The Vow: What Happened to Kristin Keeffe and Why She Went Off the Grid
Episode five of HBO's The Vow takes a deep dive into Keith Raniere's shady dealings, focusing on his DOS group and the convoluted efforts to clear his name. The episode opens with a clip of former NXIVM legal liaison Kristin Keeffe as she ardently defends NXIVM's troubles with the law. Soon, The Vow shifts to Keeffe voicing her suspicions against Raniere, and it becomes strikingly clear that she has a lot of information on NXIVM. But Keeffe wasn't just a high-ranking member who defected. From 2007 to 2014, she was Raniere's partner, and they even had a son together named Gaelyn. Worrying for her and her son's well-being, Keeffe eventually left Raniere and NXIVM in 2014.
So what is Keeffe's story with Raniere? Keeffe was an Executive Success Program proctor in NXIVM and worked closely with lawyers to combat lawsuits against the company. She also targeted people spreading negative press about Raniere and Nancy Salzman, his NXIVM cofounder. Keeffe was even involved with Mark Vicente's unreleased film to clear Raniere's name. And beyond a professional relationship with Raniere, she had a baby with him. The New York Post initially reported that Gaelyn was an adopted orphan as opposed to their biological son. Purportedly, Raniere ordered Keeffe to go with this story because he wanted to maintain his persona as someone who was celibate. In the 2019 Investigation Discovery documentary The Lost Women of NXIVM, Frank Parlato, a known NXIVM defector and reporter, said that Keeffe wasn't aware of her pregnancy until weeks before her son's birth. Raniere kept her, like many of the women in his inner circle, very thin.
Keeffe went off the grid in 2014, concerned about her and her son's safety. She worried about Raniere conducting experiments on their son. Raniere reportedly gave orders to keep Gaelyn away from peers and to only allow him to be cared for by five nannies who each spoke a different language. Keeffe also learned about financial wrongdoings in NXIVM that made her want to leave. According to Parlato, Keeffe and Gaelyn stayed at one of his apartments in the Florida Keys for a year as they hid from Raniere.
As we see in the episode, Keeffe tried very hard to disappear, using burner phones as she helped other defectors build a case against Raniere. According to a piece by The Times Union, Keeffe alleged in 2015 that Raniere directed Canadian investigative firm Canaprobe to obtain financial information on six federal judges and a US senator as well as a reporter, an editor, and the publisher of The Times Union. She also alleged that Raniere was luring his critics into Mexico to be arrested on false charges. While Keeffe didn't testify against Raniere, she said in the Investigation Discovery special that she worked closely with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to bring him down.
Keeffe and her son are presumably still off the grid today.