Nexum/NXIVM? Eerie parallels between Raniere Sex-Slaver Cult and Ancient Roman Slave Contracts

Nexum or Nxivm -- what's the difference

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

Keith Alan 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.

Vanguard created DOS – which stood for the Latin Dominus Obsequious Sororium [The women under the dominant male master]. It shows he loved the Latin and ancient Roman concepts of slavery and ownership of humans as property.
The DOS branding ceremony included five witnesses, one each to hold the four limbs down, and the fifth to film the branding [plus the branding doctor and the slave master – for a total of seven].

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 has always taught his Nxians that nothing can repay his teachings so that they had an eternal debt to him).

Sex-slaver and NXIVM founder, Keith Alan Raniere miscalculated a smidgen when he thought he could operate an MLM blackmail and branding sex slave cult and keep bond slaves in line like they did during the ancient Roman empire days.

There was no single 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.

Nexi were often beaten and abused by their owners.

DOS slaves were often beaten or paddled by their owner, Raniere.

Sex slaves Allison Mack and Dani Padilla were nexi – or slaves to Keith Alan Raniere. Raniere had to beat Dani with a paddle for various reasons and was distressed that she seemed to enjoy it, a true case where it hurt him more than it hurt her.

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 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.

The bond slave Gaius Publilius was desired sexually by the man who held the debt of his father. His cries for help summoned the sympathy of the Roman public and they ended nexum – – the practice of having people, not property- serve as collateral.
The discovery of Cami’s nude photos, when she was 15, caused the Nxivm defendants to flip on Keith Alan Raniere and let him stand trial alone.

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

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 damnatio is not dissimilar to the Vow taken by the DOS slaves where they pledge their lifelong obedience.

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, self-described as the world’s smartest man, who graduated from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (but concealed from his followers that he graduated with a2.26 GPA, having barely passed and failed many of the upper level math and science courses) seems to have taken this ancient and abolished practice into the 21st century, and even modeling the “debt contract” off of the ancient Roman, Papirius, who was responsible for its abolition.

Like Papirius, Raniere was 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 the cult and 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 Webb Bronfman worked with Raniere to “orchestrate” criminal complaints against a former slave who went public and detailed the abuse she endured within the cult.

Sex slaver and human experimentation financier, Clare Bronfman (r), with her legal muscle, Buffalo lawyer, Willam F. Savino (l) of Woods Oviatt. Savino worked hard for Bronfman and Raniere to ensure the enslavement of women.

An in-depth review of years of Bronfman/Raniere lawsuits and criminal complaints against ex-slaves suggests that the Bronfman/Raniere crime 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 that they deemed “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.

Raniere is currently in federal custody pending sentencing in October where it is likely he will get a life sentence for his crimes.  Webb Bronfman, who is also known as Legatus, is set to be sentenced on September 30. She is expected to get a sentence of between 4-7 years for her financing the sex slave cult.

About the author

Frank Parlato


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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.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

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 premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

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Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083


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