Nexum/NXIVM? Parallels Between Raniere Sex Slave Cult and Ancient Roman Slave Contracts

Former slave master Keith Alan Raniere

The choice of the cult name Nxivm is mysterious and interesting, and the name bears a striking similarity to an ancient Roman type of “contract.”

Keith Raniere might have had his branding and blackmail scheme in mind long before he executed it.

The name NXIVM appears to correspond with the ancient Roman concept of “Nexum”.

Nexum was a debt contract in the early Roman Republic. The debtor pledged his person, his actual body, as “collateral,” should he default on a loan.

It was, in effect, a mortgage on a person, not on property.

Nexum was accompanied by a symbolic transfer of rights that involved a set of scales, copper weights, and a prescribed vow.

Similar to DOS branding, the nexum contract was entered into with a ceremony with five witnesses. There was also a sixth person – a libripens, a person who held a brass balance.

In the DOS branding, there were the four women who held the branded slave down – the doctor who wielded the branding pen – and the slave master who filmed the event.

Under the nexum contract, a free man became a nexus [bond slave] until he could pay off his debt to the obaeratus [creditor.]

Guru-master Raniere always taught his Nxian slaves that nothing can repay his teachings and this is why he introduced lifelong nexum contracts with his slaves in the form of vows. In fact, the alternate name for DOS is ‘The Vow.”

As a hint of how much Raniere admired ancient Rome – DOS itself is an acronym for the Latin “Dominus Obsequious Sororium” which, roughly translated, means “the submissive females under a dominant male master.”

Back in ancient Rome, there was no single, standard nexum contract that all nexi entered.

There were variations of the nexum contract, and the details of nexum contracts were worked out on a case-by-case basis.

In Nxivm and DOS, each woman [almost all of whom were Nxians] had to come up with her own individual collateral.

Nexi were often beaten and abused by their owners.

Nxians {DOS slaves] were often beaten with paddles and a dungeon was being built to punish disobedient slaves – interrupted by the Frank Report exposing the shocking details of DOS [as confirmed by testimony in the trial of Keith Raniere.]

According to the ancient historian, Livy, nexum was abolished because of the cruelty and lust of a single usurer, Lucius Papirius.

In 326 BC, a young boy named Gaius Publilius, who was a guarantor to his father’s debt, became the nexus of Papirius.

The boy was noted for his youth and beauty, and Papirius desired him sexually.  He tried to seduce Publilius with “lewd conversation,” but when the boy failed to respond, Papirius grew impatient and reminded the boy of his position as a bond-slave.

When the boy again refused his forceful advances, Papirius had him stripped and lashed. The wounded boy ran into the street, and an outcry among the people led the consuls to convene the Senate, resulting in the Lex Poetelia Papiria, which forbade holding debtors in bondage for their debt and required instead the debtor’s property be used as collateral.

Eventually, all “indebted” people confined under nexum contracts were released, and nexum as a form of legal contract was ultimately forbidden, with the ancient historian Marcus Terentius Varro dating the abolition of nexum to 313 BC.  Poetelius and Livy date the abolition to 326 BC.



In 2017, the Frank Report, acting on a tip by Catherine Oxenberg, published the first-ever report on Raniere’s DOS branding and collateralizing slave women.

It led to a cratering of the cult – as hundred left and many slaves escaped. Four months later, the New York Times published a story based on earlier Frank Report branding stories and this prompted the FBI to begin an investigation that led to Raniere’s arrest.

In 2018, the FBI found naked photos taken in 2005, of a young girl named Camila Fernandez who was a slave of Raniere and was 15 at the time the photos were taken.

The result was that all of Raniere’s co-defendants immediately cut plea deals rather than stand trial with Raniere – the pedophile.

Raniere stood trial alone, starting in May and was convicted on June 19, 2019. He is awaiting sentencing.


From the Roman legal point of view, to the lending of money and an ordinary contract, there seems to have been added a damnatio [damnation] by the lender, similar to the old forms of bequest [LEGATUM]: “a thousand asses” and “the scale of the air” as interest and its measurement.

The debt was termed nexumaes. The making of a contract was known as nexi datio, and the debtor was  nexum inire

The peculiarity of this form of contract was that the creditor did not need to bring a lawsuit to prove the existence of the debt: the debtor had already confessed his slavery and the bondage was ‘called from the air’ and became nexus am. [linked to the nexi].

As soon as the day fixed for repayment passed, the creditor could arrest him, take him before the praetor, and have him, along with the children in his power.

Raniere updated this method – knowing the US law could not help him enforce his slave contracts – by using collateral – which he threatened to release if the slaves did not obey him and paid their lifelong debt to him.

Raniere seems to have taken this ancient and abolished practice of nexum into the 21st century, modeling his own “debt contract” off of the ancient Roman, Papirius, who was responsible for its abolition.

Like Papirius, Raniere is obsessed with sex, and would use the damaging “collateral” he obtained from his “slaves” (nude pictures, false confessions to crimes and acts of moral turpitude) against his slaves in order to coerce them into sex, and their continued obligations, financial and otherwise, to Raniere.

When coercion failed and a Nxian wanted to leave, or defect, he or she  became, to Nxivm, a “fugitive slave.”

In its arrest affidavit, the FBI alleges that Raniere’s partner and chief financial backer, Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman, worked with Raniere to “orchestrate” criminal complaints against a former slave, Sarah Edmondson, who went public and detailed the abuse she endured within the cult.

Sex slaver financier, Clare Bronfman (r), with her legal muscle, Willam F. Savino (l)

An in-depth review of years of Bronfman/Raniere lawsuits and criminal complaints against Nxians [ex-slaves] suggests that the Bronfman/Raniere racketeering enterprise  was able, with Bronfman’s millions, to turn the courts into oppressive machines to silence, bankrupt, and destroy the cult’s ex-slaves and others they deemed to be “enemies” of NXIVM.

In this regard, Bronfman used the courts to effectively become instruments of enforcing NXIVM’s own modern twist on the long since abolished fugitive-slave laws.

It is amazing to some, that Bronfman was able to purchase a better plea deal than any of the leaders of Nxivm – despite her being the biggest criminal in the batch – except Raniere.

It is interesting also that the DOJ initially alleged that she used her wealth to silence and attack enemies of Raniere – but somehow she got off with a 21-27 month sentencing guideline plea deal – plus a $6 million forfeiture paid to the Department [Store] of Justice.

Like in the old days of Rome – there is still a two-tier justice system. While Raniere will likely spend his life in prison – Clare Bronfman – unless we can get her charged in the Northern District of NY – who is almost equally guilty as Raniere – will be out of prison most likely in about a year.


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Frank Parlato


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  • This is a long shot, but… In ancient roman times, a certain plant was used to kill off the elderly and infirm – Hemlock or water parsley, I call it, it grows in abundance in swampy watery places, around ponds and swamps, have i seen it mentioned in comments that such a swampy place exists close to the Albany nxivm compound? The plant and its manner of causing death are explained here:

    If KAR modelled his RICO enterprise on Nexum, and was familiar with ‘Iscador’ the decoction made from mistletoe from his Waldorf schooldays, might he have known of and made use of this..?

    • It may not be such a long shot – and I don’t think it is improbable that Raniere had a direct hand in the deaths of Pam Cafritz and Barbara Jeske – not to mention Gina Hutchinson and the disappearance of Kristin Snyder.

      • Agreed. And furthermore, he had help from his minions. When you look closely at the stories of each demise, you notice a lineup of participants. Inevitably. Not just boiling water or ripping up sheets for bandages, either. These deaths look mostly like missions accomplished.

        • You have no idea how close you are to the truth on that, I fear, Shivani. Frank’s already unearthed and opened some secrets of Gina’s scepter — as he calls it that perfectly resonate with the ritual branding “sacrifices” that were most recently made and it would not have, may yet not have, stopped there.

          They had that proverbial taste of blood sacrifice and Keith thirsted (thirsts) for more of it in adulation of his martyrdom in prison.

      • I actually think Raniere used the Waldorf panacea ‘Iscador’ as a treatment for the women suffering cancer. It’s highly likely he would have been treated with Steiner medicines for any minor illness or accident at school and it wouldn’t have been pleasant or efficacious, bearing in mind that if one kid or an entire class turn on a child and say, batter it, that child’s ‘karma’ would be held responsible -no victims – right?

        What made me revise this view was being prompted to look up ‘Rictus grin’ which is what I see in all the nxivm photos.
        Turns out the ‘Rictus” or ‘Sardonic grin’ derives from the Roman and Pre-Roman practice of euthanasia for the old and infirm, or unwanted/outcast in the community. Its just 2+2,

        If Raniere knew and was inspired by the specific Ancient Roman practice of Nexum, as a way of ordering a community, then he probably was aware of the arrangements made for all stages of a nexum slaves life, from birth to death, in sickness and in health, in obedience and disobedience. I don’t say KAR was rigorous or any sort of an expert on Roman History, but even a cursory dip, as I have taken, would be enough to find this out.

        Raniere had not much respect for life, he liked to foster a cavalier and falsely karmic attitude to it by twisting the notion of reincarnation to suit his ends.

        I think he induced cancer in the women by ensuring their bodies were living Petri dishes for pathogens. Garlic is not just a flavoring, its a valuable anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, possibly antiviral. A handful of nuts and some celery + endless coffee and sleep deprivation is no way to nurture and immune system. Add to that rigorous training programs for impossible ends – The Olympics, World-class Ballet, etc. massive emotional stress, isolation, physical torture of branding, rape, blackmail. Even without all this, 1 in 2 of us is estimated to have to deal with cancer in our lifetimes. We can only hope to repel it by basically doing the polar opposite of what these women were subjected to.

        Monkshood is an old and venerable poison, NiceGuy, do you think you could find the picture you’re referring to? Water parsley is more prevalent, but in the end, without an autopsy, it would be difficult to establish what poison may have been used, though it does seem increasingly likely, that euthanasia was a conscious part of Raniere’s NXIVM MO.

    • I agree with Frank and maybe it’s bc I’ve seen some proof of premeditation — such as Pam Cafritz’s Will prepared professionally long prior to her death — plus I was acquainted with Pam before &’after and always feared for her life after the truth about Rhianon emerged in 2012.

      And even an ametuer gardener cant escape the fact that some plants, inbibed, inhaled or topically applied can kill, especially administered over time.

      And NDNY investigation is well warranted.

    • No Autopsy for Cafritz,

      Re Poisoning Scenario:

      I have a suggestion look up the plants Monkshood or Woolfsbane there actually the same plants. They produce a neurotoxin.

      Then look up the gardening photos of Raniere’s harem member’s gardens …

      …….And there is your murder by poisoning scenario. Wolfsbane produces a neurotoxin. If you happen to break the stock and get some on your skin you can have shortness of breath like a asthma attack. If you consume it you will die.

      I am fairly sure I saw a photo of it in one of the harem member’s gardens.

      There’s your ” hemlock”, case closed.

      If you want wolfsbane or Caster Beans which are highly toxic just go to your local gardening center store tomorrow and pick up s plant.

      So in summary yes Pam Cafritz could have been murdered and even an autopsy may not have picked up the Wolfsbane. Very scary stuff.

  • There is a huge difference. We volunteered to be slaves because no one. Never. Loved us like Keith. We became his slaves for love and we can never repay the debt that will free us. Forever. Not for all eternity. And if I could figure out a way to do it, I would sacrifice my own life to free him from his suffering. What no one understands is he is doing this penance to absolve us of our disintegrations. Just like Christ did for our sins on the cross.

    • Oh good Lord…you are mentally unstable. Seriously. If you believe any of the crap he has sharted out for the past 20+ years, then you are in need of professional help. He is not Christ. He did nothing for you. He didn’t love you. He is nothing but a con artist.

    • This cometless comment of yours doesn’t even qualify as horseshit, Ms. Pee-pee thang. Raniere served your disintegration, all right, and still you don’t understand it. So how low you wanna go? You do not even begin to see the pattern or its overall design, even after all of these years? You are still in love with a convict and a pervert, a predator. You love a manwhore who mislaid his conscience or never formed one. You worship a ramshackle Jeffrey Epstein. Is that all there is?

      How’s your recruitment program going? Upside your poleaxed head somewhere, try to get a clue. Still selling shitstains mingled with human flesh and blood, eh? RSVP, right?

      So is this your typical vegan diet, full of rules and regulations, demands and requirements. A hackneyed routine from a certifiable member of the Goon Squad,who might as well work at Burger King and chew drinking straws for protein. Pea brain. Not the least bit cool.

      But thanks for the exemplary, goal-oriented aimlessness. You think you’re dressed in your hallucinatory Emperor’s New Clothes, but every observer who remains uncaught and who won’t identify with what you propounded just sees you naked, stripped of any ability to reason and divested of all magnetism. Cumgratulations, as you strive for extinction.

      • 36 now (as commenters here have already explained) and still trying to work your primal, unexpedited hankerings for groupy status. For whom do you amass your Collection? I mean, right here, right now, for whom do you amass your Collection of pinned butterflies?

        Do you still enjoy watching them get branded by Danielle the D.O. of DOS? It it fun to watch their hopes and dreams die? Which do you find preferable, the masochism or the sadism? No need to answer the rhetorical musing, since, as yet, you haven’t unearthed any such capacity. Sass away, sass away, all the way off the cliffs of your own hallucination. At the bottom, anticipate one brief glimpse, followed by a long, long recital, chockful of unheard and unnoticed wake-ups calls, which are going to feel endless. Because you skipped that part of any revelations.

    • Pea Onyu aka Nicki Clyne:

      I had this important question for you and I would appreciate it if you could alleviate my ignorance on this subject.
      “Pea Onyu aka Nicki Clyne:
      I’ve been wondering.
      When Allison Mack and her friend and sister wife Dani Padilla were planning to share the Sacred Sperm of the world’s Greatest Man Keith Raniere to make Super Babies for the Future Master Race, did they offer to share any of the Sacred Sperm with you, Nicki Clyne their sister-wife?
      It only seems fair.
      Sister-wives are supposed to share.”

      Thank you for your response.
      Shadow State

    • Pea Onyu,

      Hats off to you !!!!!!!

      You are the most dedicated Troll of all time.

      You are kind of an obvious troll, but it can’t be helped because you have been doing it such a long time……

      My guess is either you are woman…

      ……. or a gay man that does not know he is gay because clearly you enjoy pretending to be a woman.

  • Just like the Romans, had Raniere not overdone it, he may still be plying his scam trade. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Surely the smartest man in the world knew that, but he let his wanger do his “thinking.”

  • What more appropriate song to commemorate the cruel fate of Keith Raniere, his sadistic NXIVM henchwomen and his brutal gang of criminals and terrorists than Carl Orff’s “Oh Fortuna” sung in Latin with lyrics shown in English and Latin.

      • The ancient Romans understood that fame and fortune are fleeting.
        As a victorious General would ride in his chariot around Rome, receiving the praises of the multitudes, a servant would stand behind him to remind him, “Remember you are mortal.”
        No doubt Raniere was on the verge of believing in his own divinity.

  • Anyone remember the controversial 1979 movie “Caligula”? It was billed as erotica, very violent, based on the life of the Roman Emperor Caesar, “I wish all Rome had but one neck,” gone bloodthirsty, sex-obsessed, power-mad?

    Never saw it myself but Keith Raniere had an uncut copy and showed it to my sister, Gina — and I’m sure a few other early conquests — dozens of times.

    Maybe this film was the Nexus of Keith’s NXIVM or Nexium practices. He was 18 when the film premiered. My sister was 14 in 1984 when he began showing this movie he’d copied and this was long before TIVO — it took pangs and hours to copy a movie. It was a presentation Keith carefully prepared.

    Wouldn’t be surprised at all if there’s mention of NXIANS or Palpirus or some bloody perverse DOS inspiration therein.

    • Unfortunately, I made myself watch Clockwork Orange to find out the similarities when I read about Former Dr. Brandon Porter and his human freight experiments. Interesting to know Keith put effort into making you ladies watch it.

      • Yes, Clockwork Orange, also starring Malcolm McDowell, was on Keith Raniere’s “movie night” playlist for his early acolytes in the ‘80’s and, apparently, for decades thereafter. (I watched that one with them but didn’t get through 5 minutes of Caligula. Gina referenced it for years. I think it shocked her after growing up in a sheltered Mormon society.).

    • Heidi,
      I did not see Caligula but I did see the PBS/BBC miniseries “I, Claudius.” which covers the same time period.
      It was based on the historical novel of the same name by Robert Graves.
      I also took a class in Roman History that semester.
      The name “Caligula” actually means “booties” as in a baby’s booties.
      Caligula received the nickname while his father was up in Germany fighting the barbarians.
      The God-Emperor Caligula actually made his favorite horse “Incitatus” a member of the Roman Senate.
      Perhaps Caligula was even planning to make Incitatus Legatus Pro Tempore.
      In class we were taught that Caligula liked killing people on the grass because he liked seeing the colors red and green mixed together.
      Caligula even married his own sister.

  • I believe that nexium would be the genitive plural third declension of nexi, or, roughly, those upon whom nexum was imposed; or at least Raniere, with his rough Latin, might have figured it that way.

    Then, it could be written NXIVM in old Latin capitals.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premieres on May 22, 2022.

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Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083