3rd; Final Part: Karen Unterreiner Tells Fascinating Story to Sarah and Nippy

The Karen Unterreiner interview for ‘A Little Bit Culty’ with Sarah Edmonson and Anthony Ames turned out to be a treasure trove of information for those who follow the ESP/NXIVM phenomenon.

Here is the final part of our edited and abbreviated version from ‘A Little Bit Culty.’

Read part 1 | Read part 2

Listen to the podcast to hear the complete interview.

Karen and Daniella Padilha.

Does she still practice what she ‘learned’ at ESP?

I stopped being part of NXIVM about six months after Keith was arrested. I started to realize so much of what we called ‘tech’ was distorted.

I just didn’t feel good, and I was getting real therapy for myself. I was seeing the difference between dealing with a professional, versus us, amateurs. There’s so much that is distorted and used for not good.

I couldn’t do it.

People talk about all the classes, and everything. That they gained things out it; that classes were great.

Nancy Salzman says: ‘How could someone like Keith create this wonderful thing?’

As I’ve looked back at all the different things we taught, all the different concepts, I see how so many of them were used to manipulate people.

I mean, “ethical breach” could be a beautiful concept, but someone else telling you what your ethical breaches are?

It’s total abuse.

If someone got something out of it, great – but don’t ever bring this tool back up. EMs were often – I tried very hard not to do this – you were told to get somebody to think a certain way, [which is] the exact opposite of what we taught.

Karen was sent to gaslight outgoing member Barbara Bouchey.

We were sent in to work with Barbara Bouchey. We had to get her to realize she was in the wrong with respect to Keith. I refused to do that. At the end, they sent me, because they gave up but I wasn’t going to try to do that.

I had to make it look like I was doing what the other guys want and then do what I thought was right. It was a really hard line to balance.

Her Awakening

When Bonnie was waking up, she had an altercation with Nancy, and she came to me and asked me for help. And when I found out it was about Nancy, I’m like, ‘Oh, shoot, there’s no way this is going to end well for me’.

And so I said, “I can’t really help you with respect to her. But I will help you with respect to you.”

Nancy found out I was working with Bonnie, and I got in big trouble, because I hadn’t fixed Bonnie the way she wanted her fixed. There’s that pressure going on, and I’m sure Nancy had that from Keith at some level. I was considered weak because I wouldn’t do those things.

‘Keith was responsible for all good things’ was a red flag for Karen.

Everything that was good was Keith’s responsibility – and everything that was bad was our responsibility. That’s basically the red flag.

Kristin, who lived with us for a while – the mother of his first child – had one type of cancer. Barbara Jeske had brain cancer. What was suspicious is that Pam died of what started as kidney cancer, and I had bladder cancer – those two things are really close, literally connected. And that sounded suspicious.

Keith himself, when I got cancer, said, with his usual conspiracy theories, that somebody might have been trying to kill him, and maybe we should have the water tested at Flintlock. I’m the only one still living at Flintlock at this point.

And he didn’t want me moving out of there! You think it’s possible that it’s bad, here, but you don’t want me to move out? He’s the one who brought up the idea of testing stuff.


When Frank Parlato called me with the results of the hair test, I was pretty surprised that we actually came up with something.

I think it’s possible, but we don’t have any real proof that he could have been trying to get rid of us. I mean, he basically had written us off. We barely got crumbs, as we got older.

Barbara Jeske and myself. I mean, the question is, was he trying to kill us? I don’t know. But it’s possible. It’s definitely possible.

I survived the bladder cancer, and I’m 12 years cancer free.

‘There’s something wrong, here.’

It wasn’t like a moment, there were a couple of things. One, the fact that it was Marc Vicente. I had EM to Marc, I had heard his stories from his childhood, I had heard what he was doing in Mexico, and how scary it was.

I believe he was a very honorable, upright man. And when they started saying Marc was the one tearing this down, I went, ‘There’s something wrong, here’.

I had to shun him, because that was the rule. And it was the hardest thing. I think he said to me, “When did you start not liking me?”, and I wanted to say I did.

The biggest moment, for me, was Pam’s memorial. I had a meltdown. It was a bizarre event. We talked about how ‘Pam didn’t do crap’. She would help people, but she’d be just going on intuition. I loved her, but she was not this incredible humanitarian, or whatever else.

She was actually very mean to me at times. Even when I had cancer.

Pam Cafritz

[The memorial] was so over the top, and I would look at it and think ‘This is not Pam’. Why are we taking this person and putting her up so high, on a pedestal? Barbara Jeske got like a little gathering, you know, but this was like the very sad funeral.

And there was that whole weird thing where I had to walk around pretending she was alive for a month.

They said Keith needed time to process. That’s all I heard. But I was getting my information through Nancy at that point.

My friend for 20 years has died, and I have to pretend she’s alive. But there was no consideration of what that meant for the rest of us.

I was so upset, at the service memorial. At one point, I was with someone that I told ‘Please, take me home. I can’t handle this. I’m about to pass out.’


The final wakeup was during that time, when Keith was arrested. I was awake, they knew it. They worried about me turning on them.

I had nothing else in the world, and I was told I was weak. So I didn’t think I could handle going out on my own. Where I could was when they tried to deal with Keith being arrested.

I made a comment that ‘the company needs to shut down’. And I was attacked with virtue-blackmail by Lauren Salzman and Clare Bronfman, you know, ‘loyalty’ and all this kind of stuff.

I was like, ‘I’m done’.

I quit the board a week later, and started seeing a therapist immediately. And the first words to the therapists were: ‘make sure I don’t go back.’ I had to keep my head down for a little while, but I was out at that point.

A Last Kiss

I spent a little bit of time with him. I went down for the first weekend in Mexico [before the arrest]. I just went for a couple of days, because the company was in crisis. I had some time with him.

I was challenging him, I told him I wanted to help with part of the company. My only requirement was: I didn’t work for Clare. And he went against that.

He said, ‘No, I can’t do that’. I would have to work for Clare. And I said, ‘Well, I ain’t doing it’.

I challenged him about the man that Danny got in trouble for kissing, I was like, ‘This guy’s a good guy. You gotta be nicer to him.’

Karen thinks Raniere created DOS.

I asked him about DOS, and he still claimed not having much to do with it. Because DOS is the name of a computer system, the original computer system, when computers PCs were started.

I’m like, ‘Oh, you had to have created that.’

But I had a very nice time with him, right before I left, because we were talking about music – as I was learning to play the bass guitar – and I took the chance to give him one last kiss, not knowing it would be the last one.

I had a feeling, at that point, that I was done – because I was getting so much of what I now know to be gaslighting from him in that conversation. So I was done.

Life after NXIVM

I don’t live in my condo anymore. But the condo next door was Pam’s and all her stuff was in it – so I had them move his piano into there, so I could empty out my house.

And I snuck [Pam’s] ashes over there, at the same time. I don’t know what they did. The lawyers of Pam’s trust are now in possession of all that. I offloaded the ashes. I didn’t want to have to deal with them.

Barbara Bouchey and Karen: manipulated by Raniere.

I think that what ‘The Vow’ didn’t show is the depth of the manipulation. I know you saw a lot. But it was just the tip of the iceberg of the depth of the manipulation that this man could do to you. And understanding that, you understand Lauren’s choices, and other people’s choices a lot better.

I’m doing as much therapy as I can afford. I’ll try anything. I’ve been following a lot of different people that are knowledgeable in this area.

The best thing has been the friends I ended up with. I’ve had the most lovely people from the whole company still in my life, and they have been incredibly, incredibly supportive.

I have people that call me every day. That’s awesome. One gentleman calls me every day, and I ended up with the best of the people.

The people I thought were my friends weren’t. But these people are just the most lovely people. And I’m very, very grateful they’re in my life.

Thank you both. You [Sarah and Nippy] have been an inspiration. You saved my life. I can’t say that enough. You guys saved my life. I’d still be sitting in Flintlock. So, thank you.





About the author

Paul Serran


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  • Since everyone vouches for a Karen I guess it’s time to accept she’s a good person.

    I bet Karen tried her best to look out for Gina.

  • ‘Smallville’ Allison Mack actress says she got involved with NXIVM sex cult to revive her Hollywood career,

    What was Allison Mack’s greatest thepian accomplishment?

    1.) “Honey, We shrunk ourselves”

    2.) “Smellville”

    3.) “Honey, I flushed my career down the toilet.”

  • Shocked to hear she went down to Mexico before the arrest. She was there until the end. Question about the brand. If KR and Lauren had some common sense and decided it would be a bad idea to brand a married woman like Sarah, would DOS and NXIVM survey? And there is no arrest? What happens if Sarah never finds out? And there is no NY Times article? Is KR still running the show and NXVIM alive?

    • Don’t underestimate the roles Bonnie and Catherine played in the take down of DOS. The timeline might have been different, but the results would have been the same.

  • Bunch of BS. Karen is playing the victim card just to deviate the attention for all the things she did and how she benefited for years. Same as Sarah, I can’t say much about Nippy since he’s done very little through his life apparently… but they all should go down as well

    • Oh, Anthony, have you walked in Karen or Sarah’s shoes? Just wondering what gives you the right to pass judgment on them & Nippy, too. He hasn’t done much with his life? Ok, what has he done then? We know what you’ve done with yours: you’ve made a disparaging comment about people you don’t know on a blog. So you’ve done a lot with your life, huh?

  • This guy was such a thief. “Ethical breach” is just a replacement for the notion of sin in religions. All religions contain moral codes even though they are more than them since they also assert ontological, teleological, eschatological, etc., claims. In NXIVM it seemed like all “ethical breaches” were committed only against VanFraud, and they were actions that affected his fragile personality and/or called him out for his hypocritical bullshit, e.g., Dani and Cami wanting to date guys closer to their ages who they were attracted to, Ivy doing whatever she did such that it was required of her to grow her hair so long, Lauren wrestling on the ground with another guy during volleyball, etc.

    Well it looks like VanFraud committed many “ethical breaches” against Fate/Karma/Destiny to end up where he did: 120 years (or until death) of penance required!

    • And yet all Frank & others did was allude to her MISSING Body
      another myth debunked
      Whole Lotta lying went on here to hurt & implicate ‘others’
      Very sad

      • Are you referring to the ashes Karen removed to 2 Flintlock/Pam’s place? On listening to the podcast, it seems to me the ashes referenced are those of Raniere’s cremated mother – not the ashes of Pam Cafritz.

        • L@ 1:45 PM

          Quote from this transcript :
          “And I snuck [Pam’s] ashes over there, at the same time. I don’t know what they did. The lawyers of Pam’s trust are now in possession of all that. I offloaded the ashes. I didn’t want to have to deal with them.”

          • I listened to the podcast: Karen says she put a can with Keith’s mother’s ashes in Pam’s house.

            Sarah should have asked Karen about what happened to Pam’s body.

          • Transcription is incorrect – in the podcast they specifically ask about the mother’s ashes (which were at Karen’s – 3 Flintlock). That prompted the story of sneaking the ashes over to Pam’s place (2 Flintlock) along with the rest of Raniere’s belongings so Karen could dispose of her own townhouse as she wished.

          • There are many errors in these transcriptions. The can be painful to read. Just listen to the podcast first hand. Dont rely on a go between transcription if you want any accuracy. They were Keith’s mother’s ashes.

          • I’m sorry I boycott Sarah Edmonson due to lies & exaggerations she claimed all to take away a life and a license unnecessarily!
            Not a friend I would relish, too self absorbed.

  • Seems she was on board until the very end. She would still be on board if they didn’t get busted. And she thanks Sarah and Nippy? They are NXIVMs biggest recruiters. Sarah is a complete phony. She was just mad because Nippy was butthurt about the brand.

    • You sound like a deadender. How dumb can Raniere be to brand a married woman near her vagina with his initials, especially one married to a former jock who went to an Ivy League school? Really dumb is the answer. Here’s another award to add to the non-existent collection of the dumbest “smartest man in the world”, except this one was well earned: a Darwin Award!

    • So many mind readers and all-knowing beings like Pilgrim commenting here. These people (Sarah, Karen, Nippy) are brave enough to put themselves out there for you to judge and you hide behind the name, “Pilgrim.” Until you are brave enough to expose your wrongdoings on a global level, using your actual name: zip it.

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.” He also appeared in "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM, and was 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 premieres on May 22, 2022.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

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