Blast From the Past: Don’t Call Me Papa – An Ugly Episode in Raniere’s Life

Keith Alan Raniere did not want his paternity known to the public for his first born child. But he wants the identity of his victims known to the public at his sentencing.

Editor’s Note: When I was working hard to take down Nxivm – before the branding story, I cataloged all the horrors of Nxivm that I could find and published them.  This was one of my first stories that really had some impact.  It was published on January 6, 2016 – about a year and a half before the branding story broke. This story began to bring me a [small] but steady stream of Nxivm and ex-Nxivm readers.

A lot of them did not know that Raniere had a son. I also published this in Artvoice and the Niagara Falls Reporter.

It was published almost four years ago.


Cult of NXIVM Part 7: “Don’t call me ‘Papa’”

Every December more than a billion people celebrate the birth of Christ, a child born of immaculate conception who would change the world – whose true father was said to be God, and whose earthly father was an Israeli carpenter named Joseph.

Cult of NXIVM leader Keith Raniere’s former partner Toni Natalie is quoted in MacLean’s Magazine saying: “I was the chosen one. I was brought in to bear the child that would change the world.”

Keith Raniere, who has followers refer to him as “Vanguard,” lies in bed reading a book on gambling. He “gambled” more than $70 million of his followers’ money in the commodities market. Some say he did not actually lose it, but hedged investments so he took the profits while his followers lost their money.

Another former Keith Raniere partner, Barbara Bouchey, stated: “Keith himself told me that he had dreams and visions that I actually would be in a relationship with him and have a child with him.”

This, of course, is weird since both women were told by doctors that they were unable to bear a child. Perhaps that inspired the clever and controlling Raniere to appeal to their primal desire for motherhood.

His fervent female acolytes no doubt believed that he could make a barren woman fertile and miraculously give birth to a child of destiny – a twisted version of the immaculate conception of the virgin Mary minus the immaculate and minus the virgin.

But Raniere did indeed father a child, a boy named Gaelen, born nine years ago. But unlike Joseph, who raised Jesus as his son, Raniere denied he was the father of Gaelen – and although Gaelen lived in the NXIVM community, Raniere never spent time with the boy as father and son.

Some of Raniere’s female followers believe he is Christ-like – come to atone the sins of struggling humankind through his teachings and pure life of truthfulness, sacrifice and celibacy.

So what story did the celibate spiritual leader give to explain how his son Gaelen came to live among them? It’s very complicated.

Raniere told people that Barbara Jeske (an inner circle NXIVM member) had an old boyfriend living in Michigan who was now a widower and a bereaved father. His daughter had died giving birth to a male child – and the father was unknown.

Remembering Jeske as a kind and compassionate woman and having no wife or female relative who could care for the newborn, the widower grandfather called his old flame to give the child to her.

As the fiction went – Jeske and another NXIVM inner circle member, Kristin Keeffe, traveled to Ann Arbor to get the boy just days after his birth and brought him back to live with Jeske in Albany.

Soon Jeske found she could not care for the infant and Keeffe took over as surrogate mother; moving into a new townhouse with the ‘adopted’ infant Gaelen and out of a townhouse on the same street that she’d shared with Raniere (and two other women).

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Cult leader and deadbeat dad, Keith Raniere told his followers that his son was an orphan whose father was unknown and whose mother died while giving birth. Photo courtesy Albany Times Union.

The infinitely compassionate Raniere then decided to personally supervise the child’s education. He would be a teacher, almost “like a father” to this child – the first to be raised utilizing Raniere’s unique methodology. The child would be exposed to certain kinds of music, certain kinds of physical exercises and languages, a certain diet and his interaction with other children would be limited. He was to have no common, ordinary friends.

This was the story told to all in NXIVM village and beyond. And the story is a lie.

I was there and I witnessed it.

Gaelen is the child of Keith Raniere and Kristin Keeffe.

The elaborate lie about his adoption was told because Raniere did not want NXIVM students to know he fathered a child. Students –  from Mexico to Tacoma and all points in between – believed he was a “celibate monk”.

Some of his inner circle knew he wasn’t celibate because they’d had sexual relations with him. They knew he wasn’t celibate and they believed he would, when the time was ripe, have a special child with a chosen woman who he had preordained would be the mother of a child who would carry on Raniere’s work to save the world.

Barbara Bouchey is another woman who Raniere promised would bear his “divine child”. Bouchey never had a child with Raniere and left the Cult in 2009. Raniere has paid lawyers several hundred thousand dollars to get her indicted for computer trespassing. Her crime – she once went on the Cult’s private social media website for 15 minutes using the password of another cult member.  Before she left, Raniere took her life savings of more than $1.6 million.  She has filed for bankruptcy.

Keeffe, on the other hand, was his Legal Liaison – a smart, tough-talking, but eager follower of Raniere.  Raniere never showered on Keeffe the special attention that he did with others like Barbara Bouchey, Toni Natalie, or, more recently, Mariana Fernandez; not for Keeffe was such an honor of bearing the golden divine child.

But it was Keeffe who got pregnant.

Raniere immediately required Keeffe to lie about her maternity. He helped her hide her pregnancy, and being thin she hardly showed for months. When her pregnancy became visible, he told people she was severely ill and could not be seen.


Court records show that the gullible Bronfman sisters, Clare and Sara Bronfman, gave Raniere $65.6 million which he said was lost in the commodities market.  They have bankrolled many of Raniere’s allegedly illegal schemes. At first, Raniere kept the secret of his paternity from the Bronfman sisters.

Over time, some in the NXIVM inner circle came to know Gaelen was Keeffe’s child.  A smaller few came to learn Raniere was the father.

Keeffe told them. Nancy Salzman knew, as did Jeske, of course. But these women could be trusted to lie for Raniere.

The rest of the community, NXIVM students far and wide, and the press – were led to believe the boy was adopted. He would have the privilege of being raised according to Raniere’s revolutionary theories.

What kind of a man denies his own son, tells the spiritual community he leads a lie about his child’s parentage, and forces the mother to publicly state her child is not hers, but adopted?

Keith Raniere with Toni Natalie. He told Natalie that she would have a child with him who would “change the world.” Natalie never had a child with Raniere and fled the cult in 1999. She says Raniere has relentless attacked her in court for 16 years and tried to lure her to Mexico on false pretenses.

What is the psychological impact to the boy growing up – with all the people around him – and himself – believing he is adopted and that his mother died while giving him birth? It is well known that children whose mothers die at childbirth often feel heavy guilt.

Meanwhile, his mother is not dead but is raising him, and his father lives nearby acting the part of some kindhearted man who decided to become his teacher.

I saw the child many times. He looks like his parents. I spoke with his father and mother many times. I heard this lie told many times.

Although I initially believed the lie, irrefutable evidence came into my possession that demonstrated the adoption story was fabricated and that Raniere and Keeffe are the parents.

Kristin Keeffe is the mother of  Raniere’s son. Raniere made her lie, she says, to the NXIVM community and say her son was an orphan. Keeffe fled the Cult in 2014 with her son with the help of state police and is now in hiding.

In time, Keeffe told the boy the truth about his parentage. Despite Raniere’s plan, she would not let the boy grow up with a lie. Apparently, motherhood is stronger than cult-hood.

Raniere never allowed the child to call him “dad” and the boy never received a father’s tender love. Gaelan never had the pride a boy has in saying to all, “see – there – this is my father.”

In February 2014, Keeffe fled the cult. She had to enlist the help of Rodger Kirsopp, a New York State Police Investigator. Kirsopp confirmed in an interview that he helped Keeffe escape from Raniere with her son, and helped arrange for her to live in safe houses for battered women for a time. She is now in hiding.

Defenders of Raniere contradict me if you’re able. Show me this isn’t true and I will cease writing about Raniere and the cult of NXIVM.

To the followers of Raniere, I ask: How long you will defend or be blind to Raniere’s grotesque life and heinous actions?

Clare Bronfman, Sara Bronfman, as you continue to fund this conniving, cowardly man, ask yourself what your life would be like if your own father had told you that when you were born, your mother died giving you birth and that he was not your father.

Sara, you have a child now. Would you or your husband lie to your child the way your spiritual leader Raniere did?

There are not many things lower than a man who denies his child. But lower still are the women who know this and continue to fund him and follow him.

Yes, the enablers are worse.

For without the Bronfman money, the Cult of NXIVM would cease.

The suicides, the twisted sex, the frightened former members running and hiding, the relentless lawsuits, the lurid tabloid stories, the house of lies, could all disappear with the simple closing of your checkbook.










About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • Frank,
    While it’s quite obvious that you were very important in helping bringing down Keith and the NXIVM enterprise, do you ever see or find anything that was good as a whole? Besides, of course, the obvious, which is to derail a maniac.

    • GirlScoutCookies,

      Besides the personal self-reward Frank received from taking down a cult and preventing any more women or girls from being abused and victimized……

      ……Parlato, I believe has been rewarded in one other way…..

      Frank Parlato is now a more talented writer thanks to the hundreds of articles he has written. I mean that sincerely.

      • It all kind of reminds me of the movie Misery….Frank went through hell and now he is a better writer from the experience….

        …..oddly enough I could see James Caan playing Frank Parlato. 😉

        Caan was great in Misery!

  • An immaculate vasectomy might be a satisfying upshot for this fat-thighed, squat-brained dipshit, Keith Raniere. Too little, too late, now that he’s home at last, like a mournful cockroach in his cellblock, and he is unlikely to spawn with any more groupies’ barely in-demand, hair-clotted orifices. Plus some of his older hags are probably post-menopausal now.

    Evidently, the godfather if DOS could still get some of his disciples to sex-traffic for him even today and to round up some young, innocent Mexican girls, what with his still active Mexican fanbase. Involuntary vasectomies are against the law, but Raniere has thought he was above the law for decades. It took nearly 60 years for one woman to come along, pop out his sperm donation and to manage to nag Raniere into pushing a baby stroller in public. Only in Puerto Vallarta(?) though. As he waited for his last supper to feature a group blowjob.

    He won’t ever change, so why take chances with his reproductive organs, when the Northern District of New York might decide to sit and spin, hopeful that nobody notices. If the NDNY decides to play Santa Claus and to be nice to criminals, Raniere could still shoot out more sperm, when he’s 75 or even older.

    One of the strangest aspects of the entire Nxivm community is the group insanity. In this chapter about an unwanted son, it is stunning that these close-knit female warthogs of his would go along with this absolute baseness, even while some knew the truth about whose child Gaelen is. Most of them were well-aware of exactly how Raniere was living. They were still in stiff competition amongst themselves, to be banging the celibate dingbat. Whenever his cupboards seemed bare, he selected one of them for sex, say once every year or so, unless he had special tortures scheduled. He had his sister wives out pimping for him and smugly procuring underage cherries. None want to talk about it now.

  • You have to understand this, and this is critical. I am sorry if it sounds like I am defending the Vanguard, but:

    Clark Kent didn’t want anyone to know he was Superman

    Bruce Wayne didn’t want anyone to know he was Batman.

    Get it? Connect the dots. Vanguard the F’er strikes again!!!

    • You have to understand this, and this is critical. I am not sorry if it sounds like I am throwing the Vanguard under the bus:

      Clark Ken is a pretend story about hiding a good-guy superhero.

      Bruce Wayne is a pretend story about hiding a good-guy superhero.

      Get it? Connect the dots. Vanguard is a real story about a bad-guy convicted felon.

    • Right, we get you! You don’t want readers to know who you are! I reckon you are Batman without the male genitalia! Maybe an “Intersex”? Or, maybe you ticked “other”, on your social security forms!

  • Natalie and Bouchey may have been interested in having Raniere’s baby even though they were told they couldn’t become pregnant, but Raniere only wanted to have sex with them because he didn’t want to pay for their abortions.

  • The “more than a billion people” being Christians is actually almost 2.5 billion. Many people who don’t consider themselves Christians also celebrate Christmas to one extent or another, such as exchanging gifts.

    • Scott,

      Re Christmas:

      Considering almost all
      the traditions and celebrating on December 25th have nothing to do with Christ.

      Did you know Christ actually was born in either the autumn or summer because those are the only months for the correct celestial bodies will line up with what the Bible describes happened in the sky?

      Christmas was moved to the winter solstice to get the pagan people on board and not celebrating the Winter Solstice.

      Christmas gift-giving, the Christmas tree, mistletoe, and even Santa actually was evil and his name was originally Krampus…
      Remember the naughty list, bad or good children? Krampus used to go after the misbehaving and kill them.

      Krampus was the son of Satan.

      Maybe that is why when you scramble Santa, you can spell Satan. 😉

      Again; Thanks you so much for explaining
      the fact that non-Christians celebrate Christmas!

      • Scott,

        Christmas gift-giving, the Christmas tree, mistletoe, and even Santa are all pagan and have nothing to do with Christ or Christianity.

        So why should it be shocking non-Christians celebrate Christmas?

  • Immaculate conception: the idea that Mary herself was conceived without original sin. It does not refer to the virgin birth of Christ.

  • To be brutally honest, the boy is better off without having Keith Raniere as a father.
    Being raised by Keith Raniere and his female followers would be like being raised by a pack of wolves.

    And since Raniere’s female followers come from the same mold as Raniere they are not fit mothers.
    That sounds brutal but it is true.

  • Continue to be the oddest part of the NX story, how could these women be so dumb? How is it that their advisors (sans Raniere) could not get them to see that he was a con, fleecing them of their money and station in life. Perhaps one day, one of them will speak on the matter to clear their names. My money says Sara speaks out before Clare Bear, she’ll do so to save her own hide with the shit storm that is headed their way courtesy of the NDNY and IRS.

    • My bet is that neither woman (Clare or Sara) speaks out.
      Their lawyers will advise them against any statement that can expose them to prosecution.
      And with the RICO law allowing prosecutions for crimes up to twenty years old if performed as part of a conspiracy, neither woman has the luxury of speaking out.

    • It’s easy to ignore advice when you’re stupid. You’re stupid, remember? It goes with the territory. My money says neither one of them will say anything unless/until the NDNY and/or IRS goes after them.

  • Great points. Most fathers’ hearts melt when they see their own infant / child, despite themselves in some cases. This is another bullet point showing KAR has no deep feelings we can detect.

    Let me ask, Frank, is it certain that the Bronfans are and will continue to fund all the various appeals? Or is it possible that someone is funneling back to Keith money from a stash he hid away before his arrest? You had mentioned he might have illicitly taken some of the “losses” he had in the commodities market, for example.

    Also, maybe Nancy Salzman has access to the balance of the cash that was in her house – over and above what was seized by the feds.

    Speculation only, but I am curious.

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