Karen Unterreiner Tells Fascinating Story to Sarah and Nippy part 1

Karen Unterreiner,
by Paul Serran

The Karen Unterreiner interview for the Podcast ‘A Little Bit Culty’ with Sarah Edmonson and Anthony Ames, is a must for those who study the ESP/NXIVM phenomenon.

Karen and Sarah.

Here is an edited and abbreviated version of what Karen said on a Little Bit Culty about NXIVM and Keith Alan Raniere.

Listen to the podcast to learn more.


I met ‘Alan’, I would call him Alan – it just gives me chills every time I say the full name before college even started – during freshman orientation.

We both went to RPI [Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute].

My father had passed a week before. I was already very shy and insecure from a lot of childhood trauma. And then my father had just died.

Alan noticed me when I arrived. I had an entourage moving me in.

I was dressed like a hippie even though I was withdrawn. He saw the contradiction in my personality. At RPI, there were nine men to every woman; not a lot of women there.

I was on the only floor of all freshmen girls – my dorm – and he made the rounds. He went and visited everybody. And when he stopped at my room, we talked for a long time.

He was mysterious. He asked me if I liked older men, because he was actually a year and a half younger than me. He would do lots of weird things like that.

Keith pretended to be a Judo champ.

And then slowly, he would drop that he was eastern coast judo champ. He could play piano. He just slowly dropped all that stuff.

He was better looking back then for those of you who say ‘how can you?’

He was built. He was muscular. Very, very, very big, broad shoulders, small waist. He had been doing a lot of athletics. He had the feathered back 70s hair.

I was like, ‘I can’t believe this guy’s talking to me.”

I was just overwhelmed by the attention, which was – now we know – called love bombing.

We were inseparable, pretty much, through college. I eventually found out I was not the only one in his life, but I don’t know how he found time, because we were together so much – but he was fooling around with a lot of people.

I broke up with him in my senior year, because he slept with my best friend over the summer.

But he pulled me back. He said that, while I was separated from him, I had a little fling – and he said it made him, really, really sad. He said he had wanted us to never have been with anybody else.

I left him because he screwed my best friend and he’d been screwing half the campus, but I had a one night stand, and that made me an awful person. That’s the standard ‘Alan’ thing. That’s what he does.

I met Keith’s mother when we were in college, and we went down to New York City to go to a Yes concert. He was introducing me to rock and roll. We stopped at his mother’s on the way. She was very eccentric. She was a dancer, ballroom dancer, but she had a heart condition. So she couldn’t really do it anymore. But she had that physique. She was a little weird.

Keith with his mother Vera

I was laughing because she made us Kraft macaroni and cheese, which was a staple that we had at school. That’s a total college students’ make and guess what? We go home, and that’s what she made for us. So it was a very like, vibrant person, I thought.

And then we went and visited his dad who lived in New York City with his new wife. I could see the tension. The mother would complain about him and he would say something about the mother. There was tension there, obviously, with his parents.

The mother was living in their old house and he’s in this fancy apartment on 88th Street in New York City. His mother passed, I think, in our sophomore year of college. Because my father had just passed, the first year. We were dealing with that, and then I think it was sophomore year, his mother died, around Christmas time.

What he told me was when his father was there I don’t think was true. His mother was at her cardiologist funeral, and dropped and passed there, with cardiologists all over the place and nobody could restore her. He said her heart was damaged when she had surgery once she just passed around a whole bunch of cardiologists.

He kind of dropped out for a semester. He didn’t really do the next semester. And that’s why he had incompletes for a while, and he didn’t get his degrees for a little while.

Well, that’s what he told me. Back then, even, he thought the faculty at the college we’re watching him and talking about him – and he’s already in the conspiracy theory stuff, back then.

Forbes published this cover story about Keith Raniere in Oct. 2003.

After college, I moved to Connecticut, because it’s the insurance capital of the world. And I was trying to get rid of a recruiter, one day, that was on the phone, and I said, ‘Well, if you got a job in Albany’… The next day, he called back with a job in Albany, in my field, in a really good consulting firm. So I moved up thinking that, ‘okay, we just move in with Keith’, not realizing he was actually dating other people up here, too.

I thought I was still dating him the following years after college, but he was obviously living with other people.

We were all led to believe we were the special one in his life. He  lied. Later, he blamed me. He told me I told him to lie to me.

After college, I moved to Connecticut for a while, became an actuary. And I found a job back up here in Albany, and we moved in together at 3 Flintlock. We both own that condo, though I paid for the whole thing. Yeah, that’s the usual. He technically owns half of it, but I paid for everything.

I was working as an actuary in Albany when he started Consumers’ Buyline. I jumped ship and came on full time. Consumers’ Buyline kind of grew up in my living room, as did NXIVM later.

I would get out of bed, leave him in bed, go into the office, and as soon as I did, Pam was sneaking into my room while I’m working at the office.

He told me he wasn’t screwing Pam.

How Keith Met Pam

Keith wanted to start a business called ‘Life Learning Institute’. It was not about ethics. But it was kind of the same format as NXIVM ended up being, with classes, more of like a knowledge network.

He needed funding. So he was on a ski trip with his dad, and an obviously wealthy man and his daughter, Pam were on a gondola,

Keith was going for money.  He was looking for funding for that business. He was looking for money. And that’s when he met Pam, and brought her in. Her dad eventually did help us get the ‘Consumers’ Buyline’ started. He gave us a loan to get that going.

He claimed he wasn’t screwing Pam. As usual, he was. At first, she was just very unusual to me, because she was from a very wealthy family. She was ditzy. But she was a lot of fun.  We became friends. They would keep their relationship hidden. She was angry about that. I think we were friends for most of the time.

Keith and Karen.

I found a contraceptive device of hers on the bathtub. She had left it. And, so, I confronted him.

I challenged him on it. And the scene ended with me on his foot begging him not to leave. That’s how things went – in between that, he would give me some bullshit story that it was for something else, which is obviously, even then, I knew was obviously crap.

He’ll give you some lie that you can hold on to. And then he pulls the thing you saw him do with Camilla, in the end, with Lauren, in the trial.

He would say, “Oh, you’re hurting my heart. I can’t do this with you. You’re killing me.”

He would say: ‘If you ask any more questions, if you want me to answer I can answer but I’ll never be able to talk to you again.”

His health was used a lot, in those situations. So, he’s lying, which is different than saying, “Oh, I am being hurt.”

I think he knows he’s not being hurt. It’s just a tactic he used with every single one of us consistently.

He set you up to think you’re not a good person, and then would play on that. I mean, eventually, in NXIVM, he defines what a good person is pretty much.

So he’s setting you up to want to do what he wants you to do, in order to be a good person. He makes those things line up.

Raniere wanted the women to be ‘good persons’ according to his definition of the term.

Who’s going to do something that’s going to give the person that you care about a heart attack? You back down. In the back of your mind, you know, you’ve got a ton of competition for his attention. So, you’re not going to screw up and put yourself on the bottom of that list.

Even when I thought I was the special one, I knew there was a ton of women in line waiting for my position. So, you had to stay in line to maintain that attention from him.

Eventually, I lost all the attention for him. I barely saw him towards the end, with no real explanation.

One day I read Pam’s diary. She was not happy about that. It was also at the same time he was about to move in with Toni Natalie.  So, he was having to come clean that he was having relationship with Toni, but I kind of fought to get the truth out of him.

My way of dealing with it was ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’. I got to be okay with it. Nobody was really okay with it. But we had to act like that.

Karen and Pam.

Barbara [Jeske], Pam and I became very close while Keith first moved in with Toni.

Barbara was recruited at the beginning of Consumers’ Buyline. She was in a different multilevel marketing company, and she got pulled over into ours.

She met Keith, and then moved herself from Ann Arbor to Albany, and was there ever since then, so she helped with Consumers’ Buyline marketing after it was started.

She grew her hair long because mine used to be down to my waist because Keith always told me not to cut it. And so, everyone else thought they had to do that, too. I don’t know if he told them to, but she was growing hers. And then she, you know, had a relationship with him. She would hang out in my house. When he was over there. And she’d be massaging his feet for hours while he laid on that couch. She would sit at his feet and massage his feet for hours.

The couch at 3 Flintlock

Keith and his father.


Consumers Buyline ad

Consumers’ Buyline was a purchasing service. But it was also multilevel marketing. It was supposed to be a different multi level marketing, an ‘ethical multi level’.  His idea which was more of a conspiracy theory is that we pissed off Amway and Walmart or something, and some Attorneys General came after us.

And eventually, half the Attorneys General came after us. And we were in legal battles for years.

But he was like, ‘we’re the good guys.’ And it eventually took us down. We won some of the legal battles, because Keith was kind of smart in how he set things up. But the money we paid to win the battles put us out of business.

Arkansas is where the people that came after us, that he said was a conspiracy? Because Amway, or something?

This was the first time he started saying ‘there’s forces out there against him’. He’s done that with everything that he’s failed at, he did that even with the stock market thing that he did, when he lost everybody’s money. He said ‘there were forces that were teaming up against him’, and that’s why he lost.

Well, he’s got a response to everything. The women are lying. I knew the women weren’t lying, because I had the same conversations with Keith that they claimed they had. The lore with the baby – I was promised a baby, you know – everything is the same. Like I’m sure they weren’t lying, because the exact same words he used with me were used with them.

Stay tuned for part 2.

And listen to A Little Bit Culty


About the author

Paul Serran


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  • I appreciate reading this. In my mind, it confirms that Keith’s manipulation game began very early. I find this story heartbreaking. I met the love of my life in college, and was lucky enough to marry him later in life. The college years are very formative and is often the time we cultivate deep and life-long bonds. The betrayal here is appalling.

    “Who’s going to do something that’s going to give the person that you care about a heart attack? You back down.”

    He took advantage of everyone’s good nature and vulnerabilities. Shame on him. Most of us would not be able to live with ourselves after doing such things. But apparently Keith can sleep all day long without an ounce of remorse. That’s why it never shocked me that he could have sex with a 13 year old.

      • The lines of your palm show you would become an Emerald distributor in Amway and fall in love with a tall Texan who would later accuse you of using your tool to scam him or someone he knew.

  • From what many people have reported it would take hours and hours just to rub one of Keith’s gigantic, bulbous hobbit feet. But what a nauseating image. Thanks Karen.

  • Forgive me, I’m confused.

    I thought NXIVM/ESP was a violent criminal enterprise that trafficked women and engaged in such crimes as mail fraud, wire fraud, immigration fraud, identity theft, forced labor, and coercion. So why is one of its high ranking former members being treated with the same level of agency as a child, as if she’s a victim?

    Students, customers, and low level coaches are being sued, but a person who was in the inner circle for years, for decades, is off limits?!?

    I mean, either it’s a criminal enterprise or it’s not. So which is it? Are we playing the eenie meanie Minnie Moe game to see who gets treated as a victim, and who gets treated as a perpetrator?

    Are we picking names out of a hat?

    Oh, that’s right, she’s Sarah’s friend. Never mind. All is forgiven. Reserve your hate for the Dossier Project women, none of whom were charged with crimes, but unlike the subject of this piece, continue to be harassed for not conforming to the official story.

    Never mind that this woman was closer to the top than any of the people who are disparaged here on a daily basis. She has Sarah’s stamp of approval, which is really the only thing separating the plaintiffs and defendants at this point.

    It’s almost as if who these people are friends with and the positions they take (or pretend to take, in the case of the “defectors”) are more important than what they actually did, or their level of involvement in the company.

    Is this a bad wrestling Babyface turn? A bad, tired, recycled Star Wars plot device? Or is this a real life situation that requires some of the plaintiffs in the civil suit to answer some serious questions about their conduct?

    I hope the Judge and Jury take all of these factors into consideration and make a fair decision.

      • If it will make people here happy, I will send a picture verifying my name and identity, that Frank can confirm.

        I don’t think your scapegoats come here much. And I think there’s a part of you that knows, deep down, that they’re not the bad people they’ve been made out to be.

        Happy New Year.

        • I believe you but for the ” Top Brass”
          who try to excuse their ass, the plea deal peeps who constantly weep when they knew all along as they invited their prey, & now wish to collect an additional Pay Day ,I say
          “DO iT”.
          Dropped from the case :

          The president & curriculum maker

          The enthusiastic recruiter & drug her & hostage holder

          The person who had ‘slaves’ & employed immigrants in Delagates, gave assignment to Nicole ( sex trafficking) ?

          The film maker best friend of KR & criminal act of editing out footage
          for a court order.

          All to pin the tail on the deadenders

        • Hey “Kevin”, unfortunately your attempt at validating your identity won’t wash – anyone can pose for a picture with fake ID, and be paid Bromfman bucks to do it.

          BTW, what’s your take on whether women can sometimes be the victims of too? I know Ruth would be interested.

          • Rock, you totally caught me. All this time, I’ve been living it up on Bronfman island, on the Bronfman payroll…even though I’ve never met them, or had even heard of them until this happened.

            If any of the people I:be written to have questions about my identity, or anything else, I will provide that info offline, minus any PII.

            How many of the people who wrote here are willing to do the same?

      • No sour grapes. I don’t know this woman and don’t want anything to happen to her. Just trying to make you guys use your brains to see how insane some of the double standards are relating to this situation.

    • I’m sorry, but just because all of these Raniere leftovers had mommy and daddy trauma crying victim doesn’t excuse criminal acts. I’m going to laugh my fucking ass off when RICO comes a knocking. These inner circle manipulating “victims” are really blind aren’t they?
      Where is the fucking common sense? Where’s some new arrests?

      • It’s not excusing anything numbnuts. They are simply showing he targeted people with traumas at times they were particularly vulnerable.

    • Kevin. Please assure us you are alive after these rants. So much invested in the hatred of these women who got out. I’ve seen triggering here on an epic proportion that’s simply not good for the health. Take a sedative, go get therapy and live your life.

      • Alive and well. Japan has many wonderful places for relaxing and destressing.

        I don’t hate her, just pointing out a double standard. At the rate we’re going, the money makers in the company will eventually start suing the 17,000 students who took a single class and had no involvement in any wrongdoing.

    • Has it ever been described as “violent” in the sense of beating or killing people? I don’t think so. At most, “violent” has possibly been used to describe certain actions that occurred under its umbrella, e.g., statutory rape or induced emotional or psychological trauma.

      I don’t think anyone is treating KU’s agency as if she’s a child. She’s giving background information about how she was just another pea in the pod of Raniere’s women who was deceived. I don’t think she ever claimed she was a total victim without any responsibility or agency, but she was at least partially a victim to Raniere’s manipulation and compartmentalization since like many of the women who fell into his crosshairs, they were the introverted/shy type, young, naive, and trusting. Does this person “Kevin” who claims not to be an insider or deadender (but essentially holds and repeats all of their viewpoints) know of people who claim KU wronged them or of any crimes that KU participated in that she was not prosecuted for?

      I don’t think “Kevin” seems to understand the ability for people to separate individuals and assess their levels of culpability. Or he just wants to be black and white when it suits him, e.g., “It’s either a criminal enterprise or it’s not”. Obviously, it is a criminal enterprise as was established in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt. It doesn’t mean all those who were involved in the enterprise participated in criminal activities. It’s a simple distinction.

      No one is going to repeat ad nauseum why some of these women (that “Kevin” isn’t a part of though he certainly defends them like he is) are being sued. That is precisely the point of why civil suits exist against individuals who “escape” criminality for one reason or another, because those who claim themselves as victims of them still want to hold them accountable for what they believe are the former’s wrongful actions. OJ Simpson didn’t magically become free of civil suits even though he was found not guilty of being a criminal, and anyone can file a civil lawsuit at anytime regardless. Raniere filed many wrongful lawsuits (he never won any of them and was severely criticized by many including at least one judge for using litigation as a weapon) against his perceived enemies. So stop crying.

    • I do not think Karen ever had any real power in NXIVM. Especially as she grew older and Raniere cast her aside.

      She certainly played no part in DOS, which already makes her less culpable than Nicki and Allison.

      It seems as though she was horribly mistreated by Raniere. She now disavows him and NXIVM. She is no longer supporting or advocating for a criminal and a criminal enterprise, unlike Nicki.

      Nicki’s hands are still dirty and getting dirtier by the day. Karen is trying to do better. It’s easy to understand why people would have more sympathy for Karen.

      • I disagree. Karen knew, as one of the first women, Keith’s modus operandi. She knew about it and accepted it. She knew and was present while he groomed underage Rhiannon (“teaching her math”). Yet she did nothing. Then in 2012 in the Albany Times article it was alleged he raped multiple underage girls. Karen did nothing. Then the 3 Mexican sisters came along. Karen was there. She saw what was going on. She knew what Keith was doing. Because she had seen it all before. Now he was personally involved in teaching underage Camilla. Karen was there. She saw it, yet looked the other way. Shame on her.

          • I read your earlier report of the interview with Karen. I’m unconvinced about her statement “that she knew nothing” about the underage girls. She can read can’t she? Did she read the Albany times article? Rhiannon was in Karen’s house wasn’t she? Keith tutoring Rhiannon there. So Karen knew who Rhiannon was. By then, Karen knew Keith was fucking everything with a pulse. Pam, Toni, her best friend in school, “everbody else in school” (Karen’s words!).
            And now we have Keith giving lots of attention to another underage girl, Camila. Tutoring maths (no surprises here) to Camila. Karen knows who Camila is. To paraphrase Garaufis: Karen didn’t know because she didn’t want to know: she was willfully blind.

          • What else could Karen say?
            “Yes, I knew he was fucking underage girls, a small child in the case of Rhiannon, but I didn’t want or dare to confront him so I just looked the other way?

            The fact that she denied she knew doesn’t mean she didn’t know.

          • Keith compartmentalized everything. No way he’d have let Karen know what he was up to. At best, Karen was wilfully blind at times.

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.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

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 premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com