Horrific single night proves Sarah Lawrence ‘sex cult’ leader’s guilt: prosecutor

New York Post/April 4, 2022

By Ben Feuerherd

Manhattan jurors only have to look at one horrific night to find accused Sarah Lawrence sex-cult fiend Larry Ray guilty of a slew of crimes, prosecutors said in closing arguments Monday.

On that October night in 2018, Ray tortured Claudia Drury at a Midtown hotel — a prime example of the “campaign of terror” he waged against his victims, federal prosecutor Mollie Bracewell said.

“This single night of crime tells you almost all you need to know,” Bracewell told jurors in Manhattan federal court.

Ray, along with his co-conspirator Isabella Pollok, allegedly tortured Drury, who he had forced into prostitution, for hours that night. They made her strip naked, handcuffed her to a chair and nearly suffocated her with a plastic bag, prosecutors said.

Ray did so as the leader of his criminal enterprise “The Ray Family” and carried out the abuse to enrich himself, which makes him guilty of racketeering conspiracy and financial crimes, Bracewell said.

Ray tortured Drury because she had grown close to one of her prostitution clients – and berated her to focus on “work,” also proving his guilt on the sex-trafficking count, Bracewell added.

In the midst of the hours-long torture session, Ray and Pollok stopped and ate hamburgers and onion rings they had ordered from a nearby Manhattan diner, prosecutors said. 

At trial, Drury recounted what they ate on the stand – and the place they ordered from – because the details of the horrific night have stayed with her years later, Bracewell said.

“This night of abuse is seared on her memory,” the prosecutor told jurors.

Bracewell then walked the 12-person panel through the tactics Ray allegedly used to assert control over his college-aged victims – and to extort money from them.

They included: establishing trust, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse, gaslighting and collateral.

“The defendant implemented and sustained tactics of abuse and manipulation … slowly, surely, until his control was complete and his exploitation could be unleashed,” Bracewell said, adding it was all powerful proof of the racketeering enterprise.

In her closing argument, Ray’s lawyer, Marne Lenox, repeated claims the defense team made in its opening statement, arguing the case was about a group of “storytellers” who embellished tales about the accused sicko.

Over time, the former Sarah Lawrence students confessed to trying to poison Ray, accusations that he believed, Lenox said.

“Larry didn’t make all of this up. The stories came from the individuals themselves. Larry didn’t plant these narratives in their minds,” Lenox told jurors.

Ray did not seek to hold the confessions over the alleged victims, as prosecutors claimed, she said. Rather, he was genuinely concerned about a conspiracy against him, Lenox said.

Over the past four weeks, jurors have heard testimony from several alleged victims, who all came into contact with Ray when he moved into his daughter’s on-campus housing in the fall of 2010.

The former students told jurors that Ray physically and mentally abused them after accusing them of wasting his time or damaging his property.

He demanded cash repayments from the young people, including Drury, who said she started escorting at the direction of Ray to reimburse him.

Lenox will continue her closing argument Tuesday morning, and the jury is expected to begin deliberating later in the day.

If convicted, Ray faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

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