Albany cult takes orphan

Tyke, 3, raised as shady guru's 'son'

The New York Post/July26, 2010

A motherless 3-year-old boy is living in near-isolation at an upstate "cult" compound - as the heir of the group's shady Svengali, who feeds off the Seagram's booze fortune, sources told The Post.

The fair-haired tyke's true identity is shrouded in secrecy.

He was brought to Keith Raniere - the controversial leader of the Albany-based "behavior-modification" group NXIVM, which counts two Seagram heiresses among its devotees - by a longtime member who claimed that she was given guardianship when the child's mother died, sources said.

The child is being raised as the "son" of Raniere, sources said. An alleged con man, Raniere has been accused by mental-health experts of using "brainwashing" and other mind-bending tactics on his followers.

The little boy has become the "prototype" for what Raniere has publicly touted as a "revolutionary educational protocol" for children, the sources said.

On Raniere's orders, the child is kept away from other kids - and much of the outside world - so he doesn't pick up the bad habits of "parasites" and "subversives," according to the sources.

NXIVM is bankrolled largely by Seagram's heiresses Clare and Sarah Bronfman, who have poured more than $100 million into its coffers, financial records show.

In 1998, Raniere started the group, which touts "intensive workshops" centering around his "Executive Success Program."

Before NXIVM, Raniere was investigated for fraud in 23 states and heavily fined for operating an alleged pyramid scheme.

Now he has an international network of devotees, called "Espians," who bow in his presence and call him "Vanguard." He and his closest associates live in several condos they own in a nondescript complex outside Albany. They also own several other homes in the area.

NXIVM has been derided as "a cult" both by Edgar Bronfman, Sr., the Bronfman sisters' dad, and in court documents filed on behalf of Barbara Bouchey, their longtime financial adviser, who defected from the group last year.

The 3-year-old boy is referred to as "the youngest Espian" and has been living with NXIVM nearly since birth, according to those who've met the child.

He was brought into the fold by longtime Raniere acolytes Barbara Jeske and Kristin Keeffe, who drove "about 10 hours to the Detroit or Ann Arbor area to get him," sources said.

The child spends several hours a day being tutored in different languages - including English, Spanish, Russian and Hindi - by multilingual nannies, said insiders.

It's the same curriculum for Raniere's soon-to-open school, the Rainbow Cultural Garden, described on the Bronfman sisters' charity Web site as "a revolutionary child-development program."

Saratoga Springs resident John Tighe - who regularly blogs about NXIVM at - recently posted a letter he claimed was from Bronfman lawyer Pamela Nichols, who warned him to stop writing about "Kristin Keeffe's son."

The boy, Nichols wrote, has "a very normal life free from any unwarranted outside interference."

Nichols, Keeffe and Barbara Jeske didn't return calls. Raniere couldn't be reached.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.