BuzzFeed: Leaked Records Reveal Tony Robbins Berated Abuse Victims, And Former Followers Accuse Him Of Sexual Advances

I’ve made several posts about Tony Robbins over the years, several of which presaged the recent BuzzFeed expose:

Two former followers who went on to work for Robbins provided BuzzFeed News with signed statements swearing under oath that they felt he had sexually harassed them by repeatedly pursuing them after they made clear they weren’t interested. Two more women who worked as his assistants said Robbins expected them to work alone with him when he was naked in his hotel room or in the shower. And another former employee said she was fired after having a consensual sexual relationship with Robbins. The events described by all five women took place in the 1990s and early 2000s, when Robbins’ fame was skyrocketing and before he married his second wife…

…Interviews and records reveal how Robbins has created a highly sexualized environment in which both men and women have been told to touch themselves intimately and simulate orgasms — but he has repeatedly singled women out of the crowd for more personal attention. One secret recording from 2018 captured him laughing as he told a woman in the audience that he wanted her to “come up onstage and make love to me.” And two former bodyguards told BuzzFeed News they were sent out to trawl audiences for attractive women on Robbins’ behalf. Two women told BuzzFeed News they had witnessed it or experienced it themselves.

…Robbins’ intensive multiday events are often held in rooms kept deliberately cold and run from early in the morning to well past midnight, with few breaks for food and water. Followers are encouraged to run across hot coals. Internal company emails reveal concerns about fans suffering mental breakdowns after days of emotional exhaustion as well as “sleep deprivation and dehydration.” In this intense atmosphere, some audience members became disoriented as the days went by, said Todd Spendley, a former logistics contractor for the organization. “We used to joke about it,” he said. “People started ‘popping like popcorn.’”

…Robbins demanded relentless energy and a willingness to confront your darkest fears. He spoke openly about his use of “taboo language,” humor, and other shock tactics to try to shake fans out of emotional stagnation — often swearing, berating audience members, and talking graphically about sex — and he didn’t censor himself even when addressing his most troubled fans. For some, this led to ecstasy. Others found his events mentally and physically shattering.

King said he soon found that a key part of his job involved responding to calls about participants who had threatened or attempted suicide or needed to be hospitalized after suffering mental breakdowns. At one 1995 Life Mastery event in Hawaii, he said he had to intervene after one participant started biting members of the hotel’s security staff and guests. “I was dealing with crisis and emotional meltdowns from the start,” he told BuzzFeed News.

“Date With Destiny” events could be especially difficult. The six-day program, which currently costs as much as $7,995 per person, left little time for sleep or rest and was packed with soul-searching activities and deeply personal “interventions” in which Robbins selected audience members to publicly unpack their despair.

…Gary King said this was the sort of line he had often heard Robbins use to distract nervous women during fire-walks: “Which one of your breasts is bigger?” And by now, he had reason to believe that Robbins’ intimate interest in his female fans was more than just professional.

King said that Robbins often dispatched him to get the phone numbers of attractive women in the audience, an allegation which Robbins’ lawyers fiercely denied. Though he felt deep down that what he saw wasn’t right, King said his entire world revolved around Robbins, so he tried to bury his discomfort. But as time went on, he said, his concerns grew. “Ultimate power corrupts,” King said. “I watched it like a movie unfolding.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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