For researchers and scholars, the Frank Report will publish a new category, “NXIVM Docs.” The purpose of this new category is for readers who want to study documents and media reports to have a place where things are found.
‘Collateral Damage’ was an episode of Dateline, NBC aired the show on Mar 2 2021.
Frank Parlato appeared on the episode and had a hand behind the scenes in assisting with access. The show marked the first major media appearance of Danielle Roberts.
The episode is described as ‘Former NXIVM members tell Kate Snow about life inside the controversial self-help group, and life since founder Keith Raniere’s conviction on charges including sex trafficking and forced labor.’
Here is Part 1 of the transcript of the show:
LESTER HOLT: I’m Lester Holt and this is Dateline. It was the secretive self-help group many called a sex cult. Now, for the first time, NXIVM insiders speak out, including – from prison – former leader Keith Raniere.
KEITH RANIERE (on the phone): I’m just the leader of the community, and it is a tough situation.
BUILDUP/FAST EDIT OF INTERVIEWS: I joined DOS in 2016. // DOS was a secret society for women who wanted to become their best selves. // We were told that it was exclusively women mentoring women. // They used that front of self-help as a way to groom women for Keith Raniere.
RICK ROSS: Women were being physically burned with his initials.
BUILDUP/FAST EDIT OF INTERVIEWS: We wanted something that honored the permanence of our commitment. // There are women who have said, ‘I didn’t want this’. When they were in the room with me, they wanted it. They were laughing.// I chose to be branded. I chose to be branded.// The option to say no isn’t really an option. The pain was like, what is happening?
CATHERINE OXEMBERG: These young women were on this runaway rollercoaster to hell. That’s where Keith Raniere was taking them – to hell.
LESTER HOLT: Here’s Kate Snow with ‘Collateral Damage’.
KATE SNOW (voice over): It looks like a typical American subdivision. But the snow shrouds a dark past, as if the blanket of white is covering up the crimes that took place here.
KATE SNOW: I can’t imagine what you went through emotionally. You said, ‘I have wanted to end my life on numerous nights since leaving’. It’s heavy.
INDIA OXENBERG: Yeah.
KATE SNOW (voice over): These successful and accomplished women bonded here in friendship and devotion to a leader who they revered.
CATHERINE OXEMBERG: He destroyed a lot of people’s lives to the point where we’re still fixing the messes of the chaos that he created.
KATE SNOW (voice over): India Oxenberg grew up in Beverly Hills and Malibu, and lived what seemed an enchanted life. Her grandmother is European royalty and her mother, Catherine, starred in the 1980s mega hit dynasty. India’s father wasn’t part of her life, so Catherine raised her as a single mom.
KATE SNOW: What kind of bond did that create for you guys?
CATHERINE OXENBERG: I think a close bond. I mean, it was sort of an unconventional childhood. I was filming a lot, and traveling on location. And she would come with me and spend a lot of time in a trailer. In fact, one reporter asked, ‘You know what your mom does for a living’? ‘Yeah, she works in a trailer’.
KATE SNOW (voice over): A young girl and her mother facing the world essentially alone, but always as a team.
INDIA OXENBERG: My mom and I did a lot of things together and we were kind of, I mean, partners in crime, if you will.
KATE SNOW (voice over): Then, in 1999, when India was in grade school, their family expanded when Kathryn married actor Casper Van Den
INDIA OXENBERG: …and married a stepdad when she was about seven and he arrived on the scene with two kids from a previous marriage. So all of a sudden, we were a blended family. Then I had two more kids. She was always the family mediator. She was great with her step siblings.
(Scenes from I married a princess.)
CASPER (in series): Hey, you guys can get jobs off of that!
KATE SNOW (voice over): In 2005, the entire family, including 13 year old India, starred in a Lifetime reality series called ‘I Married a Princess’. India talked about her mom.
INDIA OXENBERG (in series): ‘It made me feel like she believed in me.’
KATE SNOW (voice over): A few years later, she hosted the pilot for a TV show called Teen Talk.
INDIA OXENBERG (in series): I’m India Oxenberg.
KATE SNOW (voice over): At 19, after taking a break from college, India was thinking about starting a catering business. That’s when she and her mom learned about a course called Executive Success Programs, from a family friend.
INDIA OXENBERG: Initially. And my mom and I weren’t really that intrigued, but she [the friend] kept pushing and insisting that this was going to change our lives.
KATE SNOW (voice over): That would turn out to be an understatement. Executive Success Programs was part of a company with a strange name pronounced NXIVM. NXIVM had headquarters near Albany, New York, but attracted 17000 clients in branches around the world, including Canada and Mexico. India and Catherine attended a meeting in Los Angeles to give it a try.
KATE SNOW: You went to your first NXIVM meeting with your mom, right?
INDIA OXENBERG: I did. That was back in 2011. They said that they were going to be giving me what was like a practical MBA and that this was going to be my route to building the skills that I thought that I was missing in order to have a career.
KATE SNOW: How much was that first five-day course? Thousands of dollars?
INDIA OXENBERG: Yeah, thousands, at least twenty four hundred.
KATE SNOW (voice over): The classes got more expensive as one advanced through NXIVM’s ranks. India thought it was worth it.
INDIA OXENBERG: And to me, I thought this was going to be the roadmap for me to build myself and grow.
KATE SNOW: NXIVM was led by a man named Keith Raniere. His acolytes recorded almost everything he said to promote his philosophy…
KEITH RANIERE (on tape): Someone sees something as life threatening and it’s more than life threatening. It’s self threatening.
KATE SNOW:… and posted YouTube videos to gain more followers.
KEITH RANIERE (on tape): You know, sometimes I like to have most of the time I like to just be with a person. And sometimes that’s the very thing that people don’t want.
KATE SNOW: Raniere didn’t just market NXIVM as a self-help group, but as an almost mystical community that served others.
KEITH RANIERE (on tape): Imagine if you could have a precise understanding of emotions.
KATE SNOW (voice over): He even invited the Dalai Lama to Albany and as India saw it in her first class, he courted wealthy and well known people as prospective members.
INDIA OXENBERG: And there were people in the room who were notable even to me. And I’m not even that good at noticing celebrities and things like that.
KATE SNOW (voice over): India and other members were told Raniere had one of the highest IQ’s ever, that he was a world class athlete and musician, and that he had numerous degrees and patents within NXIVM. He was called ‘Vanguard’. India and Catherine rolled their eyes at first.
KATE SNOW: At the time, what are you thinking as you sit in there and you take the course? Some of it must have been attractive.
INDIA OXENBERG: Well, I’ve had to think about this a lot because they were a lot of red flags that I sort of dispelled as, ‘OK, these are quirky people and they have idiosyncrasies’. They’re wearing sashes that delineate a certain hierarchy. They say it’s the same thing as having a belt system. I’ve taken karate. So for me, that wasn’t so odd. They were unusually friendly.
They do this thing called love bombing, which I didn’t know was a love bombing at the time. They’re very flattering. They make you feel very special. They seem like very happy – a little too happy, maybe friendly people.
KATE SNOW (voice over): Over time. India and Catherine got more involved in NXIVM. In 2012, about a year after signing up, they began to travel to Albany for events like the week celebrations of Vanguard’s birthday.
KATE SNOW: What were your first impressions of Keith Raniere? Vanguard, they call him.
INDIA OXENBERG: Well, I’m laughing because my first impression of him was that he was very short and that he also resembled a Teddy Graham, which is those little bulbous cookies, and he was unimpressive, like not what I had expected.
KATE SNOW (voice over): Catherine was also unimpressed, but her then husband, Casper, had an unsettling observation.
CATHERINE OXEMBERG: And I have to give him credit before I even said hi. There was this line up of women – of all ages, except they were all very thin, all coming up to greet him, throwing their arms around him, long, lingering kisses, staring in the eyes. It was weirdly intimate and my ex said ‘They’re all having sex with him’.
KATE SNOW (voice over): Having sex with Keith Raniere? India and Catherine thought the NXIVM crowd was a bit odd, but that seemed ridiculous. They didn’t know the half of it.
LESTER HOLT: When we come back: exclusive new details of life inside NXIVM, including what seemed like a worship of its leader.
INDIA OXENBERG: They had a lot of propaganda about him that they were spinning within the community.
LESTER HOLT: And then, India makes a life changing decision.
KATE SNOW: What do you think when she said that?
CATHERINE OXEMBERG: Not good. I just felt sick to my stomach.
KATE SNOW (voice over): India Oxenberg and her mother, Catherine, often travelled to NXIVM functions in Albany, New York. The biggest NXIVM event was called ‘The Week’, a birthday bash for Vanguard Keith Raniere, who was showered with affection.
KATE SNOW: At first, he didn’t strike you as someone that people would idolize. Put up on a pedestal. Revere?
INDIA OXENBERG: No. No, not not really. I was so new into the program, they had a lot of propaganda about him that they were spinning within the community and that hadn’t really reached me yet.
KATE SNOW (voice over): It would – Catherine eventually left the group, but slowly, India got more involved. More and more of her time was spent at NXIVM events and she posed for photos with members who became close friends, many of them successful young women. India even recognized some of them, like actor Nicki Clyne, one of the stars of the sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica.
KATE SNOW: People know your face from Battlestar Galactica…
NICKI CLYNE: Yeah.
KATE SNOW: …you were in it for…
NICKI CLYNE:… all of the seasons, four full seasons and a miniseries. I loved, I loved working on Battlestar.
KATE SNOW (voice over): Grew up in Vancouver, Canada, the shooting location for Battlestar and many other TV shows and movies looking to work on family relationships, she signed up for NXIVM executive success programs.
KATE SNOW: Part of joining, part of going to those classes was to try to repair your relationship with her?
NICKI CLYNE: Yeah. Even before I learned about E.S.P, I was very curious about why we humans do what we do. I was very much on this search for truth.
INDIA OXENBERG: She was my friend. She was someone who I considered to be a really good friend.
KATE SNOW (voice over): India also got to know Allison Mack, a star of the TV series Smallville. This is Allison addressing Raniere at a NXIVM seminar in Albany.
ALLISON MACK (on tape): But I just kind of feel it all the time now, like super exposed.
KEITH RANIERE (on tape): What you’re doing is you’re exposing a part of you that you’ve long denied.
KATE SNOW (voice over): In addition to Allison and Nikki, India became close with Danielle Roberts. Danielle had always been ambitious. As a young girl, she was a star gymnast.
DANIELLE ROBERTS: I competed up to the national level. I was hoping to go to the Olympics. And around ninth grade, I wound up having multiple ankle injuries. But I had a great physical therapists and I thought to myself, ‘My God’, like ‘if I can help people get back to doing what they love, that’s what I want to do’.
KATE SNOW (voice over): So when she was older, she became an osteopathic doctor and had a thriving practice in her early 30s. At a turning point in her life and career, she joined ESP and NXIVM, and soon gave talks about the group’s philosophy.
DANIELLE ROBERTS (on tape): We have created specific awareness practices that help you become more aware of your body.
KATE SNOW: If you were trying to get me to to sign up, to to become a part of NXIVM, what would you say?
DANIELLE ROBERTS: Well, I think it’s different for every person. I was very interested in personal responsibility and empowerment and in understanding how the human body and human behavior works so that I could help more people.
KATE SNOW (voice over): Danielle believed her work at NXIVM would revolutionize health care.
INDIA OXENBERG: She ran a business called Xoxo, which was created by Keith, and that was kind of his yoga-type physical therapy program.
KATE SNOW (voice over): India was impressed and thought she found a warm and loving community in NXIVM.
INDIA OXENBERG: I remember believing so strongly that what we were doing was good and wholeheartedly believing that Keith Raniere was a good person.
KATE SNOW (voice over): This is India in a docu-series called ‘Seduced – Inside the NXIVM Cult’.
INDIA OXENBERG: A lot of my life was spent in this place.
KATE SNOW (voice over): Over time, she became another of his devoted supporters, something that worried her mother.
CATHERINE OXEMBERG: At first she had burgeoning careers. She was acting. She was modeling. She was working with photographers
KATE SNOW: Living in L.A.
CATHERINE OXEMBERG: Living in L.A., sometimes living at home, sometimes with a boyfriend. And then, all of a sudden, everything became secondary to the mission – to NXIVM. And she dropped doing all her other business interests.
KATE SNOW (voice over): India spent almost all her time on NXIVM, moving up the ranks and recruiting others. She made little money from her work, but it had become her obsession. By the fall of 2016, five years after she first joined, India told her mom she was moving to NXIVM’s headquarters outside Albany and taking on a new role with Raniere. Her friends, Nicky, Daniel and Alison were already living their part of a tight knit band of Rainier’s closest supporters.
KATE SNOW: What do you think when she said that?
CATHERINE OXEMBERG: Not good – had a very, very bad feeling, especially if it was coupled with ‘and Keith is going to mentor me and we’re going to start this business’ and I just felt sick to my stomach.
KATE SNOW (voice over): There was good reason for that. If India or Catherine or any of the others had simply Googled the name Keith Raniere, they might have never gotten involved in the first place. When they joined, they didn’t know that, in 2003, Forbes ran a cover story on Raniere. The article quoted critics who accused him of leading a cult like program aimed at breaking down his subjects psychologically.
One source for the article was Edgar Bronfman, Senior, of the Seagram’s Liquor Fortune. Bronfman was angry that his daughter, Clare, who was in her 20s, bankrolled Raniere to the tune of millions of dollars. Reporter Robert Gavin, of the Albany Times Union, says NXIVM tried to hide bad press from members…
ROBERT GAVIN: And these were widely circulated articles that any fair had written about next year. Many people, local and non-local, had written about it.
KATE SNOW (voice over): When India and Katherine got involved, they hadn’t seen the negative coverage. For instance, this newspaper exposé in 2012. After following the NXIVM story for years, the Albany Times Union did a groundbreaking investigative series
ROBERT GAVIN: What that series did was, it told anybody who didn’t know that Keith Raniere, among other things, has allegedly had sex with underage females.
KATE SNOW (voice over): But the alleged victims did not come forward. Raniere was not charged and never arrested for any crimes. One of the Times Union reports stated ‘a close knit group of these women has tended to him, paid his bills and shuttled him around. Several have satisfied his sexual needs and a few have left their families behind to wrap him in their affections’. Now India was headed to Albany.
LESTER HOLT: Coming up, within NXIVM, a secret society of women where so-called masters required absolute obedience.
KATE SNOW: Did you have to get permission to eat?
INDIA OXENBERG: Yes, to eat, to go and see people, permission to travel. All of those things I had to ask for…
LESTER HOLT: when Dateline continues.
KATE SNOW (voice over): In the fall of 2016, India Oxenberg joined her close friends, Danielle Roberts, Nicki Clyne and Allison Mack near Albany, New York. Each devotees of Vanguard, Keith Raniere. No one knew outside next Kim’s inner circle. But India was there because she had been inducted into a secret sorority.
INDIA OXENBERG: When we were told about this women’s group, we were told that it was exclusively women mentoring women and that there were no men involved – mentoring each other, helping each other. It was supposed to be about like, executive coaching, but for women. And to me, that sounded great. I thought like, ‘well, I can use I can use help. I can use some guidance’.
KATE SNOW (voice over): This women’s group had an odd sounding name, DOS, and Alison was a leader.
KATE SNOW: Were you asked to join DOS by Allison Mac?
INDIA OXENBERG: She recruited me. At the time, I didn’t realize that I had been targeted for what DOS really was, I believed Alison when she told me that it was a women’s empowerment group.
KATE SNOW (voice over): Nicki and Danielle were also members.
KATE SNOW: Who brought you in?
DOS MEMBER: Alison had invited me. Alison Mack. And at the time where I was at in my life, it was something that I really thought would help me.
KATE SNOW (voice over): But first, the women had to prove their loyalty. They had to sign a document requiring members to provide what was called ‘collateral’. Some would call it ‘potential blackmail’.
KATE SNOW: What was the collateral that you had to give?
INDIA OXENBERG: So the collateral was damaging or compromising information about yourself or your loved ones.
KATE SNOW: So if you break with the group, they’re going to release this damaging information about you.
INDIA OXENBERG: Right. But the way that they spun it was as if it was for your benefit.
KATE SNOW: I’m not sure if you’ve talked about this into your what your collateral was?
INDIA OXENBERG: A little bit. There was, there was so much. It was videos. It was recordings. It was photographs.
KATE SNOW (voice over): India says the collateral included graphic sexual images of the women, but that wasn’t all.
INDIA OXENBERG: Really a majority of it was made up information. The collateral became increasingly more stressful and difficult because we had to make up things about people that we cared about and people who we loved.
KATE SNOW: Did you make up things about your family?
INDIA OXENBERG: I did. And and that was something that was so horrible for me because I knew that I would never break this secret because I would never want to hurt the people that I loved most.
KATE SNOW (voice over): India was told it was to ensure they lived up to the goals they had set for themselves, an unbreakable commitment to the group. India went along with it. Nicki embraced it.
NICKI CLYNE: Yes, it was edgy. It was maybe a little extreme.
KATE SNOW: But you’re giving you’re giving them naked videos of yourself.
NICKI CLYNE: Right.
KATE SNOW: Things that might be damaging to your family affidavits or letters about things that happened in your life, that you’re embarrassed and ashamed and don’t want revealed.
NICKI CLYNE: So my experience of…
KATE SNOW: How is that OK, though, you know what I mean? Because people don’t understand that. Why would you do that and allow someone to have your deepest secrets to hold over you as blackmail?
NICKI CLYNE: Well, that’s not what it was for. How important is it to truly become the woman I want to be? And the collateral was me saying, I want that. And this is what I’m – the chips I’m willing to put in.
KATE SNOW (voice over): Collateral was just one of the requirements of DOS. Allison told India about another bizarre practice in which they used the loaded terms, master and slave.
KATE SNOW: Did she become your master?
INDIA OXENBERG: She did. She was my master. Within DOS.
KATE SNOW: Alison Mack invites you in to use your terminology. She’s the master, right?
NICKI CLYNE: Yeah.
KATE SNOW: And you were a slave to her.
KATE SNOW (voice over): DOS stood for Dominus Obsequious Sororium. Latin that roughly translates to: master above female slave.
KATE SNOW: And what did that mean?
INDIA OXENBERG: It meant that I was to be ultimately obedient to her and that she could instruct me to do whatever she wanted. That was what it really meant.
KATE SNOW (voice over): India says Allison controlled everything.
KATE SNOW: Did you have to get permission to eat, to leave, to travel.
INDIA OXENBERG: Yes. Allison Mack was a very… intense person, and she took her role as master very seriously, which also included having to ask permission to eat, permission to go and see people, permission to travel, all of those things I had to ask for.
KATE SNOW: This whole thing is just so hard to understand from the outside. You’re depriving yourself of food. You lost a ton of weight.
INDIA OXENBERG: I did.
KATE SNOW (voice over): And for India, there was another requirement.
KATE SNOW: And you were having, as I understand it, you were sleeping with Keith Raniere.
INDIA OXENBERG: Yes. I don’t even know. It’s such a weird thing. It’s so hard to understand from the outside. And one of the more complicated things was my relationship with Keith Raniere and what that was.
KATE SNOW (voice over): India wasn’t the only one. She says many of the DOS women were essentially coerced into having sex with Raniere.
INDIA OXENBERG: And I was one of many women that Keith Raniere abused and it was nonconsensual sexual interactions because we were all collateralized and none of us wanted to engage with Keith in that way. It was not an option to say no.
KATE SNOW (voice over): Nicki says her experience was very different and she was happy to say yes.
NICKI CLYNE: I had a sexual relationship with Keith for over ten years. That was completely separate from DOS. There was never once was I asked to do a sexual act, with anything to do with DOS.
KATE SNOW: But you were having a sexual relationship with him while other women were also having sexual relations.
NICKI CLYNE: Yes. From the beginning, he was very honest and up front with the fact that he had other partners, and most of those he had for 10 or more years before DOS was ever conceived.
KATE SNOW: And you call your relationship with him consensual,
NICKI CLYNE: Yes. One hundred percent, 100 percent. Yeah.
KATE SNOW: There’s a man in a leadership position who’s having relations with multiple women. You’re all living in the same community.
NICKI CLYNE: OK, so I find it difficult when people view my decisions as something I’m only doing because some man is. Inspiring me somehow to do. I made all of my decisions because I wanted something and I got something out of what I chose. So, my relationship with Keith was in effect something that I wanted and that I benefited tremendously from.
KATE SNOW: For the women of DOS, there was still another practice. They had to say yes to one that India would find terrifying.
LESTER HOLT: Coming up, a secret ritual.
INDIA OXENBERG: I had a few of my friends with me, one was stroking my head, another one was holding my hand. Another one was helping to secure my leg.
LESTER HOLT: Women submitting to the unthinkable.
INDIA OXENBERG: The pain was something like that I had never experienced before.