Cults, public figures, Television

Men in Bad Sweaters

Just when I thought the Bill Cosby verdict was a no-brainer, I’ve discovered people across the country who feel he was unjustly crucified.

Due to the outstanding number of accusers, the consistencies between accounts and Cosby’s own admissions, I find their complaints baffling. The argument one woman gave me was regarding statutes of limitations, as well as recollections of what occurred many years ago. I couldn’t even get my head around her logic truthfully, particularly in light of how Cosby incriminated his own self, admitting to drugging women before having sex.

Another person who I find inarguably guilty of the crimes that have been alleged is cult leader Keith Raniere of NXIVM. If you read the Frank Report by Frank Parlato (, you’ll get a sense of just how evil Keith is and how far it goes. It is beyond the sex slavery and trafficking you hear about in the news. But if you look at Keith in the YouTube video he made with actress Allison Mack, he seems soft spoken and innocuous looking. His ex girlfriend Toni Natalie compares his appearance to that of Harry Potter’s. It is hard for those who’ve met Keith only a handful of times to fathom that this “schlub” (Elizabeth Vargas of 20/20’s word for him) could hold so much sway…yet Keith is a hypnotist and excels at mind control.

Cosby epitomized the fun-loving, comedic, wholesome dad on his hit television show for many years. People of my generation idealized the family dynamics of the Huxtables, sometimes even forgetting that family was fictional. Those with dysfunctional home lives resented Bill, Claire and crew while fantasizing about a way to be like them. As it turned out, the married Cosby was meeting women under the guise of mentorship or career counsel during that time, then drugging and raping them.

These two men in bad sweaters seem unlikely perpetrators to the untrained eye. Keith looks like the young cutey-pie Rabbi who may have taught me in seminary, inviting students from my all girls school to Shabbat lunch, singing songs while bouncing his child on his knee. His esoteric speak would be about Torah in this imagined scenario. Yes, Keith really does appear at first glance like someone I might have known as a depressed teen searching for spiritual meaning….trying to fill my undernourished soul….someone whose words would seem meaningful at a time when I was vulnerable.

Both men seemed to offer kindness, guidance, advice and answers to those they initially captivated. Their ugly sweaters swathing portly mid-sections hardly made them look intimidating. But perhaps the exteriors are what allowed these men to escape the law for as long as they did. The old, very trite adage of “you can’t judge a book by its cover” applies here. Both men seemed sage and safe on the surface level, which disguised a host of evil manipulations.


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