A motherless, 3-year-old boy is living in near-isolation at an upstate “cult” compound — as the heir of the group’s shady svengali, who feeds off the Seagram’s booze fortune, sources told The Post.
The fair-haired tyke’s true identity is shrouded in secrecy.
He was brought to Keith Raniere — the controversial leader of the Albany-based “behavior modification” group NXIVM that counts two Seagram heiresses among its devotees — by a longtime member who claimed that she was given guardianship when the child’s mother died, sources said.
The child is being raised as the “son” of Raniere, sources said. An alleged con man, Raniere has been accused by mental-health experts of using “brainwashing” and other mind-bending tactics on his followers.
Before NXIVM, Raniere was investigated for fraud in 23 states and heavily fined for operating an alleged pyramid scheme.
Now, he has an international network of devotees called “Espians,” who bow in his presence and call him “Vanguard.” He and his closest associates live in several condos they own in a non-descript complex outside of the capital. They also own several other homes in the area.
NXIVM has been derided as “a cult” both by Edgar Bronfman, Sr., the Seagram’s sisters’ dad, and in court documents filed on behalf of Barbara Bouchey, their longtime financial adviser who defected from the group last year.
Barbara Bouchey, who worked within NXIVM’s intellectual inner circle for nine years, handled financial matters for the organization’s biggest benefactors, Seagrams heiresses Clare and Sara Bronfman.
In an interview last week, Bouchey revealed that the boy came to the NXIVM associates around March 2007, shortly after his birth.
Barbara Jeske, a high-ranking NXIVM student, Bouchey recalled, declared that the boy’s grandfather in Michigan gave up the boy after his daughter had died shortly after the child was born. Jeske and Keeffe traveled to the Ann Arbor, Mich., area to get the boy two days later and brought back the child to live with Jeske, Bouchey said. Yet, after about two months he was transferred from Jeske’s home in Clifton Park to Keeffe’s residence a short distance away but much closer to Raniere.
Bouchey said she did not see the child in distress and said that he was under the care of Keefe and a series of nannies who worked in shifts. Each nanny, she said, spoke to him in a different language, including Russian, Chinese, Hindi, English and Spanish, as part of a Raniere educational initiative.
On NXIVM’s internet home page, Raniere discusses his ideas about humanity and ethics, saying he wants to spread his way of looking at things around the world, adding that “most profound ideas are first met with ridicule, and then opposition before acceptance.”
Bouchey, who was a member of NXIVM from March 2000 to May 2009, has become a witness in a civil lawsuit involving NXIVM officials and the Bronfmans, testifying that $100 million of the sisters’ money was poured into questionable ventures at the direction of, or for the benefit of, NXIVM leaders, particularly Raniere. A former financial planner for the Bronfmans, whom she met though Raniere, she is restricted by a judge handling her bankruptcy from revealing details of the Bronfmans’ finances. Asked about the costs of raising and teaching the boy, and supporting the nannies, she said she could not comment.