Guest View on ‘I’ve Had People Killed’ – Was It an Implicit Threat?

One of our readers, “Leo”, made an interesting comment on the ongoing debate over whether Keith Raniere meant anything nefarious when he said to Barbara Bouchey, during a videotaped meeting in April 2009, “I’ve had people killed because of my beliefs.”
The comment is worthy of its own separate post, which will be found below. But first a few prefatory remarks are in order. First, the video in question is available on YouTube.
Second, there is an honest difference in opinion on Raniere’s statement so that it justifies the debate.
One of the nine women confronting Raniere at the time, Susan Dones, thinks Keith may have had murder in mind. She said she was frightened enough by his statement that she posted the video online in case she wound up being killed.
The thought of Keith Raniere threatening murder is regarded by his followers as false. He is a man of peace, of non -violence and love.
Angela Ucci, another of the nine women who confronted Keith at the time, thinks Raniere was exaggerating his importance by his statement. She wrote, “He was becoming unhinged as he was in the hot seat for maybe the first time with several key members of the organization. This was a statement born of his self-aggrandizing, narcissistic, bogus, delusional god complex.”
Keith Raniere explains to Barbara Bouchey, “I’ve been shot at because of my beliefs. I’ve had to make choices, should I have bodyguards? Should I have them armed or not? I’ve had people killed because of my beliefs and because of their beliefs, and because of things that I’ve said, and I’m mindful of that and I’m leading an organization that’s doing something very good…. you know this is an old Christian adage which I think is very true “The brighter the light, the more the bugs.”
Some of Keith’s supporters have said that Keith was being literal and was referring to Ben LeBaron and Luis Stubbs, who were killed in Mexico, after following Raniere’s advice not to pay ransom to kidnappers.  The problem with this theory is that Raniere made his “I’ve had people killed” statement in April 2009 and LeBaron and Stubbs were alive when he said it. They were killed in July, 2009, about three months later.
The following is the guest view by Leo on this topic: What Did Keith Mean When He Said ‘I’ve Had People Killed Because of My Beliefs.’

By Leo

Raniere was obviously trying to intimidate and otherwise express how seriously he took his position and how little someone like Barbara Bouchey [BB] would understand about the gravity and problems that a “great leader” like Keith experienced.

The conversation starts with them talking about people ganging up on BB. Keith, I think, is trying to say to BB that he, Keith, is above trying to play the petty blame game that BB is playing.

Keith says “The way you counter blame is to be a dictator, which I won’t do”. Which is a statement that could be analyzed for pages on its own. But to me, Keith is saying in effect to BB, “look, I could just squash all this petty squabbling but I don’t because I am benevolent and I suffer because of it.”

Keith is expressing to her how hard it is for him to be a leader, pointing to the way presidents age as an example of how much pressure and stress leaders face on behalf of their flock.

Obama then and now: How Barack has aged during eight years in the White House

It seems to me that at the beginning of the exchange, Keith is trying to get across to BB how being a leader of NXIVM is like being on a knife’s edge and anything he says can have grave consequences. People can die, economies can change. He invokes the name of EF Hutton, which was once one of the most prominent financial institutions in the first half of the 20th century but became mired in legal issues because of a scandal that involved kiting fraudulent checks among various member banks to avoid paying interest on loans.

Keith was like a bank, and BB and others were customers at that bank. Keith was expressing to BB that if he gets involved in a conflict between customers, it could make the other customers wary or set a bad precedent, or otherwise have unintended consequences.

Keith is trying to tell BB that there are mechanisms for her to resolve her conflicts without having to drag Keith into it.  Keith’s basically telling BB that the answer to her conflict should be self-evident based on Keith’s teachings.

“Bring it up the process” Keith emphasizes a couple of different times.

Then BB seems to be saying to Keith, “well a lot of members don’t know about this process.” BB is saying that a lot of people on the periphery of the inner circle can’t see the conflicts or “elephants” that are present and they maybe aren’t as familiar with the group dynamics and teachings.

BB seems to be concerned about turning others off to NXIVM and trying to explain to Keith why their current dynamic is not great for recruiting or expanding the group. BB is basically telling Keith that he, in part, is to blame because he is in the middle of everyone and that is causing issues. And these issues are further compounded by Keith not addressing them to the group. Who knew that when you sleep with over ten women in a social circle that it might cause problems? If nothing else, this just shows how much of a master at manipulation Keith was.

Keith then pushes back and says, “well, I’m not addressing them in the way you (BB) would like.” Then they have the exchange about leadership.

BB tells Keith that he doesn’t really have any leadership experience either, and if Keith were to let this stand he would’ve basically lost control. Keith has to express to BB and others listening (it was being videotaped, after all, and Keith was aware it was being taped) that he does have the bona fides to be their leader.

Here’s the sentence in question: “I’ve had people killed because of my beliefs and because of their beliefs, and because of things that I’ve said, and I’m mindful of that and I’m leading an organization that’s doing something very good.”

Keith directly says “I’ve had people killed”. He is speaking in the active voice. He’s not saying in that portion of the sentence that people have died because they share his beliefs, but rather that Keith has directly caused the deaths of others.

Now I think that Scott [LOL] or whoever might be confused, in part, because later in the sentence Keith also implies that people may have died indirectly because of Keith’s beliefs or teachings as well. The way I read his statement is that Keith is telling her, yeah, I’ve had to order people’s lives to be taken, and people have died because they shared my beliefs, and my word is so powerful that people trust it and act on it and that, too, may have caused people to lose their lives.

Keith thinks he is like a President of the United States. He’s had to order airstrikes and had to make decisions to go to war or to kill an enemy of the state. I think that this is what Keith is trying to express as well; that he is the leader of the most important organization and BB’s internecine struggle is just a distraction from the goals of the group which are critical to the future of mankind in Keith’s view.

The bottom line, in my interpretation, is that Keith was confronted by BB directly and belittled in his view in probably the harshest manner that he had experienced in his years of leading a cult.

Keith was trying to impress on BB and others the stakes of his leadership and how serious and dangerous his mission and, thus, their common mission, was. Keith was doing his best to be intimidating and to demonstrate to BB and anyone else who might be listening that would challenge his leadership that the very act of challenging him in the future or not following his teachings might imperil their life or someone else’s.

A challenge like BB’s that Keith wasn’t an especially good or experienced leader had to be met with the strongest possible rhetorical response and Keith’s trump card always seemed to invoke life and death. As in, Keith’s spiritual energy is so strong that he will die if he doesn’t get off with a woman. Keith threatening women that he might die if they cheat on him. Etc. Etc. It fits Keith’s pattern and I think it was obviously an implicit threat.



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  • Leo
    Its a logical fallacy to assume that because someone disagrees with what Keith’s intention may have been in making that statement, that they are a SUPPORTER of Keith.
    Your assumptions are based on your own ideas only. Stop thinking you can read other people’s minds, as obviously you can’t..

  • I just listened to part of the youtube upload. You do not have the experience of leadership, he says. Yet these women were more successful and better leaders and richer than he was before he got his hooks into them and destroyed them. He thinks he is “God’s gift to mankind” as my mother would have put it.

    On the murder thing – the words he said seemed pretty clear but he does say a lot of words so maybe he meant something else. For example, just encouraging someone to abort his child on some people’s definition is getting someone killed. Telling someone not to seek help from a doctor can kill them, etc., etc.

  • The real question is what is Keith’s personal definition of murder as it pertains to him.

    Does Keith believe driving someone to suicide is murder?

    Keith is linked to 2 suicides:

    1. Raniere is directly linked to Gina Hutchinson’s suicide.

    2. Keith is indirectly linked to Kristen Snyder’s suicide by his underlings and his EMs.

    Perhaps Raniere believes he murdered these women by driving them to suicide.

    Encouraging someone to kill themselves is quasi-murder at the very least.

  • “Who knew that when you sleep with over ten women in a social circle that it might cause problems?”

    That should go on KR’s tombstone.

    • Yes, that made me laugh. The fact is that most sensible men know it might sound fun in theory but it is very complicated and tends not to go well.

  • Such a fuss about what does Raniere means. We will never know. You only got a short version of the meeting so you don’t have the full context of all three days of the meetings that Raniere allowed me to film with my camera.
    A missing component to this shorten video that people do not understand is, we had informed Keith Raniere that the entire group of what has become the NXIVM 9 was done meeting with him, playing his games, and were resigning from NXIVM. It was the first thing that was told to him when the meeting started.
    His attempts at any conversations that took place during this entire meeting were an attempt to get us to change our minds. He was going to lose his only Center on the west coast, two of his top enrollers, and this was the first major exit of women from his company.
    Nine women were about to walk out the door of his company and he failed after the first two days of meeting with us, to sink his claws into any of us to stay. Why, because there was power in our ranks as a group, and he could not send in his pack of wolves to work us over, hold his power of manipulation of us individually, or threaten us with anything to get us to stay. He was pissed, but he knew he was on tape, the tape I would own, so what was he going to do, get up and kick the shit out of us like he has been known to do when alone with a woman?
    It was going to cause big waves to happen, not only to Raniere’s ego but to his company. He had never experienced such a loss of control with so many people at one time. The next time this happened, he left the country for Mexico and hid in a closet when the police tracked him down.
    You can speculate all you want about what his intentions behind his words mean. It doesn’t matter to me. You never had to deal with this evil man, had your house broken into, had death threats show up in weird places, had your car followed, have strange cars set across your house for days, you were not sued, had false charges brought against you in other counties, had your friends and family dragged through the court systems, watched those you once cared deeply for dying from cancer, hear of all the abortions, hear of a young girl being locked away in a room for doing nothing but wanting to be with another man, reading about five women he raped when they were underage and two that killed themselves, one whose body was never found and you knew her personally because you coach her first five days intensive.
    No you all get to sit at home, comfortable in your chairs, reading the Frank report, not knowing the thrill this man got from torturing his victims, the hell he put people through, the pack of wolves he got to do his torture for him. No, you get to be the spectators in the stands saying, no that was a bad play, I would have run this pass option and would have gotten the touchdown pass for sure, would have won that Super Bowl.
    I’m not saying you’re not empathic for what some of us have been through, of course, you are. You didn’t have to live through it. I’m glad you never had to experience the hell and torture we went through. Had you, then maybe you would take his words of I’ve had people killed for my beliefs a bit differently and why the hair on the back of my head stood up when he said that. He wasn’t the kind of gentle Vanguard people were sold. He is a monster who has not stopped at anything to get his jollies.

    When the video was released he could use LeBaron’s deaths as an excuse to those who might have had questions. In my deposition when asked about it, I went home and did research thinking that might have been why he said it. I found out it was a crock of shit. Unless Raniere looked into his crystal balls and knew the dearths were going to happen ahead of time it was just a story he used as a cover-up for his flock. He made the statement on the video in April of 2009, the sad deaths of Benjamin LeBaron and his brothers-in-law, Luis Widmar happened in July 2009.
    Using their deaths to cover his ass is what Raniere does. He could use it because I released to a group of my friends asking them if something happened to me during NXIVM’s lawsuit against me, to show the video to the police, I knew I was going to expose things NXIVM was not going to be happy with. NXIVM had committed tax evasion in Washington states and I had the proof that had done that. I reported them, and I was going to expose that through the court system along with what Nancy Salzman had told me about the cash coming across the border from Mexico, not paying taxes on it, which only leaves money laundering.
    Was this information going to end me up in a cornfield in Iowa? I had no idea. Was it a reason to fear for my life after a man has said he has had people killed for his beliefs? What does that even mean? Do his beliefs mean that his needs come before anyone else? I think we have proof that he is true about Keith Raniere. He is a narcissist.
    Judge me if you need for being afraid. There was a plot to get us to Mexico to speak at an Anti-cult conference. Mexico. No, no, no, I said, we will never be seen again.
    Little did I know at the time how spot on I was. Later we found out by Kristin Keeffe that she was told by Raniere that a bribe was made by Emiliano Salinas to a Judge in Mexico for the arrest of Barbara, Toni, Kim, and myself. As soon as we step foot across the border of Mexico we were going to be arrested on these charges, thrown into prison, and tortured, including raped until we signed confessions saying we lied about everything we said about NXIVM. Then we would be released, but not really, we would be killed.
    Funny how in NXIVM’s legal case against me, several offers to drop the case against me were to, sign a statement that I lied about everything I said about NXIVM, turn over my three-day video to them, and turn over my laptop.
    Shortly after that, the NXIVM computer trespassing case happened, wonder if they would have planted evidence on that laptop to have me arrested in that criminal and the civil case had I folded and not stood and fought their seven attorneys?
    Alex Betancourt also filed extortion charges against a small group of us in Mexico at Clare Bronfman’s request just a couple of years ago.
    We still have no idea if any of these charges have been cleared up. One of us who has traveled internationally has been pulled aside by customs and asked about the charges in Mexico. I’ve traveled internationally twice since then and have worked with the EDNY FBI on my return date if I am to get pull-aside, to call someone from the FBI to work with customs.
    Why is that we still dealing with this legal mess in Mexico? Why hasn’t Emiliano Salinas and Alex Betancout who say they have left NXIVM not clearing up the legal matters they have falsely made against us? When all we did was to leave NXIVM and work to expose NXIVM for what it was?
    This is part of the torture of Keith Raniere. Do you think that Alex, Emiliano, and Clare come up with these ideas on their own? No, no one did anything without Raniere’s permission and things like this were always his idea of how to get back at people who got in his way of having everything he wanted. No leave Raniere and speaks out against him in a negative way without his revenge.
    The more I talked to people who had left before me, heard their stories of what Raniere had down to them, experiences my tortures while I was in and after I left, heard how much worse he became, I don’t put it past Keith Raniere to have people killed for his beliefs.
    Think of all those dead babies never born, all the women he was slowly starving to death and you ask how did many get cancer? Not enough food, sleeps and so much stress, breeding grounds for cancer. Even Clare Bronfman is having health issues now with her liver.
    Barbara Jeske used to say “if you’re going to dance with the devil, wear your asbestosis pants”. Kind of ironic if the dance with the devil doesn’t kill you, will the asbestosis?

  • He knew he was being video tapped and said it knowingly that it could be slanted any way it suits him depending on who he was talking to.
    Just like when the were discussing the meaning of his initials branded on their genital area. They literally said that they could simply pretend it was a coincidence.

  • One other separate point in support of Susan despite our differences of opinion on certain matters:

    I was helping her and Kim with some others prepare and defend themselves against Clare and Crockett in their bankruptcy case. I also read the daily transcript reports, etc. Susan was always very clear in and out of court that the LeBaron murders happened after Keith’s videotaped ‘admission.’ Crockett tried to or did confuse the dates more than once.

    Susan was likewise always clear that her justifiable fear of Keith and his “Wolfpack” was not due to some guilt Keith had expressed about his leadership faults resulting in fatalities — which is, obviously, how NXIVM wanted Crockett to explain Keith’s threat or admission —as an expression of leadership remorse over the LeBaron misfortune.

    At the time, I recall, we concurred that Crockett’s (NXIVM’s lawyer) curious LeBaron strategy was more a way to deflect or explain Keith’s admission or threat to Barbara, the NXIVM 9, any defectors or whistle blowers, really. This was also intertwined with the LeBaron polygamy practices — some excuses going on about that “lifestyle choice” and the prejudices thereto. It all smelled to me, to this day, more of Keith than Crockett. And Keith always used these trials to cover the bigger picture — his own ass — to find or set-up scapegoats, excuses, etc.

    My final note: Keith’s additional comments on Susan’s video about “being shot at” underscore a built-in murder (or other mayhem and madness) defense right there, if you ask me. Keith was defending everything they’d done to stop their perceived enemies — not short of murder — and everything they could, would and did do to us — by making himself the victim of imaginary shooting incidents, death threats, etc.

    …Keith’s spent half his life working on alibi’s, justifications and revenge. What he’s saying is, “Imma kill you and get away with it in self-defense (or something) just like I always do, bitches.”

    • Yes, they seem to twist things round all the time. They are the ones suing everyone left right and centre and then complain now about a legal system which they were perfectly content to exploit so good did they find it for years.

      Most cults like to find an enemy to make people more loyal – they are all out to get us, we are God’s chosen people, we will die rather than be taken. FLDS leader Warrent Jeffs is in jail which proves he is the true prophet, they say. IN fact when there are no crimes going on it can be better not to give these groups justification for their maintained invented “persecution” allegations.

    • Heidi
      I’m sure Keith was trying to play the victim, but it’s a real stretch to assume he thought he, therefore, could commit murder and then claim self-defense. The smartest man in the world could not be that stupid.

  • That’s a far more intelligent, informed perspective than [Scott’s] take on it, “LEO.”

    None the less, it equally serves to invalidate Susan Dones, or each and all of our, reactions to it at the time it was made and/or made known to us. Not that you mean to do so, intentionally.

    Couple of facts, however, are rather conspicuously missing in all these speculations.

    For one, Frank alleges through his investigations, made public in “The Lost Women of NXIVM,” that Keith DID have at least two people — Gina Hutchinson, my sister, and Kristin Snyder — killed in 2002-2003.

    (In fact, Scott’s little webcast was among the first to broadcast this claim if I recall correctly, despite overlooking it as well in his recent, ‘NXIVM expert’ analysis.)

    Regardless of the veracity or not of that claim, the suspicion on Keith’s role in those potential murders was in play and on the minds of some who saw the video or were there when he made the fearful threat — by at least the time Susan decided to post the video online to protect herself and Kim.

    I’m not certain about the timing but, if memory serves, there were also current death threats and, quite possibly, a murder by food poisoning and other attempts made on John Tighe (Frank’s predecessor), Joe O’Hara’s and others’ lives.

    Wouldn’t that factor into an analysis on Keith’s killer boasts and its impact on his audience?

    I know Susan and many of the NXIVM 9 were reading JT’s blog…damn, some of us — including Sultan — were on it at the very moment “The Rat” appeared warning of Keith’s bloody deeds and NXIVM/Mexican murder and mayhem. Some of us got further deets from JT himself on “The Rat’s” true, unpublished confessions.

    Again, a thorough, informed look back would weigh these and many other factors. The first person who told me she suspected Keith was responsible for Gina’s death, for instance, was part of the 2009 – 2012 NXIVM exodus and exposure story. And there’s a reason you’re not hearing a peep from her or several others who suffered the fall out from that harrowing, death-defying round of whistle-blowing.

    And only part of that reason has to do with the [redacted] pushback from the likes of “LOL” on FR. (Lol.)

    Some of us who have expressed our beliefs about Keith and NXIVM do know, to the bottom of our souls, EXACTLY what Keith meant by, “I’ve had people KILLED for my beliefs or theirs.”

    • Thank you, Heidi, for your unfailing clarity despite EVERYTHING. I imagine it must be difficult to have a personal tragedy constantly dragged out, pulled about, sullied, and speculated over, not always so obvs. in the interests of truth and justice, but for some kind of weird boys-club sport. Always interesting to hear your view.

    • “For one, Frank alleges through his investigations, made public in “The Lost Women of NXIVM,” that Keith DID have at least two people — Gina Hutchinson, my sister, and Kristin Snyder — killed in 2002-2003.” WRONG. Frank never alleged that, he held it up as a possibility [redacted] LOL

  • Raniere forced multiple girls/women to get abortions therefore he had those humans killed.

    AND there are multiple mysterious deaths, disappearances and clusters of illness around Raniere that are suspect.

    AND why would anyone make those kinds of comments anyway—who talks like that? Gang members, gangsters and mafia types, hit men and, yes, cult leaders. Upstanding, ethical leaders embracing compassion and ethics don’t make comments like that.


  • I 100% agree with Leo. I also agree with both Angela Ucci and Susan Dones. Keith said the same thing to me and somebody else. The two of us discussed it, and were leaning towards Angela’s take on it. However, we were unsure enough about it that we told a third person that if anything happened to us, no matter how it might look, it was Keith who was behind it. And we made the person promise not to let Keith get away with it.

  • I’ve always heard as like, my cause is so important and serious that people have died fighting for it. How dare you act like it’s silly.

    It’s a response to Barbara saying that the mission is stupid or faulty, so that’s the context I hear it in. He’s saying the mission is so important that supporters have given their lives for it. And of course he carries the burden of their deaths. Hence he is a martyr and his mission is important.

    Not saying I don’t think he could kill someone, just that his MO isn’t to admit to something like that.

    • With some cult leaders, they feel they are so important everything is recorded. Scientology even puts Hubbard’s writings on to special plates that cannot be destroyed. Warren Jeffs of the FLDS even recorded his group sex with the young wives including the 12-year-old and every day of his life and what he said was written down by his wives for posterity. KR was recorded a fair bit too which is why The Vow with so much old footage is so good (as was Wild Wild Country about the sannyasins).

      So, I wonder what has been found of KR’s materials, recordings and “tech” never mind the collateral and the filming of branding, etc. They certainly seemed to start destroying collateral but it is very hard to destroy everything. Things often lurk on servers and old computers and elsewhere. I wonder if the FBI has finished with some material if someone with more time could analyze it all properly and see what is there.

      • Anything can be destroyed, some things are more resistant than others. LOL

        The FBI will probably never release the information to the public. LOL

  • I don’t know what to say. Tex, Tex, Tex. LOL 🙂 Basically, I can imagine anything about Keith. I can’t corroborate it. I can’t decide if when he said that, he actually knew what he was talking about or if it was just theater. But my nose is guessing he meant it. I’ve come across too many similar things. Not so rough, just the EXCUSES.

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.” He also appeared in "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM, and was 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 premieres on May 22, 2022.

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