After more than 30-months of total silence – except for portions of some of his recorded prison phone calls that were released by his supporters – Keith Raniere has granted his first public interview.
And did he do that with one of the country’s major television networks – or one of its major newspapers?
No… He gave that interview exclusively to Frank Parlato, the founder of Frank Report.
A portion of Parlato’s interview with Raniere was reported on last night’s edition of NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt. The news show has an estimated 10 million viewership.
Here is the video of NBC Nightly News Interview with Raniere
Because of the fact that federal prisoners are limited to 15-minutes of phone time per hour, Keith’s interview with Frank was actually done via two 15-minute phone calls that were spaced one-hour apart.
The conversation was recorded on audiotape and Parlato was filmed by NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt at an NBC studio and by Parlato’s own film crew.
Raniere’s voice can be heard over the speaker of the cell phone.
In addition to the audio recording that Frank made of it, Raniere’s side was likely recorded by one of the Corrections Officers at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, NY (It is believed that all of his phone calls – and all the emails that he sends and receives – are recorded by MDC staff).
The interview covered a variety of topics – and is something that we’ll be reporting on more extensively in the future.
Guilty or Innocent?
When asked point-blank by Parlato whether he was guilty of the crimes he was convicted of during his trial back in mid-2019, Keith declared that he was 100% innocent. He also said, however, that he regretted if anyone was hurt by anything that took place in NXIVM/ESP or DOS.
He said he would speak at his sentencing.
In response to Frank’s question about the origin of the now-infamous brand that was etched onto the pubic area of approximately 50 women, Keith indicated that the brand was not his idea.
Instead, it was something that several of his closest followers came up with as a form of tribute to him (If that sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because that is very close to the story that Allison Mack told to Vanessa Grigoriadis in a New York Times Magazine article back in 2018).
Keith provided the definitive answer to a question that has heretofore been unanswered since the brand first became public: it does not contain the initials of Allison Mack.
Why Frank Parlato?
Without being asked, Keith volunteered that he chose to do his first public interview with Frank for two reasons:
- Frank was among the first journalists to respond to the request from the NXIVM-5 for assistance in exposing what they claim is the prosecution’s violation of Keith’s rights to due process – and its own misconduct before and during Keith’s trial; and
- Frank has had personal experience in dealing with federal prosecutors who use their powers in ways that are unethical and perhaps illegal.
Frank has indicated to Keith and others that he is willing to review any evidence that indicates the prosecution in Keith’s case did anything that amounts to misconduct. And that’s exactly what he was doing when he was given an opportunity to interview Keith directly earlier today.
Here is the NBC Nightly News Video
Here are some photos from the NBC interview
Transcript of NBC Nightly News Story
STEPHANIE GOSK: They called him ‘Vanguard’, the founder of NXIVM, a shadowy self-help organization described by Federal prosecutors as cult-like. Keith Raniere has not spoken publicly since his arrest, more than 2 years ago. But now, just days from being sentenced on Federal charges, he is talking.
KEITH: You know, one of the things that’s most important in our country is the justice system. And although, you know, people can hate me and do, and think I’m an odious type of a character, you know, awful, actually. Um, both the devil and a saint should be able to get the exact same treatment under our justice system.
STEPHANIE GOSK: Today, Raniere spoke with – of all people – the man who helped bring him down. Web journalist Frank Parlato. A former NXIVM spokesman, Parlato himself has pleaded not guilty to tax and other charges that originated from his NXIVM involvement.
FRANK: You plan out 14 steps ahead.
STEPHANIE GOSK: If you’ve seen the HBO docuseries “The Vow”, Parlato’s name may ring a bell. Parlato broke the story that a group within NXIVM was treating women as sex slaves, and branding them with Raniere’s initials. Raniere was convicted in 2019 of sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, and racketeering.
FRANK: Do you intend to make a statement in that, in your sentencing, that you are innocent?
KEITH: Yes, I am innocent. And, although it is — this is a horrible tragedy with many, many people being hurt, I think the main thrust of this has been the oppression. But really, a different issue, which is hard for me to express… There is a horrible injustice here and whether you think I’m the devil or not, the justice process has to be examined.
STEPHANIE GOSK: But victims and their families don’t want to hear from Keith Raniere. They say he tried to destroy women’s lives.
CATHERINE OXENBERG: Really, these young women, without being aware, were on this runaway roller coaster to hell. And they were completely unaware. And that’s where Keith Raniere was taking them: to hell.
STEPHANIE GOSK: Raniere is now accusing Federal prosecutors of misconduct, alleging evidence-tampering. An NBC news producer took part in the Raniere interview.
KEITH: I apologize for my participation in all of this – this pain and suffering. I’ve clearly participated. I’ve been the leader of the community.
STEPHANIE GOSK: Raniere could face life in prison when he’s sentenced on Tuesday. A judge will consider impact statements from over 100 victims. Stephanie Gosk, NBC News, New York.
When Will the Interview Be Made Public?
Frank is currently considering several different options for making the entire 30-minute interview available to the general public.
With Parlato at NBC studios were two members of the Nxivm-5 – Marc Elliot and Eduardo Asunsolo – who also recorded Parlato conducting the interview. Their arrangement was that Parlato and Nxiivm-5 both have individual and unilateral rights to broadcast and use the interview.
Raniere called on Elliot’s phone.