Cancer Survivor, Sally Brink’s Statement at Clare Bronfman Sentencing: ‘You’ve Caused so Much Destruction in so Many Lives’

Sally Brink raised $42,000 on GoFundMe for her cancer treatment. Nxivm leader Nancy Salzman told her she got her cancer to seek attention from her husband.

At the September 30th sentencing hearing of Clare Webb Bronfman, where she was sentenced to 81 months in prison, nine women spoke as victims.  The sixth to speak was Sally Brink, who spoke live in the courtroom.

We have published the statements of the first five.

  • Sarah Edmondson, appeared by video: here. 
  • Ivy Nevares, appeared by video: here.
  • Jane Doe 14, a DOS slave, appeared by video: here.
  • Jane Doe 12, appeared live: here.
  • Toni Natalie, appeared live: here

Sally Brink, 47, was introduced to Nxivm in her late 20s. She and husband, Damon Brink, were co-owners of a restaurant in Vermont at the time, with a good deal of promise for its success.  She flew to Los Angeles in 2004 for a five-day course.

After taking the course, she found it appealing and took more courses. Then, like many others before her, she gave up her restaurant. She and her husband moved to Albany to dedicate themselves to building Nxivm and supporting its ethical mission.

Over the years, she paid $145,000 to take classes, which consumed much of her income earned while working for Nxivm. During the years, she worked closely with Clare Bronfman, her supervisor and, she thought, a close friend.

In 2017, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Nxivm leader Nancy Salzman, undoubtedly taking her lead from Keith Raniere, told Sally that she had given herself the disease to get her husband’s attention.

Despite years in Nxivm and its Executive Success Programs, Sally was unable to afford medical treatment. So, she launched a gofundme page. Looking at the list of donors, it was surprising how little her fellow Nxivm associates contributed, even those trust fund Nxivm coaches who were millionaires, who she thought were her close friends.

Something was odd about this – and later she realized that Raniere had given orders to shun Sally during her illness. Sally was able, somehow, to raise $42,000 for chemotherapy treatment. After raising the money, Nxivm leadership told her, Sally claims, not to spend the money raised online for treatment, but to make the ethical decision to die.  [Ironically, Nancy Salzman later got breast cancer and sought to live, ending up with two radical mastectomies.]

Nancy Salzman with Sara Bronfman at the last Vanguard Week in 2017. Nancy told friends there that she had breast cancer.

Throughout Sally’s suffering, Clare, the heiress who spent more than a hundred million on Raniere and his schemes and vendettas, offered encouraging words, telling Sally she loved her. Clare could have offered more than words, by donating, for instance, $50,000 [less than what Clare spent per week on average for Raniere] and help Sally avoid taking the time it took to online fundraise, time that could be used to get Sally more quickly into treatment.

Clare chose not to help her. To put it in proportion – $50,000 for Clare Bronfman, with a net worth of $200,000,000, is the same as a person with a net worth of $200,000 giving $50 to save the life of a friend.

Ironically, Sally’s husband is still a follower of his Vanguard, though they have moved back to Vermont and are struggling to rebuild their lives since they left Albany without any money after coming there with such hopes so many years ago.

Sally Brink’s Statement to the court:

Thank you for the opportunity and the time to speak. I didn’t plan on reading today, but this is a quite intense venue, to say the least.

In February 2016, I decided to leave ESP after years of involvement, ranging from very little, to my life was completely encapsulated in ESP. It was a feeling that something was deeply wrong, but I couldn’t figure out what it was, I couldn’t pinpoint it.

I just knew I needed to leave and I was scared. So scared I didn’t tell anyone, not even my partner, my husband, who I had been with since 1995.

While I was transitioning out of the companies, I was in many, many roles. I was diagnosed in January of 2017 with Stage Two breast cancer. That night, I was in the shower, so my son couldn’t hear my sobbing.

Why am I so sick? How did this happen?  I’m only 45 years old with no history of breast cancer in my family. I started looking at my thoughts about myself and it was like I was in a movie screen and everything was negative and self-deprecating. I started to think, “Do I really think these things about myself? Do I really believe this?” And I realized I didn’t.

It was all feedback from ESP. All the things that they said to me about my self-esteem. I didn’t earn anything,  and I had no right to anything. I felt entitled, I was a princess.

A lot of this came from Clare. We were very close at certain points. I lived on her farm as a property manager with my husband. And I worked in many roles and she was my supervisor in many of the roles. And I thought we were friends.

In that moment when I was in the shower, I knew that I needed to rid myself of all the negative associations with ESP or that I would die. Between the stress of the indoctrination, my body being in a constant state of fight or flight or freeze. My body broke down like many before me who died of cancer in ESP.

Within weeks, the cancer took over my body and I was told I was going to die. I had gone from Stage Two to Stage Three or Four within five weeks.  They didn’t know if it was Three or Four. They said it didn’t matter. They were going to treat me the same way.

Ninety days later I was cancer-free. That’s when DOS was exposed. A few days after DOS was exposed [by the Frank Report], I was sitting in the FBI Office in Albany telling them what I knew, asking for help. I didn’t even know what I was asking help from.  It was like this monster that had no face, no name.

I had a panic attack in July 2018 after Clare was arrested. I again was told I was going to die. But here, I’m here today as part of my healing journey and because I thought that I needed to look at Clare. I needed to be here because I think it’s only fair to you that I say these things to you. And I would like to address Clare now.

I was reading some of my old emails between us.  In one of the emails I wrote — excuse me — that I loved you.  And I was grateful for you.    And yesterday when I read about your [liver] illness, I felt very sad for you, and scared.

Wondering what it would be like managing your fear in this moment, what you’re going through. I know this, in part, because of how sick I’ve been over the years. But I’m wondering if you can imagine what it was like for me to be told that I was going to die. The pain about thinking about leaving my son motherless, and not having the resources to choose the best doctors.

I was completely broke. When I joined ESP and I moved to Albany, I had a fantastic resume, I had a six-figure line of credit, I had a lot of money in the bank, I had health insurance. And I left with none of that.

And here I am involved in this [Nxivm] community that I really believed in and now some of the higher ranks were telling people not to help me [when she had cancer]. This community, a lot of the higher ranks, they turned their back on me.  I was shunned for being sick.

The deep emotional pain that you and many others were not my friend and did not love or care about me still resonates with me today.

When I resigned from coaching in September 2016, we had our last walk. You didn’t speak to me again until you called me in April 2017 to tell me I was going beat cancer. And I was beating cancer. I was on the hardest chemotherapy that they can give to breast cancer patients.

I now know that your friendship and your love was completely dependent on my involvement in ESP.  Have you ever thought about your impact on my life? How you directly participated in the destruction of all aspects of my life.

I can tell you that you’re not going to heal with KR [Keith Raniere] in your life. You have to take back your power. This is, of course, if you’re not his evil understudy but a victim.  And I do believe you’re a good person.

I’m sad that your choices and mine have brought us to this space. If you had put down your pride and were open to feedback from others besides KR, and I hadn’t abnegated my personal power to you and ESP, perhaps none of this would ever have happened.

My pain is, where were you ever my friend? I am holding that space. As long as you support KR, there is no forgiveness for you. The damage and the destruction that you caused in my life can only be healed if you can disavow him and see him for what he is.

After reading your letters, I believe that this is all because of KR. There is no Clare. It is crystal clear that you have no sense of self without him. You do all his bidding, and that’s what makes you dangerous.

If you go to jail, my hope is that you can finally experience yourself without any expectations from the outside world.  When you leave jail, you can finally do the good you wanted to do in the world.  You’ve caused so much destruction in so many lives but you’ll have the opportunity to heal the damage that you caused.

The choice is yours. It is light over darkness, and I hope one day you see the light.

Thank you so much for your time.

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Frank Parlato


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  • By the way, I felt bad for Bonnie, when Catherine was mocking her for sleeping on the floor, she was laughing hard to her face! Jesus! That was awful! And that clearly angered Mark: “We don’t think its funny, bitch”

    • While Catherine’s comments were not entirely appropriate, I think that it would have been fine had Mark not blown up – Bonnie was laughing herself, humor is something that IS part of the exit-counseling process. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – and gives you a very macabre sense of humor. I’ve never seen someone in exit counseling who has not seen the absurd humor and irony in the end result of their situation once they’ve escaped – Mark’s response, while in defense of his wife, indicates a person in need of further therapy. Bonnie left first, she’s begun processing her exit far sooner, it’s evident she can find the humor in the situation. Mark’s response actually made her feel guilty for having that response – he’s not on the same page recovery wise as his wife. Sadly, there is a lot of work and therapy ahead for both Bonnie and Mark, but more so for Mark at this point.

      • I have to disagree that Catherine’s comments were fine but, of course, it’s a heavily edited show so who knows what the actual situation was? Mark’s response was entirely proper IF that was what occurred. It was good for Catherine to realize it was way too soon to be joking about any of it, especially when her daughter was still in the cult.

        Mark’s comment was one of the finest of the entire series, and I am so happy he was able to express himself and his frustrations.

  • HBO’s “The Vow” brought me here, and I have to admit this website is so much better at making the case. I think it was a poor decision to drag that out over 8? 9? 10? episodes to make it a full season. It would have been far more powerful condemnation in 2-3 hours just laying out Raniere’s crimes.

    Thank you for your heroic efforts in bringing this guy and his horrible organization down and for shining a light on the other brave women and men who started this crusade. It’s upsetting it took this long to bring justice.

    • “I think it was a poor decision to drag that out over 8? 9? 10? episodes to make it a full season.”

      But Sarah Edmondson, whose acting career is the equivalent of vegan bacon, loves the attention.

      They may even be filming a season 2, which is ridiculous.

      If you want to learn more, consider reading the four-part Times Union expose of NXIVM from 2012. That expose revealed a lot about their crimes and other things. Things that Sarah Edmondson and Mark Vicente agreed with or simply ignored. And now both are playing the victim card.

      • I’m not sure it’s the role of the filmmakers to point this out, but a number of these young women had some interesting relationships with their fathers which may have impacted their decisions to enter or remain with the cult. Oxenberg’s daughter had a father convicted for drug smuggling which must have been awfully hard on her growing up. I really feel awful for some of these women and how they were treated by men even before they met that monster Keith.

        • Brian-

          Thank you for pointing out the fact that some of the women did not have the best of relationships with their fathers.

          I had not thought about that aspect of their lives.

          Do you have any examples you’d like to share?

          • I don’t know very much about the people involved, but the documentary shows the holes that were in each of these people’s lives before meeting Raniere. For example, Mark needing good male friends and companionship, so he was drawn into what he thought was a lovely fraternity of caring men trying to improve relationships with women.

            Raniere is great at exploiting these weaknesses since he likely shares a number of them and is a skilled predator. Still, a number of these people were preyed upon before they even walked through the doors of NXIVM and that’s sad and unfortunate.

      • —Sarah Edmondson, whose acting career is the equivalent of vegan bacon

        Now that’s a metaphor for the ages.

        I agree about them dragging out the episodes and the other mistake they made is going in such an overly artistic Cinema photography style. I felt like I was watching a movie from the late 60s early 70s.

  • I shouldn’t be but I’m really interested in this marriage if he is still a follower of Raniere’s. She’s been through such hell and it’s all recent. I’m sure she still has a lot of things to deal with physically and mentally one step at a time. Poor woman.

  • Sally’s is the most powerful, honest impact statement I’ve read so far. Her story reveals how insidious, destructive and dangerous it is to allow oneself to be consumed, possessed, by the dictates of contrived power figures like Raniere and Salzman.

    This is the most sympathy I’ve felt for Clare since I watched her at the Precision trial. Despite the cruel details, Clare was a tool, weapon, object and she still is. The sadness of that clear fact overwhelms the anger. I don’t see any hope for reform without strict separation from not only Keith & Nancy & Company but from all those who continue or plan to profit from her tragedy. Judge Gaurufis was wise and compassionate to order the additional 3 years of no contact. Maybe Sally’s statement had an impact?

    Thank you, Sally. Good luck with that husband. Damn.

    • You know Sally Brink was named in Joe O’Hara’s 2012 lawsuit against NXIVM as a likely future defendant, the same month the Albany Times Union expose came out revealing Queef liked the little kids?

      She knew shit. At most, she knew allegations, serious allegations. These people stayed in too long to deserve a “You poor brave thing” comment.

      • Correction: “She knew shit”, meant she knew about bad stuff, be it directly or via information that was out there.

        And meant to say “as a minimum” in regards to at least knowing about allegations.

  • Just like Scientology and so wrong and cruel. I just watched another episode of “The Vow” and I just don’t know how those clever men and women could accept the stuff KR was saying – so sexist about men and women. Loads of women support their husbands financially – I did. There may be a few who are “princesses” but not many. He was talking to successful businesswomen, actresses too – why did they accept that load of rubbish?

    • “He was talking to successful businesswomen, actresses too – why did they accept that load of rubbish?”

      Because women are women, no matter what their status. And actresses are dumb attention seekers. They are only rich because of their celebrity status. The younger they become privileged, the more detached from reality they are, as they will never know what a real day’s work feels like and they may well be richer then most men they run into, leading them to think they are of higher value then most men, feeding their inflated sense of ego, an ego further increased by being in a pretentious cult like NXIVM.

      And your husband should be ashamed of himself if he was supported financially by a woman.

      That is, if you really are a female called ‘Jane’…

      • == Actresses are only rich because of their celebrity status. The younger they become privileged, the more detached from reality they are, as they will never know what a real day’s work feels like==

        The only people who deserve being rich are those who inherit wealth.

    • Bangkok-

      Is it not you, Bangkok, who continues to exploit it to your own ends?

      What dastardly machinations are you planning this time?

      You bawdy dandy.

  • Hi, Frank.

    This has nothing to do with this post but wanted to comment on The Vow last night. I thought Vincente and Bonnie kind of laid it all out there for all to see. The scene in which they are talking to Catherine Oxenberg about penance and sleeping on the floor was particularly moving. Thanks for getting rid of this asshole cult.

  • That was so SOFT. She didn’t hit Clare at all. And wait a minute, she is still married to a man who supports Raniere? That marriage has to be a joke. And the people in it idiots

  • These demonic cretins had the gall to call themselves ‘humanitarians.’ Nancy Salzman should serve the same sentence as Raniere, she is just as guilty in destroying people. This particular victim statement makes me furious; I had cancer and it sounds like mine followed a similar arc to Sally Brink. The idea that any group of people could blame, shun, isolate, refuse to help someone in that position is unfathomable and unbearable when they could have rallied around her with support on every level. Just when I think I’ve heard it all with these immoral ignorant perverse totalitarians, along comes some new person who suffered torture at their hands. Nancy Salzman is a pig. She has harmed just as many people as Clare. In fact, she and Keith used Clare’s money as a blunt instrument for their revenge. She hands her own daughter over to a monster, but how many others did she cruelly try to devour herself? Life has a funny way of snapping a boomerang of justice right back at a person who puts out brutality into the world. If she were to be hit with a meteor strike for example while walking down the street, would anyone be surprised? Can’t wait to see how the civil suits play out.

  • And Sally is still married to a man who follows Keith Rainiere. Most marriages are shallow, this may be the most.

  • Powerful testimony from Sally Brink. It’s hard to imagine anything more depraved than a group of millionaires shunning a very sick friend in her hour of need.

    Especially Clare, who accrues an additional $30 million annually just from the interest on her trust fund. Even if Clare had done nothing else wrong, her cheapness and cruelty towards Sally would cry out for a lengthy prison sentence.

    Thank God this crew has been brought to heel. There are no limits to Keith’s evil.

    • I agree. Cancer is a terrifying experience, right from the diagnosis. What “friend”, with annual interest income into the millions, would not step up to help? Especially one who claims to be a “humanitarian.” What did they used to say? “Charity begins at home?” I thought they were all one big, happy family.

  • To blame someone for their illness is textbook psychopathy. I feel as if Keith infected others with non-empathy under the guise of “his genius”. True and disgusting behavior on the part of Clare and her cohorts.

  • Maybe not the right article to put this comment under. But oh well…

    Jasmine Al Fayed, daughter of Mohamed Al Fayed, took the 5-day ESP/NXIVM course in New York at the former Union Square / Broadway location in and around October 2011, along with Basic Igtet when he was engaged to Sara Bronfman.

    Jasmine Al Fayed took the course because of her failed fashion business, Jasmine de Milo, which never made a cent, but was fully financed by her billionaire father. It was Sara Bronfman who had introduced Jasmine de Milo to ESP/NXIVM.

    A few weeks later, Jasmine Al Fayed was in Albany (Colonie) for the remaining 11-days with the actress from Burn Notice, Gabrielle Anwar, and her partner, Shareef (Mark) Malik, owner of The Forge restaurant in Miami Beach. By the way, Gabrielle Anwar and Shareef (Mark) Malik hosted a 5-day course in their home in Palm Island in Florida where Mark Vicente and other taught the courses.

    While Jasmine Al Fayed was in Albany, she was being recognised at the hotel she was staying at during her 11-day course, as the billionaire daughter of Mohamed Al-Fayed, and so stayed in Sara Bronfman’s house while Sara gave Jasmine full access to her driver.

    Moreover, Jasmine’s partner, Noah Johnson, took the 5-day course paid by Jasmine in Albany (Colonie) in 2011 just before the 11-day was going to start. He left to go back to London to look after their daughter.

    Jasmine wanted her father to take the course, which he never did.

    • Thanks for that anonymous. I had never heard of Al Fayed’s daughter being reeled in. Interesting to hear who they were working on.

      • Well, obviously you won’t unless you were there or were part of the cult. Jasmine Al Fayed was just looking for meaning and became so devoted that she wanted to join JNESS and wanted one of her brothers and her father to take the course.

        Jasmine Al Fayed was so traumatized by her relationship with her mother, Heini Wathen, that she told everyone she has a legal contract with her own mother which stipulates how her mother should behave with her.

        All info can be validated… when Jasmine Al-Fayed took the 5-day in New York around October 2011, she stayed at The Mercer Hotel in New York.

        During the 5-day, Jasmine Al Fayed had breakdowns claiming the wi-fi is causing her headaches and making her dizzy, so they had to turn it off, and Sara Bronfman had to comfort her.

        Nancy Salzman came to the 5-day all the way from Albany as one of the special guests, all because there were several wealthy participants in the course, and they needed Nancy’s attention to help bring in more wealthy clients.

        Basit Igtet who was in the same ESP/Nxivm course, was so in love with it, that he flew in all his friends (at Sara’s expense) from Europe to take a custom course.

        These people, Nancy, Nippy who is in The Vow, Allison Mack, Edgar Boone, etc, they are not qualified at all, and some of the paying attendees had extreme trauma before coming. One woman had experienced rape from her gay husband, and Nancy Salzman had her at the front of the class and this poor woman broke down, you could see this woman needed serious professional help, and certainly not something made up from Nancy and Keith.

  • Sally

    Thank you for the wonderful statement. You state it perfectly: Clare will have an opportunity to reflect in prison; and afterward, to live a new life, right the wrongs, help others and be a force for good in the world.

  • Brink appears (with the emphasis on appears) to be one of very few people involved with NXIVM for a long period of time who was not caught up in nefarious activities. LOL

    Perhaps this is because she:

    1. Was married and working for Bronfman, therefore less of a target of Raniere’s;
    2. To a stupid SOP guy who by all accounts is one of the males in NXIVM more stupid than Raniere; and
    3. Left right about the time DOS was getting cranked up. LOL

  • The irony of those who called others suppressives and destroyers of value being the biggest suppressive and destroyers of other people’s lives most of all. A conditional Espian “love” based on the will and whims of an overcompensating madman.

  • I believe 81 months in prison is rather lenient. It is not commensurate with the callous and wanton destruction of lives she orchestrated. To me, 12-14 years without parole would have been more like it.

  • Me parece demasiado bondadoso para un supuesto amigo que le pareció bien que el otro amigo muriera. Clare es peligrosa y dañina y no tiene principios. Como bien dijo IvY Nevares no es más que una pobre idiota sin autoestima ni talento que accedió en Nxivm a puestos que estaban muy por encima de sus capacidades sólo por su dinero y el potencial de éste para hacer daño. 6 añis de cárcel me parecen muy pocos. Deberían ser 20 o más. Así tendría tiempo de reflexionar. En mi opinión como siempre Clare se ha beneficiado de su dinero.

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