Two Cult Leaders, One in Prison, Similar in Crimes

 For those who do not know, FR has been writing about a man who surpasses Keith Alan Raniere in infamy. His name is J, Michael Shoemaker, and is also known to the world as Swami Chetanananda.

By Leona James

J. Michael Shoemaker and Keith Alan Raniere are remarkably similar.

They are both traumatizing narcissists, and they are both getting the Frank treatment. Thank you, Frank.

Frank wrote about his relationship as a consultant to Raniere, and the advice he got from Roger Stone, who was also a consultant.

Neither Parlato nor Stone knew about the sex cult aspect of NXIVM. Both were aware of financial issues emerging from the group.

Frank was the whistleblower on Raniere. It was not easy. He is still caught in blowback.

Frank wrote that he and Roger Stone were kept in the dark about how NXIVM worked. We see this with Shoemaker and his cult.

Casual supporters of the Shoemaker cult have expressed doubt about what Frank published or what victims said.

NXIVM and Shoemaker are cut from the same cultish cloth.

I learned this firsthand in my difficult early (but ultimately successful) efforts to expose the multimillion-dollar con and sex cult of a self-styled guru named Keith Raniere.

For 50 years, Shoemaker has been abusing and scamming followers. Richard Read had no success, the media in Bloomington had no success, and to date, no success in stopping the abuse.

At least it is exposed.

Raniere was not the self-help apostle or genius I had been told he was when I worked for NXIVM, which billed itself as a new, once-in-an-eon, self-improvement “way of thinking,” as taught by Raniere. It was “the greatest invention since humans invented writing,” was how his teachings were sold.

I was told he had the highest IQ of any human ever tested.

Shoemaker is a college dropout.

It was a hugely profitable scam in which Raniere and his psychopathic henchwomen recruited sons and daughters of wealthy families with bulging trust funds.

Melinda Mandell charged the same in her civil suit against Shoemaker and Sharon Ward.

Mandell said the Nityananda Institute was not a non-profit church, but a for-profit business that benefited Shoemaker and his inner circle. Shoemaker has his henchwomen. Ward does his dirty work, while the yoga teachers serve a recruiting role.

Gretchen, Jen, and others perform this role.

Sharon Ward is deadly as Shoemaker’s legal muscle.

Raniere and his minions took in millions of dollars, which they invested in real estate, which was put in the name of Raniere’s enforcer, Nancy Salzman. Raniere systematically drained the trust funds of the scions of one of the most famous American fortunes – the House of Bronfman.

Sara Bronfman, Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman on their way to persuade the Dalai Lama to endorse Raniere for a small 7-figure donation.

All the details of Shoemaker’s scams are unknown.

Read found Joan Ames gifted him close to a million dollars. Norman Bodek gave Shoemaker a house. The Krieger family gave Shoemaker property in California (and allegedly three sexual partners, a mother, and two daughters). Mary Grace Toia (the mother of Jesse Sweeney) has made substantial donations, as has Barnett Davis.

Barnett Davis believes in Shoemaker.

They also looted the trust funds of the offspring of the socially-prominent Cafritz family in DC – and took more through the children of Mexico’s former president, the fabulously wealthy Carlos Salinas, among others of Mexico’s elite families.

Carlos and his son, Emiliano Salinas.

Keith Raniere and Emiliano Salinas

No doubt, more financial scams will be revealed as Frank continues. The Gold Beach property reflects the hours of donated labor and other forms of exploitation of Shoemaker and his cult.

As I was coming to work handling public relations and other issues for NXIVM, and at a time I knew nothing about the inner workings of Raniere and his group, the controversial Republican consultant, Roger Stone, was just leaving his brief consulting gig with the organization.

Stone warned me about Raniere and the NXIVM setup.

Frank published an article on Shoemaker’s associate Russell Kruckman, which seemed to bring in information about Shoemaker

“Raniere’s course is some kind of mind control bullshit,” Stone told me in 2007. “It’s clear Raniere has lifted millions of dollars from the trust funds of his marks.”

Same with Shoemaker. Stone hit the nail on the head. Mind control, cult abuse, exploitation, and harm are what NXIVM, Raniere, Shoemaker, and Kruckman specialize in.

Stone told me, “In the three months I worked for them, I never saw any evidence of the secretive sex cult Raniere built to feed his own depravities. All I saw was rich middle-aged housewives and divorcees getting fleeced by this prick.”

One of Shoemaker followers called the members of the older generation “the sweet old ones!”

Cults can hide dirty business through culty tactics of isolation, gaslighting, separation and by-passing. Cults work hard to control the information their members and the public can access.

When will Shoemaker let Frank conduct an interview?

I am convinced Stone did not see anything depraved. I worked closely with the group, and never saw it either. It was hidden. It was not revealed to outsiders.

Same, same. This is what cults do. Don’t blame yourself if you were fraudulently recruited, if you gave money to this depraved cult that Shoemaker runs. The Shoemaker cult is a well-oiled machine with 50 years of abuse, harm, and exploitation they have hidden.

Up until now.

In my early struggles to expose how evil and corrupt Raniere was, I was hampered because law enforcement and the media refused to examine the truth, partly because the cult had the credibility of Bronfman’s support.

Keith Raniere and Clare Bronfman were not shy about encouraging law enforcement to chase their enemies.

Again, very similar to what Shoemaker is doing. He is wealthy and has placed phobias in his victims’ minds.

Remember, he strangles them and gives them concussions. They are terrified of him. Shoemaker or his henchwomen tell everyone in the cult that victims who speak out are “on the spectrum,” liars, drug addicts, or act like “adolescents.”

It is only because of the successful prosecution of Raniere that the “justice system” is now accepting human trafficking as one aspect of cultic abuse.

Thank you Frank!

Whistleblowers were indicted. Bronfmans hired attorneys well-connected to the law enforcement agencies handling the matter, and Raniere escaped prosecution for decades.

Shoemaker has been at this for 50 years. Sharon Ward duped the Oregon Public Broadcasting program into believing she was a dog trainer, not a cult henchwoman. She inserted herself into the police investigation of the death of Liz Bazzani.

Liz Bazzani’s body was found floating in the river days after she walked out of the ashram. Her death is ruled a suicide. 

Because of the Bronfman influence, I was able to get little traction in my early, one-man effort to expose the truth about Raniere, his highly lucrative financial hustle, and his sex-cult where he was attended to by a harem of personal sex slaves.

Frank has again embarked on a one-man effort — to expose Shoemaker.

If you have information about abuse, exploitation, financial scams, or other potentially criminal activity, tell Frank or contact the law enforcement officers in the loop. Nathan Wollstein, Portland Police, Paul Chang, DOL, Jordan White, Gold Beach or John Ward, Curry County Sheriff, FBI or Human Trafficking Hotline.

Raniere is the reason I started the Frank Report, to tell the story directly, independent of mainstream media’s filters.

I laid out the shocking facts about an obscure, upstate New York-based cult and the secret sexual rituals of a small, elite harem of concubines whose fidelity and allegiance to Raniere was ultimately marked with a brand in their public area with Raniere’s initials.

Raniere with followers at his narcissistic Vanguard Week – a 10-day celebration of his birthday.

 Shoemaker’s abuse is not visible. He does not brand, but he does strangle.

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  • Cross Dressers and Cross Abusers

    On the Tibetan Chod Facebook page is a lovely photo of Swami Chetanananda and Lama Wangdu wearing their orange robes and skirts. It looks like it was taken at the Movement Center with Molly Meridith, Susan Marshall and maybe shaven headed Jen Wilhelm clapping in the background. The photo was taken by Moni O’Neal

    Plenty of lifer “loved ones” joined in and “liked” this photo:
    Patricia Yinger
    Samuel Long
    Patty Slote, wife of Thomas Fabrizio, the Ganesh devotee and book mogul
    Sara Storm, a possible “recruiter” for Shoemaker
    Kelly Ponzi, still in the “grip” and often seen at Gold Beach
    Chris Cartwright, a lifer
    Linda Pope, a lifer
    Vanessa van Nieuwenkuysen, one of many Nieuwenkuysen’s involved with Shoemaker
    Blythe Grandon, a lifer
    Susan Marshal, a lifer
    Marilyn Ritter, a lifer
    Karen Sutherland, a lifer
    Swami Ganeshananda, a “loved one” who gave Shoemaker a Bronze Rudi Murti he made himself, how touching

    All these “loved ones” liked the post about Wangdu, but did any of them help those he harmed?

    On this same site is a photo of Wangdu with the Dalai Lama. Too bad Shoemaker didn’t make the cut, one more thing Shoemaker shares with Keith Raniere, neither one got their photo the Dalai Lama. But they both tried!

    Here is a taste of the hagiology and mythology published on the Facebook page, of the two orange robed abusers, doesn’t really fit on the back of a prayer card, even when edited for space:

    I had been staying in Parping, Nepal, a sacred site of Guru Rinpoche and Vajra Yogini, for seven years when a person from America named Swami Chetanananda arrived. He was the Guru of Nityananda Institute, a spiritual community that practices Trika Yoga and studies the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism. He also had an interest in Buddhism, and particularly the Kusali Mahasiddha Lineage of India that I practice. He asked me a few questions about my practice and asked me to perform the Chöd, which I did. He liked it a lot and said that it was a practice basically identical to his own. He said that Americans would be very interested in it. I told him that the Tibetans were not extremely interested in the solitary yogi type of practice, that they were more attracted to the large monastic gatherings. I said that if there were people in America who appreciated it, they must have associated with the mahasiddhas of India in previous lifetimes and that they may very well be incarnations of tantric yogis. Swamiji liked me and, for auspicious reasons, I gave him my damaru, bell, and thighbone trumpet. ……

    Wangdu thinks, Maybe I will get a green card for my children or grandchildren

    I wondered if perhaps he was someone who had practiced among the previous mahasiddhas of India or if he was an incarnation of one of the mahasiddhas who later lived in Tibet such as Padampa Sangye, Virupa, Tangtong Gyelpo, Milarepa, or Shavari. Such mahasiddhas have freedom over the process of death and rebirth, and some may want to take birth in a nice country like America! ….

    Swami spoke with his disciples back in America about me and they asked him to invite me to teach them Chöd. When Swami returned to Nepal he requested teachings for his students and invited me to America. When I spoke to my lama friends about it they thought it would be very good. They told me that if people in America were requesting Buddhadharma, that I definitely must teach, and that it would be beneficial to spread knowledge of Buddhadharma wherever it was not yet understood. …..

    Can you keep a Tantric Secret?

    At Swami’s request, I gave the Chöd initiation, the Sky-Opener Initiation, to Swami and his students. When I told His Holiness the Dalai Lama that Westerners were requesting initiations He said that we must teach anyone in the world who requests, without regret or possessiveness. I have taught Swami and his students everything I know about the “ripening initiation,” “perfecting transmission,” and “liberating instructions” of Chöd. I have also given many initiations of the Pacification of Suffering Lineage of Padampa Sangye: outer, inner and secret Padampa Sangye, Vajravarahi, Krudhakali, Nairatmya and the Twelve Tathagatas, the Ali Kali Scripture Initiation, Protectors and so forth and, so as not to spoil the auspiciousness, I have given everything. …..I have offered these to Swamiji without regret.

    What will Wangdu harvest? Frank has published testaments of his abuses at the Movement Center, but he does not mention that.

    As these practices are translated into English, they will spread and become available everywhere in the world. Now, if I die, I am happy because I know these teachings will flourish ever more widely. I feel like a farmer who has finished planting his seeds. Now I am happy to think about the harvest ripening in the future.

    Good news, Lama Wangdu says that Black Magic will be diminished!

    As these teachings of Padampa Sangye spread widely they will help bring about peace in our world because they will become a means for people to become free from hatred, greed, and ignorance, and to develop compassion, love, and altruism. It will start to happen automatically, just by seeing the books of these teachings! People will become motivated to practice! Black magic will be diminished! Fewer weapons will be manufactured! For these reasons I am glad that this work is being made available now. I pray that the teachings spread everywhere and that they be authentically practiced.”

    “Lama Tsering Wangdu Rinpoche was born in 1939 in the Langkor Valley in West Tingri, Tibet. …..
    Today, Lama Wangdu RInpoche is the Abbot of Pal Gyi Ling monastery and continues to serve as a healer and spiritual guide for countless people in Nepal and the United States. As one of the few remaining Tibetan lamas who trained and practiced in pre-occupied Tibet, he is also committed to preserving and transmitting the authentic and rare teachings he has received and brought to fruition through decades of practice.”

    Apparently, this “need to preserve” the teachings was one of the fraudulent indoctrination lines Shoemaker used to get his “students” to have sex with him. Shoemaker used the translations of Dr. Alexis Sanderson to ”justify” his rape and abuse as a “traditional” Tibetan practice that would “advance their spiritual lives”. This type of abusive Tantric sex is totally exposed in this article about abuse by in the Agama Yoga cult led by guru Narcis Tarcau, who calls himself Swami Vivekananda Saraswati and is referred to as ‘Swami’ for short by his followers. He has been accused of running a ‘sex cult’ and widespread sexual assault against his students, allegations that he and Agama have denied.

    Funny how these sex cult gurus like Shoemaker, Raniere and Tarcau always deny the allegations and blame the students for their abuse.

    Tibetan Chod is a small group of students of Lama Tsering Wangdu.

  • The Daily Beast

    ‘The Vow Part II’s’ Most Disturbing NXIVM Revelation: The Three Mexican Teens Abused by Keith Raniere
    The six-part HBO docuseries—which premiered on Oct. 17—is redundant and often exploitative, but one section stands out.

    Marlow Stern, Senior Entertainment Editor, Published Oct. 18, 2022 4:42AM ET

  • Frank reported that Diane Asay died after she left Shoemaker, after giving him decades of “seva”, she was not remembered by Shoemaker. She left and she became worthless to him. Liz, Phyllis, Al, Laura and Ayaz all died while residents or active “loved ones” in Movement Center programs. There were services for Liz, Phyllis and Al. Were there remembrances for Laura and was there a “service” for Ayaz? What did Shoemaker say about all their deaths? Did he recognize his “duty to care” since he was the “Abbot” of the Center? Shoemaker claims to have great healing powers and experience. Why couldn’t he save them? Or like the traumatizing narcissist he is, did he blame them for dying?

    What did Shoemaker say when other “loved ones” left the Movement Center when they weren’t dead? What has he said about all the “loved ones” who have left him? Why haven’t the “second generation” loved ones stayed? Where are all these second generation “loved ones”, Vanessa, Pia, Jessica, Arwen, Leiko, Angie, Tara, how about Scott Hanley’s boys? Then there is Rudy Ott, or was he born after Steve Ott left Shoemaker? Where are the children of the “loved ones”?

    • To “Where are the children”

      The children have moved on and are trying to live their best lives in peace. So please leave them be, and respect their privacy. Stop assuming they are damaged and need your help. Also you clearly don’t know much if you think that Rudi Ott was born after his father Steve left the Ashram. He was born in 70’s, so clearly you have not been around for long and don’t know what the fuck you are talking about. Don’t make assumption that the “children” are in need of your help or support. They clearly don’t want to be assaulted with your assumptions about their well being. If they wanted to share their stories, they would have by now. They have moved on and are living happy healthy lives, so just leave them alone. Your the one that needs help and support. I truly hope that you get the help you need to recover from your bitter disappointments.

      Ps, I don’t support Swami C or his bad behavior. I am not dismissing what he has done and believe he will get what’s coming to him. I’m glad the truth has come out about his abuses of his students. But I don’t believe for one second that he or Sadvi had anything to do with the deaths of the people you have mentioned. Period. You are spreading horrible gossip and lies.

      Sincerely, a second generation child of the ashram

      • To a second generation child

        Frank is exposing the harm and abuse that Shoemaker has caused among his “students”. Frank has brought forth testimonials of sexual and physical abuse, financial abuse and scams, reproductive coercion, psychological and emotional harm. Shoemaker has been doing this for 50 years. There have been attempts to stop Shoemaker, and these attempts did not reach a successful conclusion because there was not enough public opinion and pressure from those he damaged to demand justice. Shoemaker not only harmed the people he recruited to his cult, he also damaged family relationships and distorted the development of children who were brought or born into the cult.

        Often the damage done to children is overlooked when the sensational stories of cultic abuse come to light and child abuse is pushed to the side. Stories of abuse from the Children of God cult have come to light. Some of these children are trying to go to court for restitution, the same with the 3HO cult. .

        When the OSHO cult that was exposed in Wild, Wild, Country, blew up, child abuse was not included in the court cases.

        Here are a few words from the episode notes from A little Bit Culty about abuse in the OSHO cult.

        in which Erin Robbins a former member, speaks to the child abuse, coerced sterilization and sexual assault that took place while she was a member. Erin Robbins told her story after waking up just a year ago, after being out of the cult for 45 years. Here’s to the healing power of the truth.

        Janja Lalich and Karen MacLaren have written a book about the lives of second-generation cult children.

        It is the first in-depth research of its kind, the author interviewed sixty-five people who were born in or grew up in thirty-nine different cultic groups spanning more than a dozen countries. What’s especially interesting about these individuals is that they each left the cult on their own, without outside help or internal support. In Escaping Utopia: Growing Up in a Cult, Getting Out, and Starting Over, the authors craft Lalich’s original and groundbreaking research into an accessible and engaging book, the first of its kind focusing on this particular population.

        There are podcasts, Generation Cult, and scholarly articles , about growing up in a cult.

        These resources clearly document the impact that cults have on children and on the family structure.
        To say that growing up in Shoemaker’s cult had no impact on the second generation would completely buck the trend outlined in the research on cultic abuse. The 11 ex-members who wrote the Leaving Nityananda letter included a statement about their daughters, “Most of us left the ashram after discovering the truth about Swami Chetanananda: his lying, cheating, and manipulation; his rampant sexual misconduct with female students – including adultery, and, having sex with the daughters of his students; his secret use of alcohol, cocaine, and prostitutes; his behind-the-scenes displays of violence and anger; the egregious fundraising manipulations by him and his staff; his luxurious life-style attained at the expense of devotees; his terrifying threats to students who spoke openly about his private life; and the endless cover up of all the above abusive behaviors.”

        One comment on a Frank Report article states that Joan Ames tried to expose Shoemaker and that part of her motivation was that Shoemaker “went after her daughter”. Other readers of the Frank Report have commented that Jesse Sweeney was involved in child pornography and in a Facebook message to Claudia Henry, a long time “student “ of Shoemaker and current resident of Gold Beach, she is warned by Anna Merli, a friend of Margo Marver, that Viktor Usov may have been involved in harming children and that “children were exposed to Viktor in the Portland Swami community.” Shoemaker gave Marc Gafni room and board at the Movement Center and gave him a platform to speak about his ideas.


        Marc Gafni has been accused of molesting a 13 year old girl,

        With the information that is coming to light about conditions within the Movement Center it does not appear to have been a safe and protective environment in which to raise children. If Shoemaker and his henchwomen and men were harming parents, by emotional manipulation, coercive control, sexual abuse, financial and labor exploitation, that also harmed their children. With all the adult time devoted to Shoemaker and his projects, what was left to give to their children? I believe that is why the second generation of Shoemaker students does not exist, there is too much abuse and harm in the Shoemaker cult. Look at who is still with him, all the “sweet old ones” in Gold Beach are seniors and there are only a few younger people there, all the rest have left him.

        Regarding this comment, “But I don’t believe for one second that he or Sadvi had anything to do with the deaths of the people you have mentioned. Period. You are spreading horrible gossip and lies.” Shoemaker calls himself the “abbot” of the Movement Center. As abbot of a residential spiritual community, he is responsible for the safety and well being of the community. What would be his role and his responsibilities when a member is found dead, like Liz and Ayaz or when a student jumps off a bridge or a student is taken by ambulance to the hospital? Both Shoemaker and Sharon Ward held administrative positions in the Movement Center and as such, they had responsibilities towards the “duty to care” for the residents. Shoemaker’s name is not even mentioned in the police report on Liz Bazzani’s death. Shoemaker did not offer condolences on her obituary page. He lived with her for over 40 years.

        • I can assure you watching for decades people flowing into the “shram” that I met VERY few people that didn’t first come from completely fucked up families. NONE that ended up on his “hook”. Healthy, self loving, and self aware humans do not end up in cults. Please stop this narrative as though all the victims lives started and stopped at the alter of Shoemaker.

          It’s insulting and gives him power he doesn’t deserve. Yeah, Shoemaker sucks but you know what? Our parents have responsibility in raising us there just as their parents were deficient of something that had them flee to seek family with him just as so many of these victims parents have their own responsibility and history with their kids who have ended up there. It’s incredibly weak and disempowering to watch you continue to give him so much power which you do with your “everything is his fault”, and insist we do the same. We aren’t weak like that.

          Please find me ONE victim who had a glorious family relationship before seeking him out. Have Frank interview them. I will wait.

          • Many people who lived/studied at the ashram, including myself, had lovely family upbringings and had lives that were not abuse ridden. We do not need to be interviewed by Frank nor do anything to prove anything to you. People who have not previously been abused can also be fooled by narcissists and psychopaths.

            Your demands are of no concern to me but I did want to let you know that your hypothesis and need to blame parents for Swami Chetanananda’s abusive actions are without merit based on my experience of having lived in this community for over a decade before exiting.

            People living at the ashram during the time when I was there were more highly educated than the mix of folks you might find in some new-age spiritual communities where people might seek to “drop out” of society. Most people worked full time outside the ashram. Education didn’t help anyone see through the facade.

            Other folks in the community may not have been highly educated and/or may have had abusive family histories. The community was a mix of people of all ages and varied backgrounds so making general statements isn’t productive.

            Several of the long-time community members started studying with SC when they were very young like 18-19 years of age, and Swami wasn’t that much older than they were, either. They probably thought they were building a future for themselves through their dedication. In the end I’m guessing they didn’t have any equity if they chose to leave so they stayed. Not a good decision in my opinion but these are the choices that determine one’s willingness to stand for what’s right versus personal security for the future. Not an easy choice. Still the choice that aligns a person with what is good and right is always worth making for one’s own growth, evolution, and inner peace, no matter the personal loss. It’s in these pivotal moments of choice when strength of character, or lack thereof, is revealed.

            Many have left. Many still have the choice in front of them and could leave.

  • Regarding the death of Liz Bazzani, Sharon Ward inserted herself and her dogs in the investigation. She dupped the police. There is no information that Shoemaker, the Abbot of the Movement Center where Liz lived for decades, was interviewed. He had a “duty to care” as the individual responsible for the well-being of his “loved ones”. Why wasn’t leadership of the Movement Center interviewed? Why weren’t other family members interviewed, ex-husband, all children, sister, Theresa and brother in law Salman? This report is short on details and long on Sharon Ward, the “remarkable” dog trainer had to say.

    The report, which is number GO 42 2017-18178 and available from the Portland Public record website for a fee, states that Liz’s death was caused by asphyxia (that is what happens when you are strangled) by drowning. The report does not indicate where the drowning happened. Was she put in the river after she was suffered from asphyxia? There are no locks on many of the bathroom and bedroom doors of the Movement Center. Word has it that Shoemaker liked to enter rooms and may have even strangled “loved ones” in the shower. The report does not state that Liz’s body was found to have cancer, the report is silent on that topic. No notes or other information to suggest that Liz was suicidal, that is what the report says.

    The report does not indicate if Liz’s phone was ever found.

    Portland Police Bureau GO 42 2017-18178 CASE NUMBER
    PRINTED ON: 10/05/2022 PRINTED BY: 48662 Page 9/10 VERSION: 181015 1

    On 2/7/2017 I spoke with DME Chappelle who told me that MI?s death was caused by asphyxia by drowning, and the manner undetermined. See Medical Examiner?s Report for further details.

    In conclusion, during the course of my investigation I did not find any evidence to support the possibility of foul play in the
    death of MI BAZZANI. Her behavior was described by unusual by family and friends in the weeks leading up to her death.
    Additionally, her physical and mental state seemed to be declining, from an unknown cause. The information provided in
    cell phone records show that MI likely left her residence between 2240 and 2252 hours on 1/18/2017, and spent some time walking downtown. I did not find any information that she met with anyone, and it appears she spent her last few hours alone. I did not find any notes or other information to suggest that MI was suicidal, however her erratic behavior and physical/mental decline may have contributed.

  • The Vow is not the correct title. This was a show on how the creators of Nxivm took down its leader. These people profit from recruiting and still profit. You are scammers!

    • Nicki Clyne profits. She has a locals page and teases about telling DOS secrets. Nicki Clyne gets on podcasts to talk Nxivm. Marc Elliot tries to make money suing over ESP/Nxivm\stars and attempts to get paid to talk about Nxivm “curing” his tourtettes. People are being financially supported by Clare Bronfman. People have their legal bills paid with Clare’s money. They are all parasites. None of them turn down a chance at Clare’s cash or cashing in on Nxivm infamy. Dead-enders most of all

  • The vow could have been way better imo. The creation lacked critical view points. Time was wasted with Agnifilo and omg, Toni, says ” I haven’t seen Raniere since 1999″ what a waste of words in front of the camera. Can’t any of these leeches produce a good quality honest in your face document? The camera loved to watch Mark V. bobble his head. I loved the dramatic scenes of the dancing devotees. Lastly at least Michelle talks about the change and realizations she experienced because of Frank Report.

  • Hollywood Reporter

    The Vow’ Director on Interviewing NXIVM Co-Founder Nancy Salzman and Season 2’s Multi-Sided Approach
    Jehane Noujaim, who returns behind the camera for the follow-up season to HBO’s hit sex cult saga, speaks with The Hollywood Reporter about filming with people from multiple viewpoints in order to show an “ecosystem of manipulation.”


    [ … ]

    In the below interview, Noujaim takes The Hollywood Reporter through her journey of vérité filmmaking to capture, over years and in real time, how the cult saga that was playing out publicly was impacting not only NXIVM’s defectors — as was shown in the first season — but also those still entangled with the embattled organization, namely Part Two‘s main interview subject Salzman. Noujaim discusses how she got Raniere, Salzman and all of Part Two‘s range of participants — which includes defectors, defenders and victims — on board in order to present multiple sides of an “ecosystem of manipulation” in The Vow‘s revealing, intimate and powerful six-episode return, which releases weekly on Mondays on HBO and HBO Max.

    [ … ]

    • As a former Movement Center participant (over ten years), I found the interviews with “defenders” of NXIVM, of particular interest. I have not watched the entire series yet but have watched the initial interviews with Nicki Clyne and Michele Hatchette and I thought it was of particular note that both had issues with self-esteem or personal dissatisfaction with themselves or their careers, etc prior to meeting Raniere. Michele mentioned that she had gone through a particularly bad breakup and was “suicidal”. In both instances, Michele and Nicki credited Raniere with “saving them” (my words) or otherwise helping them tremendously.

      Herein lies the problem. A manipulative cult leader has the follower believe they (the leader) is the source of the followers’ experience of benefit, rather than the follower’s own efforts and practice. It is not difficult for a third party to see our difficulties and most difficulties are relatively simple to diagnose. For the most part, someone willing to listen and say, “Hey, you are better than your own opinion of yourself.”, is all that is needed. Be it a friend, a family member or therapist… that one person can be the catalyst for complete change but it is ALWAYS us that does the work and makes the change happen.

      For a follower to say, “This person helped me so much.” is both true and not true. Sometimes we need that external encouragement or perspective and certainly we can appreciate that but that doesn’t make that person “special”. You have to look at whether something else is going on. The perceived benefit to the follower is the currency which the leader uses as manipulation… there is something in it for them… otherwise they would continually put the focus back on the follower and their accomplishments and their strength and them being the source of any change (internal… not external).

      And here is a rule of thumb… if a leader is lying or hiding their actions from others… there is a nefarious reason for that. Any behavior of a leader should be straightforward and honest. What was the justification of hiding his involvement as the head of DOS and all the other lies? Same thing with Shoemaker. He didn’t admit (publicly) to being sexually active until some time around the time of the Rich Reed articles. A Saraswati Swami/monk (which Shoemaker has claimed to be), is a renunciate who renounces money and sex… renouncing a secular life. That isn’t the life he was or is living… so how can he call himself a swami if he isn’t living by the definition of the order he claimed to be part of? He likes to say that the last thing he renounced was renunciation but that is just word salad to feed and confuse followers. Renunciation of renunciation is no renunciation at all…

      I just find all this subtle manipulation (and not so subtle) very interesting.

      Nicki and Michele, you made the changes you experienced in your life. No one else. You. That was/is all you and no one else and you have to look at why that wasn’t continuously impressed upon you, that you think someone else is the architect of your own effort and work. A true spiritual leader makes their followers independent and strong… not dependent and needy for the leader.

  • Frank,

    Mark Vicente gave you a great, well-deserved shout-out on his podcast (which is getting REALLY good).

    Nxivm/ESP was not actually “highly profitable” but for the considerable trust funds of those wealthy devotees like Clare Bronfman, Nxivm would not have survived financially.

    Very few people in Nxivm even made a living. Let alone amassed a cushy income.

    Keith lived off of Pam’s income (trust fund) for their whole relationship and added to that siphoning of Pam’s family money with other followers footing the bills later.

    Keith was also very skilled at wasting long term girlfriend’s (like Barbara) hard-earned money. Keith frittered other people’s cash away on vanity side projects and Ill-advised “investments”. But Keith was no successful business man and ESO/Nxivm was not a “highly profitable organization”.

    The cult was Keith’s personal piggy bank. And he managed the money like a junkie.

    Vanguard was like a crack addict who got a hold of a wealthy person’s debit card and savings account

    • Is this the “WTF is on my mind?” podcast? I haven’t listened to it but I’ve heard of it. Maybe I’ll check it out now thanks!

    • Very important point about Keith squandering the finances of his women, a couple of times to bankruptcy, he pushed to destruction. This personal 419 type scam of his, (did he ever scam a man, other than Suneel?) is often overlooked.

      • Keith did well in getting money from Emiliano Salinas, Alex Betancourt, Edgar Boone, and others who had money.

      • Anonymous aka “Moira Penza” – I’d stop continuing to prosecute Keith Raniere on the message boards and start defending myself against evidence fabrication, tampering, lying, falsehoods in sworn documents and court submissions, conspiracy, and related charges.

        I hear they have a nice cot all ready for you at the Brooklyn MDC for when you get remanded. Maybe you should binge “Orange is the New Black” this weekend.

        • Not Moira Penza – tho deeply flattered by the comparison. There is nothing I need to defend myself from in terms of criminality – that be your culty business! – for me, as for Moira Penza, I’m guessing – life is, relatively, sweet. I did enough to make it that way, wasn’t even particularly difficult NOT to join a cult, f*ck others over etc. as is the case with most people?

          Careful your vengeful thinking doesn’t bind to you. Life seems hard enough for you as it is.

    • “Very few people in Nxivm even made a living. Let alone amassed a cushy income.”

      This according to one Mark Vicente, who was a higher up in this Ponzi scheme.

      I wouldn’t believe a word Vicente says.

      If these people weren’t making money, how did Salzman end up with half a million dollars in cash stuffed in shoeboxes hidden around her home?

      Where did the money go? Nxivm had thousands of suckers paying five grand or more for short bullshit classes. People were buying real estate left and right in that town.

      I bet Vicente was making money hand over fist. Sarah Edmondson was, though she’s cagey about the details.

      Vicente spent years telling lies recruiting people into his and Raniere’s Ponzi scheme. He spent years making propaganda videos for the scam. Now we’re supposed to take him at his word? Don’t make me laugh.

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.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

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.

IMDb — Frank Parlato,_Jr.

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083