Some people have mistakenly assumed I am angry with Toni Natalie and am out to harm her. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Toni and I were friends for a while – and I am still willing to be her friend, to be on her side – provided she tells the truth (I won’t even ask her to apologize for the blatant lies she told about me). To the extent she deviates from the truth, that is the extent that I cannot support her endeavors.
She has written a book – and I am afraid she may have told some lies in it.
On top of that, based on what numerous sources tell me, I suspect she has told many lies about her relationship with Keith Raniere over the years.
It is not an act of aggression against Toni to attempt to try to get to the truth. It is important that the public know the truth.
A lot of effort has been put into exposing Nxivm and a lot of truths have been told. The very reason to continue to write about Raniere – now that he has been convicted – is not merely for people to make money from it – but to document what happened and make that knowledge available to others as a cautionary tale.
To help others not to make the same mistakes – with other cults and other psychopaths.
Since I had something to do with exposing a lot of truth about Raniere, I’m not inclined to sit back and let others lie about their roles.
I want Toni to make money, of course – provided she tells the truth.
And I am sensitive to distortions – especially if these distortions hurt innocent people to enhance her story while making her look better. Those misrepresentations have to be exposed.
On the other hand, if she’s telling the truth, then she has nothing to worry about.
In the past, Toni was never been challenged to prove any of her stories. Her word was good enough. But now that she has published a book – a book that should have possibly been better vetted – the time has come to see if her stories are true or not.
What I suspect happened with Toni is that, in trying to make Keith look like a villain, Toni may have exaggerated and actually lied – not only to make him look worse but to make herself look better – more of a victim and less of a fool – and to make her role in taking him down seem larger than it really was.
A number of her stories seem suspect and perhaps we will get to each of them in due course of time.
But one thing I found offensive in her book, The Program: Inside the Mind of Keith Raniere and the Rise and Fall of NXIVM, is that she takes great pains to insult her third husband, Rusty DeCook – denigrating him and comparing him to Keith.
I do not see the need to do this. After all, it does not advance her story. It was not necessary. He is not the villain. And most classy people who write memoirs do not insult people who are still living with unnecessary and gratuitous insults and demeaning remarks – even if they are true.
But Toni may have done far worse. She may have lied about Rusty just to make herself look better.
We have her kind of caught by her own past statements about Rusty and their marriage.
She says in her book it was a bad marriage, a loveless marriage. That he had not slept with her for three years.
This is different than what she told James Odato in 2012.
Toni told Jim that she was in a good marriage when she first met Raniere.
As reported by Jim, “Toni Natalie was in a good marriage and was raising a young son when Raniere invited her to the Clifton Park headquarters of Consumers’ Buyline”
Even on her own website, she says she was in a good marriage.
Here is how Toni tells her story on her website
Toni Natalie remembers the woman she was before Keith Raniere.
She had a home in Rochester with a solid husband — a good partner — and a newly adopted baby boy. She was still young, in her early 30s, surrounded by friends, and hopeful for her future. She couldn’t have conceived the trials that were in store for her.
Toni had heard the legends. Keith was one of the world’s top problem solvers. He had a 240 IQ, one of the highest ever recorded. He could speak in full sentences by the age of two, and by 4, he understood quantum physics. He was a judo champion, a ski instructor, a self-made millionaire, and could play seven instruments.
This was in 1991, and Consumers Buyline, the company he founded and that Toni worked with, was a fast-growing success…
Keith took an immediate interest in Toni. He helped her quit smoking. They spent hours on the phone together, talking about her marriage, her dreams, her work. Keith told her it was a way to heal, to relive her memories of childhood sexual assault over and over and over again. When he told her to leave her husband, she did. When he told her that they were fated to be together, she believed him. When she fled him, after eight years, he threatened her: “I will see you dead or in jail.”
[Actually, the child was not newly adopted but about three years old and had been adopted at birth.]
So, on her website, she claims it was a good marriage, that she had a solid husband and a good partner, etc.
More than a decade earlier, in 2006, she also told her co-writer on her new book, Chet Hardin, in his Albany Metroland story, Stress in the Family that it was indeed a good marriage.
“Natalie and her husband were in their early 30s, living in Rochester, and had been married for about four years. They had a small, adopted boy and a nice home.
“’We were in love,” she says. ‘It wasn’t like a Gone With the Wind kind of love. But we were happy. We were friends.’”
But, in her book, she says it was loveless – and that they hadn’t slept together in three years. And then – just to underscore how little class she has – she brutally compares her husband to Raniere, writing, “Going from Rusty to Keith is like going from a paper plane to a Concorde Jet”.
She waxes embarrassingly in the book about how she had marathon lovemaking sessions with Keith and how he could orgasm and start up again five minutes later. I guess that’s the sort of stuff that’s important to Toni.
So which is it?
Did she have a good marriage with Rusty or not?
Toni told me a similar version to the one she incorporated in her book: That her marriage was not good. She also told that story to Heidi Hutchinson, Joe O’Hara and to numerous other individuals.
Heidi said that “Toni’s version was that Rusty was not affectionate and their marriage was over in spirit – so, in effect, her starting to have an affair with Keith should not be judged as adultery.”
Toni told me that her adulterous affair with Keith came without objection on the part of Rusty.
Rusty was through with her, glad to be rid of her, she said.
I can understand that Toni might want to justify the fact that she committed adultery by saying her marriage was over – and yet she claimed at other times – in the past – that it was a “good marriage.”
All I’m looking for is the truth: Was it a bad and loveless marriage – or a good marriage?
Was the change in her story over the years a refinement to make herself look better?
Both stories cannot be true.
But, unfortunately for Toni, we have both versions on the record.
Faced with these two contradictory stories, the next thing a good investigative reporter would do is speak with her third husband, Rusty DeCook, and see what he has to say on the subject.
Which is exactly what I did.
Maybe it’s just me but I find it almost unbelievable that Toni would take such unnecessary and gratuitous shots at a man with whom she shares a son. Especially when those shots have absolutely nothing to do with the storyline of her book.
I wonder what their son, Michael, thinks about all of Mom’s revelations.