Attorney Neil Glazer has filed an amended complaint in the lawsuit against NXIVM and 13 of its leaders. He also pretty well damns the organization, painting a shocking picture of manipulation and abuse as bad or worse than the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of NY did in its criminal prosecution of Keith Raniere and his five co-defendants.
Glazer represents some 90 plaintiffs, all former NXIVM members, who allege serious crimes and civil torts against the self-help group founded by Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman. The suit is filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of NY and is before US District Court Judge Eric Ross Komitee, an appointee of Donald Trump.
The civil case has been suspended until the criminal proceedings against Keith Raniere and his five NXIVM codefendants are complete – something that draws nearer with only two defendants remaining to be sentenced.
The plaintiffs in the civil case include DOS “slave” women Sarah Edmondson, Jessica Joan, India Oxenberg, Souki, Nicole and a number of other Jane Does. It also includes former NXIVM members Mark Vicente, Anthony ‘Nippy’ Ames, Bonnie Piesse, Tabitha Chapman and Toni Natalie, plus others who have joined in the lawsuit. Many plaintiffs have sought to keep their identities anonymous, something which Judge Komitee will ultimately decide.
The defendants in the lawsuit are all named – first and last – and are the six convicted defendants, Keith Raniere, Nancy Salzman, Clare Bronfman, Allison Mack, Lauren Salzman and Kathy Russell. Also being sued are Sara Bronfman, the wealthiest of the defendants, Karen Unterreiner, Dr. Brandon Porter, Dr. Danielle Roberts, and Nicki Clyne
In addition, the lawsuit names NXIVM Corp., Executive Success Programs Inc, and First Principles, which may be owned in whole or in part by the federal government and Ethical Science Foundation, which was founded by Clare and Sara Bronfman.
The allegations are not entirely dissimilar to those for which the defendants were convicted.
They allege that the defendants in the civil suit conspired to operate, and operated “a criminal Enterprise under the ‘NXIVM’ umbrella… and participated in a ‘Venture’ to commit sex trafficking, peonage, forced labor and human trafficking.”
It is alleged that NXIVM was “a Ponzi scheme [where] Defendants exerted power over the Plaintiffs; took their money; made it financially, physically and psychologically difficult, and in some cases impossible, to leave the coercive community; and systematically abused Plaintiffs physically and emotionally.”
Here is the first part of a series that details allegations of many torts and ethical breaches of NXIVM leaders.
It is a summary of the action, and is Glazer’s view of the self-help program with only a few minor copy edits to conform with the style of Frank Report.
By Neil Glazer
- Plaintiffs’ claims arise out of their involvement with NXIVM Corporation, an organization based in Albany, New York and founded by Defendants Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman.
2. NXIVM’s principal business is the sale of personal improvement and professional development training programs through Defendant Executive Success Programs, Inc. and other entities. However, NXIVM’s insidious reach extended far beyond just ESP, and it was far more than simply a personal improvement program.
3. Drawing from methods used in pyramid schemes and multilevel marketing, NXIVM induced students to recruit and form their own downstream sales organizations within NXIVM, so that the students might work their way up in the hierarchy, known as the “Stripe Path” (after the colored striped sashes members wore to indicate rank and recruitment achievements), to a level where they could earn commissions and build careers and income for themselves.
4. Few students ever qualified for commissions, because the Defendants continually manipulated the program requirements, expanded the required curriculum, and graded most of the students as failures who needed to work harder and take more of NXIVM’s expensive courses.
Out of the more than 16,000 people who took NXIVM’s courses, fewer than 100 ever earned any income from NXIVM’s businesses, and fewer than 25 received substantial earnings within NXIVM.
Most of the earnings were received by members of a small group of high-ranking individuals collectively known within the organization as the “Inner Circle.”
5. Raniere claimed to be the conceptual creator of NXIVM’s programs, and the various related legal entities themselves. Defendants promoted NXIVM’s programs in part by representing that Raniere was the world’s smartest man, who allegedly had an IQ of 240 and was a child prodigy, speaking in complete sentences at age one, mastering college level mathematics in two days at age eleven, winning championship judo and track tournaments, and graduating college with three degrees. None of this was true.
6. Before forming ESP with Nancy Salzman, Raniere ran another pyramid scheme called Consumers Buyline Inc. (“CBI”) that was investigated by 25 state attorneys general and eventually shut down by New York’s Attorney General Robert Abrams on September 3, 1996.
Pursuant to the consent decree entered in that case, Raniere was permanently prohibited from “promoting, offering or granting participation in a chain distributor scheme in the State of New York.”
Two years later he was back at it with ESP.
7. NXIVM’s programs were based upon a system Raniere and Nancy Salzman labeled Rational Inquiry. Defendants claimed this was a patent-pending technology for changing behavior and thinking. They claimed that it was based in science and could thus be replicated, producing empirically measurable results. Defendants also claimed that NXIVM’s system or “tech” could cure medical conditions, including Tourette’s Syndrome and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. None of this was true.
8. Rational Inquiry had two primary components:
(1) a self-esteem eroding curriculum designed to break down students’ resistance to Raniere’s and Nancy Salzman’s radical reframing of ethics, morality, and gender roles and relations, among other things, and
(2) an inherently dangerous form of psychotherapy called “Exploration of Meaning” (“EM”), which was administered by so-called EM Practitioners (“EMPs”), all of whom were unqualified to practice psychoanalysis, psychology or mental health counseling.
Nancy Salzman, the principal therapist and head of this individual therapy branch of NXIVM, held a nursing license and claimed to have a background as a psychiatric nurse. In fact, she worked as a nurse for only one year in a general practice and did not have a license to practice psychotherapy.
9. Defendants intended, knew, or deliberately disregarded the fact that the EM exposed its subjects to a high risk of injury, because over time it produced disturbing alterations in the subjects’ thinking, behavior, and emotional experience.
10. The longer someone was immersed in this system, the more likely it became that they would suffer moderate-to-severe psychological and emotional injuries, including posttraumatic stress disorder and complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of the Plaintiffs in this action were injured in this way and still struggle with the effects of their time in NXIVM and exposure to Defendants’ programs.