Keith Raniere
Keith Raniere

Keith Raniere
Keith Raniere (born August 26, 1960) the founder of NXIVM, a multi-level marketing organization that has been described as a cult. In March 2018, Raniere

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Keith RaniereBorn (1960-08-26) August 26, 1960 (age 58)
Brooklyn, New YorkNationalityAmericanAlma materRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteOccupationFounder, NXIVMKnown forPersonal development, multi-level marketingPartner(s)Toni Natalie (1992–1999), Barbara Bouchey (2000–2009), Kristin Keeffe (c. 2007 or before – 2014)

Keith Raniere (born August 26, 1960)[1] the founder of NXIVM, a multi-level marketing organization that has been described as a cult.

In March 2018, Raniere was arrested and indicted on a variety of charges related to DOS (a "secret sisterhood" within NXIVM), including sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and conspiracy to commit forced labor.[2][3] His trial began on May 7, 2019.[4]

Contents Early life and education

In 1960, Keith Raniere was born to James Raniere, a New York City advertiser, and his wife, a ballroom dancing instructor.[5] At age five, the family relocated from Brooklyn to Suffern, New York. When he was around eight-years-old, his parents separated.[6]

From the late 1960s to the early 1970s, Raniere attended a Waldorf school, before leaving for a public junior high school.[7] In 2018, The Epoch Times published an interview with five of Raniere's former classmates. [7] One student recalled an incident in which she had unwittingly shared "compromising" information about one of her sisters in front of a 9- or 10-year-old Raniere. [7] According to her recollection, Raniere had told her: "You know, it’s like I have this little bottle of poison I can hold over your head ... I just don’t think your parents or your sister would be very happy if I told them."[7] She claims Raniere "would call me sometimes and say, 'Little bottles, little bottles'".[7]

Beginning at age 12, Raniere attended Rockland Country Day School in Suffern; he graduated in June 1978, two months prior to his 18th birthday. [8][9]

In an interview recorded in 2019 with CBC Radio, Raniere's former partner shared stories about Raniere's childhood which she claimed to have been told by his father, James.[10] According to Barbara Bouchey, James had said: "What we did is we told Keith about how gifted and how intelligent he was. And he said it was almost like a switch went off. And suddenly overnight he turned into like Jesus Christ. And that he was superior and better than everybody like he was a deity. He said it was that dramatic and that profound he said it went right to his head."[10]

Bouchey likewise recalled a story about a 13-year-old Raniere's relationships with girls: "dozens of young girls were calling the house and was overhearing his conversations with them where he was telling every single woman, every single girl the same thing: I love you. You're the special one. You’re the important you're the one in my life and I love you.’ And she says, and he's saying this to different girls. He's clearly lying ‘cause they're all not special!"[10]

In 1978, Raniere's mother died.[6]

In 1982, Raneire graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a 2.26 GPA.[11]

Early adulthood

According to Heidi Hutchinson, in 1984 she learned that 24-year-old Raniere was romantically involved with her sister, Gina, aged 16. (Gina committed suicide in 2002)[5]

Raniere worked as computer programmer for the state Division of Parole. [12]

In June 1988, the Times Union profiled Raniere, reporting on his membership in the Mega Society after having achieved a high score on founder Ronald K. Hoeflin's MEGA test -- a 48-question untimed and unsupervised test which had been published in the April 1985 issue of Omni magazine.[13][14] Although the MEGA test has been widely criticized as not having been properly validated, Raniere's name was listed in a 1989 Australian edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. [15][16][6]

Multi-level marketing career

In the 1980s, Raniere was involved with Amway, the multilevel marketing company. [6] One associate, Heidi Hutchinson, recalled that during the late 80s, Raniere was fascinated by Scientology, neuro-linguistic programming, and Amway.[17]

In 1990, Raniere founded multi-level marketing company Consumers' Buyline.[18] In 1991, Raniere was pitching that business when he met Toni Natalie.[19] Natalie and her then-husband became top sellers for the organization. [19] Natalie recalled that she was able to stop smoking after a two-hour session with Raniere. [19] Within a year, Natalie and her son had moved to Clifton Park to be near Raniere; her marriage ended shortly thereafter. Natalie and Raniere dated for the next eight years.[19]

In 1993, Raniere's business Consumers' Buyline shut down after being investigated by 20 states; that year, New York filed suit alleging the organization was a pyramid scheme.[20] In 1996, Raniere signed a consent order permanently barring him from "promoting, offering or granting participation in a chain distribution scheme" and ordering him to pay a $40,000 fine.[21]

In 1994, Raneire created "National Health Network", a multilevel seller of vitamins.[22] That business failed in 1999.[23] In the mid-90s, Raniere and partner Toni Natalie operated a health-products store.[20]

Shift to a self-improvement career See also: NXIVM

In 1998, Keith Raniere met Nancy Salzman, a nurse and trained practitioner of hypnotism and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. The two founded "Executive Success Programs", a personal development company[24] offering a range of techniques aimed at self-improvement.[25][26][27] A few years later, the program was rebranded under the name "NXIVM".[10] The Hollywood Reporter stated that Raniere "adopted the title 'Vanguard' from a favorite arcade game he had played as a child, in which the destruction of one's enemies increased one's own power."[28] Much of NXIVM was influenced by the teachings of Ayn Rand, one of Keith's favourite authors.[29][30]

In 1999, Raniere's eight-year relationship with Toni Natalie ended. Natalie would subsequently claim to have been the victim of harassment.[31] In a January 2003 ruling, federal judge Robert Littlefield implied Raniere was using a legal suit to harass his former partner Toni Natalie. Wrote Littlefield: "This matter smacks of a jilted fellow's attempt at revenge or retaliation against his former girlfriend, with many attempts at tripping her up along the way"[32][19]

In 2002, Raneire and Salzman succeeded in recruiting members of the influential Bronfman family, heirs to the billion-dollar Seagrams fortune. Sara Bronfman intitially became involved, followed by sister Clare Bronfman. Their father, Edgar Bronfman Sr., became involved the following year.

Presumed Death of Kristin Snyder

Kristin Marie Snyder was a 35-year-old environmental consultant who, in November 2002, paid $7,000 to enroll in a 16-day personal development course conducted in Anchorage, Alaska by ESP/NXIVM leader Nancy Salzman.

The following January, Kristin Snyder traveled to visit Raniere and other leaders in New York. Family members report that upon return from New York, Kristin was sleep deprived. "Vanguard doesn't sleep, so I don't need to sleep", she argued, according to her partner Heidi Clifford. Kristin's mother Jonnie recalled: "She thought Keith was incredible" and that "she had come to believe she was responsible for the Columbia shuttle disaster".[33]

Kristin Snyder, accompanied by her partner Heidi Clifford, signed up for a second 16-day session, at a cost of $7,000. The sessions were held at the Westmark Hotel in Anchorage. Clifford reports that on the tenth day of the course, Kristin began making suicide threats. Clifford recalled: "I was told (by a NXIVM instructor) not to bring her to the hospital. That's what makes me feel really bad".

On February 6, 2003, Kristin Snyder was last seen leaving the NXIVM seminar.[33]

On February 8, police recovered a note reading:

.mw-parser-output .templatequote{overflow:hidden;margin:1em 0;padding:0 40px}.mw-parser-output .templatequote .templatequotecite{line-height:1.5em;text-align:left;padding-left:1.6em;margin-top:0}

"I attended a course called Executive Success Programs . . . based out of Anchorage, AK, and Albany, NY. I was brainwashed and my emotional center of the brain was killed/turned off. I still have feeling in my external skin, but my internal organs are rotting. . . . I am sorry life, I didn’t know I was already dead. May we persist into the future."[33]

A separate page further read: "No need to search for my body."[33]

A witness at Raniere's 2019 trial testified that after Kristin Snyder disappeared, Raniere paid $24,000 to obtain the password to her email account.[34]

2003 Forbes exposé

In October 2003, Raniere was featured on the cover of Forbes magazine, accompanied by the appellation "The World's Strangest Executive Coach" .[35] The article by Michael Freedman, entitled "Cult of Personality", was described as "devastating" and "a gold mine of previously unpublished information".[18] The Forbes article discussed Raniere's title "Vanguard" and detailed his business "Consumers' Buyline" which collapsed amid accusations of being a "pyramid scheme". [18]

The Forbes article included a quote from billionaire Edgar Bronfman accusing the organization of being a cult.[18] Vanity Fair subsequently reported on the article's impact within the group: "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. "[36] According to Vanity Fair, the Forbes article was a turning point in Raniere's relationship with Edgar Bronfman: "'That,' says one woman, 'was when Edgar Bronfman became nxivm’s enemy.'"[36]

In 2019, a witness at Raniere's trial testified that Bronfman's computer was compromised and his emails monitored by group members for a period of years. [34]

Dissension and public controversy

In 2009, a group of Raniere's associates (called the "NXIVM Nine") broke with Raniere and his organization, citing "concerns about unethical practices and the alleged abuse of his leadership status to sexually manipulate women in the organization."[21] One of the dissenters, Barbara Bouchey, had been Raniere's partner for nine years.[37][38]

In 2010, The New York Post reported on the existence of a video in which Raniere is heard telling two followers: "I’ve had people killed because of my beliefs — or because of their beliefs."[39][40] In an 2010 article in the Times Union, NXIVM former coaches characterized students as "prey" for Raniere to satisfy either his gambling or sexual proclivities.[41]

In 2011, Raniere's former partner Toni Natalie filed documents in federal court alleging that she had been repeatedly raped by Raniere.[19]

In 2012, the Times Union reported allegations of Raniere having committed statutory rape with multiple girls, including 15-year-old Gina Melita in 1984, when Raniere was 24.[42] The article discussed a second 15-year-old, Gina Hutchinson, who would later die from suicide after alleging an affair with Raniere.[39] Additionally, the article reported allegations that Raniere had sex with a 12-year-old girl in 1990 when he was 30.[12]

Departure of Kristin Keeffe

Kristin Keeffe was a longtime partner of Raniere and mother of his son Gaelyn. [43] The child, born circa 2007, had earlier been reported to be an orphan adopted by Raniere and Keeffe, rather than their biological child.[44] In 2010, it was reported that Raniere had ordered that the child be kept away from peers and that he was being cared for by nannies speaking five different languages.

In February 2014, Keeffe broke with Raniere and his group. Fleeing the region with her son, an email bearing Keeffe's name explained: "I have full sole legal custody of Gaelyn. Keith was experimenting on him. I had to get Gaelyn away" [45] Keeffe publicly described Raniere as "dangerous".[46]

In 2015, it was reported that Keeffe had alleged that Raniere directed that Canadian investigative firm "Canaprobe" obtain financial information on six federal judges, a US senator from the State of New York, as well as a reporter, an editor, and the publisher of the Times Union.[43] That same year, Keeffe further alleged that Raniere had planned to lure his critics to Mexico with an invitation to an anti-cult conference; once in Mexico, the critics were to be arrested on false charges by order of a judge who had been bribed.[47][48][49]

In 2015, Raniere personally sued AT&T and Microsoft, alleging they had infringed on his patents. The following year, the case was dismissed with prejudice. The trial court ruled that Raniere's "conduct throughout this litigation, culminating in his untruthful testimony at the hearing on the motion to dismiss, demonstrates a pattern of obfuscation and bad faith."[50] Raniere was sanctioned and ordered to pay $450,000 in attorneys fees.[51]

Allegations of sex slaves, branding

In 2017, The New York Times reported that a "secret sisterhood" within NXIVM referred to female members as "slaves", branded them with Raniere's initials, and required them to provide nude photos or other potentially damaging information about themselves if they wished to join.[52][53] At trial, the prosecution introduced a 2016 recording of a private meeting with DOS 'slaves' in which Raniere acknowledged that "the monogram as it is right now is very directly related to my initials". The group discussed how to obscure the connection to Raniere's initials .[54]

Arrest and trial

In March 2018, Raniere was arrested and indicted on a variety of charges related to DOS, including sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and conspiracy to commit forced labor.[2][3] He was arrested in Mexico and held in custody in New York after appearing in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas.[55] The indictment alleged that at least one woman was coerced into sex with Raniere, who forced DOS members to undergo the branding ritual alleged by Edmondson and others.[56][57] United States Attorney Richard Donoghue stated that Raniere "created a secret society of women whom he had sex with and branded with his initials, coercing them with the threat of releasing their highly personal information and taking their assets."[25]

Raniere's federal trial began on May 7, 2019.[4]

On June 19, 2019, he was found guilty by a jury after mere hours of deliberation.

  1. ^ Barcella, Laura (28 March 2018). "NXIVM: What We Know About Alleged Sex Trafficking, Forced Labor". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 20 April cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:"\"""\"""'""'"}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
  2. ^ a b "Leader of NY Group Branded Women, Made Them Sex Slaves: Feds". NBCUniversal Media, LLC. 26 March 2018. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b Siemaszko, Corky (4 May 2018). "Self-help guru denies enslaving, branding women in Nxivm sex cult". NBC News. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b "NXIVM TRIAL: Prosecution's opening statements lasted 90 minutes". WTEN. 7 May 2019.
  5. ^ a b Bloch, Josh; Goldhar, Kathleen; Elash, Anita; Pizer, Dave. "Escaping NXIVM: Inside the secretive world of leader Keith Raniere".
  6. ^ a b c d "Univision's timeline of Keith Raniere's life". Frank Report. 14 July 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e "EXCLUSIVE: Delving Into the Childhood of NXIVM's Leader". 28 May 2018.
  8. ^ Odato, James M.; Gish, Jennifer (11 February 2012). "Secrets of NXIVM". Times Union.
  9. ^ "Keith graduates" (PDF). 28 June 1078. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  10. ^ a b c d [dead link]
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b Odato, James M.; Gish, Jennifer (18 February 2012). "In Raniere's shadows". Times Union.
  13. ^ Morris, Scot. "The one-in-a-million I.Q. test". Omni magazine, April 1985, pp 128-132.
  14. ^ "Blast from the past: Complete text from 1988 Times Union article about Raniere – and his take-home IQ test". Frank Report. 2 July 2017.
  15. ^ Roger D. Carlson (1991). Daniel J. Keyser; Richard C. Sweetland (eds.). Test Critiques. Test Critique: The Mega Test (Volume VIII ed.). PRO-ED. pp. 431–435. ISBN 0-89079-254-2.

    From the article: "Although the approach that Hoeflin takes is interesting, inventive, intellectually stimulating, and internally consistent, it violates many good psychometric principles by overinterpreting the weak data of a self-selected sample."

  16. ^ Castles, Elaine E. (6 June 2012). Inventing Intelligence. ABC-CLIO. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-4408-0338-3. Retrieved 31 August 2013. Lay summary (31 August 2013). And what is that makes Marilyn vos Savant so uniquely qualified to answer such questions? There is only one reason: she is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the highest IQ ever recorded. Never mind that this record is based on a nonstandardized test put out by an obscure group known as Mega, supposedly the world's most selective organization of geniuses. Ignore the fact that test scores at the extreme ends of any distribution are notoriously unreliable.
  17. ^ "The making of Vanguard".
  18. ^ a b c d Andrews, Suzanna. "The Heiresses and the Cult". Vanities.
  19. ^ a b c d e f "Rochester woman tells all about life with NXIVM's Keith Raniere, her ex". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
  20. ^ a b Freedman, Michael. "Cult of Personality" Check |url= value (help). Forbes.
  21. ^ a b Lyons, Brendan J. (12 November 2017). "Law enforcement has fielded NXIVM complaints for years". Times Union.
  22. ^ "Cult of NXIVM Series Part 8: The Relentless Pursuit of Enemies".
  23. ^ "How Allison Mack Ended Up Involved With an Alleged Sex Slavery Ring". E! Online. 24 April 2018.
  24. ^ Bloch, Josh; Goldhar, Kathleen; Elash, Anita; Pizer, Dave. "Escaping NXIVM: Inside the secretive world of leader Keith Raniere".
  25. ^ a b "Who is Keith Raniere? Self-help guru accused of sex trafficking". Newsweek. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  26. ^ A&E Cults and extreme believes S1E1, aired May 28, 2018, last accessed May 30, 2018,
  27. ^ "The 'Sex Cult' That Preached Empowerment". New York Times. 30 May 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  28. ^ "Her Darkest Role: Actress Allison Mack's Descent From 'Smallville' to Sex Cult". 16 May 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  29. ^ Grigoriadis, Vanessa (30 May 2018). "Inside Nxivm, the 'Sex Cult' That Preached Empowerment". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  30. ^ Bloch, Josh; Goldhar, Kathleen; Elash, Anita; Pizer, Dave. "Uncover: Escaping NXIVM". Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  31. ^ [dead link]
  32. ^ "Natalie Jilted Boyfriend". 1 December 2011 – via Internet Archive.
  33. ^ a b c d "An Espian's brief life".
  34. ^ a b Moynihan, Colin (28 May 2019). "Sex Cult Used Spyware to Monitor Bronfman" – via
  35. ^ "Manipulations of fortune; Daughters of business royalty, alleged cult leader at centre of lawsuit".
  36. ^ a b Andrews, Suzanna (13 October 2010). "The Heiresses and the Cult". Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  37. ^ "Nxivm witness: Keith Raniere put women through brutal humiliation to 'toughen' them - The Underground Bunker".
  38. ^ "Nine years with NXIVM".
  39. ^ a b Barcella, Laura; Barcella, Laura (21 November 2017). "Is NXIVM a Cult? What We Know".
  40. ^ MacIntosh, Jeane (22 October 2010). "'Cult' leader Keith Raniere makes killer claim on newly released video".
  41. ^ Odato, James (22 November 2010). "Ex-NXIVM trainer: Students are prey". Times Union (Albany).
  42. ^ "NXIVM: Gina Melita's story - Times Union".
  43. ^ a b Lyons, Brendan J. (20 September 2015). "Legal papers: NXIVM officials probed finances of 6 federal judges, Senator Schumer, others". Times Union.
  44. ^ MacIntosh, Jeane (26 July 2010). "Albany cult takes orphan".
  45. ^ Odato, James M. (11 May 2014). "A split from NXIVM". Times Union.
  46. ^ Odato, James (12 May 2014). "A split from NXIVM". Times Union (Albany).
  47. ^ "404 Error Page".[dead link]
  48. ^ [dead link]
  49. ^ "Records: NXIVM hacked billionaire's emails with Hillary Clinton, world leaders -". 18 October 2015.
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^ Meier, Barry. "Inside a Secretive Group Where Women Are Branded". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  53. ^ "Former NXIVM member says she was invited into a secret sorority, then branded". ABC News. 16 December 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  54. ^ Moynihan, Colin (26 May 2019). "Nxivm Branding Was Scripted by Sex Cult Leader to Be 'Like a Sacrifice'" – via
  55. ^ "Leader of alleged cult that ensnared Vancouver woman appears in court". CBC. 27 March 2018.
  56. ^ "Feds say self-help guru coerced followers into sex, had them branded with a cauterizing pen". Washington Post. 3 March 2018.
  57. ^ "NXIVM female sex "slaves" allegedly branded with secretive group leader's initials". CBS. Associated Press. 27 March 2018.

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