This post is part of an ongoing analysis of the conviction and sentencing of Keith Alan Raniere.
One of the women who read a victim impact statement at the sentencing of Raniere was Ivy Nevares. While it is not clear that Raniere committed any federal crimes against her, her statement was powerful and was delivered with the intent to enhance the length of his sentence.
Raniere, 60, was sentenced to 120 years in prison.
During his trial, Ivy was named as one of his inner circle. She remained loyal to him until January 2018, about two months before he was arrested. She had been with him for 17 years, as one of his lovers, his student, and an employee of Nxivm and some of the offshoot companies.
Let us examine a revealing email Raniere wrote to Ivy in 2008. It was published on her website as part of her written victim impact statement, and filed with the court.
Raniere’s email to Ivy [below] is printed in Bold type. My comments/clarifications are in normal type.
From: “Flintlock” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: details
Date: October 6, 2008 at 3:27:16 AM EDT
To: “Ivy Nevares” <email@example.com>
I want you to know I love you. I want the best for us and act toward you in a way to optimze [sic] that. I had planned to surprise you on our anniversary for I had hoped you would make this possible for me by losing weight etc.
For Raniere, and the women he had sexual relations with, their anniversary was often the calendar day they first had sex. The anniversary was considered a special day for the women.
In his email, he is letting Ivy know that everything he does is because he wants to optimize what’s best for them as a couple. He knows best, it is assumed, for he is the Vanguard of the community. He is informing her that he might not be able to present her with the surprise he planned for their anniversary and may not be with her at all on that special day, because she has not lost enough weight.
I do believe your habits are more important than “us.”
Her habit was eating. He wanted to teach her that this and other indulgent habits should not be more important than “us” – of them being together as a couple. Keith had previously determined that Ivy’s optimum weight was 95 pounds and in order to attain that, he advised her to consume 400-500 calories daily.
As Ivy relates in her victim impact statement, one day she offended Keith greatly by eating a handful of pumpkin seeds which potentially had about 125 calories. It was a reckless act and Keith realized how undisciplined and uncommitted she was to attaining her correct body weight.
We are nothing if you do not earn your way out of this ethical dilemma.
Keith is using the word “we” as in the two of them. He is saying they cannot be a couple if she cannot “earn” – by losing weight – her way out of this “ethical dilemma.” The ethical aspect is that Ivy apparently agreed to his condition of low bodyweight.
For her part, Ivy wanted to be not only his student, but his wife, in a monogamous relationship, and to have a family with him. He had promised her before, she says, that she would be the mother of his firstborn child.
It should be noted that Lauren Salzman also claimed Raniere promised her that she would bear his first child. Neither were to be successful at this. In fact, he already had a child when he wrote Ivy this email.
In order to prevent Ivy from learning that she could not possibly bear his firstborn child, Keith and his inner-inner circle women created an elaborate story about his then-two-year-old son with Kristin Keeffe.
The story they told about the male child toddling around Kristin’s house was that he was a foundling; that the lad’s mother died in childbirth and his father was unknown.
The inner-inner circle women knew that the mother was Kristin and the father was Keith, but for Ivy and some of the other women he was having sexual relationships with, who thought they were in a monogamous relationship with him – and for the general rank and file students who were told that Keith was celibate – the denial of his paternity was essential to keep them loyal to him.
The mother was even forced to deny her maternity, Kristin was to reveal in a victim statement. Keith felt it was justified. If Kristin was known to have had a child – a woman who was long in Keith’s inner-inner circle – she would be obliged to disclose the father – which would either force her to reveal Keith or make up someone, which would then appear to be a betrayal of Keith to some of those in the harem who knew Keith was having sex with all of them.
All of the harem members were required to have sex only with Keith. It was a tangled web the teacher weaved.
Of course, Raniere felt this pregnancy was not really his fault. He would have certainly ordered Kristin to have an abortion, as he had done dozens of times with his other harem women, if he had only known she was pregnant.
She was so emaciated from maintaining her own low bodyweight that she did not show that she was pregnant and it was not until she passed out one day and was taken to the hospital that they learned she was pregnant and in her eighth month. In those days, there were no eighth-month abortions and the child was born.
To protect the teachings that Keith said would one day revolutionize the world, the deception about the child’s parentage was necessary. It was also necessary to prevent Ivy from leaving – which was important because she was one of Nxivm’s hardest workers, one of their best writers and teachers.
The point of this long explanation is to put the email in context. While Keith is writing to Ivy about her ethical dilemma – and offering her hope that she might be able to have his firstborn child and that he is monogamous with her – he already had a child and a harem.
At this point, I do not know your weight and you have not written to me as you promissed [sic]: obsessively.
Keith required of Ivy, as he did with other women, that she report her weight to him daily. He claims that Ivy promised to do this “obsessively,” a word Keith liked to use to show the commitment a person needed to have to achieve their goals.
It has been argued that he was obsessively preoccupied with the weight of women – to pander to his own deviant sexual desires, but Keith has said that thin women are more spiritually evolved and that even a little fat shows indulgence and lack of commitment on the part of women.
Even if you drank only water and walked many miles a day, I do not know if you can create the ethical permission for us to be together on our anniversary.
Keith called himself an ethicist – and he defined ethics as consistency and keeping one’s word. She has to lose the necessary weight if she wants to be with him on their anniversary. He doubts she can succeed and if she does not, despite wanting to see her, he will not be able to grant himself “ethical permission” since she had not kept her word and lost the weight they agreed upon.
I do not know what to do. Only you can create this, but it has to be more important in every moment than anything and I still [sic] there are no guarantees.
What she has to “create” is the chance for them to be together on their anniversary. However, he can’t guarantee that, even if she does succeed and gets down to the desired weight, that he will see her. There may be other ethical considerations that will have to be analyzed before he can see her on their anniversary.
On another note relating to this: in thought I am far more “faithful” to you than you to me. For example, I have never dreamt of having sex with another woman.
While Keith may not have ever dreamt of having sex with another woman, while he was awake he was having sex with many women. Among those he was having sex with around the time were Pamela Cafritz; the three Mexican sisters, Mariana, Camila, and Daniela; Kristin K; Karen U; Dawn Morrison; Barbara Jeske; Kathy Russell; Monica Duran; Clare Bronfman; Loreta Garza; Lauren Salzman; Svetlana; Barbara Bouchey; Sarah [not Edmondson]; and, according to a very good source, Nancy Salzman.
And numerous other women when the occasion arose.
Up until recently you said the people with whom you had sex in your dreams were faceless and genital-less or with my genitals. This is no longer the case and I see it as an additional problem.
Ivy had one or more erotic dreams, it seems, and told him about it.
It is a problem because of things you said and thought about my genitals amongst other things from the begining [sic] of our relationship due (I believe) to fear of dependency. I think you are obsessed in this area. If so, it is important you be obsessed with me/mine. Your dreams indicate otherwise.
This thought, which some intelligent people might be averse to putting in writing lest it might be published someday, suggests that, like her weight, Keith wanted Ivy to be obsessed with his genitals.
Based on things she apparently said about his genitals in the past, and how she described the dream genitals of her faceless lover in her erotic dreams, Raniere realized that her dream lover did not possess his genitals.
We saw in his texts to Camila, which were also of such a nature that some might have wondered why the self-proclaimed world’s smartest man ever put them in writing, and which were read at his trial, revealed that he required Camila to detail her preference for his genitals over the young man she had an affair with.
In the somber atmosphere of the court, some of Raniere questions and Camila’s replies provided a sudden dose of comic relief – and caused jurors, prosecutors, spectators, and it seemed at least once, the judge, to hastily cover their faces to conceal laughter.
I want to help you and us with all my heart. My condition has gotten very bad where I hide it from Nancy and Pam.
Keith sometimes disclosed to his women that he had serious physical maladies, caused by the hard work he was doing for the world and from taking on the deep problems or “disintegrations” of various women because he loved them so much.
At times, he disclosed his condition might be fatal. Because of his closeness to a woman, her defiance could cause a condition that could end his life and, hence, end the great movement he started. [Several women in his harem told Frank Report that he told them that their infidelity could actually kill him because of his high spiritual connection to them.]
In his email to Ivy, Keith is revealing that his condition, possibly caused by Ivy, has gotten worse and because he does not want anyone to know he is suffering, he hid the dire nature of his condition from two women he worked closely with: Nancy Salzman and Pam Cafritz.
Nancy ran the company at the time – and he lived with Pam and Mariana in a ménage à trois. He told various women, including possibly Ivy, in explanation as to why he was living with two attractive women who were devoted to him, that Mariana and Pam were lesbian lovers and not attracted to him sexually. The reality was that Pam was his top wing woman, his best recruiter of women to his bed, quite often with her as part of three-somes, and that Mariana was Keith’s longtime sex partner and house servant, with whom he chose in the end, over Ivy and Lauren and others, to have his second child.
I can’t go on much longer.
It is unclear if Keith meant he would die soon if she did not obsessively lose weight and think of his genitals.
If you are to break this cycle, you must adopt a zero-tolerance, immediate policy with yourself. The moment you read this you must start, not tomorrow. You cannot use any excuse for any transgression. One single trangression [sic]–one single lazyness [sic] of writing or anything–and you have started down the slippery slope.
This was her last chance. She must diet, must write to him her weight every day, and must obsess on his genitals – or else she would go down that slippery slope where she would not only miss out on their anniversary, but he might shun her altogether or die from the illness she created in him out of the love he felt for her.
You need to obsessively incorporate all I have written here: miss not one word. I cannot tell you anymore [sic]; it is all up to you. You need to prove us to yourself and to me. You must live all of your past commitments, ideas of commitments, thoughts of commitments and anything else you can imagine: there are no limits; no idea, concept or practice is too much.
“Do or die” is his teaching and if she does she can win the great prize, a perfect, monogamous relationship with him and have his firstborn child.
This is a start. I do not know if it will be enough but this fact must not discourage you. Please do this. Make this right. I love you.
If she obsessively lives up to all of her past commitments, ideas of commitments, thoughts of commitments, and anything else she can imagine without limits; with no idea, concept or practice being too much, she will have made a start, but there is no guarantee.
Love apparently prevailed. At least in the short run. After receiving the email from Keith, Ivy did the near-impossible and got to see Keith on their anniversary.
As she wrote in her victim impact statement, after she received his email., “For the following five days, I put myself on 500 calories of maple-syrup sweetened lemonade (the ‘Master Cleanse’), laxatives and saltwater purges. I walked 4 miles to the gym, worked out for an hour, sat in the sauna for an hour and walked 4 miles back home—this doesn’t include my teaching dance classes 1-2 hours a day. I lost 10 pounds in five days to spend our anniversary together.”
But it did not last. After Ivy lost 10 pounds in five days by fasting, she started eating again.
“When I began eating,” Ivy wrote, “it caused an inflammatory response, and my body stored the energy as fat.”
Raniere did what ethics required him to do: She gained weight. After all, he had done for her she put on a pound or two of fat.
He now ethically shunned her, refusing to see her. She did not care enough about “us” he explained. She cared more about her.
Ivy stayed, however, following Raniere for almost another decade, much of that time falling short of the goals Raniere chalked out for her, oftentimes being shunned by him for lengthy periods of time and sometimes shunned by others in the community at Keith’s behest. She continued to work for Nxivm assiduously and remained faithful to him.
For his part, Keith continued to offer Ivy hope that she would one day cure her ethical breaches, which were more serious with each passing year, and have his firstborn child. She never did succeed and so she passed through most of her twenties and thirties trying to achieve goals Raniere set for her, believing he was her teacher who wanted the best for her.
Today, Ivy says she believes she was manipulated by an abusive liar who took advantage of her love and his role as the teacher and leader of the community she lived in and worked for full time. She went so far as to ask the judge to punish him with life in prison.
Now, none of what Keith did to Ivy qualifies as a crime – this fooling a woman for 17 years of her life, waiting for motherhood and the love of a husband.
Ivy is another voice condemning him and it is a sad voice, an angry voice, crying out for justice’s sake for someone to listen to her.
It is my impression that the judge heard every word she spoke.