For longtime readers, a story like the following may not seem like news, although there is some new information in it. This story is for the many new readers, recently treading down the rabbit hole called Nxivm.
I might call this story a little of an historical perspective, and potentially an “evergreen” Nxivm story for it relates some important historical aspects of this fascinating study of people – of how one man, aided and abetted by a group mostly made up of women who were his sex partners, could have such an outsized influence on a group of largely intelligent, yet oftentimes easily led, individuals – again mostly women.
The study of Nxivm is a study of how people could be once enamored if not enthralled with an individual and then become convinced later that he was their worst nightmare. It is a story of how people change their minds. So, it is a study of more than Keith Raniere but also a study of humanity, and of the human mind and human emotions. And it is a study of how the media and how law enforcement act upon the fates of the individuals involved.
A Sorority Led By a Man
Nxivm, the now-defunct life-coaching company, was founded by a man known as Vanguard, whose real name is Keith Alan Raniere.
His downfall was undoubtedly caused by a sorority that he devised called DOS, which is an acronym for the Latin term “Dominus Obsequium Sororum,” which has been translated by some DOS members as “Master, Allegiance, Sisterhood.”
The reason DOS caused a cratering in the Nxivm community and ultimately received worldwide press and caused the criminal prosecution of Raniere and five of his supporters is that, as this blog first revealed, DOS practiced the branding [not illegal] of women on the groin with Raniere’s initials [that the brand was his initials was not revealed to some of the women] and, critically, membership in DOS required its members to offer “collateral” [determined by a jury in federal court as illegally coercive] which was, in effect, blackmail-worthy material, in order to ensure secrecy and obedience.
The collateral was meant to ensure that the women who gave collateral [explicit photos and damning confessions – whether true or false] remained silent about the existence of the group and inclined women toward obedience to the hierarchy of DOS insofar as the threat of collateral being released loomed.
DOS worked then as a master-slave hierarchy, with Raniere at the top and as the ultimate master of all the women. He had eight direct slaves, the “founding sisters’ or “first line masters.” Each of the eight was a slave to Raniere and, in turn, each of these had slaves of their own [always women]. Those slaves of Raniere’s slaves would have slaves themselves and these, in turn, it was planned would have slaves.
DOS Fell and Felled Others
It was meant to go on ad infinitum. It imploded because the mother of one of the slaves, Catherine Oxenberg, told me about DOS, and then one of the slaves, Sarah Edmondson, confirmed it – and I exposed the existence of DOS.
My publishing on this website the facts as I understood them about DOS led to a massive exodus of Raniere’s followers, both in Nxivm and DOS itself.
As some of the women of DOS wrote in their recent article, The Truth About DOS No One Has Heard: “These so-called ‘whistleblowers’ chose to destroy the sorority with the misguided help of powerful men, the mainstream media, a blogger with a personal vendetta against Raniere (Frank Parlato), and the United States Government.”
Again, describing the role I and others played in the implosion of DOS, the women of DOS wrote:
“By May 2017, DOS had 105 participants and was growing rapidly. That same month, one of its newest members, Sarah Edmondson, broke her vow of secrecy and revealed DOS’ existence to Frank Parlato, a self-avowed enemy of Raniere.
“Parlato revealed the existence of DOS on his website, the Frank Report, in a distorted and highly-biased form and, based solely on the skewed narrative of Edmondson and the few women who joined her in breaking their vows. Together, they created and promoted a fictional narrative about DOS that wreaked havoc and spread disinformation within the greater NXIVM community. This effectively ended DOS. Everything ceased. Women who had been happily engaged in the practices of DOS began to fear for their safety and livelihoods due to the highly publicized false allegations.
“After the Northern District of New York (NDNY) determined there was no wrongdoing or crime to be investigated due to the consensual nature of the acts involved, the detractors took to the media to put pressure on law enforcement to take action. The New York Times, taking up the false narratives of Edmondson, Parlato, and others, published a grossly distorted view of DOS, clearly written to spark political interest and entice the Department of Justice (DOJ). This prompted the FBI to begin an investigation bolstered and informed by a false media narrative, with public pressure to find or fabricate a crime, which ultimately led to the wrongful conviction of six innocent people, (Raniere and five women) only two of whom were ever members of DOS.”
It may be a reach to believe that Sarah Edmondson, Catherine Oxenberg, and myself were the sole architects in the fostering of the destruction of Nxivm and DOS.
The branding was the gruesome image that, as a publicist, I knew was the most impressive way to deconstruct the group and Raniere in particular. But branding is not illegal [and at the risk of angering some readers, I do not support the efforts to take Dr. Danielle Roberts’ medical license away, which I will explain in detail later].
Dr. Roberts used a cauterizing pen to “brand” or “scarify” some 17 women [It would have likely been more but for the exposure of the secret group through Frank Report stories, which caused DOS to cease operations.]
I have recently done a serious investigation into Roberts’ role in DOS and will issue a report soon on this.
Are They Mack’s Initials?
However, when the brand is rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise, the initials of Keith Raniere are visible.
There were DOS members who defected that claim that the brand also represented the initials of Allison Mack (AM).
Raniere told me in a telephone interview I had with him from the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center, that aired in part on NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt that the initials are only his initials and not Mack’s.
There are some branded women who to this day still believe that the ‘A’ and ‘M’ which are readily visible in their brand is Mack’s initials, their understanding being that the brand contains both Allison’s and Keith’s initials.
I tend to side with the initials being Keith’s only, and that the ‘A” might even be his middle initial. But I would not rule out that the A and M being more prominent in the brand when it is right side up may have been Raniere’s plan to set Mack up as the fall-girl for DOS in case things went sideways.
It is a fact that Lauren Salzman testified that Allison Mack falsely told Vanessa Grigoriadis for the New York Times Magazine that it was her idea.
Grigoriadis wrote, “In [Allison Mack’s] apartment, I was surprised to hear Mack take full responsibility for coming up with the DOS cauterized brand. She told me, “I was like: ‘Y’all, a tattoo? People get drunk and tattooed on their ankle ‘BFF,’ or a tramp stamp. I have two tattoos and they mean nothing.’ ” She wanted to do something more meaningful, something that took guts.”
Collateral Is the Things
It was, perhaps more than anything else, the collateral that created the true havoc and legal jeopardy that brought Nxivm and DOS to a halt.
Collateral turned out to be a two-edged sword. While it was meant [assuming it was well-intended] to help women have the discipline to keep their word and stick to some tough goals, it was also something that terrorized some of the women. And this terror, caused by the threat that the collateral could be released, created the underlying elements of the crimes of sex trafficking, forced labor and some of the predicate acts of the racketeering charges.
Two Big Blunders
In my opinion, Raniere made two giant mistakes in his DOS scheme:
- collateral – meant to ensure secrecy and obedience and
- the branding with his initials on the groins of women.
He should have known that 100 women [or for that matter any gender of homo sapiens] can keep a secret, enforced by damning material held on them that potentially could be released to their detriment.
Someone would have to tell, and someone did – Sarah Edmondson.
Secondly, the branding. Branding is not inherently wrong. But branding the groin was a serious mistake. I think if Raniere had not chosen the groins of women – and had instead chosen the buttocks, or the ankle or just about anywhere else – people would not have been aghast at the procedure.
But even if there was a good reason to brand women on the groin [which I doubt], he should have either caused it to be disclosed that the brand was his initials or chosen something that had a truer purpose to the purported ideals of DOS.
I was told by several women who were branded that they were told by their masters that the brand represented the four elements. This was certainly a falsehood, unless of course the initials of Keith Raniere symbolically mean the earth, air, fire and water.
it would have been a good idea for Raniere not to have done one or more of the following:
- Not brand women on the groin
- Tell them that the brand was his initials
- Not require collateral
- Not lie to the women that he was the secret leader of the sorority
Had he done any of these, I am fairly confident he would not be in Tucson, Arizona today, residing inside a US prison, on year three of his sentence, with about 100 years to go [with time off for good behavior].
He’d likely be in Clifton Park today, walking with one of his many female admirers, albeit unbranded, or not collateralized, or knowing that he was behind the promise that by being totally obedient to him they would find true freedom.