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Toni Natalie was once a girlfriend of NXIVM leader Keith Raniere but she later turned into one his most vocal antagonists.
Natalie met Raniere while he was the president of Consumers’ Buyline, a multi-level marketing company located near Albany which he founded in 1990. By 1993, the New York attorney general filed a civil suit alleging that the company was a pyramid scheme and Raniere settled a suit for $40,000 without admitting wrongdoing, Forbes reported in 2003.
But before that company fell apart, Natalie’s former husband convinced her to go meet Raniere in 1991. Raniere was visiting Rochester hotel to pitch possible recruits for Consumers’ Buyline, according to a 2018 Democrat & Chronicle report.The couple bought in and became top sellers in the Rochester area. Soon after, they visited the Albany suburb of Clifton Park, and Raniere supposedly convinced Natalie to quit smoking after a one-on-one consultation. She was charmed by him and his claim of being one of the smartest men in the world.
Soon after, Natalie’s marriage fell apart and she started a relationship with Raniere. She moved to Albany in 1992 to be closer to him and to work for Consumers’ Buyline, according to the Democrat & Chronicle. During that time, she found Raniere both compelling and disturbing. He allegedly convinced her to keep the body of a dead puppy in a freezer so she could see it regularly and overcome her issues with death, Vanity Fair reported in 2010.
Natalie and Raniere dated for a total of eight years. During that time, they operated a health-products store together, according to Forbes. She also claimed he routinely manipulated her and raped her, according to court paperwork. When she left Raniere in 1999, it set off years of alleged harassment. Natalie claimed Raniere was behind threats against her family and even a home break-in, Vanity Fair reported in 2010. She tried to file for bankruptcy after the health-products store collapsed and NXIVM contested that bankruptcy claim, which led to an eight-year court battle.
"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," a judge wrote in Natalie’s favor in a 2009 decision.
Natalie was one of the first people to blow the whistle on Raniere. She began publicly speaking up against him in 2010, years before it became common knowledge that Raniere was running a sex cult within NXIVM. The court battles between her and Raniere ensued. By 2011, NXIVM sought to have Natalie deposed in a different bankruptcy case, according to the Democrat & Chronicle. By 2014, Natalie was charged with felony computer trespassing after NXIVM claimed she entered the company's internal website and took private information from them. That charge was later dismissed. Raniere was also suing Natalie for the ownership of patents, the Democrat & Chronicle reported in 2018.
"The only consistent I have in my life is Keith Raniere, which is not anything you want as a consistent," Natalie told the outlet in 2018. "And it's because he keeps coming back at me in one way or another."
She is still blowing the whistle on Raniere and NXIVM. She wrote a 2019 book on the group called “The Program: Inside the Mind of Keith Raniere and the Rise and Fall of NXIVM.” A website for the book, called "The Fall of NXIVM," encourages people with information on NXIVM and Consumers’ Buyline to reach out to her.
She reflects on her experience with Raniere again in HBO's new docuseries "The Vow."
On Natalie’s Twitter bio, she refers to herself as both a “whistleblower” and a “survivor.”
“He enjoys the pain he brings to people, this is his pleasure,” she tweeted about Raniere in May.
Raniere was convicted for racketeering, sex trafficking, and other charges in 2019.
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