August 3, 2018

USA: Seagram's Heiress And NXIVM Sex Slave Cult Leader Clare Bronfman Among 4 Arrested Last Month All Charged With Many Federal Indictments Including Racketeering Conspiracy.

WNLY2, CBS New York local news
written by Staff
Tuesday July 24, 2018

NEW YORK – Four more people have been arrested in connection to the alleged sex cult NXIVM, including group leaders with such titles “The Prefect” serving “The Vanguard.”

Clare Bronfman, 39; Kathy Russell, 60; Lauren Salzman, 42; and Nancy Salzman, 64, were arrested Tuesday on a superseding indictment charging them with racketeering conspiracy.

Bronfman, a daughter of the late billionaire philanthropist and former Seagram chairman Edgar Bronfman Sr., is an heiress to the Seagram’s liquor fortune.

Previously charged and added to the new indictment were group founder Keith Raniere, 57, and former “Smallville” actress Allison Mack, 35.

On Tuesday afternoon, Bronfman was set to be arraigned in a Brooklyn federal court while NXIVM employee Russell, NXIVM president Nancy Salzman and daughter Lauren Salzman were to appear in federal court in Albany.

A federal judge last month denied bail for Raniere, who prosecutors accuse of forming a barbaric secret society within NXIVM, pronounced “Nex-i-um,” a group that over the years has attracted a following of minor celebrities and wealthy supporters.

Prosecutors told a judge that they worried Bronfman, who owns a private island in Fiji, would finance Raniere’s escape if he were released.

Prosecutors allege a sub-group branded brainwashed victims with Raniere’s initials during initiation ceremonies that turned them into his sex slaves.

The new indictment adds racketeering charges involving conspiracy to commit identity theft, seeking to get the e-mail usernames and passwords of Raniere’s critics and enemies, using credit card and banking information from one of Raniere’s sexual partners after her death in November 2016.

The indictment also includes charges of bringing a woman from Mexico to serve of Rainier’s sex slave in the United States.

“The victim was confined to a room in Clifton Park, New York, for nearly two years as punishment for having romantic feelings for a man who was not Raniere,” according to a release from the Department of Justice about the indictments. “The victim was told that if she left the room she would be sent to Mexico without any identification documents.”

In April, authorities filed criminal sex trafficking and forced labor conspiracy charges against Mack and – also known as “Vanguard” – in connection NXIVM.

A complaint previously filed in United States District Court seeks to foreclose on two properties in the Town of Halfmoon in upstate New York, about 15 miles from the NXIVM group’s headquarters in Albany.

The document also gave some insight into other rituals and practices of the NXIVM group, which authorities say grew out of a previous enterprise called Executive Success Programs, Inc. (“ESP”) founded in 1998 by Raniere and Nancy Salzman.

“Every year in August, Nxians celebrate ‘Vanguard Week’ in honor of Raniere’s birthday,” the complaint said. “Nancy Salzman is referred to as ‘The Prefect’; by Nxians, and her birthday is celebrated in May with the ‘Festival of Flowers.'”

The complaint also described women’s roles in the empowerment group compared to the men, and especially Raniere as its leader.
Based on information obtained during the course of this investigation, since ESP’s founding, Raniere has maintained a rotating group of fifteen to twenty women with whom he maintains sexual relationships. These women are not permitted to have sexual relationships with anyone but Raniere or to discuss with others their relationships with Raniere. Some of the Nxivm curriculum includes teachings about the need for men to have multiple sexual partners and the need for women to be monogamous.
As “slaves” to their “masters,” investigators say women were expected to record “collateral” videos professing true and untrue confessions about themselves and others. Investigators allege some participants were branded on their skin with a symbol that incorporated Raniere’s initials.

The complaint also described how NXIVM operated self-development courses costing $1,000 a day for five days, and used colored sashes worn by members to identify ranks of “goal levels” of recruitment, similar to how a so-called “pyramid scheme” multilevel marketing group operates.

Raniere and Mack have denied the allegations. Bronfman has said in previous public statements that she had no knowledge of wrongdoing.

The defense says the women were never abused and willingly let themselves be branded.
News10, ABC local (Special Report)
written by Ayla Ferrone
Monday May 21, 2018

CAPITAL REGION - Often when looking into the world of Keith Raniere, one is left with more questions than answers.

How does a boy born in Brooklyn grow up to be the esteemed, feared, and now incarcerated "vanguard?"

"He's dangerous, he's a sociopath, and he's evil," said Raniere's former girlfriend, Toni Natalie.

According to Keith Raniere's self-proclamations, he was an extraordinary child.

"It's an inarguable fact that Keith Raniere is a genius," said freelance journalist, Chet Hardin.

Constructing sentences by age one, reading by the next year, and the East Coast Judo champion when he was 11.

"That he is wonderfully talented. That he is wonderfully gifted," said Hardin.

Then, Raniere came to the Capital Region. He graduated from RPI in 1982 with degrees in biology, math, and physics.

"That he is one of the world's smartest men. That he has a 240 IQ," said Hardin.

Raniere held the Guinness Book of World Records spot for highest IQ in 1989, a record that was discontinued the next year.

"It's that calling card that he puts out there that gets people to listen," said Natalie.

This PDF contains confirmations of several claims made by Keith Raniere. This includes his college education, Guinness World Record claim, and a response to his alleged East Coast Judo Championship.

Natalie met Keith Raniere in 1991 when he was running a company called Consumers Buyline. She says the man she met was nothing like what she expected.

"Very unassuming, almost shy in demeanor at times," said Natalie.

She asked him why he would use his intellectual gifts to run a multi-level marketing company. He told her he was using it to change the world.

"And this is my platform and this is how I'm going to start. Don't you want to come along?"
She did.

"Keith went from being my friend to help me through some personal situations, some personal things I was dealing with, to helping me right out of my marriage and into Clifton Park," said Natalie.

The pair lived together here in the Capital Region and Natalie was happy running a vitamin company.

That's when Consumers Buyline began to crumble.

"As quickly as the company grew, because it was fast and furious, it failed," said Natalie.

The company was under investigation by several states and shut down in 1997 after settling with the New York State Attorney General. That's when Raniere met Nancy Salzman.

They created Executive Success Programs, the nucleus that would later become NXIVM.

"He was creating this new company with Nancy," said Natalie.

That's when Raniere became violent.

"Screaming at me, spitting in my face, backing me into a corner. Don't you know who I am I'm the smartest man in the world, I have total retention, you don't even know what you said," said Natalie.

Natalie saw Raniere for the last time in April of 1999, but she was far from free of his grasp.

"It wasn't a breakup. It was a run for your life," said Natalie.

Raniere began coming after Natalie through the court system, tying her up in litigation from the time of their breakup until he was arrested earlier this year.

"People didn't want to listen. Because it was easier to blame the victim than to look at the crazy man behind the curtain," said Natalie.

Toni Natalie, the ex-girlfriend of Keith Raniere, offers her thoughts toward the future, plus advice to those with loved ones still under the control of NXIVM.

While Natalie was living a nightmare NXIVM was flourishing.

"The whole dysfunctional aspect of their curriculum was cleverly disguised," said Susan Dones, a former NXIVM member.

In 2000, Susan Dones was running a wellness center at her home in Washington state when she found out about NXIVM and Raniere.

"I was curious enough to spend the money and go back to Albany and take a 16-day course," said Dones.

She delved into the intensive program and brought the teachings back to form the NXIVM Center in Tacoma.

"It wasn't until I was later on involved that I started to get red flags," said Dones.

Dones says she and others realized Raniere was sleeping with the executive board of the company.

"He was overly affectionate with certain women, and that bothered me," said Dones.

And borrowing large sums of money from the clients.

"I didn't like the way they doted on him. The leadership of NXIVM," said Dones.

So, she avoided him at all costs.

"I never spent a lot of time with Raneire. I actually found him to be a little creepy," said Dones.

And she wasn't the only one. In 2006, Chet Hardin was working for the now-defunct Capital Region newspaper Metroland.

"Its that mythology of Keith that NXIVM is able to sell," said Hardin.

Hardin discovered Raniere was using wealthy backers to bring the Dali Lama to town and started investigating. This didn't sit well with Raniere, so he threatened a $65 million lawsuit against Hardin and the paper.

"With the threat of that lawsuit hanging in the air, I was invited by Keith to play volleyball at midnight out in the country," said Natalie.

It was at Hayner's off Route 9 that Raniere held "court" in the form of a game.

"I found him very charming. I tell people, had I not gone into that night armored with what I knew about Keith Raniere and NXIVM, I would have liked it," said Hardin.

Raniere was determined to stop Hardin's investigations.

"The point when he peeled me aside to talk to me one on one, it was hard not to notice the rest of the room, the demeanor of the rest of the room. Everyone went quiet," said Hardin.

Hardin had been granted a rare look at the inner workings of NXIVM, and been party to Raniere's orbit.

"And its charming, and its fun, and it's exciting and I can easily see getting caught up in it," said Hardin.

As Hardin was getting a closer look, Dones was trying to escape. In April 2009, she and several others decided to meet with Raniere about leaving NXIVM. Raniere allowed Dones to videotape those meetings.

"After the second day, I decided that there was no way he was going to change," said Dones. "I think he became angered by that and figured he needed to have a tighter rein on people."

Dones kept that video clip because after leaving, she feared for her life.

"He might consider that I was a threat. And he might decide to do away with me. To kill me," said Dones.

A feeling Natalie knows all too well. She believes she was a guinea pig for Raniere's agenda, and when she left, she was touted within NXIVM as the anti-Keith.

"They were taught to learn that I was the devil," said Natalie. "Yeah, yeah, I'm the devil."

Little did she know over the next several years things would become much worse.

"I was broke and broken and tired and fried," said Natalie.

While Raniere was still waging war on Natalie through the court system, NXIVM continued to grow.

Court documents allege he formed DOS in 2015. DOS is the secret society of women within NXIVM that brands its members and operates as a master and slave system. All of it happening in several Halfmoon harem homes.

"They were young women, young women. Yeah, they were. I never saw, I'll tell you, I never saw a man. It was all women," said a closeby neighbor who wishes to remain anonymous and asking to be referred to as Anne.

The only man she ever saw, was Raniere.

"He said, you know you shouldn't be walking alone at night with your dog. I kind of looked at him and I said why I've been here forever. He said because there's a lot of weirdos out," said Anne.

She describes him as charismatic, a gentleman, and remembers his blue eyes.

"Then when I got the call that he was arrested. I just flipped out and I was like oh my God what could have happened?"

That question will never be answered, but Natalie has an idea of what the future looks like for Raniere and NXIVM.

"He'll become a martyr. And they'll just recreate this somewhere else," said Natalie.

Even so, she has faith that the Eastern District prosecution team will prove what she knows is true.

"They know that they're dealing with a monster. They're dealing with someone who is diabolical and evil and manipulative. And they see that," said Natalie.

She says this will be the fall of Vanguard.

"There's only God," said Natalie. "And it's certainly never going to be Raniere."

Over the past several weeks, NEWS10 has been keeping an eye on several Halfmoon properties with connections to Keith Raniere and NXIVM. This surveillance includes two men moving Allison Mack’s belongings out of her Knox Woods condo, items being moved out of one of the homes raided on Oregon Trail by the FBI, and two known NXIVM members at a Knox Woods residence.

Click on the image to play the video:
Vanity Fair
written by Suzanna Andrews
November 2010 ๐Ÿ‘ˆ๐Ÿ‘ˆ๐Ÿ‘ˆ (Great piece written 8 years ago)

To family friends, Seagram heiresses Sara and Clare Bronfman are victims of a frightening, secretive “cult” called nxivm, which has swallowed as much as $150 million of their fortune. But the organization’s leader, Keith Raniere, seems also to have tapped into a complex emotional rift between the sisters and their father, billionaire philanthropist Edgar Bronfman Sr. The author investigates the accusations that are now flying—blackmail, perjury, forgery—in a many-sided legal war.

This spring, Clare Bronfman, the 31-year-old heiress to the multi-billion-dollar Seagram liquor fortune, would describe to a New York court the extortion letter that was sent to her on April 24, 2009. Intended for her 33-year-old sister, Sara, as well, it was signed by several women, including the sisters’ financial planner, a masseuse, and a hairstylist, and demanded that “they be paid $2.1 million by midnight,” Clare said in a sworn declaration, “or else they would go to the press with information they deemed harmful to my sister and I.” What that information was, the letter didn’t say, but Clare viewed the threat as alarming. The daughters of the billionaire philanthropist and former Seagram chairman, Edgar Bronfman Sr., and the half-sisters of Edgar junior, the chairman of Warner Music Group, Sara and Clare were not simply heiresses to a global empire built by their grandfather Samuel Bronfman. As they would describe themselves, they were also important, wealthy entrepreneurs and philanthropists in their own right—women who bankrolled a web of investments and humanitarian foundations based in the Albany region, where they lived. Indeed, as Clare would tell a court this spring, the extortion demand arrived when she and Sara “were two weeks away from hosting the Dalai Lama in Albany for an event on humanitarian issues.”

The alleged threat would have been disturbing if it occurred. But among the many allegations that have been made about Sara and Clare Bronfman in recent months was the charge that Clare was lying about the “extortion” letter. Made in hundreds of pages of court documents that began to leak out to the press this spring, they have stunned friends of the Bronfman family. Many knew that Edgar Bronfman’s daughters were involved in a secretive organization called nxivm (pronounced “nexium”), a group that he himself had openly referred to as “a cult.” But only a few were aware of what the court documents would reveal—the massive gutting by the Bronfman daughters of their family trust funds to help finance nxivm and the alleged investment schemes of its leader, a 50-year-old man by the name of Keith Raniere. The amount—reportedly $100 million—was staggering and made for eye-popping headlines. But according to legal filings and public documents, in the last six years as much as $150 million was taken out of the Bronfmans’ trusts and bank accounts, including $66 million allegedly used to cover Raniere’s failed bets in the commodities market, $30 million to buy real estate in Los Angeles and around Albany, $11 million for a 22-seat, two-engine Canadair CL-600 jet, and millions more to support a barrage of lawsuits across the country against nxivm’s enemies. Much of it was spent, according to court filings, as Sara and Clare Bronfman allegedly worked to conceal the extent of their spending from their 81-year-old father and the Bronfman-family trustees.

But Edgar Bronfman knew at least some of what was going on, according to those who have spoken to him. And he was deeply concerned, says one ex-nxivm member who met with him last year. “He wanted to know how his girls were. He was worried about them,” this person says. “He saw them, but only the faรงade.” They were distant and secretive. “I was afraid,” this person says, “to tell him what was really happening.” Like many former members of nxivm, this person was afraid of the consequences of speaking out. But in the last few months, people have begun to come forward with stories about nxivm. Stories about private detectives allegedly obtaining bank and phone records of nxivm opponents; stories of its critics being followed and threatened and, in one case, reportedly run off the road by a black limousine; accounts of a motherless three-year-old boy, brought into the group as a newborn under mysterious circumstances, and about the circumstances behind the Dalai Lama’s visit to Albany. Suddenly darker questions were being raised about how the Bronfmans’ money was being used. Indeed, today, in the multiple lawsuits involving the Bronfman sisters, there are serious allegations being lobbed—not just of possible blackmail and perjury but also of other “potentially illegal” activities, including theft and “a conspiracy to forge documents.”

What seems clear, from court documents and interviews with ex–nxivm members—and those who have come into conflict with the group and its mysterious guru—is that Sara and Clare Bronfman could be in serious trouble. And yet, despite his wealth and power, their father, at least publicly, appears to be doing nothing to help. According to some family friends and advisers, however, there may be nothing he can do, in part because, some say, he may have been the one who set all this in motion. Sara and Clare, says a friend of theirs, “are not completely brainwashed. . . . They’re more cognizant than you’d think, given the amount of money involved. I think there are personal reasons regarding the conflict they have with their family that keep them affiliated with nxivm. On some level, I think they feel the affiliation is reinforcing their version of things, in opposition to the opinion of their family. I think all the legal, litigious craziness is all about them trying to win this battle with their father.”


Of the two sisters, Sara is the more outgoing, which comes across in photographs. In one taken just after the Dalai Lama’s Albany speech, in May 2009, Sara is beaming. Wearing sandals, an ankle-length blue dress, and a silky white scarf around her neck, her curly brown hair hanging loose down her back, she is walking outside Albany’s Palace Theatre next to Pamela Cafritz. A longtime acolyte of Raniere’s and the daughter of the Washington socialites Bill and Buffy Cafritz, Pamela is wearing a suit and heels. On her left is Clare. She has a worried, almost dour expression. Wearing an ill-fitting knee-length burgundy dress, she is barefoot. Both Bronfmans resemble their father far more than their 60-year-old mother, Georgiana.

Born Rita Webb, she was a great beauty, the daughter of a pub owner in Essex, England, who changed her name to Georgiana shortly before she became Edgar Bronfman’s third wife, in 1975. Edgar and his first wife, the investment-banking heiress Ann Loeb, had divorced two years earlier. They’d been married for 20 years and had five children together—Samuel, Edgar junior, Holly, Matthew, and Adam—who were in their teens and 20s when Sara and Clare were born. Edgar senior’s father had died only months before his separation from Ann, and in his 1998 memoir, Good Spirits, he would say that for much of the next 15 years he “rode an emotional roller coaster, struggling with difficult relationships and painful separations.” In 1973, after his divorce from Ann, he married Lady Carolyn Townshend, but soon had the marriage annulled, on the grounds that she refused to sleep with him.

His marriage to Sara and Clare’s mother ended when Sara was around seven and Clare only four. In a decision he would later call “really naรฏve,” Bronfman remarried Georgiana—“to keep my young girls with me,” he wrote—but the relationship soon collapsed again. For the rest of their childhood, the girls would visit their father, who owned estates outside Charlottesville, Virginia, and in Westchester County, a home in Sun Valley, and an apartment on Fifth Avenue. But their lives would be centered in England and in Kenya, where their mother, who was reportedly involved with the noted paleontologist Richard Leakey—and who is currently married to actor Nigel Havers—spent much of her time.

But even when Sara and Clare were with their father, says a friend, there was a sense of separation. “They were the last two of seven children, and there was a significant age gap, and they really weren’t always under the umbrella of the Bronfman family,” the friend says. “It’s noticeable, when you’re with them, that they were not always sitting at the exalted Bronfman table.” They hadn’t grown up in New York society, like their siblings, or gone to top schools. They weren’t sprinkled with the Bronfman gold dust, and, in a family noted for its sense of entitlement, this set them apart. But they did have the Bronfman name and the Bronfman money.


Sara was the first to join nxivm. In the fall of 2002, when the group was still known as Executive Success Programs, she took one of its “intensives”—workshops that today last anywhere from 5 to 16 days and cost about $7,500. The introductory courses were essentially life-coaching, self-improvement workshops, based on an amalgam of therapeutic techniques, including hypnosis and Neuro-linguistic Programming, or NLP, a controversial behavior-modification regimen. These techniques had been repackaged—along with a moral twist, that by becoming fully empowered one could help create a more ethical world—into something called Rational Inquiry by Keith Raniere, who had founded Executive Success Programs in 1998 with Nancy Salzman, an NLP trainer.

Born in Brooklyn in 1960, Raniere was the only child of an advertising executive and a former ballroom-dance teacher. When he was eight, according to his father, James, his parents divorced and he was raised by his mother, Vera, in the suburbs. Educated in private schools, Raniere would claim that in 1989 he was in the Guinness Book of World Records for “Highest IQ.” He also claimed to have taught himself high-school math in 19 hours when he was 12 and to have completed three years of college math and computer-language classes by the age of 13. He graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, New York, in 1982, having majored in physics, math, and biology, and later worked as a computer programmer and consultant. In 1990, he founded Consumers’ Buyline, a multi-level marketing company, and then co-founded Executive Success Programs.

By 2002, what most people saw in ESP was a successful corporate self-help program. Many of its “graduates” reported amazing results: some had stopped smoking; others had overcome their fear of public speaking. Its alumni include Sheila Johnson, a co-founder of Black Entertainment Television; Antonia Novello, the former U.S. surgeon general; Richard Branson; and Emiliano Salinas, a venture capitalist, who is the son of Mexico’s former president Carlos Salinas and still a prominent nxivm member.

Sara was introduced to nxivm by a family friend. She was 25, charming, and sweet, but “an airhead,” as one acquaintance puts it, a party girl who flitted from European city to European city, island to island. Her four-month marriage, to an Irish jockey named Ronan Clarke, was already in trouble. She had done some work at N.Y.U., but not much else with her life, except to run a skydiving business in the Caribbean. As Sara would later explain on her blog, she was “in search of finding ways to bring peace to the world.” According to the family friend, who put it more prosaically, she was desperately looking for some purpose in her life. And she found it at nxivm. “She was enamored right away,” recalls one former nxivm “trainer.” Sara urged Clare, then 23, to take an intensive. At the time, Clare was passionately committed to her equestrian career—she was a competitive jumper, trained horses, and owned her own company, Slate River Farm—which might explain why she was a tougher sell. According to a former nxivm member, at her first workshop, in Mexico, Clare refused to look people in the eye. She showed up in a dirty T-shirt. “She had a defiant air about her. She was more angry than Sara—angry at the world,” this woman recalls. “She would tell people that she had decided to spend the rest of her life with horses, because she didn’t like human beings.”


In the early part of 2003 Edgar Bronfman took his first intensive. A former nxivm devotee recalls that it was because “he saw amazing changes” in his daughters. But others believe it may have also been because Raniere had his sights set on the billionaire almost from the day that Sara showed up for her first workshop. During their initial sessions, both sisters gave one trainer the impression that they had a “terrible” relationship with their father. “I remember them saying that he was the kind of man that could always buy anything—anything or anyone,” says this person. “And they didn’t want that control anymore.” But at the time, another person says, all that people knew was Raniere had urged them to reach out to their father. And Bronfman, apparently eager to improve his relationship with his youngest children, signed up for one of the five-day “V.I.P.” courses, which were designed to pull in the rich and famous. The intimate, $10,000 white-glove workshops were then taught by nxivm’s president, Nancy Salzman, who, along with Edgar Bronfman Sr., Sara, Clare, Raniere, and other nxivm representatives, would not comment for this story.

“If everyone were to go through this training, the world would be a much better and safer place to live,” Bronfman purportedly wrote in a testimonial to nxivm shortly after he completed the course. During the workshops, he said, “we learned to look deep into our psyches, to get rid of hang-ups that had plagued us for years.” He was so impressed by nxivm’s program that he began private therapy sessions with Nancy Salzman. For months, according to Barbara Bouchey, a former nxivm board member, he would send his helicopter to pick Salzman up in New York and fly her to his estate in Virginia. But something went awry. People believe it was when Clare, in a snit, after a nxivm session in which she felt ignored, told her father that nxivm had borrowed $2 million from her. Furious, Bronfman soon cut his ties with nxivm.

But it didn’t end there. In October 2003, Keith Raniere was on the cover of Forbes magazine. The article was devastating—a gold mine of previously unpublished information, it painted a dark portrait of nxivm and portrayed Raniere as a strange and “manipulative” man, who had no driver’s license and no bank accounts in his name, although nxivm appeared to be raking in millions. It revealed that in 1993 his great business achievement, Consumers’ Buyline, had been shut down after being investigated by regulators in 20 states and sued by New York’s attorney general on the grounds it was “a pyramid scheme.” nxivm’s bizarre rituals were detailed—the “ESP handclap,” the bowing, Raniere’s insistence that he be referred to as “Vanguard” and Salzman as “Prefect.” There was also the “baffling and solipsistic jargon,” some of it derived from Raniere’s intense devotion to the works of Ayn Rand—and from “his notion of unalloyed self-interest as the path to ethical behavior.” “Parasites” were people who created problems because they craved attention, and “suppressives” were those who saw good but wanted to destroy it, which included anyone who opposed Raniere and nxivm. Most alarming were the accounts of near-psychotic breakdowns among some who had gone through the nxivm program, accounts that described what appeared to be classic brainwashing techniques, in which people were separated from their families and slowly broken down psychologically.

People at nxivm were stunned. Expecting a positive story, the top ranks had spoken to Forbes, including Raniere, Salzman, and Sara Bronfman. What upset them above all were Edgar Bronfman’s remarks. “I think it’s a cult,” he told the magazine, going on to say that he was troubled about the “emotional and financial” investment in nxivm by his daughters, to whom he hadn’t spoken in months. Sara and Clare were shocked. Their father had given them no warning, people say. “I don’t think he addressed this with them, and they were deeply hurt by that,” says a friend, adding that especially for Sara, who had been made to look slightly ridiculous in the article—caressing her yellow nxivm sash and gushing that it was “the first thing that I had earned on just my merits”—“this resonated as a betrayal.” Within nxivm, word went out that Edgar Bronfman had encouraged the article, perhaps even feeding Forbes information “because he wanted to destroy nxivm.” If this was true, it backfired. “That,” says one woman, “was when Edgar Bronfman became nxivm’s enemy.”

It was shortly after the article appeared that Toni Natalie called Edgar Bronfman to warn him. She knew from personal experience how dangerous it could be to cross Keith Raniere. She had been his girlfriend for eight years, his business partner in a health-food shop, and she was around when Salzman and Raniere had set up ESP. Natalie says that after she left Raniere, in 1999, a nearly decade-long nightmare began. Although Salzman would deny allegations of harassment, according to court documents Natalie’s home was broken into; police were sent to her mother’s house; her family was threatened. When her business with Raniere collapsed, saddled with debts that had been put in her name, she filed for bankruptcy. What should have been a quick process dragged out for nine years as Raniere, backed by Salzman and Kristin Keeffe—another top Raniere lieutenant, who today often represents Sara and Clare in court—filed motion after motion against Natalie, in a process a judge would say “smacks of a jilted fellow’s attempt at revenge.” During those years, Natalie would learn that nxivm had hired the controversial Israeli-born private investigator Juval Aviv to monitor her home and look into her private life and business activities. Several times, she says, she was visited by F.B.I. agents, most recently this past February.

Today, Toni Natalie describes this phase of her life as “terrifying.” During her years with Raniere she was so broken psychologically that, according to court filings, she gave up the care of her child because Raniere had encouraged her to. With his long brown hair and penetrating blue eyes, Raniere, she says, was “very charismatic. I mean, he could tell you the sun is purple with pink polka dots and you’d look up and see it.” He was truly brilliant, she says, but in the way “that brilliance is the closest thing to insanity,” recalling how he had insisted she keep the body of her dead puppy in her garage freezer and look at it daily in order to better deal with death. What drove him, she isn’t sure. He didn’t say much about his past, except that his mother had a heart condition, was an alcoholic, “and that he always had to take care of her.” He said he hated dance “because his mother would make him dance with her.” “I think she drank more than she should have, but I don’t think she had a drinking problem,” says Raniere’s father, James. At least, he says, “I never saw it,” although he wonders if it was what Keith saw, “from living with her alone.” If Keith’s childhood was troubled at all, says his father, it was only because his mother “was dying for three years, little by little.” She died when he was 18, right around Christmas.

When Natalie was with him, Raniere lived in a house in Halfmoon, a town north of Albany, which he shared with Pam Cafritz and Karen Unterreiner, a college girlfriend. He still lives there, in a neighborhood people refer to as the “compound,” because so many nxivm members, most of them women, live in the surrounding houses. He doesn’t drive and can be seen, usually at night, walking along the tree-lined streets of Halfmoon—as much as 12 miles a day—rarely alone, often surrounded by women. People describe Raniere as fascinated by mathematics and the workings of the mind, and by power and money and their effect on society—but, above all, as obsessive about maintaining control over his world and the people around him. There are those who believe that, in the words of one, it’s also “a game for him, to see what he can make people do.” These days Keith Raniere is rarely seen at nxivm training sessions, which some former members say can get very dark. In 2003, Kristin Snyder, a 35-year-old environmental consultant, disappeared after a nxivm session in Alaska. Her body was never found, but in her truck, parked on the shore of Resurrection Bay, was a note which read, “I was brainwashed and my emotional center of the brain was killed/turned off. . . . Please contact my parents . . . if you find me or this note. I am sorry . . . I didn’t know I was already dead.” Today, people describe nxivm therapy sessions in which they were convinced that they are “reincarnated Nazis” or “responsible for 9/11.” Looking back on her experience, Natalie says, “Keith finds your vulnerabilities and then he preys on them.”

Please CLICK HERE to read the entire detailed article... (Great piece!)

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