There are some who think that Keith Raniere was the only villain of Nxivm and everyone else was a victim. It may be true. But here is an account from a woman who had an experience with Nxivm – a dark experience – and one of the main villains in her tale is the Prefect herself, Nancy Salzman.
Nancy was president of Nxivm for 20 years – until she was arrested in July 2018. In 2019, she pled guilty to a single count of racketeering conspiracy – and is now claiming to be one of the biggest and long time victims of Keith Raniere.
Nancy may, in fact, be Victim #1, the biggest sufferer of all the Nxivm women.
She is presently awaiting a sentencing date and it is believed by some that the reason her date has been pushed back is so that Raniere and Clare Bronfman can be sentenced first and then Nancy and her daughter Lauren and Allison Mack can make an appeal to the judge for leniency based on their being victims of Raniere.
While in Nxivm, the alleged victim Nancy lived a life of prestige. She had a very comfortable, brand-new 3,000 square foot house – and enjoyed a six-figure annual salary plus a $50,000 expense account. I was told she also had a $40,000 annual clothing allowance. She drove a $90,000 BMW SUV.
She traveled all around the world on the company dime promoting and teaching – and everywhere she went, she was the Prefect to thousands of students. She was given tribute everywhere. Now, that is all gone.
No doubt she did her job well. She was the public face, the approachable figure of Nxivm. While Keith was the mysterious and hidden Vanguard, hard to access, unless one was extremely fortunate [it helped if one was a slender, attractive lady or a wealthy trust fund baby], Nancy was on the front lines often teaching courses and giving Exploration of Meaning (EM) sessions for those willing to pay the price for her services.
Here is one woman’s account of a Nancy Salzman that does not appear to present her as a total victim of Raniere.
The woman, who has asked not to have her true name revealed, was Joe O’Hara’s fiancée during the time he worked as a consultant for Nxivm. Joe worked for Nxivm for about 15 months. He found some illegal and questionably ethical things that they were doing and he decided to quit.
Much like other racketeering enterprises, you just don’t quit Nxivm. He tried to distance himself peacefully but that was not how Nxivm founder Keith Raniere operated.
Here is Joe’s former fiancée’s story.
I was living with Joe when he was first brought into Nxivm. He was starting up his consulting business in Albany and the money they offered made them seem like pretty good clients.
We knew little about them. I did a little reading up on them and I will admit, I was not terribly impressed. But they paid him well and he thought he would give it a try. I am sure he regrets it now.
My most negative experiences – while Joe was there – was mostly with Nancy Salzman. For some reason, she took an instant dislike to me.
It was pretty evident she was attracted to Joe and perhaps she saw me as a roadblock in her way. She did everything she could to break us up. In the end, even though he had already left Nxivm, I guess you could say, they did successfully break us up – although Nancy did not wind up with Joe.
As for Nancy, I think she should get just as much prison time as Keith because she was just as guilty as Keith. She was the mouthpiece of the organization.
To her credit, she was a wonderful mouthpiece. A great speaker. She got crowds interested – as long as you didn’t listen too closely to what she was saying. But she is one nasty woman. I saw a different side of her because she kept going at me.
Keith actually had to step in at one point and tell her to lay off because Joe told him that if Nancy didn’t stop picking on me, he would have to resign.
I didn’t really care as much as Joe, because I would say things right back at her. She would come after me and say something rude or demeaning and I would say something right back. But many times, I held my tongue, because they were Joe’s clients and paying a large monthly fee.
But Nancy kept making things harder. Not publicly, but privately.
I think the day I realized that she was really manipulative was the day she told me I was responsible for getting breast cancer. It did not just occur. She said I attracted my breast cancer because I was seeking attention.
As you know, Nancy herself got breast cancer [she had a double radical mastectomy] and I always wanted to know if she thought she did it for attention.
Of course, I never bought into her theory. I do not believe a woman gets breast cancer because she wants to get attention. Fortunately for me, I only had a lumpectomy under my arm and it is not noticeable and I am free of cancer now for 18 years. Early detection was essential in my case. I considered myself to be lucky with having only one little scar.
Nancy did not do as well. When I read online on Frank Report about her cancer, I felt bad for her. I did not feel any glee over her getting cancer after she making her obviously stupid and horrid comments to me when I was suffering that I was somehow guilty for having cancer. I do not take joy in somebody else’s misfortunes, but it doesn’t mean I like Nancy Salzman.
But she did not like me either. I never had anybody hate me so much in my entire life – before or after.
Still, I think it may not have been so much hatred as it was jealousy. It seemed to bother her that Joe and I were happy together and that I was financially independent and owned a really nice house. She claimed that things fell into my lap and I did not earn my wealth. I was not a successful business-woman like her; that was her implication.
I think her goal was to snag Joe away from me and get him into Nxivm.
I also observed her with the Bronfman girls. She could come across as motherly when she wanted. I remember that she was charging them $800 per hour for advice. And that was almost 20 years ago.
I always felt that those girls were really being taken advantage of. I felt sorry for them, but Clare turned into somebody else over time.
She was not like that in the beginning but then over time, I guess she totally bought into it. As for Sara, I’m glad she kind of got out.
They are, I suppose, a good example of what happens to kids when their parents don’t pay much attention to them and they are raised by nannies.
But the main issue Nancy had was getting me out of the way. It was clear that Nancy had a desire for Joe. She would go out of her way to let him know despite his telling her we were a couple.
A part of her effort to win Joe was to put me down. All the time. Nancy referred to me as a suppressive.
Besides my cancer – which she said I got to get more attention from Joe – she said I did other things to get attention. When my father died and Joe went with me to Pennsylvania, she was livid. She said I was trying to take Joe away unnecessarily from work so he would pay more attention to me.
It was incredible the way these people guilted and harassed and interfered with our lives. For example, somehow, it seemed almost every single night, Keith Raniere would call at dinner time. It did not matter what time we were having dinner, Keith seemed to have a 6th sense.
Whenever we were about to sit down to dine, the phone would ring and it would be Keith. He would keep Joe on for at least an hour. He delayed many dinners for us.
I also took a few Nxivm classes with Joe. He asked me to come along to keep him company. The mere taking of classes was in their minds enough to put on the full-court press to get me involved.
They assigned one of their people, Loreta Garza, as my coach. I was supposed to report to her, call her and meet with her and apparently bare all my secrets to her. I refused. I would not call her or share anything with her. This is one of the reasons I was labeled a suppressive and probably another reason Nancy wanted me out of the picture. I was never going to be a Nxivm member.
One of the strangest things I witnessed was at Silver Lake – at Vanguard Week. We went up there for Keith’s birthday. We did not stay the whole week or 10 days or however long the retreat lasted. But we were there for his actual birthday [August 26th] party.
A gripping part of that scene was waiting for him to arrive at his birthday party. Everyone, including Joe and I, were there early – or I should say, we were on time. Keith was late. We were all in this room waiting for his grand arrival.
It was almost mass hysteria when he got there. People standing up and crying as though God had just walked in the room
I literally saw all these people making tributes to him, crying their eyes out about how Raniere changed their lives.
He had a very large chair. It was actually meant to be like a throne. It was perhaps well-intended but poorly conceived. His throne was too tall, the seat was too high. He’s kind of a short, dumpy, little guy. Keith actually had to jump up to sit on it. When he sat, his feet did not touch the ground.
Once seated on his throne, students came forward and presented gifts to him. I remember one was an expensive violin.
The really big gift that year, which was the show-stopper, and upstaged everyone, was Clare and Sara Bronfman’s gift. They presented him with an over-sized check – for $20 million.
When I saw this, I was flabbergasted. For some time, I felt that the Bronfmans were being taken advantage of by Nancy and Keith and when I saw those girls holding the big check in front of everyone – so proud and giddy – I felt bad for them and looked at Joe.
I think it was pretty obvious I had a look of incredulity. Joe noticed and whispered “Don’t look at me like that; they’re watching us.”
I turned and watched the scene. I think the girls tearfully thanked Keith for allowing them to make this donation for his world-saving scientific work.
[Editor’s note: Because of Joe O’Hara’s efforts, and the intervention of the trustee for the Bronfmans, the $20 million donation was never finalized. However, for those who are fans of Raniere, don’t be sad. He got all of the $20 million and much more – about 10 times more – in the next few years out of the Bronfmans.]
It is an experience I don’t need to see again.
During the entire time Joe worked for Nxivm, I was his girlfriend and we lived together. It caused quite a strain. They just insinuate themselves into your daily life and try to take over. They don’t want you to have friends outside their group.
It was interesting – looking back at it in retrospect. But at the time, it was scary.
I was astounded when I later learned about the sex crimes. Neither Joe nor I knew anything about this when Joe was working for them. We had no idea about the young girls. We saw no evidence of it. We never saw any 14 or 15 year old girls around at all. If this was going on, it did not happen when we were around.
We did notice that all the women were very thin. They all had long hair. They all seemed ultra-devoted to him. It was bizarre.
Eventually the ‘drip, drip, drip’ of their constant effort to get us into the cult – and the tension they brought into our lives – was disastrous for our relationship. It got to the point where we could not function as a couple with Joe working for Nxivm.
He quit. He tried to leave peacefully and after he left Nxivm, I went to work for Joe.
His office was in downtown Albany. In addition to being his girlfriend, I worked for Joe as kind of his Girl Friday. He put me on the payroll. I’d do filing, ran to the post office, got everyone their cappuccino, filled their parking meters, but I did not get into the nitty-gritty of the business. I did not want to get tied down to the job and I did not need the money. The business needed an employee like me to do these jobs. I got along really well with his staff – and it was sort of a fun job for me. I would come in the afternoon and stay until it was time for Joe and me to go home to dinner.
He had broken away from Nxivm. And things were normal again for us. It was a nice period of time but it did not last long. Joe thought the understanding with Nxivm was “I will leave you alone; you leave me alone.”
But they never leave anyone alone. They went after him with everything they had. They tried to seize his assets. That did not work out for them. But they continued. The legal cost started to mount up. Trying to fight them drained Joe’s assets.
I do not know why they went after him. Joe was not going to cause them any problems or try to take them down. They are done now – and nobody was as happy as me to see that Nxivm was destroyed.
But for months after Joe got out, Nxivm continued to haunt our lives. When I lived in Loudonville, they had cars parked in front of my house, literally for months, watching the house. It was very unnerving. They canceled my cable. They stole mail. Our phone lines were cut.
One day, my alarm system went off – and when I went out to check, my front door was open and my back door was open. I fled the house to a neighbor’s home.
I had a small grandchild oftentimes at my house. The final straw for me was when I was carrying my two-year-old granddaughter in my arms and went out to my car and saw my tires slashed. I finally had to break it off with Joe. I had to protect my family.
It freaked me out but they were a dangerous group. And it was not Keith alone, though he might have ordered it. Somebody had to execute his commands. They are guilty too.