Keith Raniere is in handcuffs. Seized in an exclusive Mexican villa, the founder of NXIVM will be delivered to a judge in Dallas, to be arraigned on charges of human trafficking.
The media is frenzied. Allison Mack is charged with sex trafficking. The story of a Hollywood Sex Cult that brands women as slaves is salacious, ripe for the tabloids and primetime news programs. It is an overnight international phenomenon.
For decades, the self-professed “world’s smartest man,” operated a fearsome empire out of his quiet upstate New York neighborhood. He spent untold millions to silence his enemies, using a pliant legal system to destroy the lives of anyone who dared challenge him.
To those of us who for years have been fighting to bring to light NXIVM’s alleged abuses, Raniere’s arrest is welcome vindication. For Raniere’s many alleged victims, it is a hope for justice. And for Toni, it is a chance to finally exhale.
Together, we will explore the rise of Raniere, tracking the remarkable career of the reclusive “Vanguard.” This is a sprawling story of billionaire heiresses, Washington DC and Mexican elites, TV celebrities, cult deprogrammers, espionage firms and illicit dossiers, private islands and exclusive villas, government corruption, an out-of-control legal system and the physical branding of slaves. This is a story so dizzying that it is easy to lose focus.
As we delve into this story, we will not lose focus on the woman who walked into a Buddhist monastery and never walked out. The woman who drowned — an alleged suicide — in the icy waters of Alaska. The women who say they were just children when left alone to Raniere’s hands. We will remember the lives destroyed, the years lost, the life savings wasted.
And we will ask, how was this man allowed to evade justice for decades?