By Nicki Clyne
I have changed my position on Keith Raniere. I no longer believe he is a man of noble character, as I once did.
I also do not believe he considered my best interests or helped me achieve the goals for which I sought his guidance.
I have come to certain realizations about my past decisions and views, which leave me with no choice but to renounce the man who influenced them. I will no longer publicly support or try to free him for these and many other reasons.
I do not believe my intentions were false or impure, but the methods I followed were misguided.
From a young age, I have felt that what we perceive in a material sense is only a fraction of what we can experience spiritually. I read about spiritual quests in books, and men and women who seemed to have attained a higher state of consciousness.
I knew I wanted that, but had no idea how to attain it — or where to start.
When I first met Keith Raniere, at 23 years old, through his educational programs and as the leader of an organization, I perceived him to have a knowledge of humanity and spirituality that could help me on my quest to find my higher self.
He quickly convinced me he knew better than anyone how to achieve or become what I sought.
He once asked me what single question I would ask an omniscient being if I could, to which I replied: “Who am I?”
He then asked me what my biggest fear was concerning him. I said I feared that he would want to sleep with me.
So, when he inevitably encouraged our sexual union, I assumed it was to help me overcome my biggest fears and attachments.
Little did I know that this would lead to 18 years of suffering, self-rejection, and the sacrifice of my own wants, desires, and priorities. I say this not for sympathy, and I am not seeking retribution. I have no one to blame but myself and my myopic view that Keith was the ultimate guide for my spiritual advancement.
I persuaded myself that Keith’s abusive treatment was part of the path to the freedom I was seeking. Instead, through calculated deception, he taught me to doubt myself, distrust my intuition, believe myself unworthy, and, most of all, he taught me to fear him unconditionally.
With more than a tinge of embarrassment, I’ll admit that I thought Keith had supernatural powers. I thought my weaknesses and failures to meet his expectations were a constant burden for him, and for which I carried enormous guilt. All I could hope to do, in repentance, was subjugate my own needs in an effort to repair my seemingly insurmountable “ethical breach.” This often meant engaging in sex at his whim, supposedly for my spiritual benefit, only to be dismissed and disposed of immediately after his sexual gratification. Any discontent or lack of feigned enthusiasm was met with disapproval and the notion that I was a drain on his generous spirit — even going so far as suggesting that my negativity could be fatal for him.
I was meant to be “happy,” so I put on a happy face. At least, I tried. I felt eternally indebted to what I perceived as his noble generosity and assumed I would spend my lifetime trying to make up for the misdeeds he was constantly bringing to my attention.
I am not writing this with anger or regret. For whatever reason, this was a path I chose.
My recent realizations were facilitated by a man I once feared, the person I considered my biggest enemy and the reason for my life’s destruction, the author of the prolific blog, The Frank Report. Frank Parlato has been blamed and applauded for taking down Keith Raniere and NXIVM. For years, I resented and feared him.
I have come to see now that he was not my enemy, not even then. I believe he attacked Keith Raniere in part in self-defense and because he believed Keith was pretending to be good while wreaking havoc and harming innocent people, including and especially those who earnestly came to him for help.
Frank’s motivation was not some conspiracy to ruin a good man, as I previously thought.
It’s implausible to believe that the long trail of Keith’s victims over several decades, many who had no connection to one another, were all lying and seeking illicit rewards.
Frank’s rigorous investigation into Keith and NXIVM allowed me to re-evaluate my views and my own experience in such a way that it is irrefutable.
It is five years since Keith Raniere lost his worldly freedom. I was present for this event, and even being raided by heavily armed Mexican Federales was not enough to shake me from my delusion. Additionally, the personal betrayals by people I thought were my friends, and much of the exaggerated, and sometimes false, anti-NXIVM rhetoric, only led me to be more committed to my defense of Keith and my view that there was injustice.
Apart from Keith himself, I felt a moral obligation to a community of people I knew to be good and well-intended.
While I put on an outward appearance of strength and steadfast dedication, there was a part of me that secretly hoped Keith would never be released from prison.
I prayed that Keith would let me go in peace once all legal remedies were exhausted to free him. But, until now, I couldn’t conceive of leaving him without a lifetime of guilt and shame.
During the five years since he was arrested, I was determined not to be swayed by any material interest: not money, not fame, not relief from prosecution, not salvaging my reputation, not even pleasing the people close to me.
In public, I was consistent in my message that Keith was a deeply misunderstood character and that the NXIVM community’s intentions were good. Within myself, there were so many things I could not reconcile.
Despite my disillusionment with Keith, I am still concerned with some of the methods used by the prosecution in his case. Through my experiences these past years, I have gained insight into the inequities of the criminal justice system and the often inhumane conditions of incarceration in America. I intend to continue my advocacy for the humane treatment of people in prison and promote a fairer system of justice.
If it is true, as credible experts have claimed, that the FBI was complicit in fabricating evidence to convict Keith Raniere, I support its exposure and the holding of those responsible accountable.
However, I will not spend the rest of my days defending Keith and his choices, especially with the knowledge that so many have suffered due to his reckless conduct and selfishness.
I am grateful to everyone who has been a part of my life, most especially my mother, who has shown me unconditional love and support throughout the years, and who always trusted I would find the right path, on my terms.
I may or may not share the details of my 18 years under Keith Raniere’s deceptive leadership, but I felt it was necessary to at least make my position clear.
I look forward to what’s next and appreciate everyone who has stood by me. I hardly expect everyone to agree with my position, and that’s okay. I believe there is a way to find the good even in the most challenging and detrimental circumstances, and we are far better doing that than lamenting the past and playing the victim.
I plan to share further thoughts on this soon.