Former NXIVM member "Jane Doe" reveals identity: "I finally felt like I was ready"

CBS News/December 17, 2020

The woman credited with helping investigators take down the former leader of alleged cult NXIVM has revealed her name, her face and her own story publicly for the first time in an exclusive interview with "CBS This Morning."

"I finally felt like I was ready. … And my name is Jessica Joan," she told CBS News' Nikki Battiste.

In her late 20's, Joan, who was referred to in Keith Raniere's arrest warrant as "Jane Doe #2" although her identity was known to investigators, spent time modeling and acting in California. In 2016, she joined the group NXVIM, founded by Raniere in 1998 in Albany, New York. The group was marketed as a self-help organization.

"I had a really traumatic childhood. The appeal was that they offered something that they said would help you get rid of all your limitations," Joan said.

Shortly after joining the group, Joan said she was approached by India Oxenberg, the daughter of "Dynasty" actress Catherine Oxenberg, about joining a female-only society within NXIVM called DOS, or The Vow.

"India described DOS as a secret women's-only mentorship program, much like a secret society… I wanted to surround myself with powerful women and wanted to do great things in the world," she said.

Joan claims she was forced to hand over compromising photos and videos in order to join the secret society. After joining, the women were organized into levels and given titles such as "masters" and "slave." Shortly after joining DOS, Joan said she was placed on a calorie restriction program that required her to eat only 500 calories a day.

Allegedly at the top of the organization was Raniere and "Smallville" actress Allison Mack, who purportedly gave Joan a special assignment.

"The assignment would be to seduce Keith and have him take a naked picture with me," she said.

It was at that moment Joan said she realized what exactly NXIVM was.

She said the "whole room started spinning… Everything just started crumbling… For me, it was literally my worst nightmare come to life — that I ended up joining a cult and that the leader behind it wanted to sleep with me." 

Former members of DOS have said, according to court documents, that they were branded with Raniere and Mack's initials and were also coerced into having sexual relations with Raniere. One of those victims was Oxenberg, who said she now believes that Raniere was a pedophile and predator.

"What I believe [is] DOS was a grooming and filtering system for Keith and his personal desires," Oxenberg has said. Her legal team has not released any additional comments.

Joan soon came to the same realization, and began to plan her escape. She collected evidence that she would hand over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That evidence, along with other former group members' testimonies, would lead to Raniere and Mack's arrest.

Cult specialist Rachel Bernstein is a therapist for eight former members of NXIVM.  She said the former group members were made to endure pain at the enjoyment of the leader.

A jury found him guilty last year of seven charges, including sex trafficking and racketeering, an offense which included the production and possession of child pornography. Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison— he has maintained his innocence.

"He got exactly what he deserves," Joan told CBS News.

Mack, who pleaded guilty to racketeering, has not yet been sentenced. Joan is hoping that she gets the maximum sentence possible, "so she can spend time thinking about her actions and all of the havoc and destruction that she's caused for myself and many other people." 

During the trial, Joan testified against Raniere. Prosecutor Moira Penza said Joan's testimony reflected "her tremendous bravery."

"I will always stand up for what's right and no one can ever take my power away," Joan said.

Since the trial, she has started a new endeavor: A podcast called "The Untouchable Jessica Joan."

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