Collateral DamageDateline NBC
- 1,641 views
- 2 Mar 2021
Former NXIVM members tell Kate Snow about life inside the controversial self-help group, and life since founder Keith Raniere’s conviction on charges including sex trafficking and forced labor.
I'm Lester Holt and this is Dateline. It was the secretive self-help group many called a sex cult. Now, for the first time, Nexium insiders speak out, including from prison former leader Keith Ranieri. People in our community, and it is a tough situation. I joined us in twenty sixteen, Doss was a secret society for women who wanted to become their best selves. We were told that it was exclusively women mentoring women. They used that front of self-help as a way to groom women for Keith veneering, women were being physically burned with his initials.
We wanted something that honored the permanence of our commitment. There are women who have said, I didn't want this. When they were in the room with me. They wanted it. They were laughing. I chose to be branded. I chose to be branded. The option to say no isn't really an option. The pain was like, what is happening?
These young women were on this runaway rollercoaster to help. That's where Keith Raniere was taken to help. Here's Kate Snow with collateral damage. It looks like a typical American subdivision. But the snow shrouds a dark past, as if the blanket of white is covering up the crimes that took place here, I can't imagine what you went through emotionally. You said, I have wanted to end my life on numerous nights since leaving. It's heavy. Yeah. These successful and accomplished women bonded here in friendship and devotion to a leader who they revered.
He destroyed a lot of people's lives to the point where we're still fixing the masses of the chaos that he created. India Oxenberg grew up in Beverly Hills and Malibu and lived what seemed an enchanted life. What would you like?
Her grandmother is European royalty and her mother, Catherine, starred in the 1980s mega hit dynasty. India's father wasn't part of her life, so Catherine raised her as a single mom. What kind of bond did that create for you guys?
I think a close bond. I mean, it was sort of an unconventional childhood. I was filming a lot and traveling on location. And she would come with me and spend a lot of time in a trailer. In fact, one reporter asked, you know what your mom does for a living? Yeah, she works in a trailer.
A young girl and her mother facing the world essentially alone, but always as a teen. My mom and I did a lot of things together and we were kind of, I mean, partners in crime, if you will. Then in 1999, when India was in grade school, their family expanded when Kathryn married actor Casper Van Den and married a stepdad when she was about seven and he arrived on the scene with two kids from a previous marriage.
So all of a sudden, we were a blended family. Then I had two more kids. She was always the family mediator. She was great with her step siblings. Hey, you guys can get jobs off of that.
In 2005, the entire family, including 13 year old India, starred in a lifetime reality series called I Married a Princess. India talked about her mom.
It made me feel like she believed in me.
A few years later, she hosted the pilot for a TV show called Teen Talk.
I'm In the Box and back at 19, after taking a break from college, India was thinking about starting a catering business. That's when she and her mom learned about a course called Executive Success Programs from a family friend initially. And my mom and I weren't really that intrigued, but she kept pushing and insisting that this was going to change our lives.
That would turn out to be an understatement. Executive Success Programs was part of a company with a strange name pronounced Nexium. Nexium had headquarters near Albany, New York, but attracted 17000 clients in branches around the world, including Canada and Mexico. India and Catherine attended a meeting in Los Angeles to give it a try.
You went to your first Nexium meeting with your mom, right?
I did. That was back in 2011. They said that they were going to be giving me what was like a practical MBA and that this was going to be my route to building the skills that I thought that I was missing in order to have a career.
How much was that first five day course? Thousands of dollars.
Yeah, thousands, at least twenty for the classes got more expensive as one advanced through next CMS ranks.
India thought it was worth it. And to me, I thought this was going to be the roadmap for me to build myself and grow.
Nexium was led by a man named Keith Ranieri. His acolytes recorded almost everything he said to promote his philosophy. Someone says something is life threatening and it's more than life threatening itself. Threatened and posted YouTube videos to gain more followers.
You know, sometimes I like to have most of the time I like to just be with a person. And sometimes that's the very thing that people don't want.
Ranieri didn't just market Nexium as a self-help group, but as an almost mystical community that served others. Imagine if you could have a precise understanding of emotions. He even invited the Dalai Lama to Albany and as India saw it, her first class, he courted wealthy and well known people as prospective members.
And there were people in the room who were notable even to me. And I'm not even that good at noticing celebrities and things like that.
India and other members were told Ranieri had one of the highest IQ ever, that he was a world class athlete and musician, and that he had numerous degrees and patents within Nexium. He was called Vangard India. Katharyn rolled their eyes at first at the time.
What are you thinking as you sit in there and you take the course? Some of it must have been attractive. Well, I've had to think about this a lot because they were a lot of red flags that I sort of dispelled as, OK, these are quirky people and they have idiosyncrasies. They're wearing sashes that delineate a certain hierarchy. They say it's the same thing as having a belt system. I've taken karate. So for me, that wasn't so odd.
They were unusually friendly.
They do this thing called love bombing, which I didn't know was a love bombing at the time. They're very flattering. They make you feel very special. They seem like very happy, little too happy, maybe friendly people.
Over time. India and Catherine got more involved in Nexium. In 2012, about a year after signing up, they began to travel to Albany for events like the week celebrations of Vanguard's birthday.
What were your first impressions of Catherine Aare? Vangard, they call them. Well, I'm laughing because my first impression of him was that he was very short and that he also resembled a Teddy Graham, which is those little bulbous cookies, and he was unimpressive, like not what I had expected. Katherine was also unimpressed, but her then husband, Casper, had an unsettling observation.
And I have to give him credit before I said hi. There was this line up of women of all ages, except they were all very thin, all coming up to greet him, throwing their arms around him, long, lingering kisses, staring in the eyes. It was weirdly intimate and. My ex said they're all having sex with him, some principles, whatever, having sex with Keith Ranieri, India and Catherine thought the Nexium crowd was a bit odd, but that seemed ridiculous.
They didn't know the half of it when we come back.
Exclusive new details of life inside Nexium, including what seemed like a worship of its leader. They had a lot of propaganda about him that they were spinning within the community. And then India makes a life changing decision. What do you think when she said that? Not good. I just felt sick to my stomach.
India Oxenberg and her mother, Catherine, often travelled to Nexium functions in Albany, New York.
The biggest Nexium event was called The Week, a birthday bash for Vangard Keith Ranieri, who was showered with affection.
At first, he didn't strike you as someone that people would idolize. Put up on a pedestal. Revere? No. No, not not really. I was so new into the program, they had a lot of propaganda about him that they were spinning within the community and that hadn't really reached me yet.
It would Catherine eventually left the group, but slowly, India got more involved.
More and more of her time was spent at Nexium events and she posed for photos with members who became close friends, many of them successful young women. India even recognized some of them, like actor Nikki Klein, one of the stars of the sci fi series Battlestar Galactica.
People know your face from Battlestar Galactica. Yeah, you were in it for all of the seasons, four full seasons and a miniseries I loved. I loved working on Battlestar.
Grew up in Vancouver, Canada, the shooting location for Battlestar and many other TV shows and movies looking to work on family relationships. She signed up for Nexium executive success programs.
Part of joining part of going to those classes was to try to repair your relationship with her.
Even before I learned about E.S.P, I was very curious about why we humans do what we do. I was very much on this search for truth.
She was my friend. She was someone who I considered to be a really good friend.
India also got to know Allison Mack, a star of the TV series Smallville. This is Allison addressing Ranieri at a Nexium seminar in Albany.
But I just kind of feel it all the time now, like super exposed.
What you're doing is you're exposing a part of you that you've long denied.
In addition to Allison and Nikki, India became close with Danielle Roberts. Danielle had always been ambitious. As a young girl, she was a star gymnast.
I competed up to the national level. I was hoping to go to the Olympics. And around ninth grade, I wound up having multiple ankle injuries. But I had great physical therapists and I thought to myself, my God, like if I can help people get back to doing what they love, that's what I want to do.
So when she was older, she became an osteopathic doctor and had a thriving practice in her early 30s.
At a turning point in her life and career, she joined Espie and Nexium and soon gave talks about the group's philosophy.
We have created specific awareness practices that help you become more aware of your body.
If you were trying to get me to to sign up to to become a part of next year.
What would you say? Well, I think it's different for every person. I was very interested in personal responsibility and empowerment and in understanding how the human body and human behavior works so that I could help more people.
Danielle believed her work at Nexium would revolutionize health care. She ran a business called Zozo, which was created by Keith, and that was kind of his yoga type physical therapy program. India was impressed and thought she found a warm and loving community in Nexium.
I remember believing so strongly that what we were doing was good and wholeheartedly believing that Keith Ranieri was a good person.
This is India in a docu series called Seduced Inside the Nexium Cult.
A lot of my life was spent in this place. Over time, she became another of his devoted supporters, something that worried her mother.
At first she had burgeoning careers. She was acting. She was modeling. She was working with photographers living in L.A., living in L.A., sometimes living at home, sometimes with a boyfriend. And then all of a sudden. Everything became secondary to the mission to Nexium. Yeah, and she dropped doing all her other business interests.
India spent almost all her time on Nexium moving up the ranks and recruiting others. She made little money from her work, but it had become her obsession by the fall of 2016. Five years after she first joined, India told her mom she was moving to next GM's headquarters outside Albany and taking on a new role with Ranieri. Her friends, Nicky, Daniel and Alison were already living their part of a tight knit band of Rainier's closest supporters.
What do you think when she said that? Not good had a very, very bad feeling, especially if it was coupled with and Keith is going to mentor me and we're going to start this business and I just felt sick to my stomach.
There was good reason for that. If India or Catherine or any of the others had simply Googled the name Keith Ranieri, they might have never gotten involved in the first place. When they joined, they didn't know that. In 2003, Forbes ran a cover story on Ranieri. The article quoted critics who accused him of leading a cult like program aimed at breaking down his subjects psychologically. One source for the article was Edgar Bronfman, senior of the Seagram's Liquor Fortune.
Bronfman was angry that his daughter, Clare, who was in her 20s, bankrolled Ranieri to the tune of millions of dollars. Reporter Robert Gavin of the Albany Times Union says Nexium tried to hide bad press from members, and these were widely circulated articles that any fair had written about next year.
Many people, local and non-local, had written about it.
When India and Katherine got involved, they hadn't seen the negative coverage. For instance, this newspaper exposé in 2012.
After following the Nexium story for years, the Albany Times Union did a groundbreaking investigative series with that series, did as it told anybody who didn't know that Kuprin, among other things, has allegedly had sex with underage females.
But the alleged victims did not come forward. Ranieri was not charged and never arrested for any crimes. One of the Times Union reports stated a close knit group of these women has tended to him, paid his bills and shuttled him around. Several have satisfied his sexual needs and a few have left their families behind to wrap him in their affections. Now India was headed to Albany. Coming up, within Nexium, a secret society of women where so-called masters required absolute obedience.
Did you have to get permission to eat? Yes, to eat, to go and see people, permission to travel. All of those things I had to ask for when Dateline continues.
In the fall of 2016, India Oxenberg joined her close friends, Danielle Roberts, Nikki Kline and Allison Mack near Albany, New York. Each devotees of Vanguard, Keith Ranieri. No one knew outside next Kim's inner circle. But India was there because she had been inducted into a secret sorority.
When we were told about this women's group, we were told that it was exclusively women mentoring women and that there were no men involved mentoring, mentoring each other, helping each other. Yes, it was supposed to be about like executive coaching, but for women and to me, that sounded great. I thought like, well, I can use I can use help. I can use some guidance. This women's group had an odd sounding name, Dos, and Alison was a leader, were you asked to join Dos Biala Mac?
She recruited me and. At the time, I didn't realize that I had been targeted for what DOS really was, I believed Alison when she told me that it was a women's empowerment group, Nikki and Danielle were also members who brought you in.
Alison had invited me, Alison, back. And at the time where I was at in my life, it was something that I really thought would help me.
But first, the women had to prove their loyalty.
They had to sign a document requiring members to provide what was called collateral. Some would call it potential blackmail. What was the collateral that you had to give?
So the collateral was damaging or compromising information about yourself or your loved ones.
So if you break with the group, they're going to release this damaging information about you. Right. But the way that they spun it was as if it was for your benefit.
I'm not sure if you've talked about this into your what what your collateral was. A little bit. There was there was so much. It was videos. It was recordings. It was photographs.
India says the collateral included graphic sexual images of the women, but that wasn't really a majority of it was made up information. The collateral became increasingly more stressful and difficult because we had to make up things about people that we cared about and people who we loved. Did you make up things about your family? I did. And and that was something that was so horrible for me because I knew that I would never break this secret because I would never want to hurt the people that I loved most.
India was told it was to ensure they lived up to the goals they had set for themselves, an unbreakable commitment to the group. India went along with it. Nikki embraced it.
Yes, it was edgy. It was maybe a little extreme. But you're giving you're giving them naked videos of yourself. Right. Things that might be damaging to your family affidavits or letters about things that happened in your life, that you're embarrassed and ashamed and. Yeah, don't want revealed. So my experience of how is that OK, though, you know what I mean? Because people don't understand that. Why would you do that and allow someone to have your deepest secrets to hold over you as blackmail?
Well, that's not what it was for. OK, how important is it to truly become the woman I want to be? And the collateral was me saying, I want that. And this is what I'm the chips I'm willing to put in. Collateral was just one of the requirements of Dos Alisson told India about another bizarre practice in which they used the loaded terms, master and slave. Did she become your master? She did. She was my master.
Alison Mack invites you in to use your terminology. She's the master, right? Yeah. And you were a slave to her.
Dos stood for dominance, obsequious sartorial Latin. That roughly translates to master above female slave. And what did that mean? It meant that I was to be ultimately obedient to her and that she could instruct me to do whatever she wanted. That was what it really meant.
India says Allison controlled everything.
Did you have to get permission to eat to. I did leave to travel. Yes. Allison Mack was a very. Intense person, and she took her role as master very seriously, which also included having to ask permission to eat, permission to go and see people, permission to travel, all of those things I had to ask for.
This whole thing is just so hard to understand from the outside. You're depriving yourself of food.
You lost a ton of weight.
I did. And for India, there was another requirement. And you were having, as I understand it, you were sleeping with Keith Ranieri.
Yes. I don't even know. It's such a weird thing. It's so hard to understand from the outside. And one of the more complicated things was my relationship with Keith Ranieri and what that was.
India wasn't the only one. She says many of the DOS women were essentially coerced into having sex with Ranieri.
And I was one of many women that Keith Ranieri abused and it was nonconsensual sexual interactions because we were all collateralized and none of us wanted to engage with Keith in that way. It was not an option to say no.
Nicki says her experience was very different and she was happy to say yes, I had a sexual relationship with Keith for over ten years.
That was completely separate from us. There was never once was I.
Asked to do a sexual act, anything to do, it does, but you were having a sexual relationship with him while other women were also having sexual relations from from the beginning, he was very honest and up front with the fact that he had other partners and most of those he had for 10 or more years before DOS was ever. Conceived and you call your relationship with him consensual, one hundred percent, 100 percent. Yeah, there's a man in a leadership position who's having relations with multiple women.
You're all living in the slums. OK, so I find it. Difficult. When people view my decisions as something I'm only doing because some man is. Inspiring me somehow to do I made all of my decisions because I wanted something and I got something out of what I chose, so my relationship with Keith was an effective. Something that I wanted and that I benefited tremendously from for the women of DOS, there was still another practice. They had to say yes to one that India would find terrifying.
Coming up, a secret ritual. I had a few of my friends with me, one was stroking my head, another one was holding my hand. Another one was helping to secure my leg. Women submitting to the unthinkable. The pain was something like that I had never experienced before.
India Oxenberg had given up almost everything for Nexium, her life in California, her family and friends, her career as part of the secret sorority called DOS, she handed over sexually explicit pictures of herself and damaging lies about her family. She had agreed to obey her so-called master, Allison Mack, who now had another demand. India and the others were about to be branded.
I remember saying to Alison, do do we really have to do this? Like there was a part of me that was still there that didn't want this.
Is it still vivid in your mind, India? Yes, the answer is yes.
The unusual ritual took place inside the Nexium compound. India's skin would be scarred with a searing hot instrument, a cauterizing pen branded like cattle. It seems unimaginable that the members of Doss would submit to this, but they did. India had already watched when Daniel Roberts became the first in her group to get one. I watched that happen to Danielle without even really registering that. That was going to happen to me. It was almost like, OK, that happened to you.
Now, moving on, it's very common that people will dissociate from experiences that are traumatic. And the brand to me is one of those experiences where we were really out of our bodies when it was happening to us. What was the scene like when you got the brand? Because there were other women in the room watching, right? Well, I had a few of my friends with me. One was up by my by my head kind of stroking my head.
Another one was holding my hand. Another one was helping to secure my leg. She stroking my hair, whispering like encouraging things into my ear, helping my leg not move. So I don't get hurt in a caring, loving way. As an outsider, imagining the scene and hearing what you're describing, it is really hard to understand. I know. I know. Even your explanation right now, you're describing it to me, makes me wince. Makes me think.
I just can't imagine. What about it, the pain of having a cauterizing pen on my flesh, I can't I can't imagine that. What I can't imagine why I would do that. Help me understand why you would do that. I think it's very simple. I mean, we wanted to be part of a kickass organization where women were really committed to making a difference in the world, that was the price of entry, you know, and that was something that would join us all together.
We can do that. We can do anything.
It was India's turn later. By that time, she was so used to following orders, she says she saw no way out.
The branding is hard to understand. How did you decide to go ahead with that? It's not really much of a decision. It was a command. So part of being in DOS and and pledging to this sorority was agreeing to be branded. But we were also told that the brand was going to be, you know, the size of a quarter.
In fact, the scars on India and the other women were much larger on very sensitive skin in their pelvic areas. And it was going to be cauterized into and it was going to be cauterized into our skin. None of that was explained to us in detail. We are talking about women that are sleep deprived, women that are deprived of food, women that have already given tons of collateral. The the option to run away and say no isn't really an option anymore.
What on earth was that like? It was mixed. I mean, there was a part of me and the other women that felt like it was a bonding experience, like we were doing something really difficult together. And then there was another part of me that was also terrified of what was going on. And the pain was something like that I had never experienced before. There was no anesthesia. There was no numbing cream. There was none of that.
It wasn't clear at the time. But they would later learn the brand was KIA are the initials of Keith Allen Ranieri.
The Branden's were supposed to be secret, but when word got to India's mother, Nexium, his days were numbered.
Coming up, an alarming phone call. What an X. Next thing a member told Katharyn, I fear for India's life.
She's in danger. You have to save her when Dateline continues.
As darkness fell over Los Angeles one evening in the spring of 2017, Catherine Oxenberg had no clue what was really happening with her daughter.
India, who'd been involved with Nexium for six years, was on the other side of the country. In Albany, out of the blue, Catherine got a series of frightening text messages. They were from an actor Bonnie piece. Bonnie was never part of DOS, but she was a long time Nexium follower who had recently defected from the group. After reading the texts, Katherine called Bonnie and she said, I'm afraid to talk to you on the phone.
Will you meet me in person? But I have to tell you that I'm really I fear for India's life. She's in danger. You have to save her, you hear. I'm afraid for her life. She's in danger to breakdown. Well, no, because I'm thinking, is this woman crazy? But I immediately I said, OK, I'll meet you tomorrow. So I met with her. She was shaking and I wrote down everything that she said.
And she basically gave me a breakdown of everything she knew. Up to that point. She told me about this group, this inner circle called DOS Dominance obsequious Oria. And it was part of a group that was a master slave arrangement when she says that. Well, a m. I I'm I'm usually process that well, it takes me a while to process, so I'm writing everything down just so that I can figure it out for myself. Then she says they're on diets.
She said they're sleep deprived. They're on what's called readiness drills, which means that if their master contacts them and they don't respond within 60 seconds, they're they're punished. The punishments could be that they're stopped even more. They have these penances they have to do. If somebody fails at an assignment, then somebody else is held responsible. You have to pay the price for something and it just got darker and darker. And then she said they've had to sign over collateral and in order to join admission to this group.
And then she said on top of everything else, they've had to sign a vow, a lifetime vow of obedience to their master. So I'm reeling.
Catherine could not process what she was learning, but she quickly made the decision to lure India home to Los Angeles with the promise of a big birthday party, a party that was really a planned intervention. Then a few days later, another actor, Sara Edmondson, who had also defected, told Catherine about the branding.
And I found out two days before India was scheduled to come to L.A. for her, like the pseudo birthday party that I'd planned. That was really an intervention. It looks like it really pains you when you talk about the branding. It pains me on many levels. One young woman, her master, said, I'm so excited for you. You're going to be involved in this very special ritual. You're going to be on lockdown for a couple of days.
I'm not going to tell you anything about about it. Can you imagine that's a very special ceremony being branded with this man's initials, without and without the cauterising cauterizing pen, without any anesthetic.
Your daughter had that done. Yes. India.
Did you tell your mom about the branding? No. My mom actually questioned me first about the branding and I was shocked. I had no idea my mom knew about the branding. I had no idea anybody outside of DOS had spoken about DOS. At that point.
Katharine's attempted intervention did not work. India was in too deep and had no intention of leaving DOS. In fact, she had her own so-called slaves and was actively trying to persuade other women to join. You did recruit other women? I did. I was commanded to recruit other women into this group. And and there was a part of me that really believed that this was good while I was in there.
After India returned to Albany, Catherine declared war on Nexium and Keith Ranieri, and her first call was to an unlikely ally.
He had written some pretty incendiary blogs about case, about the Brockman's, about the organization. And I called him and I said, I see that you haven't written any blogs recently. Are you aware what's going on right now?
His name, Frank Parlato, and he had quite a history with the group. Ten years earlier. He worked for Nexium as a public relations consultant. What did you think of the organization?
At first I thought the people were delightful. I thought that Keith was a very fun loving, kind of charming person.
But that all changed. Frank says he uncovered financial improprieties by Ranieri when he started to investigate. Frank says Ranieri fired him soon after he was sued by Claire Bronfman, who bankrolled Nexium. You believe they were coming after you legally as retaliation there. And just for the pure sport of it, because I believe that Keith Ranieri does these things just to destroy other people. You know, he's had more than 40 lawsuits against people that either worked for him, were students of his or were his lovers.
Most of the lawsuits didn't go anywhere. But by 2015, Frank was facing other legal problems. He was indicted on financial and tax charges, including fraud and money laundering. Frank, who insists he's innocent, has pleaded not guilty and is still awaiting trial. But he vowed to expose Ranieri and next year and began a website called The Frank Report. You over the years wrote hundreds and hundreds of articles on your blog about Nexium critical, intensely critical of Keith Trinary.
Right. You became like his arch nemesis.
Is that fair? I think that is fair.
I wrote maybe five thousand stories about him, and then Catherine handed him the biggest story of all. She said, My daughter is in Nexium and she has been branded. And in addition to that, she is being blackmailed because the group is holding some very compromising photographs and information about her so that. She couldn't leave even if she wanted to. When you heard that, what did you think? Well, my first reaction was if this is true. Keith is finished.
But with next Liam's history of suing its enemies, Frank knew he had to be extremely careful. I contacted Sarah Edmondson and some other people to verify that this was true.
Then once I determined that it was true, I published it on the Frank report. That was on June 5th, twenty seventeen and about 30 so-called slaves bolted from doors because they felt now they were safe to leave because of the exposure, they wouldn't have to be as concerned about their collateral, their blackmail material being released, that stories like a bomb going off inside the organization.
It created the cult, but some followers, including India, remained loyal to Ranieri and Nexium. Coming up, will Catherines efforts to expose Nexium cost her her daughter? I felt betrayed by my mother. I thought she was crazy. In the summer of 2017, the lid was blown off the story of DOS and the branding of women within Nexium.
Until then, the vast majority of Nexium members had no idea about the harsh requirements of the Dole sorority. Some members of DOS fled before they were branded, too, thanks to the story published in the Franc report. But India wasn't going anywhere. I felt defensive because I trusted these people for years. They were who I considered my closest friends and authority. But Frank and Catherine were on a mission and joined by actor Sara Edmondson, who had been branded.
I reached out to law enforcement and I get stonewalled. What did they say? Yeah, we know about them.
We've been following them, but there's really nothing we can do.
Did they say the women were there by choice? Yes.
And actually, Sara Edmondson went into one of the the field offices in person and showed them her brand. And they said, I'm sorry, but it sounds like it's consensual. There's nothing we can do.
Four months after the Frank report story appeared, The New York Times published a front page article, Catherine did an interview, and Sarah Edmondson came forward to show her scar from the branding. It ignited a firestorm. Robert Gavin of the Albany Times Union. It was a blockbuster when this came out. It was like, oh, my God. A few days later, when Dateline first visited Katherine in her home in Malibu, she was clearly in agony. This is my last recourse.
It is excruciatingly painful to expose my child like this. I had a fantasy that when The New York Times came out that she would read it and go, Wow, Mom, I want to come home. That's not what happened.
Instead, India remained loyal to Nexium. Catherine felt she had no choice but to continue her crusade in the media, even though she risked further alienating her daughter on November 2nd. She went on the Today Show.
I love her to the end of the world. And I'm only doing this to bring awareness because without awareness there can be no outrage. And unless there's outrage, the authorities are not going to step in and do what they should do, which is shut this down and stop this from happening.
The Today Show piece that I did was pivotal as far as I was concerned. It was the strongest interview that I did. And I literally got the call 48 hours after the Today show got, which got the call that I got from my lawyer saying that the FBI were moving in aggressively.
But Katherine's effort to get India home was backfiring. Your mom kept asking you to leave.
She kept contacting you, trying to convince you. Yeah. And on television and very publicly. Yes. From your end, what did that feel like and what did you say to her when she was pleading with you? I mean, when she first went to the media, I was still very deeply involved in Nexium and I felt kind of in shock at that point. I felt betrayed by my mother. I felt like she was exposing me unnecessarily. And I also thought that she was crazy.
All the publicity from Catherine's battle helped expose more details about Renia, his past. He grew up in a middle class family in suburban New York and attended the prestigious Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
It's an amazing idea as well. Sometimes it even amazes me.
After college, Ranieri started a business called Consumers by Line. The company was a multilevel marketing scheme that was sued by several states.
He had been in trouble years earlier with his former business attorneys general who who went after him.
But within a few years, he started another multilevel marketing business executive success programs. Part of next year, his lectures were often recorded.
The longer deductive process is sometimes the most useful one, depending on where you want to go, how you want to be next to him is where key primary becomes the case, where we now know who he is. That's where he decides to be known as the Vanguard. And Keith Ranieri was at the top of the Nexium world. For me, I think for people who are familiar with this, we certainly weren't surprised to hear that Keith Ranieri was being accused of nefarious activity.
It turns out Vanguard wasn't exactly who followers thought he was. Remember, he was supposed to be a world class athlete and musician with multiple degrees. None of that was true. And what about being the world's smartest man? Well, he had a so so two point six GPA in college.
Keith Ranieri was sold as this, you know, this genius with an IQ of over two hundred, someone who was revolutionary, who could change the world.
Cult intervention expert Rick Allen Ross says if Ranieri was a genius at anything, it was manipulation.
He could determine what were the vulnerabilities of people that he had sway over, you know, who had personal issues with their family in their workplace and then exploiting those vulnerabilities to leverage control over them, control over people like India who thought Ranieri was a victim.
I was so indoctrinated into what they wanted me to believe we were doing, which was this great community of good people who want to grow and this poor martyr of a man who's being targeted by the media and the government.
And as Catherine continued to speak out, India says Nexium loyalist's called her mother the enemy. She's out to get you. She's trying to destroy us. She wants to hurt your friends. India says the woman who bankrolled Nexium pushed her to turn on Catherine.
Claire Rothman wanted to discredit my mom complete. She wanted to get rid of my mom as a threat to Nexium and to Keith, and part of that was using me as a pawn against my own mom. As law enforcement worked its case against Nexium and Ranieri, Nexium, Loyalist's tried to intimidate Catherine.
Did anyone from Nexium contact you and tell you to stop? Yes, I got calls from what I would call their enforcers. They were called the the ethics place. And people would call you up and say what terrible harm I was perpetrating. Catherine was frightened, but less concerned about her own safety than she was about India's.
Coming up, Keith Ranieri takes off, triggering an international manhunt and a dramatic confrontation.
Some of them had balaclavas and they had machine guns and bulletproof vest. When Dateline continues. India Oxenberg was still loyal to Nexium and Keith Ranieri, afraid for India's safety, Catherine went looking for her near Albany in late November 2017.
That's a courageous thing to do, to go drive to where you think your daughter is being effectively held and not knowing if they have security, if they're I mean, did you think she was in danger? Did you worry that? She worried for her life. I did at that point, I did worry for her life. I knew also that they would be blaming her for all of this public outrage because it was her mom, mom? Yeah. So I thought that if anything would increase her jeopardy.
As Katherine looked around the neighborhood, she was anxious. And who do we bump into? Keith Ranieri and two of his heart members. What happened? Well, not much because he ran away from you. Yes, he ran and hid in his house.
Catherine didn't find India, who had left Albany for New York City. Soon after that, Catherine learned Ranieri had left Albany to he took off for Mexico while American authorities were looking into the allegations against him. His followers, Nikki and Alison, were with him.
By this point, Alison and Nikki were more than close friends. They had become a couple and gotten married.
You described earlier that you were in a sexual relationship with Keith. You're married to Alison. Is that a loving sexual relationship also? I think yeah. That isn't something I want to discuss here. There's just no way that I could. Do justice to the beautiful soul that she is in a in a short answer, Nikki Allison Ranieri and others hung out in Puerto Vallarta.
Then in March 2013, a knock at the door.
At first, Ranieri hid in a closet. Nikki captured the scene as he was arrested and taken away by Mexican authorities. We can we're going to follow them.
Were you standing right there? Yes. And some of them had like balaclavas and they had machine guns and bullet proof vests. And we didn't know what was happening.
What happened was Ranieri was immediately deported back to the U.S. where he was charged with crimes related to Nexium.
She'll get a phone call. I did. I was I was getting a facial. My lawyers call me up. My phone went ballistic and said he's just been arrested. And I. It was a waste of a facial. I had tears pouring down my face creams all over the place. Yeah, best phone calls of my life that feel like an end or. Felt like the beginning of the end, Keith Ranieri was charged by federal prosecutors with a litany of felonies, including racketeering, conspiracy, sex trafficking, conspiracy and sex trafficking.
When Keith Ranieri was arrested, did you worry that you might be in legal trouble, too? I was definitely worried when Keith Ranieri got arrested. I think I was also in a great deal of shock because. It was starting to hit me that this was not going to just go away, that this was gaining speed, Catherine warned India she faced legal risk she could technically be arrested.
You don't know that they're not going to go after her because technically she has women reporting up to her as slaves. I know. I know. That was my fear. That's why I kept texting her saying you're in a very dangerous situation.
Then two weeks later, Alison Mack was arrested. And it really wasn't until Alison Mack was arrested that I started to fear that I could be, too. And that's a very scary place to be. Would India be next?
Coming up, India reveals her darkest moment, whatever it is. That was a really vulnerable thing for me to share. India was in a very lonely place by herself and at risk, she was still in Nexium clutches, it would take months to find her way out.
It was a process for her to remove herself or to recognize the danger she was in and what was happening. Right. Didn't just happen overnight. No, there's not a light bulb moment when she said, I'm leaving. I think it has. For other people who have left cults, they have a clear, concise, precise moment of shifting. But with India, it was incremental.
After Keith Ranieri and Alison Mack were charged in July 2018, Seagram's heiress Claire Bronfman was arrested along with other Nexium insiders. India finally acquiesced to having her first session with a cult expert who had been working with Catherine. The goal to finally bring her home and deprogram her. We were in a hotel room together speaking with a woman who was the deprogrammer that my mom introduced me to who really was my entry point into rebuilding my capacity to think critically again because it had been so tampered with.
The effort took months, but slowly India took halting steps to leave Nexium behind.
But India's friend Danielle, the doctor, was still loyal to Ranieri.
It would have been a lot easier, you know, for me to just say, you know, I made a mistake. Let me go through the deprogramming.
And I just asked because start over. So many people that were in next him did kind of breaktime. They they didn't have strong relationships anymore with their families. So did you had that happen? You repaired it or you. Yeah, I mean, my my family never. Like, left me, you know, they never disowned me, which I know there are some friends of mine out there, their families have done that and they've they've stayed true not because it's easier because it's not it's a lot harder.
It was hard for Nicky Klein to she was losing her close circle of friends after spending ten years of her life in Mexico. It's a whole decade of your life. Yeah. Yeah. How do you look at it now, those 10 years? I'm just so grateful that I that I had the opportunity to experience the people, the tools, the community that I did because it's not here anymore, at least not in the same way by fall.
Twenty, eighteen. India had finally left the DOS group and Nexium and moved back to California, but the process was excruciating.
How did you prepare your relationship with your mom? A lot of work. My mom and I are out of time. A lot of time. We knew that our love was strong and that we had to just keep the communication open, keep sharing, keep talking. Even when it was really uncomfortable and my mom did that for me, she was there from the moment that I got out with open arms. She said, I am here with you for whatever you need.
I'll give it to you. I wonder if now India now can you see that your mom was driven by nothing but love. Now I can. Everything that she did came from love. Everything she did came from the fact that she knew that I had a life beyond this, that I couldn't see for myself emotionally.
India, this. This I just. I can't imagine what you went through emotionally. You said, I have wanted to end my life on numerous nights since leaving. Yeah, it's heavy. It is. And it's. That was a really vulnerable thing for me to share and. The more I've been able to speak about my experiences, the more I see the similarities with many other women and men who have experienced trauma or abuse, Nexium leaders were now accused of orchestrating that kind of trauma and abuse.
But just as they were to have their day in court, there were new revelations coming up.
One revelation, the person who did most of the branding of those women was none other than Dr. Daniel Roberts. Now she speaks out about it publicly for the first time.
You are a doctor. How could you then inflict pain on people? I think people are making an assumption that people were harmed. Nobody was harmed in this. These women wanted this. They asked for this.
When Dateline continues, as the leadership of Nexium was charged with multiple federal crimes, another investigation was underway in the spring of 2018. Not criminal, but a medical investigation into the person who branded India and most of the other dose women, someone you'll recognize, Daniel Roberts. My intent was never to hurt any of these women.
Remember, she was an osteopathic doctor and now her medical license was at stake. Danielle is now answering questions about branding DOS members. In an exclusive interview, she says she was asked to do the branding by her so-called master in DOS, Alison.
They say the women were naked and that they were restrained by other women. Is that true? I branded 17 women total. All of the women that I branded were naked. That was part of the process. It wasn't a bad process. Some people are outraged that you did this as a doctor, frankly. Sure. That you used a cauterizing pen and put a brand in people because you took a Hippocratic Oath to protect, to help people, to keep them from pain and you were inflicting pain.
What do you say to that? I mean, I think it's a very misunderstood thing and it's going to take a little bit of pulling apart. The first thing is that this you know, this clearly wasn't the practice of medicine.
Danielle says she was not acting as a doctor during the Branden's, that she was a member of a social group taking part in a social activity.
And these women didn't come to me because they thought I was a doctor. They had no idea who the branding technician was going to be. You know, there was no patient physician relationship. But my but my question, just as a. As a human being, hearing the story, my question is, you are a doctor. I am. I understand you're saying you weren't practicing medicine in that moment. But you are a doctor, you're trained doctor, you took an oath.
How could you then, you know, inflict pain on people? Well, I think pain and harm are two different things. You know, I think people are making an assumption that people were harmed. Nobody was harmed in this. These women wanted this. They asked for this. I mean, I understand. I understand. Now, there that narrative has changed. And they're saying that because there are women who have said, I didn't want this.
I felt like I had to do it. There are women who have said India said Oxenberg said to me, I didn't really want this. She's now covered it up with another tattoo. She's she's ashamed that she has the brand. And I feel badly that that's. That's how they that's that's how they've chosen to perceive it. I feel badly about that when. Understand that when they were in the room with me. They wanted it. They said they wanted it.
They were laughing, Danielle says she is convinced the women really made a free choice to get the brand or their body language, all of their words, all of their mannerisms.
Were they nervous? Sure. Were they excited? Absolutely know. But they wanted it. They would say they wanted it because they were brainwashed. That's what they would say they wanted. They only wanted it in that moment because they had been led down that path and their minds were not their own. Well, I mean. This this leads to a very key. Issue, I mean, like, when do we say you you're responsible for your decisions and when are you not?
You know, I believe that we're responsible for all of our decisions, no matter what the consequences of those are.
That was the case Danielle made to the New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct. After the investigation, the OPM determined that Danielle would not lose her medical license. This clearly wasn't the practice of medicine.
Very clear how much of an effect Danielle was able to continue with her medical practice and even gave seminars. But in 2019, as the Nexium trial was about to get started, the medical board began another investigation and the case is ongoing. Danielle says that happened because of all the bad publicity about Nexium, whether it was influenced by the public discussion or not, this is happening. Why should your license not be revoked? If I had done something morally unfit, that's for a different venue, that would have to be adjudicated in a different criminal court or some other.
And to be clear, you don't think you did? No, I did not. If they take your medical license away, what does that mean to you? Does that mean for your life? I mean, I've spent most of my life working to get that license, you know, would be devastating not to do the thing that I have dedicated my life to do, you know, to help people and to I mean, to share with people.
Honestly, everything that I've learned over all of these years and all of this study would be tragic, not just for me, but for for many people that I could help. As Danielle attempted to salvage her career, Keith Ranieri attempted to save himself from a lifetime in prison.
Coming up at trial, a stomach turning bombshell. She's an underage girl. I mean, that's the level of depravity that Keith aspired to. And then a stunning verdict.
I couldn't stop sobbing.
It was like this river of tears at home in Malibu. There were some long nights as India tried to recover from her time with next year, her mother still worried she'd be prosecuted.
India did have slaves to. Was that uncomfortable and that's your daughter. I know you see as a victim in all this, but she did also victimize others and she has to come to terms with that. There is a clear line for the prosecution of who they consider a victim and who they consider the perpetrator, and many victims became perpetrators, and that's why it was such a slippery slope. But in their view, India is a victim and that's why she was not prosecuted.
India was never charged with any wrongdoing, nor was Daniel, but five members of Maxim's high command had already pleaded guilty. Among them, Claire Bronfman, who bankrolled the group. She pleaded guilty to harboring an illegal immigrant and the fraudulent use of a deceased person's identity. Alison Mack pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges left to stand trial alone. Keith Ranieri was not going down without a fight. His attorney, Mark Agner, follow. This is basically a case as odd as it sounds about how grown adults are intimate with each other.
I think we're a very puritanical country. That's why I wrote in court papers that the government was the morality police. I think this is a very a case that's based on very limited roles of what's appropriate sexually. And Keith has never been married. He has multiple sexual partners. That seems scary to us.
Among his arguments that the brands were consensual and it's the government and the media are coming down on the women of Das and they're taking the traditional side of the trial.
Oh, the poor little dears. This was done against their will. You know, women women have a secret society. Women brand themselves and their their poor little dears and their victims when men do it.
The Marines in May 2019, Keith Ranieri went on trial at the US courthouse in Brooklyn charged with felonies, including racketeering, sex trafficking and forced labor. Good afternoon. Prosecutors argued that the women in DOS were essentially brainwashed and blackmailed and what happened to them wasn't consensual. And because Ranieri liked to record almost everything, prosecutors were able to use his own words against him by playing a conversation he had with Alison Mack, Keith and Alison, January 9th, 69, and talking about branding in.
Prosecutors said the tape proved that the so-called women's empowerment group DOS was actually run by Ranieri. In it, he discussed the branding.
Do you think the person who's been branded should be completely nude and sort of held to the table like a sort of almost like a sacrifice? It also, of course, videoing it from different angles or whatever it gives collateral.
Ranieri also said the women should be ordered to ask for the branding to make it seem like they weren't forced.
Should they please brand me? It would be an honour or something like that, and they should probably say that before they're held down. So it doesn't seem like they're being coerced.
Prosecutors cast Ranieri as a predator who abused scores of women. Ranieri was also accused of sexual exploitation of a child and possession of child pornography. And there was disturbing testimony about Ranieri abusing underage girls. Catherine was in the court at times and walked out, horrified.
There was testimony in the trial that a woman named Rosa, who's a mother in Mexico, she wrote an email and they shared the email in court. She says, I am one hundred percent clear that you are what I want for my daughter.
Writing to Catherine Marie. This is a mom ready to give up her own daughter to the leader. You talk about a mother's love all the time and why you've done everything you've done for your daughter.
This was maybe some of the most disturbing evidence that I saw. First of all, this woman's daughter is a teenager. She's an underage girl. And she was offering her up as a like a virginal sacrifice, disgusting, that teenage girl never was sent to Ranieri. But investigators also testified about another young woman who was allegedly molested by Ranieri as a teenager. Then over several years, she was molded into being what Daas called a slave master. Robert Gavin of the Albany Times Union, a young girl we now know Keith Ranieri was having sex with since she was 15.
And as the prosecutor said in her opening statement, this is someone who it's the full circle, someone who he abused when she was 15 and now she's being ordered to be the abuser.
A high ranking Nexium insider named Lawrence Salzman flipped and backed up much of the prosecution's case. She was a codefendant. I mean, this is someone before the trial was sitting at the defense table with Keith Ranieri. And she not only testified against them, but she absolutely stuck it right in the jugular.
I think India was not in court because she was on stand by as a witness, though she was never called. The trial lasted eight weeks, but when the jurors got the case, it didn't take them. Long after just four and a half hours of deliberation, they reached a verdict, guilty on all counts. Catherine was overjoyed.
And like all of this pent up emotion that I'd probably be carrying the weight of this for two years, it was overwhelming.
And in October, twenty twenty, Keith Ranieri was sentenced to 120 years. India was one of scores of women and men who filed victim impact statements.
You said in your victim impact statement that it was bad enough to be physically raped, which he did, but that Keith is also the type of predator who targets and degrades the entire fabric of his victims lives. How should he be held accountable for what he did? Well, I think he is being held accountable for what he did. I think it's a huge statement to say one hundred and twenty years in prison, he's not getting out. And that, to me, is a testament to all the people who helped bring him down.
I mean, that's our that was our goal.
But even while he's behind bars, essentially for life, India knows many people who are still his loyal followers.
Coming up, how those loyal followers respond to accusations that they've been brainwashed.
I think anyone who knows me knows I'm a pretty smart person. I have my eyes wide open. I'm willing for everyone to think. I'm brainwashed to stand up for what I believe in. When Dateline continues.
We saw them on the street at night hoping they'd be seen recording videos of themselves just outside the New York federal prison where Keith Ranieri was being held dancing for their vangard. That's former gymnast Daniel Roberts. At least 100 Nexium loyalists still dedicate themselves to Keith Ranieri. Nicky Klein is one of them. She and other former Dorce members started the dossier project, which aims to supposedly set the record straight about the secret sorority. People who study cults would probably say that you are so deep in it that you can't see it for what it is that you've been brainwashed.
That's what they would say. Yeah, it's a great way to cut someone off at the knees. I think anyone who knows me knows I am a pretty smart person. I have my eyes wide open. I'm willing for everyone to think. I'm brainwashed to stand up for what I believe in. And, you know. It's not been easy, it certainly hasn't been once a highly paid actor, a cast member of Battlestar Galactica. She's now broke looking for a job.
I didn't realize the extent that your life has changed your career, your money, your livelihood.
I got a job at a cafe. I started working as a barista.
It's the first time I've ever had a job like that. And sometimes people feel like, oh, my God, do people ever tell you you look like that girl from Battlestar?
Dr. Daniel Roberts also says she's broke out of work and has sold everything she owns. But she continues to insist her experiences with Nexium, DOS and Ranieri were positive.
You know, there will be folks who see what you're saying here, what you're saying, and think you are brainwashed. Mm hmm. What do you say to them? I mean, they have to judge for themselves. I don't believe that brainwashing is possible. You know, I very clearly made my own choices. You know, I chose my own thoughts, chose my own beliefs, chose my own decisions and behaviors. India Oxenberg, who's been out of Nexium for two years now, has not spoken to her formally close friends, Nikki or Danielle, who branded her.
If you had a chance to talk with Daniel Roberts, what would you say? I'd probably just ask her questions because I don't feel personally, because of what I've experienced and what I know about what it takes to leave a cult or a group like this, forcing someone to see the truth is not respectful. And I know Daniel's heart is a good heart and that if she had. The opportunity to distance herself from this, maybe she would see it differently, it's difficult to comprehend how these women are still loyal to Keith Ranieri.
But cult awareness expert Rick Ross says it's understandable given what they and the others have been through. This is at the end of a long process. It's so easy to blame the victim.
Ross says the classic film Gaslight illustrates what happened to the women of Dallas.
And that's where we get the expression gaslighting from you slowly and systematically being driven out of your mind. Why? Why?
There's a man who's manipulating a woman and he's constantly making her disbelieve, her own intuition, her own gut feelings, undercutting her logic and making her feel like she's crazy if she disagrees with him.
Nikki and Danielle and the others still loyal to Ranieri reject that characterization. My life would be so much easier if I decided that, you know what?
I am just going to say this was bad.
I was I was brainwashed. I didn't realize this was a bad thing. You know, go to the medical board and tell the medical board I made a mistake. I was duped, and I would be championed and heralded as, you know, as a woman who was strong enough to to face the truth. But deep down inside, I would know that's a lie. In October 2020, the Nexium true believers rallied to renew his defense.
Law enforcement and prosecutors made knowingly false statements about they said he was denied due process and made claims of prosecutorial misconduct that even his own attorney did not follow up on.
Those efforts led to a phone call with his longtime nemesis. And for the first time since his arrest, Ranieri would answer questions for Dateline.
Coming up, does Ranieri take responsibility for women being branded with his initials? I come up with the branding. If you look at my long term partners, I'm even against tattooing. But then an astonishing admission. The blame he does take forever. It almost feels like Keith Ranieri could have destroyed your life while he destroyed a lot of people's lives, I mean, where he destroyed a lot of people's lives to the point where we're still fixing the masses of the chaos that he created with impersonal relationships, even people who I was very close to and.
He's done a lot of damage, Keith Ranieri never took the stand in his trial and never addressed his victims, but he wanted to tell his side of the story. So his supporters arranged a phone call. Let's call it to America. An inmate at a federal prison. Hey, Keith.
With, of all people, his longtime foe, Frank Parlato.
Both the devil and the state should be able to get the exact same treatment under our justice system.
Ranieri claimed prosecutors rigged the case against him. Frank agreed to hear him out. I'm not saying he's innocent. I think he's guilty.
However, there's still a process that has to be followed, Ranieri told Frank of numerous perceived injustices his new attorneys plan and appeal. During that call, Ranieri also agreed to talk to Dateline producer Tim Mulenga, who spent three years following the Nexium story.
Our first question really is you say that many people might consider you evil or despicable. Do you apologize?
I apologize for my participation in all of this, this pain and suffering. I've clearly participated. This is a horrible situation.
You say it's a horrible situation and there has been pain and suffering. Then why do you think you're innocent? That doesn't make sense. Well, well, being innocent of of crimes and being innocent, if you will, of any wrongdoing or, you know, people cause damage is inadvertently and well intentioned damages and they don't mean to damage. But it happens.
You're sorry for some of the damage that you've caused these victims. What damage do you mean? Do you need the branding that you ordered? Or the calorie or sleep deprivation of the members of dark. What do you mean that you apologize and you're sorry for the damage you've caused? OK. And I think Daym participated because I don't believe we're all in the cause of all that we are because more or less, but all the damages I can fathom, I participated in and I feel responsible for, it's not just a matter of being a cause at all myself.
I'm involved in the cause of it and that I on forever in recall, which was kept to a strict time limit.
He denied being the mastermind behind the branding, despite the taped evidence played in court. Did you order the branding to be done on the Das members? No.
Not only that, I didn't come up with the branding. If you look at my long term partners, I'm even against tattooing. I don't have statues that my partners have tattoos. If my partners want to get them, that's up to them. But I am dissuasive of it and they even chose to do it without anesthetic so that they would feel it. No, no ordering whatsoever. Someone being branded. They agreed to it as one of the four conditions to even be considered for entrance into the sorority.
And that was never testimony. When you heard about the branding. Did you try to stop it?
No. But I was slightly, in a way, almost embarrassed at first. I thought, well, if it was Albert Einstein's initials, no one would care. And then I thought it was Brad Pitt and their initials. Maybe you have some jealous husband, but that's not what I'm like. So I took it as an honorary thing, a tribute thing, and that Brad was going to be tattooed over anyway. It was symbolic.
And as for the so-called collateral that was used to blackmail, many Dorce members will find that you did not the collateral, but that was testified to in trial that you would you were saying you needed the collateral to be better or wasn't good enough. So you're now saying that you did not see any of this collateral?
I did not take the collateral at all. I did not have I did not have possession of the collateral whatsoever. But you're saying you did not see any of this collateral because there was testimony? Nothing. Nothing. No, I did not. I did not. I have seen some of the collateral. I think of the collateral also, the prison call ended abruptly before we could ask him any more questions. Last month, Ranieri was transferred to a federal prison in Arizona, far from his New York followers.
Allison Mack, who is awaiting sentencing, has filed for divorce from Nikki. Daniel Roberts is waiting to hear if she'll lose her medical license. Claire Bronfman has been sentenced to six years in prison and India. Oxenberg has found love and is engaged.
She's a remarkable young woman. And her. All the it's like she's intact, but at the same time, she's not completely unscathed. I mean, she was brutalized and traumatized, but she's not been broken.
But getting here was even more traumatic than she ever imagined. Seven years of your life spent and next time you finally leave, you get your life together. You get a job, you move back to California and you're finally reuniting with your mom.
I moved in with my mother and the objective was for my mom and I to build this farm together in Malibu. And we had worked on it a couple of months during the summer. We were rebuilding, we were renovating. We were moving in come fall and then the unthinkable.
And four days after moving in, the Wolesi Fire destroyed everything to a couple of inches of ash. So everything that I owned, that my mother owned, that my fiance owned, every heirloom, every painting, every photograph was gone. And for me gives me chills. Actually, it was just so shocking. But at the same time as losing everything, it was the first time that I had had my family intact. I almost felt like a relief.
It was like everything was gone. And now we were here and we were able to start new. We have the most important things which are each other.
So it's been a lot. That's all for now. I'm Lester Holt, thanks for joining us.