Author’s Note: One of Toni Natalie’s attorneys reached out to me – and indicated that he believed some of the statements in this post were “false and defamatory”. In an effort to address his concerns, I have re-written portions of the sub-section entitled “I Now Realize That Toni Has Always Had Her Own Agenda” (Note: The revised text – which comprises the first four paragraphs of that sub-section – is bolded and in italics).
Toni’s attorney has also indicated that she will be addressing the various issues I have raised about her at some point in the future. As he stated, “Toni will address everything you have been publicly saying about her, but she will not dignify these incredibly offensive posts with a response on the blog. She will do so in her own way, in her own time, in her chosen forum or forums”.
I am personally delighted to know that – and look forward to Toni’s response…
Publisher’s Note: I personally reached out several times to Toni to give her an opportunity to review this post before it was published but never heard back from her. She is, however, welcome to respond to any aspect of it that she believes is inaccurate or needs clarification. Frank Parlato
It’s funny how sometimes a random comment in a conversation with someone else will cause you to re-think your position on an issue or reevaluate what you think of another person.
I recently had that experience when Frank Parlato and I were discussing Barbara Bouchey – and her role and legacy in NXIVM.
When Frank mentioned that he has stayed in touch with Barbara and has found her to be helpful and informative in terms of some of the inner-workings of NXIVM, I suddenly realized that I hadn’t had any interaction with her in a long time.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I really don’t have much personal knowledge about Barbara.
As best I can recollect – and she is welcomed to correct me if she has a different recollection – I’ve only met with Barbara in person a couple of times since she, along with the other members of the NXIVM Nine, quit the cult back in 2009.
I can’t even remember the last time I talked with Barbara on the phone – or communicated with her via email – but, as best I can recollect, I don’t think we’ve had any such communications since 2010 or thereabouts.
So, where did all my “knowledge” about Barbara come from?
Mostly from Toni Natalie…
Whoever Controls the Communications Controls the Narrative
As I mentioned in a prior post, Toni took great pride in her claim that she was – at least according to her – the only person that everyone concerned with NXIVM talked to.
Although she attributed that claim to an observation that was supposedly made by former Times Union reporter extraordinaire Jim Odato, I now suspect that she just made the whole thing up.
Back in the day, I was quite happy to limit my conversations about NXIVM-related topics to Toni and a select few that I trusted.
Those were dangerous times.
Raniere, backed by the Bronfman sisters’ wealth, was at the peak of his powers.
Trusting anyone who had been associated with the cult was dangerous.
Trusting a former member of Raniere’s “inner circle” was even more dangerous.
And so, I was quite content to let Toni deal with Barbara – and others like Barbara who had been associated with the NXIVM cult for a number of years.
The only NXIVM-related people that I dealt with directly were Susan Dones and Yuri Plyam – two people that were being threatened by NXIVM’s litigation machine and that I was trying to assist in their legal battles.
For just about everyone else, I was happy to let Toni be the conduit.
It’s only now that I realize what a mistake that was – and how much my sense of Barbara (and several others) was tainted by Toni’s views of them.
The Original Team
For me, the battle against NXIVM and Keith Raniere has always been a group effort.
At the outset, our group was really very small.
Besides Toni, the only other members were (Note: I am intentionally omitting the names of some people here for their own protection but they know who they are):
– Rick Ross: The first person sued by NXIVM – and another person with whom I’ve only spoken one or two times.
– Dennis Yusko: A former Times Union reporter who put his career on the line to take on NXIVM.
– Jim Odato: Another Times Union reporter who ended up getting sued – and eventually losing his job – because of what he wrote about the cult.
– Chet Hardin: A former reporter for Metroland who ended up getting sued because of what he wrote about NXIVM.
– Suzanna Andrews: A writer for Vanity Fair who ended up getting sued because of what she wrote about the cult.
– Jeanne MacIntosh: A reporter for the New York Post who did everything she could to expose some of the illegal activities that were being undertaken by Raniere and his followers.
– John Tighe: A blogger who gave us our first public voice in the battle against NXIVM – and who proved to be one of the stalwarts on our team.
Later, we were joined by the NXIVM Nine, Yuri Plyam, a bunch of other newspaper writers, and ultimately – and most importantly – by Frank Parlato.
I Now Realize That Toni Has Always Had Her Own Agenda
When I first encountered Toni, she told me that she was facing federal bank fraud charges – and was considering whether to accept a plea deal that her then-attorney, E. Stewart Jones, had negotiated on her behalf. (And for those readers who are paying attention, that is indeed the same E. Stewart Jones who later represented Mary Jane Pino in the computer trespassing case).
I helped Toni to get a different attorney – and shortly thereafter, she indicated that the matter had been dropped.
At the time, I accepted Toni’s explanation that the matter was based on papers that Keith Raniere had told her to sign – and that she had no role whatsoever in any underlying criminal activities.
However, based on new information that has been shared with me in recent months, I’m much less certain about what rfeally happened with resepct to this matter.
Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, a pattern had been established.
Toni would provide information to me that I would accept at face value – and I would respond accordingly.
When Toni suggested that we should work together with Barbara Bouchey, I willingly did so.
Later, when Toni advised me that Barbara was only interested in helping herself – as evidenced by the fact that Barbara had hired her own attorney, her own literary agent, and her own publicist – I agreed to stop working with Barbara.
I now realize that was a mistake – and that I have should have done my own fact-checking before shutting the door on Barbara.
In more recent years, I’ve watched Toni undercut many people who have been part of the struggle against Raniere and NXIVM (Toni loves to gather personal information about people – and then share it “on a confidential basis” with others). For example, Toni has told me that:
– Sarah Edmondson is a glory-hound who would have done anything to get her story and her picture on Page 1 of The New York Times – and who is now trying to capitalize on her association with the cult by doing a podcast, writing a book, and appearing in a movie that will “gloss over” her true role in NXIVM (Toni encouraged me – and several other people – not to appear on the CBC podcast featuring Sarah).
– Mark and Bonnie and his mother all should have been prosecuted for things they did while they were members of NXIVM – and it was primarily because of her speaking up for them with the FBI that such charges were not brought (I now believe that claim is totally false).
– Chet Hardin was fired from his previous job because of a sexual harassment complaint that a co-worker had filed against him (Chet is Toni’s partner on the book that is scheduled to be published next month – and the podcast series that will follow that publication).
– Heidi Hutchison is trying to re-write history and make it seem that she and her sister, Gina, had bigger roles in CBI and NXIVM than was actually the case (It now appears that it’s Toni who is trying to re-write history by failing to acknowledge her role in the Consumer’s Buyline and National Health Network pyramid schemes – and the critical role she played in the early days of NXIVM).
– Barbara Bouchey has tried to steal much of Toni’s story and make it her own (I now believe that exactly the opposite is true – and that Toni has attempted to appropriate much of Barbara’s story and to make it her own).
– Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim, the two Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated directors who are overseeing the upcoming HBO series about the cult are “untrustworthy” and should be avoided (Once again, Toni encouraged me – and several other people – not to appear in this series).
– Frank Parlato had threatened to release some of Nicole’s collateral unless she gave him the names of other DOS members – and that Frank was going to get arrested because of his attempted intimidation of a federal witness (Toni has yet to admit to these lies – and now claims that she was “confused”).
Toni has also claimed that it was her “Kalinda-like” work that led to the dismissal of the charges in the criminal computer trespass case (Toni likes to refer to herself as “Kalinda” – a reference to the character by that name in The Good Wife TV series). That is definitely not the case.
Follow-Up With Barbara Bouchey
Even though Barbara has reportedly moved on from NXIVM – and no longer follows what’s going on with respect to Raniere and his co-defendants – I’m going to reach out to her and hope that she’ll talk with me about many of the things that Toni told me about her.
I would really like to know who the “real” Barbara Bouchey is – especially now that I have a better idea who the “real” Toni Natalie is.
Barbara is never going to talk me into believing that there is anything good about Raniere and his “tech”.
But, if she’s willing to do so, I think she can correct a whole lot of misimpressions that I have about her.