It’s a horror story ripped right out of a soap opera. ‘Dynasty’ star Catherine Oxenberg claims her 26-year-old-daughter has been taken in by a group that allegedly starves and brands women like cattle!
“I’m helpless,” Catherine Oxenberg, 56, tells PEOPLE. “I’ve lost my child and will do whatever I can to get her back.” Sadly, this isn’t a plot from an old episode of Dynasty, as Catherine claims her daughter, India Oxenberg, 26, is allegedly in serious trouble with the controversial group, Nxivm (pronounced NEX-i-um.) Since 2011, India has been involved in the “self-improvement program,” spending more and more on costly classes, recruiting friends and even relocating to the group’s main headquarters in Albany, New York. Catherine held her tongue (though she thought the group was “weird and creepy”) until her friend, ex Nxivm member, Bonnie Piesse, 34, gave her some dire news.
“You need to save your daughter,” Bonnie told Catherine. “You need to save India.” Bonnie told Catherine about her daughter’s role in a “secret sisterhood” within Nxivm. Women recruited for this inner-circle are allegedly branded with what are supposedly the initials of the group’s founder and leader, Keith Raniere, 57. “It was the most painful, traumatic moment of my life,” Sarah Edmondson, 40, a former Nxivm member said to PEOPLE, revealing she was branded right below her hip.
Sarah says she’s reportedly met women in the secret sisterhood who were told they weren’t allowed to eat more than 800 calories a day. “India was in a bad situation,” Bonnie, who last saw India in January 2017, told PEOPLE. “One time she told me that she wasn’t going to eat for three days [out of ] penance to try and correct her behavior.”
Catherine said she reached out to India in April, right after talking with Bonnie. Before hanging up, India reportedly said, “’Mom, my hair has been falling out, and I haven’t had a period in a year. Maybe I should see a doctor?’” When confronting her “superskinny” daughter, India dismissed her mother’s concerns before returning to Albany the next day. She then stopped communicating with her mother.
“I’m absolutely fine,” India reportedly wrote in an Oct. 19 Facebook message. “Great actually. I would never put myself or the people I love into any danger.” While Nxivm didn’t respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, they slammed a recent New York Times article as a “criminal product of criminal minds.” However, the New York State Governor’s Counsel is launching a review into the group.
For nearly 20 years, an estimated 16,000 people have paid as much as $3,400 for an executive-coaching workshop with Nxivm. Prior to launching the organization, Keith Raniere founded a discount-buying club that was shut down after two federal investigated it after allegations of it being a pyramid scheme. Keith professed his innocence, but did agree to pay a monetary settlement.
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