Brooklyn, New York. He died on April 10, 2020 – almost a year after his son was convicted for a spate of crimes in Brooklyn. He was 87.
James was an advertising salesman.
There are those who wonder if Raniere will complete his 120 year prison sentence. He has but 98 years to go. Consider his paternal grandmother, Marion Raniere, lived to be 106. She was born Jan 8, 1911 in Brooklyn and died on August 7, 2017 – in Brooklyn.
By Heidi Hutchinson
Was Keith Raniere abused as a child by his mother, Vera?
She was a ballroom dance instructor of 1st generation Eastern European descent. She reared Raniere alone in a large suburban home in the heavily Yiddish-populated town of Suffern, New York.
Vera and her only child, Keith Alan Raniere.
I had a few conversations with Raniere about his relationship with his parents, especially his mother, in the ’80s.
Raniere often told tales about his mother to elicit sympathy. That worked well on our overly kindhearted mother, who never turned away anyone or anything in need.
Our mom acted as a surrogate for all the strays Gina, who had the exact sympathetic, kindly nature brought home. Raniere appeared to be one of them. He was a lost, wounded, misfit soul who’d lost his mom far too young in life.
Raniere portrayed his mother as an abusive drunk.
Even though I heard the same story from Keith, I always sensed Keith was lying about or exaggerating this woeful tale.
By the strictest definition, Keith never claimed any abuse was inflicted on him due to Vera’s alcoholism or pill popping.
I don’t recall each word of these 20-something-year-old conversations. Still, some clear, stand-out memories and impressions of incongruities led me to further probe Keith about his childhood.
Keith’s responses always led me to the same conclusion — Keith was lying and concealing something very dark about his mother’s untimely passing.
Keith liked to be photographed and followed around with a video camera to capture his every genius thought. He often put others to that arduous task.
Gina, my sister — a leading, early acolyte and unfortunate Vanguard victim — often obliged Keith by video recording him.
I found this strange, immature, and dull behavior — especially when it came to watching the playbacks to help analyze Keith’s delivery as much as learn from his sales master.
I remember asking Keith if this was something his Mom or Dad often did with him. Did they follow him around with a camera? Was he trying to recreate this need to feel cherished and adored as he (ostensibly) was as a child?
I didn’t realize then the contradiction in the thought that an abused, neglected child with a stumbling drunk parent looking after him isn’t cherished, adored, and photographed.
What I recall most about Keith is that — apart from his arrogance and know-it-all attitude was an infantile need to be the absolute center of attention.
Wherever he stood, he’d command a spotlight somehow.
He would want a camera on himself or a worshipful audience absorbed in his pontifications.
There were many props he’d have around to amaze and grab attention, like the Rubik’s cube he carried everywhere.
Keith was a closet exhibitionist.
In any case, Keith never claimed physical or sexual abuse, per se. He did hint at such, but as Keith preached it to his early CBI sales trainees (I was one of those briefly), part of the NLP shtick is to empathize with one’s target prey.
Ergo, the NLP salesman (or therapist, what have you) might drop a nod, tap a wrist, or verbally empathize by mirroring or claiming his own mother forced him to dance [closely] with her when hearing of someone’s past abuse scenario.
And, didn’t Raniere always love hearing those little tidbits he could exaggerate on and stock away for “collateral”?
I surmise Keith did not go any further than making an implication of abuse about Vera — when James Raniere, Keith’s dad, was still alive.
James died while Keith was at MDC.
Decades past, James was talking (too much for Keith’s comfort) to the “girlfriends” or “fiancés”
Keith brought home from Albany to tour the Big Apple. Daddy Raniere also visited Keith in Albany back then.
However, the lawsuit Keith brought against James Raniere didn’t shut Keith’s old Madison Avenue Madman up about Keith’s quirks.
James told a few tales from school that suggested Keith had a gift for scamming girls by flattering and promising each his undying love —pitting them in competition for his attention — to the extent it caused a huge hassle in the neighborhood Keith grew up in.
James also said Vera was an excellent mother to Keith, although she may have had more than she should have to drink on occasion.
James also said Vera was slowly “dying” of an incurable disease while rearing Keith. She spent a lot of time homebound in bed in the end.
I recall Keith complaining about caring for Vera in her final days. This would likely cause a lot of ‘survivor’ guilt if they were burdened with that responsibility and unable to save their mother.
Looking back on these discussions about Vera, I had with Keith — in sympathy mostly then, as it hadn’t been long since Vera passed away.
Keith brought it up so often that I feel he was using his endless sorrow to pull as hard on our family’s purse strings as he was on our heartstrings.
I remember noticing Keith didn’t always appear as affected by his own tragic story in the retelling of it in front of some others who were less responsive to it than our bleeding heart mother — known as St. Rose from Cohoes. She wept with Keith and never failed to fork out something to help — a homemade meal or at least enough money for pizza at Cosentino’s, etc.
There’s a Hindu adage:
“Never trust a woman who laughs too much or a man who cries too much.”
Suppose Keith’s “mother-on-her-deathbed” tale is accurate. Why wasn’t James or another relative around to assist the boy with his dying mother’s medical supervision?
Keith continued using this sympathy ploy — that he was his “mother’s sole caregiver” on her deathbed for years as a teenager.
Vera finally passed when Keith was 18.
I’m not sure I believe the sole caregiver bit. How was Vera’s care left solely up to her teenage son?
No other provisions were made for her to be hospitalized or receive hospice care?
Did Keith watch Vera twist in painful torment to her last breath? If so, when did Keith ever describe any gory details on that? Not to me, he didn’t.
Just the “facts” to which Keith sometimes appeared overly, but more often not at all — strictly depending on his audience’s reaction — affected.
Was teenage Keith expected to use his omnipotent powers over life and death itself?
Providing his own version of Jr. hospice care for Vera himself — as he did later in life for Pam Cafritz and Barbara Jeske — two longtime members in Keith’s inner-circle harem who died of cancer, who relied on Keith’s alleged powers to remedy any ailment.
And possibly, cryogenically, bring them and their ovaries back from the dead.
And, what didn’t anyone get about Keith losing his first patient, in that case, his mom?
Not that Toni Natalie didn’t beat everyone out as “patient zero.”
If no one ever noticed before, Keith definitely has a God-complex, a belief that he can control life or death and the fates of his subjects here and in the hereafter.
How that complex sits with a bed-bound, dying mother on the young god who couldn’t save her all alone could be the topic of a long, Freudian Ph.D. thesis.
Let alone if this child was sexually abused by her.
However, I doubt there was actual child abuse.
I’m open to any detractors on this topic who can present a hard fact that Vera Raniere, Keith’s mother, was abusive to him, apart from — excuuuuuse her — dying on him.