Much has come up about Toni Natalie recently and it is my intention to be fair about her.
I have asked her to comment but she has not responded.
I do have a question.
Toni Natalie refers to herself as “patient zero” in her upcoming book, The Program: Inside the Mind of Keith Raniere and the Rise and Fall of NXIVM.
Was she, as “patient zero”, the first to be cured?
She has told many stories about her time with Raniere and some who were there at the time dispute the veracity of many of her stories. To hear them tell it, Toni is a pathological liar.
I am not asserting she is. I am just interested in finding out what the truth is.
And, as we investigate Toni’s stories, it will be helpful to analyze them both as if they were truthful stories that Toni told and also with a little healthy skepticism since many people who know her claim Toni lies.
People who were there and people who saw her afterward, say her stories shifted during the years after she left Keith to become a well-crafted narrative.
I have seven solid sources [and if I am ever sued for defamation or libel – discovery and depositions will be most revealing]. People who knew her when, and people who have known her for years, have much to say.
Just to cite a single example. Before we move on to how Keith Raniere may have saved Toni Natalie: Toni says Keith talked her poor brother John Natalie into committing suicide.
Is this true?
John did commit suicide more than a decade ago [and 10 years after she left Raniere]..
One of my sources was around at the time and says, unequivocally, that John had almost zero contact with Keith.
In the year leading up to his death, there was only one, innocuous email [another one of my sources actually went through John’s old emails – with permission – to try to see if Keith was trying to persuade John to do something harmful to himself]. There was only one email and it had nothing to do with suicide.
The only contact John seems to have had with Keith after Toni left was apparently when John wanted to pitch Keith on some business idea which never materialized. John wanted money and Keith declined.
According to several sources, Keith was not in contact with John during the time leading up to his death. This is pure fabrication, they say – made up by Toni to dramatize [and exaggerate] her suffering at the hands of Keith – and using her dead brother as her foil.
Toni tells a different story. That Keith was responsible for everything that happened to her and her family that was bad. That otherwise angelic people ran into Keith and suffered the ultimate misery – the death of a brother.
My source, who was close to Toni at the time right after John died, said that Toni told her that John had gotten into debt with the IRS and he nearly bankrupted his retired parents [mother and stepfather] who tried to save him. John felt guilty and depressed. To evade seizure, he transferred his pizza restaurant into Toni’s name. Toni told my source she knew nothing about the merits of any IRS problems he had. She was just trying to help her brother out; so she put the restaurant in her name.
In short, it is said that John felt guilty and his life was messed up. He had created his own problems and, other than refusing to lend him money, Keith had nothing to do with him, his problems – or his suicide.
But Toni says Keith was there in the background lurking and mentally persuading her brother to kill himself.
We don’t know the truth.
How Keith Helped Toni
According to her own admission, Raniere encouraged Toni to do hundreds of EMs — “exploration of meaning” sessions — with Nancy Salzman.
If this is true, it seems, whether Toni got into the mind of Keith Raniere, as her book title suggests, or not, Keith got into Toni’s mind and understood it.
He called her ‘Took” or “Tooki” [Keith loved nicknames] because he said she liked to take things that did not belong to her.
Of course, we all know he liked to do that himself too.
Toni Quits Smoking
One thing Keith did do for Toni was to get her to stop smoking.
Here is how Toni told the story to Chet Hardin back in 2006 – for Metroland.
It was 1991, and Toni Natalie was smoking again. She thought that she had kicked the habit, but when her brother fell ill, she found herself spending all of her time at the hospital. “It was stressful,” she says. “You know how it is.” When his girlfriend offered her a cigarette, she took it.
But she wanted to quit. So when Keith Raniere, who claims to be in the 1989 Guiness Book of World Records for “highest IQ,” offered to help her, she thought, “Great! The world’s smartest man wants to help me quit smoking?” Raniere told her that they would need to go to a quiet place, where he could talk to her.
“So we go into his office, and I remember him asking me questions like, ‘What makes you nervous?’ and ‘What relaxes you?’ Talking to me; touching my knuckles, using that as trigger points [for hypnosis]. And I came out of the room, and my husband says to me, ‘Geez, what were you doing in there all that time?’ And I was like, ‘What do you mean all that time?’ ” She felt as though she had been alone with Raniere for 15 minutes. Her husband informed her that, no, she had been gone for almost two hours and 45 minutes.
“I guess some people are more susceptible to this stuff than others,” she says. “I was the prime candidate. And that was the beginning of the end.”
What Toni describes as an ensnarement – and her absolute oblivion – her mindless miscalculation of time and her easy susceptibility to hypnosis – might have saved her.
She was smoking in 1991. If she had not stopped – had Raniere not helped her stop smoking 27 years ago and she had not otherwise quit – she might have contracted lung cancer by now.
Raniere helped her quit smoking.
Of course there are some who have doubts about her story – especially about her thinking she was only in a room for 15 minutes while her husband waited somewhere. She was alone in a room for two hours and 45 minutes with Keith Raniere. And he was touching her hand?
Some people who know Raniere might think there was more than hand holding going on and that the oblivion to time was a cover up for a session that involved more than learning to quit smoking.
But if we take Toni at her word, she went into some deep timeless fog and emerged not smoking cigarettes again.
Dani Spoke About Gaslighting
According to testimony at the trial of Keith Raniere, he tried to persuade the much less easily suggestible Daniela that he had penetrated her when in reality he only had oral sex with her – the first time they had sexual contact.
Much was made of this at trial. It was referred to as gaslighting.
Toni cannot recall anything. She told her husband, when he wondered what she had done when she was alone with Raniere for almost three hours, that she thought it was just 15 minutes.
If she was truly lost in a daze that made her lose awareness of time, what else did she forget or not know about that incident?
We do know that soon afterward she left her husband, Rusty DeCook [husband #3], and became the other woman in Keith Raniere’s life.
Keith was living with Karen at 3 Flintlock Lane and lived with Karen and other women for the first four years of Toni and Keith’s relationship, after Toni left her husband.
it is fair to say Toni cheated on her husband Rusty since, after she had stopped smoking and returned to Rochester, she began having an affair with Raniere.
According to her admission, she began her adulterous affair [on her end] with the single Raniere – while she was still in Rochester, living with her husband.
Soon after, she left her husband, and moved to Albany and lived in a house behind Raniere and his girlfriends, Pam, Karen, Kristin and occasionally Barbara Jeske.
In time, Toni became Raniere’s [public] girlfriend. Sources who were there tell me it took about four years before she assumed the role. Prior to that, she was one of his [private] girlfriends.
Karen was the public girlfriend.
So when Toni says she was Keith’s girlfriend for 8 or 9 years, she means she was one of his girlfriends for about half of that time. But it did change.
For a couple of months Keith actually moved out of 3 Flintlock and moved in with Toni. [Then he moved back again to 3 Flintlock but often slept at Toni’s house during the daytime].
By all accounts, for the next four years, Toni was Raniere’s main girlfriend.
Toni says she did not know about any of the other women Keith was having sex with at the time.
Sources who were there say Toni did know about at least Pam Cafrtiz. In fact, two sources tell me that she and Pam had made plans to have Keith’s baby. Pam wanted a boy and Toni wanted a girl. They would share the smartest man in the world’s golden seed.
But Toni told me that was not true. She did not know about Pam or any woman.
Assuming Toni is telling the truth and she did not know about the other women, then it was Toni who started cheating on Keith.
She cheated on Keith with a married man named Scott Foley who became her fourth husband – once he divorced his wife and left his child.
Toni also left her child – sending him back to her husband full time to raise.
When Toni says in her book she was a single mother – that was only true part of the time. In fact, maybe it was never true. For saying one is a single mother implies there is no father to help out.
In reality, Rusty was there all the time. He was always the good father raising his son. They split the time before the boy went to school [after Toni left her husband to go to Keith] and soon after he started school, Toni abandoned her son and left him full time with Rusty – so she could be with Scott.
But before we get to that – how she left her son and cheated on Rusty, then cheated on Keith, [though Keith cheated on her too – but she did not know that when she started cheating on Keith, Toni says] let us return to how Keith helped Toni.
Toni Admits to Being a Kleptomaniac
According to multiple sources who heard this, and two who were actually there, at one of the Executive Success Programs, [an Ethos class called “Honesty and Disclosure”] Toni admitted to the class [the tech does foster personal admissions] that she was a kleptomaniac.
This made some of the people aghast and disappointed. [This, a source says, sowed the discord that led to Toni’s leaving Keith. She lost her primary status as number one woman when she admitted she was a thief. More on that in a later post].
As to her being a kleptomaniac, some knew it already. That she liked to take things. Among her friends in those days she was not shy about her talent, they said.
She used to call herself “Queen of the Comp.”
She gave herself that name from her going to hotels with Keith and others during the Consumer Buyline days and making phony complaints to the hotels they stayed at.
She’d find something wrong or make something up – and then raise a row with management, threatening to expose them or make a stink until they agreed to either comp the room or upgrade them to a better suite.
One of the funniest ones – which was long remembered in CBI circles – is when she called the front desk to speak to the manager, then complained to him about how there were “fumes” in her room and she told the manager with an earnest and exasperated voice, “I might have woken up dead.”
She got Keith and her the comp alright, but for years afterward Keith used to joke about her success and the fun of her statement that she might have woken up dead. Since the dead usually don’t wake up at all.
But that’s not the point.
Toni admitted she was a kleptomaniac, according to sources. She said she had to steal. And then she had 100s of EMs.
Now if you ask Toni today, she will undoubtedly tell you she is not a kleptomaniac, not any more, not today.
Keith and his tech seem to have cured her.
Two points in Keith’s favor and I am sure Toni will mention this all in her book. He helped her quit smoking and seems to have helped her stop stealing.
There is a lot to tell in her book; maybe she won’t be able to fit it all in. Like her role in the computer trespassing case.
When I mentioned in an earlier post that she had been indicted for computer trespassing, she mentioned that she was also in trouble with law enforcement for some kind of fraud, which she said was Keith’s fault.
It had to do, according to six sources, including one aware of the law enforcement investigation, with borrowing money for restaurant equipment that somehow never showed up at her restaurant.
In other words, she got money from the bank to buy equipment but did not actually buy the equipment.
But, in fairness to Toni, she said it was Keith who made her sign the fraudulent papers and she did not know what she was signing.
It is not clear how Keith got her to sign similar papers after she left him. But reportedly she did get into hot water with the law for bank fraud for papers she signed after she left Keith – but managed – thanks to Joe O’Hara – and his procurement of a top attorney for her – to avoid going to prison.
[Toni told me personally that she was falsely indicted. I never saw the indictment.]
It may however have been Keith’s fault or perhaps the lingering remnants of kleptomania.
Some of this restaurant equipment fraud reportedly occurred after she left her child and ran off with a married man who became her fourth husband [Scott Foley] and her partner in business.
This has not been confirmed.
When I say they “ran off” perhaps that is not fair. Toni says she left with Scott to escape Keith – first to the Florida Keys in a recreational vehicle that Toni’s mother and stepfather bought her [Toni left her child behind. Scott left his child and wife, which shows how dangerous Keith must be].
Then when they left the Keys, Scott and Toni started a restaurant in New York with money Toni’s parents gave them.
The restaurant failed, but since she had left Keith years earlier, it is not clear how Keith is to blame for the restaurant’s failure. Maybe her book will explain.
Still, in the end, maybe she should offer some thanks to the man, Keith Raniere, who helped her not only quit smoking, but tried, and possibly succeeded in curing her of her lifelong kleptomania.