Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


NXIVM: Keith Raniere said swallowing his semen made women see blue lights

[Testifying now is a witness whose identity is being protected by the court. (Stock image)]

Our correspondent Dianne Lipson was in court all day Thursday, and her report is certainly worth the wait as witness Daniela began her testimony about becoming an imprisoned sex slave for Nxivm leader Keith Raniere.

At the start of the the day, Judge Garaufis announced that the motion for a mistrial is denied. He referred to the previous day’s events by saying: There was discussion of the validity of a plea proceeding before me. and whether the witness had been disingenuous or lying. The jury knew that the proceeding was in front of me; I accepted the guilty plea. Judge Garaufis said he did not want to be taken by surprise by something like this again.

The new witness is Daniela, the woman who was kept in a room for 2 years. Daniela is the sister of Mariana, who had Raniere’s second child, and Camilla, who Raniere took explicit photos of when she was underage. Daniela’s last name is not revealed, and the courtroom artists were asked not to sketch her face. Daniela is tall and slender, with long hair.

Prosecutor Penza set the table by asking Daniela to describe the ‘milestones’ in her time in NXIVM.


— Sex with Keith, when she was 18 years old
— Crossing the border illegally in 2014
— A fight with Keith, in 2006
— Kept in the room, 2010-2012

The witness described her childhood as idyllic. Tennis lessons, the country club. Her family was her center of gravity and she felt safe. Her older sister Mariana was her best friend. Daniela had many dreams for her future. She first wanted to be be a biologist studying animals, then an academic, finally she had a dream to go to Harvard and do medical research. Tennis was the family sport, and her father had the children take English classes every day.

Daniela had perfect grades and was fascinated by learning, consulting the family encyclopedia to learn more about subjects covered in school. She scored highest in her class on a aptitude test, and was accepted to an exclusive high school in Monterrey, four and a half hours from her home. Leaving the safe bubble of her family was heartbreaking for her. At school, she had to learn to prepare her own food and wash her clothes, tasks she had never done before.

Her older sister Mariana transferred to the same school, which was difficult for Daniela. Mariana was much more social than her sister. She gave parties, was drinking, and hung out with bad company. She developed an eating disorder and was throwing up. Daniela was taking care of her older sister, even accompanying her to nightclubs to make sure she was OK.

Daniela applied to many high schools in Switzerland, and was accepted by an academically high level school situated in beautiful countryside in the Alps. It was a very expensive school, even for her successful mining executive father, and they offered Daniela the one scholarship they gave out per year.

Daniela’s parents, Hector and Adriana, were sampling a smorgasbord of self help programs. They were very enthusiastic about Executive Success Programs, and enrolled Daniela in a 16-day intensive, a gift from her father to help her in navigating life in Switzerland. Daniela was 16 years old at the time. There were a great many wealthy, successful, impressive people there. This intimidated Daniela but also validated the program for her. Keith Raniere was spoken of often and with reverence. He was a scientist, a renunciate, the world’s smartest man, and he was unified, which meant he had no disintegrations, meaning he no longer reacted to the external world. This was the end point of what people in the program were trying to achieve. The only one who was unified was Keith.

Daniela was impressed by a module where the trainer, Lauren Salzman, described how every effort to better the world, eg. curing diseases or ending hunger, was futile. We can’t help the world that way if we are disintegrated. The only way to help the world was through Executive Success Programs. Lauren presented a mathematical formula developed by Keith, which showed that if more people didn’t become integrated, the world would end in 15 years. Daniela now realizes that there is no mathematical calculation for the end of the world. Nevertheless, at the time, this module had a big impact on Daniela. Lauren Salzman was encouraging Daniela, to “come and work with us.” Daniela felt flattered by the attention from Lauren and other people older than herself. She was told she was lucky to be learning these things at such a young age.

Daniela decided to take a year off school and help ESP in Albany, even if it meant losing her scholarship. Her parent supported her decision. She was almost 17 when she arrived with her parents on Vanguard Week, Raniere’s annual birthday celebration at a resort in Lake George.

Daniela’s impression when meeting Keith for the first time, was exactly what she had expected. He looked smart and nerdy. He seemed ‘a little off,’ but this was similar to other smart people Daniela had met. Daniela felt enormously flattered when, on their first meeting, Keith called her by her name and said she was smart and attentive. Daniela now feels that that moment was ‘all a lie.’

Daniela met many Nxians at V-week. Her impression of Nancy Salzman was that she was very energetic, loud, pushy and firm. She scared Daniella a little. Karen Unterreiner, who was in charge of the administrative office and Daniela’s future boss, was very sweet. Daniela was impressed with her high degree in math.

Daniela’s parents left after V-week, and living in a apartment in Albany with grown-ups was a strange experience for her. She was asked to learn a programming language, and was given a book and a demo version for her to learn it. There were no classes and no one-on-one training. It was just here, learn this. The only one who sat down with her was Siobhan, who taught her HTML, a system for displaying text on websites. But HTML is not programming. Not making progress learning the programming language, and ashamed that she could not contribute more, Daniela helped by cleaning and organizing in the administrative office. Daniela was not paid, but there was an understanding that she would be paid later.

Around this time, Mariana took time off from school and had a fantasy of becoming a model, but was working at her aunt’s restaurant. Her parents said she was depressed, partying too much, and causing trouble. After a night of drinking when Mariana and her friends broke into a supermarket, Daniela suggested to her parents that Mariana join her in Albany. Daniela thought she could straighten her sister out. Once in Albany, Mariana was depressed and wouldn’t get out of bed. Pam took Mariana under her wing, showering her with gifts, and Mariana seemed to improve.

At one of the overnight volleyball games, Daniela finally got the courage to approach Keith, She was disillusioned. disappointed by not being able to do more meaningful work, and wanted to go back to school. She sought Keith’s opinion. Keith was attentive and asked her to write a mission statement on her life. He honed in on her academic interests, and started giving her math problems to solve. Daniela felt flattered and validated, and wanted to impress Keith with how smart she was.

After that Daniela met with Keith frequently. They went on walks where he told her she shouldn’t go back to school; Keith would teach her. The way Keith dealt with her was similar to the Exploration of Meaning (EM) process, a form of therapy used in Nxivm. Daniela says she never had a good experience with an EM, she found it ineffective and pushy. Daniela now feels that the Nxivm tech was used to control her.

Daniela had gained weight, but she had no other issues and was happy. Solving the math problems gave her an excuse to approach Keith.

In the office, Daniela was doing data entry on enrollee applications. If payment was by check or credit card, that was entered. If payment was in cash, it was not entered as cash, even though there was an entry field for cash. It was entered as a scholarship, and the cash was put in a drawer. Daniela understood it was to avoid paying taxes.

One day Daniela stole $2000 from the drawer. Subsequently, she felt terrible, she had not been raised this way. She was paranoid, her heart was racing, and she couldn’t sleep. So she put back all the money, and told no one at the time. Eventually she told Keith, in order to get relief and so he could help her understand what she did. She trusted Keith. Keith claimed to already know that she had stolen the money. Daniela knew that was not true. But she didn’t have it in her to confront him on this lie, Daniela was not his equal. Keith was grave, but he made her feel it wasn’t the end of the world. He told her she now had more knowledge of herself, as a person who stole but chose not to steal. He said he would be there for her.

Daniela thought that was the end of it, but it wasn’t over. Keith said there were consequences for her actions, difficult, but important for her. Barbara Jeske brought up her theft in front of people. They told Daniela’s parents and she felt horrible. Nancy questioned her aggressively, in a way that was like a punishment. Asking “Why are you smiling? Is this funny to you?” She might be a suppressive. (In NXIVM, suppressives are people who are trying to squash everything good, and destroy the world) The thought of being a supressive was frightening to her. Daniela was fired from the office and had to do odd jobs to get by.

After the unpleasantness with Nancy, Keith was there for her, a shoulder for her to cry on. She felt like he understood her and was the only person on her side. Looking back now, Daniela thinks Keith set her up. He could be the hero and she would be dependent on him.

Daniela had to return to Mexico for a brief time every 6 months, because of her tourist visa. While she was in Mexico, email exchanges with Keith became flirtatious in tone. Keith started asking her probing questions about her life. Daniela told him she had never been kissed or had any sexual contact. It was important to Keith that she was a virgin. She was pure.

Daniela’s parents were in Albany at this time, and their marriage was deteriorating. Daniela was very emotional about this, and talked to Keith about it. Sitting on a couch with Keith, while Daniela talked about her parent’s issues, Keith moved in close and kissed her on the lips. Not a peck, but a longer kiss. Daniela did not reciprocate, she didn’t know what to do. On the drive home, she tried to understand what had happened. She hadn’t asked for it, and she froze when he kissed her. But she also began to feel flattered and excited by the incident. She felt special and chosen. At home, she did not tell her mom. Daniela now feels that it would have changed the course of history if she had told her. No way would her mom feel it was OK for a 17-year-old girl to be kissed by a man in his 40’s. From then on, Daniela kept her personal life a secret.

Now there was more flirting between her and Keith. Daniela felt extremely shy and uncomfortable, but flattered. Keith’s questions about her became more sexual. He told her that he was not celibate, he had romantic relationships and several girlfriends, but it’s a secret. As her 18th birthday came up, Keith asked her what she wanted. She knew she should want sex, but was too shy to say it. Keith said, “Write it on my hand.” Daniela wrote S-E-X. Keith acted surprised by what she wrote. Daniela thought she had done something wrong and was mortified. Daniela now feels that he set her up.

Keith asked her questions about her body, and made it clear that he liked pubic hair to be natural and untrimmed. Keith later nicknamed Daniela “Norelco” because she had very little pubic hair. One time he yelled out “Norelco” at her during volleyball, and Daniela wanted to die.

Keith told Daniela that a woman should be thin. Fat meant a person was indulgent, and he couldn’t share his energies with someone like that. Weight became a big focus after that. At the time, Daniela was overweight, and he wanted her to lose 20 lbs by her 18th birthday.

Her 18th birthday came, and Daniela had not lost the weight. Keith asked her: Don’t you care about me? Is food more important? Daniela felt rejected.

Shortly after her birthday, Daniela met with Keith at Roma Plaza. He brought her into a room that had a dirty mattress on the floor. He asked her to take off all her clothes and lie down. Fully clothed himself, Keith performed oral sex on her. Then he removed his clothes and laid on top of her for a time, and at the end, gave her a long hug. Prosecutor Penza asked, did he have an erection, did he penetrate you, did he ejaculate? Daniela’s answers were no, no, and no.

The next day they talked about what happened and Keith asked her an odd question, “You’re a responsible person. How come you didn’t ask me to use protection?” But Daniela knew Keith hadn’t penetrated her. A few days later on a walk, Keith asked her why she didn’t feel anything in their encounter. Daniela stuck to her guns, she knew he had not penetrated her. Finally she told Keith what she thought he wanted to hear. “Maybe I blocked it out.” But that wasn’t the answer he wanted. Keith supplied the answer he wanted, telling Daniela that it was because she was too much in her head. Later Daniela saw other examples of this game-playing by Keith. She also became aware that Keith sometimes had difficulty maintaining an erection.

This was the morning testimony.

In the afternoon testimony, it came out that Daniela was now giving Keith oral sex regularly, often in the living room of a house he shared with Pam and others. He had a monitor set up so he could see if anyone was coming. Daniela brought up contraception, she wanted to go on the pill. But Keith told here it wasn’t a good idea until she lost weight.

The oral sex was never mutual, and there was no hugging or kissing. He asked her if she had ever had an orgasm, and she said only by masturbating. Keith told her not to masturbate. And she must not have sex with anyone else because he would “feel” it.

The first time Daniela swallowed Keith’s semen, he asked her if she saw a blue light. He said some women saw a blue light when they swallowed his semen. Daniela didn’t see the blue light, and Keith told her it was because she wasn’t very sensitive.

Keith maintained that having sex was a way for him to help a woman grow. Just by having sex with a woman, he could fix her disintegrations. Keith claimed other mystical powers. Once when he was a child, he saw exactly what was on the TV screen even though he had his back to it. He could see a person’s disintegrations and weakness just by looking at their body. Daniela didn’t believe these things. She felt that his claims of mystical powers were unscientific, and not befitting a man who she admired and respected as an intellectual and the smartest man in the world.

Shortly after Daniela had her first sexual encounter with Keith, she learned from Mariana that Mariana was also having sex with him. It was horrifying to learn that they were both having sex with the same man. Mariana said she was in love with Keith. The sisters went to a coffee shop to hash things out. They unexpectedly ran into Keith, who asked what they were discussing. When they told him, Keith was not OK with it. Mariana left the coffee shop with Keith, and Daniela and Mariana never spoke about it again.

Now that she was having sex with Keith, Daniela was automatically part of the inner circle. She saw many of his interactions and phone conversions with others. Daniela started recording and videoing him, out of admiration. But Keith told her not to record any discussions of legal matters.

Mariana was treated differently than Daniela. When Mariana had to leave the country because of her tourist visa, she traveled on a private jet, which Daniela says she thinks was owned by Clare. Daniela had to take commercial planes or even buses. Mariana never worked, everything was given to her. Daniela didn’t begrudge her sister, but she wondered at it, it was unfair and inconsistent with Keith’s teachings. She questioned Keith about it. He told her he was he was much harder on her (Daniela) because she was special, and had more potential.

Daniela had a visa problem flying into Atlanta with her father. Their visas were withdrawn with no penalty, but they had to wait a year before applying again. Daniela was crushed, beside herself. She had no life in Mexico and didn’t want to wait a year before returning to Albany.

Keith came up with a plan to get Daniela back to the US. It was exciting that Keith wanted her back. She would fly to Canada, where Kristen would meet her with a fake ID. It would happen over the Christmas holiday rush, and they would say they were on a shopping trip.

Kristen did not show up in Canada, instead Kathy Russell came. Kathy Russell was an older woman, an accountant who worked for a company in NXIVM. The fake ID brought by Kathy looked terrible, and Daniela was frightened. When they crossed the border they were questioned, and the official kept looking at her ID. Daniela started to panic. Hoping to distract the official, Daniela asked him what the weather was like over in the US. The ploy worked. He said it was a fine day, and waved them through. Over the border, Daniela threw up from the stress.

Regarding Keith’s plan to send someone other than himself to Canada to retrieve her, Daniela said Keith would never put his name or his person at risk in any way. Everybody operated on his behalf. Keith never was the one on the line. Daniela knew her border crossing was illegal, bur she did not want to wait a year to return.

Keith, Daniela, and Mariana were hanging out downstairs one day when Keith said he wanted to take a nap with both of them. But when they went upstairs, it was not napping, it was sexual. Keith’s pants were down and he was touching them. The sisters were clothed. Both Daniela and Mariana started crying, and Keith stopped. Mariana was crying uncontrollably. Keith took Mariana to 8 Hale Drive (his ‘library’) and it was never spoken of again. Daniela pretended it never happened. On the witness stand Daniela said: And that was Christmas.

Daniela subsequently participated in two sex acts with Keith and another woman, Kathy Russell. The first time, Kathy and Keith started touching each other in an overtly sexual way in front of her. Daniela was asked to come with them to Kathy’s apartment. Daniela didn’t want to participate in this. She did participate because there was the implicit feeling that she “owed them” because of their help with the border crossing, which was brought up in conversion at the time. The next time was at Barbara Bouchey’s house, where Keith was staying because he was sick. He was alone with Daniela and Kathy, and he asked if they wanted to do something to make him feel better. The something was oral sex to him.

Keith had a large professional camera that he was running around with a lot. He asked to take a picture of Daniela with her pants pulled down. Daniela didn’t want this, she was extremely shy and was covering herself with her hands after her pants were down. Keith positioned her with her legs spread and photographed her.

Daniela came up with a way to organize and catalog all of Keith’s books and videos at 8 Hale Drive. An example of this was shown in evidence. Her next project was to prepare book reports for Keith. Keith’s time was extremely valuable. She was to summarize all the information in compact form so Keith would not have to read the book. These books were sometimes on complex and specialized subjects, such as system theory, and they took a long time to do. Sometimes she would have to do outside research just to understand the concepts in these books. She was told she should be working faster. Daniela was never paid for these book reports. She had to support herself on odd jobs and cleaning. The judge asked what happened to these book reports after she submitted them. Did she ever get any follow-up or feedback? The answer from Daniela was no.

By this time, Daniela was aware that Keith was having sex with many women. Someone was always ‘going off’ with jealousy or attention issues. Keith would have other women ‘work on’ that woman to resolve things. Someone could ‘go off’ at any time of the day or night. Ivy saw Mariana and Keith holding hands on a walk, and all hell broke loose. She got worked on some of the other women. Keith denied that he and Mariana were holding hands.

Daniela asked Keith why he denied what Ivy saw. Keith said if he validated her fears, she would never have the opportunity to grow. He was upholding a higher principle by giving her the opportunity to integrate.

Sometimes Keith touched Siobhan in a sexual way, which confused Daniela, because Siobhan was a lesbian. Keith would ask Siobhan why she didn’t like men. Keith’s theory was that all women are capable of being bisexual, but lesbianism is unnatural.

Once Mariana walked downstairs and saw Daniela giving Keith oral sex. Keith denied it. He said Mariana was having a pride tantrum and had others EM her. But Keith did not treat Mariana as badly as other women who had these issues. He didn’t isolate her, as he had done with Ivy. Keith was engaging in threesomes with Pam and Mariana. (I believe Keith, Pam, and Mariana lived together at this time.)

Mariana’s eating disorder returned. There was such a focus on food, everybody felt guilty every time they ate. Keith would make pig noises when Pam went to the fridge. He even set up a camera in the refrigerator to catch Mariana eating pie.

Keith was saying sexual things in front of their youngest sister, Camilla, who was underage. I believe she was 15 at the time. He joked crudely about incest, Cami’s virginity, and their dad being gay. Daniela learned that Keith was having sex with Cami, some time before the fall of 2006. Daniela now says: I deeply regret that I didn’t, at that moment, get my sister out of it.

Daniela was weirdly jealous that Keith had sex with Cami at a younger age than with her. When she asked about it, Keith told her that some women were more emotionally mature than others.

Daniela found out about Cami and Keith by reading from a piece of paper found in Cami’s room (they didn’t live in the same house.) Keith told her to put the paper back where she had found it, and Daniela did so. Daniela says now: I wish I had done something different. What happened is not right.

Camilla was having a hard time, She was acting somber, writing dark poetry, and wearing ratty clothes. She was cutting herself. This was in the fall of 2006.

End of Day 12.


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 24, 2019 at 15:55

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Tony Ortega is a journalist who was formerly the editor of The Village Voice. He’s written about Scientology since 1995, and in May 2015 released a book about Scientology’s harassment of Paulette Cooper titled ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely,’ and more recently a compilation of his stories, ‘Battlefield Scientology.’ He continues to monitor breaking developments in the Scientology world, as well as other subjects at The Underground Bunker. You can reach him by sending him a message at tonyo94 AT (Drop him a line if you’d like to get an e-mail whenever a new story is posted.)


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email