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NXIVM


NXIVM 14-year-old federal lawsuit against Rick Ross dismissed

A lawsuit filed by Keith Raniere against cult tracker Rick A. Ross and others was dismissed last month by US District Judge Katharine S. Hayden after 14 years in federal court. Raniere, of Albany, New York, is the founder of NXIVM (pronounced nexium), a “‘human potential company’ that offers personal growth seminars based on Raniere’s ‘Rational Inquiry’ system.” In his lawsuit, “Raniere claimed defamation, copyright, and trade secret violations after Ross published reports by Dr. Paul Martin, a psychologist, and Dr. John Hochman, a psychiatrist, which characterized NXIVM as a cult that brainwashed seminar participants. …The reports excerpted passages from copyrighted NXIVM materials, but did not include the full text or substantial portions of it.” Based on his requirement that students sign confidentiality agreements not to disclose or disseminate any copyrighted NXIVM material they received in the seminars, Raniere sued and initially “attempted to obtain an injunction to remove the reports from the internet after they appeared … in July 2003. The injunction was denied including on appeal up to the US Supreme Court.” The reports were never removed and remain online on the Cult Education Institute website. “…Judge Hayden, in dismissing the lawsuit, concluded, ‘that defendants’ use of NXIVM materials was limited and protected critical reporting under the fair use doctrine. Defendants did not attempt to use the copyrighted work for commercial profits, for unfair business advantage, or as an attempt to compete. Insofar as plaintiffs characterize the psychologist’s articles as an attempt to undermine NXIVM’s business, the Court notes there are First Amendment concerns to be reckoned with.’ … Raniere lost another lawsuit recently when U.S. District Judge Barabra [Barbara] M. G. Lynn dismissed his claims against AT&T and Microsoft. Raniere sued based upon claims that he invented video conferencing and held certain patents which the companies had violated. Judge Lynn admonished Raniere when he was unable to prove ownership of the patents, criticizing Raniere for deceiving the court and awarding attorney fees and costs to defendants, AT&T $935,300 and Microsoft $202,000.” (Artvoice, 2/21/17) [IT 8.2]

Judge tosses NXIVM hacking lawsuit

In October 2013, NXIVM filed a lawsuit against two journalists and three critics of the organization, accusing them of hacking into the group’s computers. US District Senior Judge Lawrence E. Kahn ruled that NXIVM “failed to file its federal lawsuit within a two-year statute of limitations that began after the corporation discovered suspected unauthorized intrusions into its computer servers in late 2011.” Criminal cases remain pending in Albany, New York against two of the critics, Joseph O’Hara and John Tighe, and against Barbara Bouchey, a former NXIVM financial advisor, who was also indicted in the computer trespassing investigation. (Albany Times Union, 09/18/15) [IT 7.1 2016]

Blogger pleads guilty to charge of hacking self-improvement-group computers

Saratoga in Decline blogger John Tighe has pleaded guilty to a computer-hacking-related felony charge for unauthorized access to a computer system owned by NXIVM, a self-improvement organization based in Albany County. State police confiscated computers and electronics from Tighe in October 2013 after a search warrant was executed to probe for material related to NXIVM, a group many define as a cult. Tighe served as a local watchdog over NXIVM and its founders, Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman, who also run a unique training program for professionals, Executive Success Programs, among other enterprises. (The Record, 11/05/14)


Executives and leading associates of the Albany, NY-based NXIVM, the executive and group-awareness training organization that has been accused by former devotees of being a cult, have donated some $30,000 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Clare and Sara Bronfman, heirs of the Seagram fortune and wealthy supporters of NXIVM, are said to have given millions to NXIVM. Their father, Edgar Bronfman, Sr., took NXIVM classes at one time but subsequently said, “It’s a cult.” [csr 7.1 2008)

A former advisor to the Colonie, NY-based Nxivm human development organization, who now calls Nxivm a cult and an “extremely dangerous group” — he also leads the Stop Mxivm/ESP Now Legal Defense Fund — has been indicted on charges he swindled a Nexivm-related foundation of $232,607 between 2004 and 2005. Joseph O’Hara allegedly took money from wealthy Saratoga residents Clare and Sara Bronfman and other Nxivm supporters. [csr 6.1 2007]

A Split From NXIVM

Kristin M. Keeffe, former legal liaison for NXIVM [neks-ē’-ŭm] founder Keith Raniere, has broken with Raniere’s life-coaching enterprise and fled with her young son from his inner circle, according to court papers filed as part of a federal lawsuit. Raniere has been identified in court cases involving NXIVM litigation as the founder of the “rational inquiry” curriculum and philosophical movement. He is referred to reverently by NXIVM students as Vanguard. He has been identified in court documents from adversaries in sharply critical terms.

Email messages purportedly sent by Kristin M. Keeffe and quoted in court papers filed by New Jersey attorney Peter Skolnik include the statement that “I have completely left NXIVM and New York” and numerous other allegations. They also refer to Keeffe’s turning over to the authorities “evidence of massive criminal conduct” by Raniere as well as NXIVM President Nancy Salzman and Clare Bronfman, who oversees the group’s operations. In the petition, Skolnik inserted parts of recent electronic communications he said he has had with Keeffe since her disappearance from Saratoga County at some point in the past few months.

Skolnik also is the lawyer for Rick Ross, leader of an organization called the Cult Education Institute. Ross has been sued by NXIVM, which denies that it is a cult, for publicizing portions of its training program. Ross has countersued Raniere, Salzman, and Keeffe for invasion of privacy.

Skolnik filed a petition on April 26 in U.S. District Court in Newark, New Jersey to dismiss Keeffe from the countersuit. Skolnik’s filing includes a passage in which Keeffe purportedly calls the district attorneys’ offices in Saratoga and Albany counties “compromised” regarding NXIVM. Skolnik said his filing speaks for itself. In responding to Crockett’s appeal to seal his letter, he wrote that Ross “now views Ms. Keeffe and her child as victims of the very organization whose objectives she previously served.”

The court filing indicates that Keeffe cannot communicate easily. She asked Skolnik, in the purported email, to thank Ross for applying “pressure” on her. Without it, she wrote, “me and my son would have been lost forever. … You need to know now the reality of what the trainings and Keith do ... He is so dangerous you would not believe it. ... He has gotten way more lethal in the last 4 years too.” In an interview, Ross said he believes the emails came from Keeffe.

Ross has studied NXIVM, which has training outlets in New York, Mexico, and elsewhere. He said he is writing about the organization in a book he is planning to self-publish later this year. “Of all the people to think of Keith Raniere losing—that would turn against him, that would reject him, that would spurn him—probably near the end of my list was Kristin Keeffe,” said Ross. “...she must know a great deal. She was absolutely in the inner circle.”

Lawyers representing NXIVM, Bronfman, Raniere, and Salzman had no comment or did not respond to email messages from the Times Union. (Albany Times Union, 5/10/14) [IT 5.3]

Criticism Can Stay Online
The Colonie, NY-based NXIVM human potential organization has lost a suit aimed to keep critics from analyzing a confidential NXIVM manual online. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City said the commentaries, by psychologist Paul Martin and psychiatrist John Hochman, on the website of [cult observer] Rick Ross, represented criticism, and therefore “fair use” under copyright law. (Dennis Yusko, Albany Times-Union, Internet, 4/23/04) [csr 3.3 2004]