by Paul Serran
An article in the National Public Radio (NPR) website about ‘The Vow, Part 2’ sent a tremor throughout the whole NXIVM scene, both on the side of the whistleblowers/escapees and also between the ones still advocating for the multilevel-marketing-scam-turned-sex-cult.
The reviewer, Linda Holmes, opens up with quite the salvo: ‘Cult leaders know it, pyramid scheme operators know it, and you undoubtedly know it, too: Nothing complicates a narrative like half a million dollars in cash.‘
The article goes on to add that it’s ‘puzzling that they don’t explore in the series: When the FBI searched Nancy Salzman’s house pursuant to a search warrant, they found more than half a million dollars in cash. More than $390,000 of it was stuffed into a single shoebox.’
That’s quite the financial elephant in the room. After all, as most Frank Report readers already know so well, the criminality in ESP/NXIVM did not begin with the sexual blackmail and fire-branding of DOS.
Frank Parlato has written many times about how the very name NXIVM is closely related to (probably derived from) the Nexum contracts in Ancient Rome.
Parlato: ‘Nexum was a debt contract in the early Roman Republic. The debtor pledged his person, his actual body, as collateral, should he default on a loan. It was, in effect, a mortgage on a person, not on property.
Nexum was accompanied by a symbolic transfer of rights that involved a set of scales, copper weights, and a prescribed vow. Similar to DOS branding, the nexum contract was entered into with a ceremony with five witnesses.’
It is plain to see how the financial servitude of the never-ending ESP courses was followed by sexual servitude of an inner circle of female empowerment (achieved by worshipping a man) like DOS.
Back to the NPR article, Linda Holmes writes: ‘Money. Money has been missing from too much of The Vow’s story of NXIVM all along. Recruiters made big money, the organization made big money — the story is awash in money.’
She also makes the important point that money was not only an issue for the handlers at the very top of the racketeering conspiracy: ‘And for these people who are in the gray area where they are both victims and perpetrators (an area that exists in any similar organization), money affects their behavior, their accountability, and their attempts to make amends or move on.’
‘[T]he series examines the story largely through the eyes of Raniere’s second in command, Nancy Salzman, who ultimately pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy.’
She says many things that want to suggest that ESP/NXIVM was completely legitimate were it not for the sexual slavery and blackmail of DOS – and yet, as she spoke she had already pled guilty to racketeering conspiracy. It was not an adventure in ‘the field of human potential’. It was a racket.
Look how deluded Nancy sounds: ‘Imagine you spent 22 years trying to build something that you fully believed in and thought was good, and everybody thinks it’s the devil’s work.’
Holmes reminds us that, not only did ‘The Vow Part 2’ fail to mention the money found at Nancy’s house, but also overlooks ‘the fact that she was fined $150,000 and ordered to surrender more than $500,000 in cash plus some properties — and a Steinway […].’
Nancy ‘is insistent that she believed until very late in the game that she was involved in an above-board, if unconventional, self-help group.’
Linda Holmes also questions what the role of money was in the process of Sarah Edmondson’s defection: ‘Didn’t she make an awful lot of money recruiting other people into NXIVM? Does she feel right about keeping it, now that she says she’s seen the light about Raniere? [In her CNBC podcast] Edmondson has two basic responses: she worked really hard for the organization, and anyway, her money isn’t really liquid these days, or she’d gladly hand it out to the people she took it from. It is a heck of a response.’
While the article has a good point that Nancy Salzman ‘may have been hesitant to discuss money and specifics because of some continuing legal jeopardy,’ the rationale for the directors and producers bypassing such a crucial part of the story is inexplicable. Holmes writes that ‘it winds up seeming like a gaping hole in the series that it avoids money with such rigor.’