helped take him down and, as a result, gave people the freedom not to worry about him and his vengeance ever again…
Speaking of holidays – June 19th [AKA Vangone Day – when Raniere was convicted] was a day that I had dreamed about for more than 14 years – and one that I seriously questioned would ever happen.
When I quit working as a consultant for NXIVM in January 2005 because I had inadvertently been made aware of some of its illegal activities, Keith Raniere declared me to be an enemy and, of course, a “suppressive”. Thereafter, backed with the financial support of Clare and Sara Bronfman – and the unethical legal tactics of a horde of attorneys – Keith unleashed a series of legal attacks on me that cost me everything I had acquired and built over the course of my career. I also lost my reputation, a fiancée, many people I thought were friends, several professional colleagues, and a few years of my life.
Along the way, I learned a lot about myself and the people around me.
I also learned just how hard it is to take down an organization that has enough money to garner a great deal of political influence – and is also willing to do absolutely anything to destroy its perceived enemies.
For a very long while, it looked like Raniere was going to get away with all his bullshit – and all his illegal operations.
Despite the extraordinary efforts of some very good people, the simple reality was that no law enforcement official in the Albany, NY area was ever willing to take on Raniere and his NXIVM criminal enterprise.
People like former (and, hopefully, future) blogger, John Tighe – Albany attorney Bill Dreyer – Dennis Yusko and Jim Odato from the Times Union – Chet Hardin from Metroland – Rick Ross from the Cult Education Institute and his attorney, Peter Skolnik – victims like Barbara Bouchey, Susan Dones, Kim Woolhouse and the other members of the NXIVM nine –.and many others did what they could. But it was never enough.
And then, along came Frank Parlato.
Ironically, I had met Frank when he first started working as NXIVM’s publicist (One of his first assignments was to mount a blistering public relations campaign against me – an assignment he turned down after we met and talked about Raniere and NXIVM).
At first, I was skeptical that Frank and his new blog would have much of an impact on Raniere and NXIVM (As history will eventually document, Raniere was at the height of his power when Frank decided to launch Frank Report).
But as I watched Frank make inroads into the NXIVM community – and as I read post after post in which he revealed previously unknown facts about Raniere and his inner circle – I began to think that he might actually have a chance to succeed where so many of us had failed.
And when he first told me about the branding that was going on within DOS, my immediate response was “If that’s actually happening, then Raniere’s done – it’s just a matter of time”.
That obviously didn’t happen overnight – but it did happen.
And it would not have happened had Frank not been so determined and unrelenting in his efforts to expose Raniere for the fraud and coward that he is.
Frank never backed down – not even when I (and others) suggested that he should do so.
Even after Frank first exposed the DOS branding, absolutely nothing happened.
But rather than discouraging him, that total lack of response from the Albany area law enforcement community and media outlets only made him more resolute in his efforts.
Utilizing his own contacts in the media industry – as well as those of Catherine Oxenberg – Frank was able to get several major media outlets interested in the branding story.
And while all the credit in the world should be heaped upon Barry Meier and The New York Times for the front-page story that first brought NXIVM to the attention of so many people, the reality is that Frank had several other outlets ready to run with that story as well.
So, the story of Raniere’s sex slaves – and his ritualistic mutilation of them – was going to come out one way or another.
Thankfully, attorneys in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York read Barry Meier’s story – and, unlike their counterparts in the NDNY, decided to launch an investigation of NXIVM and Raniere.
The rest is now history.
Raniere is now going to spend the rest of his life in federal prison.
He will be miserable every waking moment – and fearful every moment when he’s not awake.
Which, given the harm and pain he caused so many people, is perfectly fitting and appropriate.
“Fuck you”, Keith Raniere.
And “Thank you”, Frank Parlato.
Raniere’s conviction on all counts is something for us to celebrate, the all-too-rare victory of good over evil.
But, after the celebration is over, we must return to the battlefield to carry on against those who are still part of the NXIVM cult – and those who aided and abetted its leaders and allowed them to build and operate their criminal enterprise.
“Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in finding out the right and upholding it, wherever found, against the wrong”. – Theodore Roosevelt