When they were married, they adopted a son, Michael, a newborn, and raised him together for his first five and half years. Then Toni entered into an adulterous relationship with Keith Raniere, and left Rusty, also leaving her son Michael with Rusty for about eight months.
For the next three years, Michael spent his school years with Toni [and Keith Raniere] and summers with his father.
When he was with Toni, Michael was placed on an extreme low calorie diet and punished if he ate a cookie. The first thing that happened when Michael returned to Albany, at the end of summer – was not his mother hugging him. She put him on a scale to see if he had gained any excess weight.
Michael looked forward all the school year for the months her would be with his father. And when third grade ended, he went home to his dad to spend the summer. He was now entering the fourth grade and old enough to realize the abuse and sadness he was undergoing, living with a psychopath [Raniere] and his obedient and exacting mother.
Michael begged his father to remain with him. Rusty wanted him to remain too and, happily, Keith and Toni agreed to let the boy stay with his dad – at age nine. He never returned to Toni, and she had zero input in his upbringing ever after.
Rusty was too much an old school gentlemen to even seek any child support from Toni. Rusty both physically and financially raised his son.
Toni has written that she was a brave and self-sacrificing, single mother. She claimed she sent Michael back to Rusty only to get him safely away from Raniere. The facts suggests otherwise. For Toni remained with Raniere for quite some time after her son went back to live with his father. It was only when Toni began an adulterous relationship with Scott Foley that she left Raniere, getting Foley to leave his wife and abandon his children – as they motored off to the Florida Keys in a RV.
After she returned to Rochester, Toni did not reenter her son’s life, though she lived in the same community.
So now, in her book, Toni, with the same kind of reckless disregard for her son, takes quite a few gratuitous shots at his father.
This is strange because Rusty is not really an important person in the Keith Raniere- Toni Natalie story. Most classy people who write memoirs try to show a little discretion toward living people who are not the villains of their stories. You have to wonder why Toni put down her son’s father – even if what she wrote was true? For the sake of her son’s image of his father, most decent people would try to make the father look good, or at least avoid taking ugly and demeaning shots at him – especially when he is not a major part of her memoir.
But it may be worse, because the stories may not even be true. We have already shown that Toni has lied about things – including a stupid lie that she dropped out of high school in the 10th grade [we found her senior picture in her high school yearbook.]
And, as Toni says in her book about Keith Raniere, “And if he was willing to lie about something provable, how could he be trusted with anything else?” It applies to Toni as well.
In a subsequent post, we will feature an interview with Rusty to address the veracity of some of Toni’s claims about him and Michael.
For now, let us give Rusty the space to say, in his own words, his view. I think it is fair to say in closing that Toni brought this on herself. I doubt Rusty would called her out on her alleged lies, if she had not first demeaned them.
I vowed to stay out of the Toni Natalie/Nxivm conspiracy and I have been able to accomplish this for some 25 years. I have always tried to remain civil with Toni through the years, mostly for the sake of my son, but also because it would serve no purpose to do otherwise.
Unfortunately, I have been unwillingly dragged back into that delusional world that I so wanted to avoid. Toni has written a book in which she saw fit to trash me as well as people that are now gone, but that I still care very deeply about. I cannot see how painting me in a disparaging light would add to the story she hoped to tell.
So, I find it necessary at this time to say my piece and then hopefully return to the simple and uncomplicated life I have enjoyed since Toni decided to move on.
First of all, Toni and Keith tried everything in their bag of tricks to distance my son from me, including always referring to me as Rusty and never Dad. For example, when I called they would say, “Mike, Rusty’s on the phone,” never, “Your Dad is on the phone.” Michael did not go by Michael DeCook in Albany, he was known as Michael Natalie. This posed a huge challenge for me when trying to obtain his school and medical records as I was also unaware of this.
In the early chapters of her book, Toni claims that we had a bad marriage, loveless, I think was the way she put it.
Well, that’s not at all the way I recall it. Did we enjoy the passion of a newlywed couple at that point? No. Did we go without sex for three years? Hell NO. Was I a Superman in the bedroom when it came to Toni? Well, although I would rather not point fingers, let’s just say I often thought Toni had a small piece of Kryptonite under her pillow.
I was in my 30’s when Toni and I were together. Do you think I was taking cold showers for three years?
Toni insinuated I might have had an affair. Unlike her, I took our wedding vows seriously. Never was I unfaithful while being married to Toni. Owning multiple businesses, staffed by mostly attractive women in their late 20’s, I must say the opportunity presented itself on numerous occasions and it took everything I had to refuse, which I always did.
Toni talks about how my businesses were failing. Again, she was half correct. But as usual, a key fact was omitted. No matter how much money you take in, if you are spending more than that to keep someone satisfied, you are in a pickle. To be candid, at the end of our marriage I was in a pickle. Not because of a lack of business, but by Toni’s never-ending spending and desire to keep up with the Joneses.
She states, I asked Keith for a loan. ABSOLUTELY NOT. Keith and I had discussed my situation at one point and he offered me a $10,000 loan, but said he would have to have it back in 60 days. I refused.
There are so many memories that I thought I could tuck away in a place I would never be returning to. Now that I’ve been forced to address some of the things that were said about me, I hope I’m able to stuff them back in that dark hole. I have no desire to engage in a back and forth with Toni about things that took place 25 plus years ago. I hope my input here helps people to see the other side.
Believe what you will. To me it makes little difference what others think as long as I know the truth. The only thing I have ever cared about and will until my dying days is my son, Michael, who calls me Pop. Michael is my world and always will be. Since the day I laid eyes on him in that lawyer’s office in Chicago, he has been my life. I have done the very best I knew how in raising Mike alone and seeing what an intelligent, gentle, caring person he has become. I think I did OK.