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Keith Raniere's NXIVM Supporters And Critics React To Indictment In 'The Vow' Part 2
Nicki Clyne, Nancy Salzman and more former NXIVM members shared their thoughts on the cult in the documentary "The Vow," two years after Keith Raniere was found guilty of multiple charges.
The latest installment of “The Vow” is revealing the aftermath of Keith Raniere and his accomplices’ arrests.
In the first episode of the HBO docuseries' second season, which aired Monday former DOS and NXIVM members speak out about the federal indictment that resulted in Raniere’s March 2018 arrest. Raniere was hit with numerous charges, including sex trafficking, racketeering, and conspiracy, and was found guilty of all charges in June 2019. He was subsequently sentenced to 120 years in prison.
For years, prosecutors said, Raniere used NXIVM, the self-help organization he'd co-founded, to establish and exert control over its members. Under his direction, a clandestine sect was formed within the group, DOS, that included only women and which was based on "master-slave" dynamics, with Raniere at the head. Women in the group were branded with Raniere's initials; several say they were sexually exploited by Raniere.
While Sarah Edmondson, Bonnie Piesse and Mark Vicente, former NXIVM members who were among the first to publicly oppose Raniere, are seen in the latest episode as being overjoyed by the developments, others are reeling from the loss of their community.
Notably, Nicki Clyne, an actress and outspoken NXIVM member, speaks to “The Vow” documentarians, insisting that there was nothing nefarious about DOS or NXIVM. For Clyne, Raniere’s teachings helped her career grow and she willingly entered a relationship with him, like other women did.
“I kept it secret. A lot of people in the community didn't know who Keith’s partners were, if he even had any,” Nicki said. “But it felt very clear, what I was signing up for.”
Clyne continues to defend NXIVM's teachings, despite the negative attention heaped upon the group. As she told the documentarians, “I feel proud of my decisions. And I stand by him. I know how hard that must be for people to understand considering the lens through which this situation is being portrayed.”
Her friend, Michele Hatchett, was also a member of DOS, and is equally defensive of Raniere.
Hatchett said that when Raniere was first arrested, she distanced herself from the group. But then, when her involvement with DOS was publicly disclosed, she lost her job working for a New York City restaurant group.
“That's when it got real for me,” Hatchett told the documentarians. “How can I run? This is coming to my doorstep no matter where I am. My involvement with DOS is not what has brought hardship to my life. People saying that this was a sex trafficking operation is why there's more hardship in my life."
But former NXIVM member and actress Veronica Jaspeado told the documentarians that people like Clyne and Hatchett are in denial.
“They’re defending him with their lives,” she said. “They’re harming themselves in a way that I truly hope they can recover. They need to see for themselves something and I think there's so much out there that if they don't see, it’s because they truly don't want to.”
In addition to Raniere's conviction, NXIVM co-founder Nancy Salzman, her daughter Lauren Salzman, prominent member Allison Mack and Clare Bronfman, who largely funded the group, all entered plea agreements in the case, further dividing the NXIVM members.
Nancy Salzman shared in one of her first public interviews that she was shocked by the indictment, but it made her realize there might be criminal activity happening within NXIVM.
“To have 12 FBI agents raid your house for 11 hours and then you get arrested and put in a cell, you feel like you must have done something wrong because how else does something like this happen to you?” she told the documentarians. “The world is left with this view of you that you know isn’t you--or how could it have been?”
Upcoming episodes of “The Vow,” airing Monday nights on HBO, will feature more in-depth interviews with Salzman, who was sentenced to 41 months in prison.