Raniere’s Childhood as Told By His Lawyers — It’s so Sad It Will Make You Cry

Lawyers for Keith Alan Raniere have submitted to Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis an 86-page sentencing memorandum on behalf of their client seeking to persuade the judge to sentence Raniere to only 15 years, the minimum sentence he is allowed under federal law because of his sex trafficking charges.

In a previous post, we discussed how Raniere’s lawyers argued that he is innocent.

Raniere Attorneys Memo to Judge Seeks 15 Years in Prison Instead of Life: Raniere ‘Maintains His Innocence; Stands by ESP, NXIVM and DOS’

Next, they went into his childhood, a childhood so sad that I doubt there will be a dry eye among our readers after reading it. [Often times when people laugh so hard, they shed tears.]

[My comments are in brackets and bold.]

Keith Raniere’s Childhood

By Marc Agnifilo and Paul DerOhannesian II

Marc Agnifilo [l] and Paul DerOhanessian [r]

Keith Raniere was born in Brooklyn on August 26, 1960. His father, James Raniere, was a successful advertising executive who often travelled and was away from the home. His mother, Vera Oschypko, was a beautiful, graceful woman who was a professional ballroom dancer and dance instructor.

James Raniere died this Spring. Because of Raniere’s incarceration, the two had not spoken and were unable to acknowledge the father’s illness or his passing.

The small family did not have much money or material possessions.  When Raniere was about six years old, the family moved from Brooklyn to Suffern, New York, in Rockland County.

About two years after moving, when Raniere was about eight years old, his parents separated and later divorced. In the years prior to the separation, the young Raniere recalls his parents arguing a great deal. It was apparent to Raniere that his frail family was about to fracture.

[It is funny that the lawyers do not include any of Raniere’s bullshit claims about his being a child prodigy which we find on his online bio 

  • He spoke in full sentences by the age of one; was reading by the age of two
  • At the age of eleven, he was an Eastern Coast Judo Champion.
  • At age 12, he taught himself high school mathematics in less than a day and taught himself three years of college mathematics by age 13.
  • He plays many musical instruments and taught himself to play piano at a concert level by age 12]

Like many young children facing the prospect of divorced parents, he thought deeply about whether there was anything he could do to stop his parents from arguing and prevent his family from ending. Without brothers, sisters or a close extended family, the notion that his three-member family would cease to exist caused Raniere unrelenting sadness.

[This poor lad had “unrelenting sadness”  – is that an exaggeration?  Certainly, he gave unrelenting sadness to many people as an adult. Keep in mind that his attorneys didn’t know Keith as a child. His parents are dead. The source for the story of “Poor Keith” is undoubtedly Keith himself and, as we all know, the rascal is given to prevarication.]

After his father left the home, Raniere would typically see him a couple of times a week. Raniere’s father took him to martial arts lessons and was as present in his life as possible. In the years following the separation, the father had begun a new relationship with a woman named Sydney Delisio, one that would extend to until the father’s death. While Raniere’s father made efforts to remain in his life despite the divorce, even at ten years of age, Raniere could see that his mother, who suffered from serious heart disease, would be the primary source of support, comfort and love.

About three years later, when Raniere was thirteen years old, his mother’s heart condition grew worse and she had open-heart surgery. In a sense, neither Raniere nor his mother ever recovered from the surgery.

[Poor Raniere, he never recovered from his mother’s heart surgery. How painful that must have been.] 

At thirteen years of age, Raniere confronted a reality where his mother could die at any moment, leaving him alone in the world.

[Had James already told Keith that he couldn’t come live with him and Sydney?]

For almost five years, Raniere spent a great deal of his time caring for his mother. He made sure she kept her medical appointments and urged her to take care of herself. But, he could see she was not taking care of herself. She was drinking heavily and slowly giving in to the loneliness and sorrow she was evidently feeling all the time. But, he stuck by her, faithfully.

Watching his mother, once a graceful dancer, experiencing such sorrow had a deep impact on the young Raniere.

During his High School years, with the exception of going to school, Raniere spent a great deal of time at home. He did not pursue friendships, he did not travel often, he did not have many of the carefree pleasures some children find in childhood. Rather, he was devoted to his sad, lonely mother, whom he knew was dying.

On many occasions during Raniere’s adult life, he discussed what his life was like as a boy, caring for his mother, knowing all the while he might soon lose her. He discussed wanting to be a hero because a hero would save his mother, a hero would somehow transcend the self-evident reality around him and change it for the better. He would also discuss later in life how people who turned out to be heroes did not see their lives as great or special in the midst of the struggle but only saw this much later.

[He told this story of being so dedicated to his mother – something I generally doubt – to make himself look like a hero. He told the story about not realizing one is a hero – to get his students to think he was a true and humble hero.]

Perhaps because of the difficult circumstances he was in, Raniere had something of a realization at a young age: that he could deliberately and mindfully make a choice to be a good, caring, considerate person at each moment for the rest of his life regardless of the hardships. He realized at twelve years old that the desire and ability to change reality for the better – in a sense, being a hero – was a matter of character, choices and practice.

[If he realized “he could deliberately and mindfully make a choice to be a good, caring, considerate person”, then why didn’t he become a good, caring, considerate person instead of a sex trafficking, racketeering cult leader? Is this bullshit going to impress the judge or piss him off?]

By developing and exhibiting this character, he could stand up to the reality that was pressing in on him. He started this discipline by committing himself to not harming animals or eating meat and to avoid being materialistic.

[Keith Raniere was probably the most materialistic person these attorneys ever represented. He had to have sex constantly, be worshipped and obeyed, and given tribute at every class – all of which is also materialistic. Even if he didn’t wear shoes, grew his hair long, and kept all his money in other people’s names.]

Despite his difficult circumstances at home, Raniere excelled academically in High School. He completed ninth grade at Suffern High School, transferred to the Rockland County Day School for tenth and eleventh grades, but left High School a year early. As stated in a letter dated June 30, 1977 from the Headmaster of Rockland County Day School, Raniere was a “brilliant student of mathematics and science and certainly an adequate student of the humanities.”

As further reflected in the Presentence Investigation Report (PSIR), the letter from the Headmaster further indicates that Raniere applied for early college admission and adds that Raniere was “probably as well prepared for college academically, socially and emotionally” as any of the high school seniors.” The letter goes so far as to state that Raniere had “outgrown all the school’s learnings in math and science.”

At the age of seventeen, and having misgivings over leaving his mother, he started at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (“RPI”) in Troy, New York in August of 1977, pursuing a demanding course of study including many high level math and science classes.

[Raniere “was devoted to his sad, lonely mother, whom he knew was dying” – and he “wanted to be a hero because a hero would save his mother.” Then, he left her all alone and went off to college.]

He returned home the following summer. Raniere was to return to RPI for his Sophomore year on Sunday, August 27, 1978. The previous day, Saturday, August 26, 1978, was Raniere’s 18th birthday.

For his birthday that year, he had a celebration for his mother, giving thanks to her for what she endured and for giving Raniere the opportunities he had. As he would say later in life, it was one of the times he saw beyond the day-to-day struggles and attained a perspective befitting the tireless effort his mother devoted to their lives together. The tradition of using the occasion of Raniere’s birthday to take time to celebrate the efforts of others as well as the beauty and opportunity that life has presented continued throughout his adult life.

At some point, after NXIVM was created, it became known as V-Week. As much as the Government tried to make
V-Week a megalomaniacal party for Raniere, it was in truth a beloved, annual, end-of-summer celebration of all the people who made our lives possible and wonderful. It celebrated not only Raniere’s birthday but those of everyone whose birthdays fall within the period of the celebration.

[Now I know this was written by Raniere – directly and copied by the attorneys. You know how I know — they forgot to edit it?  They used the word “our” instead of “Raniere and the Nxivm community’s” — To wit: “As much as the Government tried to make V-Week a megalomaniacal party for Raniere, it was in truth a beloved, annual, end-of-summer celebration of all the people who made our lives possible and wonderful.” How did the V-Week celebration make Agnifilo and DerOhannasian’s lives possible and wonderful? That was supposed to read something like “end-of-summer celebration of all the people who made Raniere and his community’s lives possible and wonderful.” It is just like Raniere to try to say that a 10-day celebration of his birthday – Vanguard Week – named after him – with him the star – which people had to pay to attend – was not for his glory or satiation – but as a tribute to others and a sharing for others – so unselfish – just like when he had a birthday party for himself and said it was really all about realizing how wonderful his mother was. Nice try Keith.]

Vanguard Week celebrants. If it was so unselfish, why did everyone have to pay $2,000 per person or more to be there?

As it turns out, Raniere’s celebration on his 18th Birthday for his mother would be the last time he would see her alive in their home. On December 13, 1978, the week before Fall Semester final exams, Raniere’s mother died.

[This is heartbreaking. I am glad Keith did not include the story he often told about his mother’s passing. He used to say that his mother had a wonderful cardiologist who kept her alive and one day he died. His mother, despite being in ill health and advised to not go out, decided she had to go to her cardiologist’s funeral. And wouldn’t you know it, she went, exerted herself too much in the ice-cold temperature, and came home and died. Keith was wise not to tell too many of his cock and bull stories and go for the tearjerker instead.

[Still, I would call this a fail. I don’t think the judge will weep when he reads any of this. More likely he will make Raniere weep.  Stay tuned for Part 3 when Raniere’s attorneys, or Raniere himself under their byline, tells the wonderful story of Consumers’ Buyline. I can guarantee you, you haven’t heard this version before.] 



About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • My dad lost his mother at age 6 due to a botched up gall bladder operation…..his father missed his mother so much he began drinking after being left with four kids to raise alone….he remarried a woman who had a son age 12……her son got it all while my dad and his siblings were left to sweep the school gym each school day just to eat lunch…..as they were very poor…..his dad contracted lung cancer and died when dad was 16…..dad had to quit school and go to work to support his grandparents who lived with the family…..once they passed away, dad his brothers went in WW2….Dad and his brother BIll enlilsted in the USMC…..their older brother was already in the army……their older sister was married…….my dad worked hard all his life…..he had a brain tumor at age 50, nearly dying after being hospitalized 6 months….went back to work at a different job as his old boss sent him a dear john type bussiness letter assuming dad would die……after getting the new job my dad went into heart failure and died the age of 54 in 1980…..
    he was the best husband my mother could of ever had and a great dad and brother too….
    no sob stoires here of going wrong or crime…….peoole make their own decisions….some good……some bad.

  • Frank is the real hero of all of this. Frank and Princess Elizabeth. Straight talking, no bullshitting, none of that arty-farty nonsense. A narcissist is an eternal coward who is intensely scared of people like this. He knows they know exactly who is – a sniveling little rat and the worst part is they’re not afraid to expose him.

  • “Heidi H
    September 20, 2020 at 12:47 am
    Keith’s mother, Vera Oschypko – a name that anagrams to: OK Psycho….or K.O. Psycho if you’d rather.”

    Raniere’s mother has a Ukrainian name.

  • This is just unacceptable! Here is little boy blue. He, a caring, sacrificing momma’s boy. The mitigated gall to lock this man up for the rest of his life after caring for his mother.

  • That childhood stuff is not bad enough to be worth mentioning in court. The rest will have to be more relevant to be useful to KR.

  • It’s a good thing he pointed out that V-Week was not “a megalomaniacal party for Raniere” like it appeared. Wanted to make sure that distinction was noted before sentencing.

  • From the Observer, 8.10.10, by Maureen Tkacik, who spoke with James Raniere, Keith’s father.

    “My son, a cult leader,” James Raniere said. “It’s just not so.”

    From the same piece, James Raniere about Vera, Keith’s mother.

    …James Raniere said, “She was the best mother I’ve ever come across.”

    How many mothers did he come across?

    Further along in the article cums a bit of fool’s gold.

    “By coincidence (sho’ nuff sez shivani)
    James handled his agency’s Seagram’s account and said he knew Edgar Bronfman, Sr. professionally during the seventies.”

    Also, Brooklyn Paper in Feb. 2015 gives a short article and a picture of James Raniere visiting Marion, his mother, for her 104th birthday party at a care facility. Zero mention of Flabturd.

    What is even more interesting is how James remarried what people call “up.” His widow is more research-worthy than he. But you have to “know” what you’re seeing.

    Briefly, tonight there was a short podcast where Kevin Annett spoke. It is part of a much longer two-part podcast, for those who prefer to delve with a shorter attention span. Annett, a prolific nonfiction writer, is a Canadian who made the documentary Unrepentant: Disrobing the Emperor.

    The short, 8 minutes or so podcast is called Freemasons, Paedophilia and Swiss Satanism. Youtube, @ Shaun Attwood.

    Well, satanism doesn’t have to be Swiss, but never mind. What I am watching is what James Raniere married into when he remarried “up” and settled into a cushier life in Easthampton and abroad. Tally fuckin’ ho.

  • Frank, nice informative article. No way an average Federal Judge is going to fall for that BS on his youth. I’m sure his clerk is going to pick up he was so concerned about his mother, he left a year early. Think the tease story is how he got that wonderful letter from his High School that he was ready for the next level and learned everything the school had to offer?

    That is the hidden story. Did he do something awful or was his mother someone they didn’t want to deal with anymore?

    No school ever says the student has learned everything!

  • Prince Andrew, Duke of Pork, had a rotten, miserable childhood, too. But he wasn’t stuck with Vera. Porky has had Elizardbreath.

  • Who? Really who, did not receive a wound or two in childhood? I have never in all my time, met someone who didn’t. It’s a given.

    Nothing in Raniere’s childhood can explain away the choices he made in later life, with the full capacities of an adult.

    That boat isn’t going to float.

  • This was a great article, Frank. I simply CANNOT WAIT to read Keith spin’s on CBI, since I was around then. I am all ears!!

  • Darn; he had to bring up “character” and “kindness,” and other noble qualities. Don’t get me started on “hero”…

    So, in developing “character,” you decide it’s OK to have sex 60-ish times with a 12 year old girl? Oh wait – the police report was probably made up. I forgot everyone is against Keith and lies about him.

    Are statutory rape laws just stupid, culturally backwards, and outdated? Is ignoring those laws more “ethical” than obeying them? If so, why? And I don’t think it’s splitting hairs to draw some distinction between a 12 year old and a 17.5 year old girl. Let’s not forget that KAR was no love-struck teenager at the time – he was over thirty and well knew what he was doing (assuming he did it and the police report was not a complete fabrication). If he were to address these allegations in the face of proof, I would expect him to claim he was kindly performing therapy, to help poor R. with a host of “issues” she had. (I’ll bet she is very grateful today for his “help”.) It seems KAR was always all about self gratification – of his twisted sex drive and need to be revered, idolized, obeyed and **served** without question. In his writings and “teachings” he has as much as admitted that laws, including the tax code, were mere inconveniences to him.

    I realize he was never charged with or convicted of this crime. But he is inviting comment by bringing up his alleged “character,” “kindness” and “ethics.”

    As a side note I find his never ending use of the words “mindful” and “mindfulness” annoying. It’s a clear giveaway that he wrote most if not all of the report. He’s been using that word as if it were magical, since at least his CBI days. Note to Keith: They now have thesauruses on line!

    So, your parents divorced and your beautiful, kind mother had health problems. But you got to see your nice Dad several times a week. You lived in a nice suburban house and were able to successfully pursue higher education. (Did hardworking Dad foot the bill?) I daresay many had it much worse.

    My background is nearly identical outside of the divorce – Mother’s heart surgery and early death included. How DARE he draw on such a background as some kind of an excuse for what he became?

  • Creative writing at its best. LOL

    The issue of the “our” I find to be quite minor. LOL

    The entire story was obviously dictated to Raniere’s lawyers by Raniere, they otherwise couldn’t have known those details of his life. LOL

    Perhaps Raniere did expound on many other issues the lawyers decided to leave out for fear of being even more over the top. LOL

    • —Creative writing at its best. LOL

      No it’s not….

      The best creative writing is when you claim to make more than six figures.

  • “Yeah I know he just peeled your face off like a mango, blow-torched your balls, but what the hey, he was forced to live through his mother’s heart surgery and you know….divorce…and.. everybody knows this about him…poor old boy..

    “He loved his old mum…!!!!”

  • Did the lawyers read it and overlook the false perspective from which the memorandum was written? Maybe they recognized it but did not want to edit it so that the judge would see that it was not their work they were submitting. Maybe Keith Alan Raniere wanted it that way. Or maybe Raniere once again made a serious avoidable mistake of his own that he should have thought of.

  • *child rapist, coercive rapist

    Sometimes this works for other pedophiles, and rapists but it’s not going to work for him. I have to wonder if the lawyers are acting on his behalf to their own peril or they’re purposely throwing this match.

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.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com