Ivy Nevares has published her victim statement on the subject of Nancy Salzman.
By Ivy Nevares
August 16, 2021
Hon. Nicholas G. Garaufis
This is the second and final addendum to the original victim impact statement I submitted to the Court in November 2019.
As a direct victim of Nancy Salzman, I wish to provide a first-hand account of her character and criminal behavior, which I believe my unique position within NXIVM allows me to do. I was a member of the organization and one of a handful of actual employees for nearly 17 years. In October 2002, I became a member of the inner circle, which consisted of Keith Raniere’s sexual partners. I held a high rank and a few leadership roles within NXIVM and its affiliates under coercive and exploitative labor conditions. I reported directly to Salzman as her employee and was also personally coached by her for the last 11 or so years of my NXIVM career.
I wish to convey three key points: One, that Salzman was not only instrumental but essential to the existence of NXIVM and the crimes she and others committed. Second, that she continues to demonstrate an utter disregard for the law even since her arrest, violating her bail conditions and, more gravely, attempting to intimidate me into not writing this statement. Finally, that the physical, psychological and emotional abuse she subjected me to as my coach speaks to her character and lack of empathy.
Just as the sex trafficking crimes within DOS could not have existed without Allison Mack, the entire range of crimes within NXIVM would have never existed without Salzman. As the company’s president, she alone built and facilitated the structure within which all crimes—DOS-related and not—were committed. Yet since her arrest, Salzman has deflected responsibility by blaming everything on Raniere, pushing this false narrative on everyone she remains in contact with, including NXIVM members whom she is prohibited from contacting. But in my experience, she bears far more resemblance to Raniere than any of his victims.
Unlike most victims who were young and inexperienced when Raniere entrapped us, Salzman was a powerful, self-made 44-year-old woman when she met him. Working with industry giants such as American Express and ConEdison, she was at the top of her game as a corporate trainer in New York when she willingly chose to be his sexual and business partner for life. In partnering with Raniere, she used her credentials as a corporate trainer, psychiatric nurse, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Ericksonian hypnosis expert to establish credibility and trust with NXIVM’s clientele. Like Raniere, she also dishonestly exaggerated her qualifications and propagated these lies through endless self-promotion to increase her authority and power. For instance, since leaving NXIVM, I learned that Salzman lied about being a licensed therapist. She allegedly registered her own clients under licensed therapists she employed at her company, the International Center for Change.
As NXIVM’s president and Raniere’s second-in-command, Salzman held near-ultimate power. She ran the business, served as its public face, and signed off on all legal and financial decisions. She elevated people to power within the company who would later commit crimes, principally Clare Bronfman, Allison Mack, Kathy Russell, her own daughter, Lauren, as well as dozens of others who have not been brought to justice. Salzman also oversaw the training of coaches and higher ranks, as well as the “work exchanges” through which people bartered for workshops, which frequently led to massive debt, financial dependence and forced labor.
Salzman used her clout to build Raniere’s empire, knowingly and intentionally lying to do so. He was too lazy, sex-crazed and self-involved to build such a conglomerate on his own—he absolutely needed her to do the work for him, and she did so proactively and enthusiastically until the very end. For this, I hold her responsible right alongside Raniere for all of the crimes that were proven in court, as well as other crimes that were not included in the criminal case. None of them would have existed without her direct involvement, the structures and systems she built or the individuals she personally empowered and inspired to become criminals.
Salzman’s lies directly enabled NXIVM’s abuse, to which three types of victims fell prey: One group consisted of people who served the organization’s agenda because of their wealth, clout, connections or their ability to sell the workshops—they profited the most and received preferential treatment, some predominating the investigation and subsequent media narrative upon defecting. A smaller group of less-advantaged victims who provided labor, skills or amusement to Raniere—we were subjected to the worst, most hidden abuses. Finally, everyone else of lesser consequence, essentially the client base needed to maintain a revenue stream and veneer as a legitimate company. It is unfortunate these distinctions have not been described by the media and others, as this has effectively confused and conflated the cast of abusers, victims and unwitting participants.
The most personal, illustrative example I can provide of Salzman’s direct criminal behavior is my own forced labor beginning in 2002, 13 years before DOS ever existed. Believing her intentions were true and that NXIVM would indeed “help make the world a better place to live,” I accepted a job as the company’s communication specialist. Salzman simultaneously became my employer, work visa sponsor and landlord. The trust I placed in her was in direct proportion to the lies she fed me—she promised me a successful, profitable career with NXIVM; she promised she could help me overcome my personal limitations and raise my self-esteem. In 2018, I left NXIVM a victim of trauma and forced labor with very little to my name.
In my position, I fulfilled the responsibilities of a communications director, but Salzman refused to pay me as such. I carried the brunt of NXIVM’s communication work by writing and editing the educational materials, film scripts, web presence, PR and marketing materials, internal communications, technical documents, etc. I also did most of Raniere’s writing—while he slept and bedded women all day—unbeknownst to me precisely because Salzman constantly obfuscated, lied and concealed his behavior from me.
Deceit is immoral, but lying to get money or labor from a person is a federal crime—a crime for which Salzman has not yet been charged. As my employer, she single-handedly exploited me for hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of labor while she held my work visa over me. She controlled my income and largest expenses, including my rent. By lowering my pay and raising my rent, she crippled me into financial debt for about 13 years to make me even more dependent on NXIVM. In addition to financially exploiting me, she also violated multiple state and federal laws, including refusing to pay overtime, refusing to provide worker’s compensation or health insurance, and using a payment structure that allowed her to evade state and federal taxes.
She also required that I be available to work 24/7 and often called on me to do so in the middle of the night. I tried many times to fight this horrid exploitation, but her response was always the same: I was the one who owed her and the organization because of my “ethical dilemma” with the conceptual founder.
My “ethical breach” against Raniere was not weighing 95 lbs.
Her exploitation of me peaked in September 2015, when she forced me to work at our mostly deserted corporate offices for at least 48 hours a week to pay off my debt, threatening to fire me unless I complied. I was completely trapped: I desperately wanted out of this abusive situation, but leaving would not only mean losing my work visa, it meant being further financially crippled because of the supposed debt I owed. Salzman knew the leverage she had over me, and that returning to my home country of Mexico, which had seen an unprecedented rise in kidnappings and violent crime, would be a terrifying fate, particularly in light of my brother’s murder and youngest sister’s kidnapping, which were significant traumas in my life.
Salzman enacted these crimes against me out of her own volition and often without instruction from Raniere. She was unrepentant until the very end—benefiting from the fruits of my labor and never once admitting her responsibility in this entrapment. Even though she conned tens of thousands of us and destroyed hundreds of lives in the process, she remained loyal to Raniere until her own livelihood and freedom were threatened by the prosecution.
She was in it for herself from day one in an unrepentant pursuit of power—she wanted the money, the clout, the prestige, the connections to expand and further abuse her power. I believe her being the first to jump on the “plea deal bus” isn’t because she was contrite—she was saving her own skin. Even her recent letter of support for Lauren’s sentencing demonstrates her self-serving nature, where she spun a narrative to make it appear that she was responsible for Lauren’s choice to testify, thereby trying to benefit from her daughter’s good deeds.
As to Salzman’s abject disregard for the law, I strongly believe her recent court filings feign contrition, as she has and continues to violate the terms of her bail with an above-the-law attitude. Even with the onerous bail conditions imposed on her, Salzman sought to reach me through former Proctor Michel C. to intimidate me into not writing this statement.
Michel’s outreach happened in October 2020, just three days after the Court sentenced Raniere and I published my victim impact statement. At the beginning of the call, he asked to keep our conversation secret, then told me he was in direct contact with Salzman through his wife. He attempted to dissuade me from speaking out against Salzman, and when I resisted and questioned his motives, he became hostile and accusatory. I felt intimidated and, after the call, was deeply upset for days. This was witness intimidation, a federal crime that I have since reported to the FBI.
This wasn’t the first attempt to reach me, as just two days after her arrest, she called me using another person’s phone knowing full well she was barred from communicating with me. She called to manipulate me into doing free work for her. I forcefully refused and that was the last time we ever spoke.
Having remained close friends with many ex-NXIVM members, whom I consider very reliable sources, I have also received the following reports of Salzman violating her bail conditions and defrauding others for profit, wherein she reportedly:
Used a former coach to videobomb Michel C.’s wedding, attempting to contact high-ranking defectors, including executive board members there. Michel reportedly continues to communicate with and receive EMs and personal coaching from Salzman, claiming the Court gave her special permission to do so.
Is providing EMs and personal coaching services for at least two prominent Mexican entrepreneurs, charging upwards of $300 per session. One of them is the husband of a former Mexico City proctor who is reportedly running her own coaching business there with Salzman’s help.
Is making six figures coaching high-profile clients Sara Bronfman has procured for her.
Finally, I will speak briefly of Salzman’s abusive role as a coach and teacher. As prefect, she had the second most powerful and exalted status: we bowed to her, we thanked her as a ritual at the end of every class, and stood when she entered or exited a room. But as a teacher, she was brutal and punishing, often using public humiliation and verbal abuse to quash dissent. During my very first workshop, she compared me to Lucifer after I dared to question the performance of one of her coaches. She later gave me the derogatory nickname “Ivelah,” pronounced “evil-ah,” which, coming from the prefect, tainted the perception of my every action.
Further, Salzman was not only aware of, but actively supported Raniere’s manipulation and grooming of women for abusive sexual relationships. Her participation in this grooming involved blatant dishonesty and concealment of information to keep women in his harem—this is what defined her role as my “personal coach.”
I have previously shared with the Court that Raniere began a sexual relationship with me in October 2002, but I have not disclosed, for very personal reasons, that it began with him sexually assaulting me. The following morning, Salzman normalized the assault after she asked about my time with the vanguard, saying the traumatized state I was in was due to his “energy.” She insisted that I was lucky that he had singled me out.
She then lied to my face for years about Raniere’s conduct, knowing I would abandon the organization if I knew the truth of his relationships and children. She also concealed the crimes she and others committed, and told the inner circle and members of the executive board to lie to me. She often spread rumors and lies about me with the intent to discredit me. Her status as NXIVM’s biggest gossip was an open secret, she did this to many others. By her own admission in her recent letter to the Court, one of Raniere’s manipulative tactics was to play people against each other to keep them isolated and insecure, and Salzman was instrumental to this strategy.
Salzman is directly responsible for the damages she did to me in this capacity because she became my handler, the enforcer of punishment if you will, while Raniere shunned me for the better part of 11 years. In her testimony, Lauren said she was terrified of being shunned because she saw it happen to Daniela and me. Daniela’s own testimony shed light on my punishment and shunning, as well as the “ethical breach” entrapment and fraud enacted on me.
Salzman designed every single one of our coaching sessions to enforce my enslavement to her and Raniere under the guise there was a way “out of hell” if only I “healed my breach.” She was an active and equal partner to Raniere in this monstrous psychological manipulation. For instance, she required me to sign contract after contract to continue our coaching relationship, subjecting me to:
Check in with her every day, sometimes multiple times per day.
Adhere to a 400-500 calorie per day diet and burn off at least as many calories as I consumed through exercise each day.
Drive to her home upon rising to weigh in—in my underwear—each morning so she could attest my weight.
Complete all forced “confessions” or writing assignments about my supposed breaches that she demanded.
Submit to all coaching sessions, EMs, etc. without objecting to anything she said or did. This included taking her punitive “feedback” without question or objection.
Salzman’s hold over me was as strategic as it was complex: I knew I was being oppressed and exploited—I felt it every single day. The abuse was evident in my body, I saw it reflected in every paycheck, in my self-esteem, in my loss of freedom and lower quality of life. But I couldn’t break free because every attempt to do so was met with an even stronger effort to deceive me and, when the lies failed, she and others used threats and sheer intimidation.
As I take a step back from all this madness, the most difficult question continues to be, “Why was I loyal to her and NXIVM for so long?” My short answer: Honest trust caught in an elaborate fraud—a fraud Salzman orchestrated and leveraged with coercive control.
I came to NXIVM because of “trust issues” after a long history of abuse, abandonment and loss in my family. I feared abuse and found it very difficult to trust people, especially romantic partners. Salzman promised me I could overcome this and so much more, then invoked my issues as “the problem” every time I attempted to disobey her or Raniere, reinforcing time and again that I could be free of such issues if I only “healed my breach” and followed their instructions.
While it is a huge relief to know Keith Raniere and Clare Bronfman are behind bars, I find myself in a disadvantaged position in terms of personal reparations. I feel confident in saying that few victims saw or were subjected to the abuses I endured while in NXIVM, and even fewer for the duration of time that I did. I regret not having had the strength and wherewithal to bring my grievances forward at the time of the government’s investigation—my dire circumstances and the elaborate framework of NXIVM’s manipulation made it personally impossible. All I have left in my quest for justice is to provide my honest account of Salzman to the Court so it may consider it while determining an appropriate sentence for the full scope of her crimes.
Your Honor, Salzman’s continued deflection of responsibility by blaming Raniere, her violations of her bail, profiting from defrauding others with his teachings and her attempting to intimidate a witness indicate a complete lack of contrition. Her decades-long abuse of me and other victims, and her direct support of Raniere’s sexually predatory behavior demonstrate a horrendous lack of empathy and regard for others. Given this, I believe she is a danger to society and poses a serious risk of reoffending.
While the crimes against me were not part of the criminal proceedings, I hope my statement will shed some light on Salzman’s true character and the broader system of abuses and crimes that took place under her leadership. I believe she stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Raniere as a criminal, a fraud and a self-serving sociopath.
I urge the Court to hold Nancy Salzman accountable for her actions and to stop her continued quest to defraud and profit from NXIVM’s methods of coercive control. Her recent actions are, at best, a most nefarious insult to her victims—they are to me.