Jury finds Larry Ray guilty on all counts in Sarah Lawrence sex cult trial

New York Post/April 6, 2022

By Ben Feuerherd

Sarah Lawrence College sex-cult leader Larry Ray was convicted Wednesday afternoon on all counts by a Manhattan jury — ending a yearslong prosecution launched after the fiend’s tyrannical abuse of a group of young people was exposed in a magazine article.

Ray, 62, faces life in prison when he is sentenced by Manhattan federal Judge Lewis Liman in September.

The convicted sex trafficker stood and faced the jury, appearing emotionless as the foreperson repeated “guilty” to the 15 counts.

The panel deliberated for about five hours after being given the case Tuesday evening.

Throughout the monthlong trial, prosecutors and victims painted Ray as a calculating predator who asserted control over a group of college students and others to enrich himself as the leader of a criminal organization he dubbed “The Ray Family.”

“When his victims were completely subdued, when they were under his control, he committed crimes to get them to pay — extortion, forced labor, sex trafficking, obstruction of justice, financial crimes,” Assistant US Attorney Mollie Bracewell told jurors in her closing argument.

“The defendant did all of this for control, for his own greed, and to increase his power, to cement his position in the organized group that he led.”
Ray’s abuse began when he moved into his daughter’s on-campus dorm at the prestigious Westchester County college in 2010 after he was sprung from prison in an unrelated case.

Almost immediately, Ray began grooming his daughter’s friends, wowing them with fantastical tales about his supposed involvement in overseas military operations and his friends in law enforcement and politics, prosecutors said.

In the summer of 2011, a number of the students moved into an Upper East Side one-bedroom apartment with Ray, where his abuse and control over them increased, the feds said.

For nearly the next decade, Ray extorted his victims and forced one of them into prostitution while laundering the proceeds of the scheme, which totaled millions of dollars.

Federal authorities began investigating Ray after a 2020 New York Magazine article drew the curtain back on his relationship with the former Sarah Lawrence students.

Ray subjected his victims to physical, mental and sexual abuse, prosecutors said at trial. Ray recorded confessions his victims made in which they copped to damaging his property, plotting against him and poisoning him and his family — then used the mea culpas as blackmail.

Ray carried out his criminal enterprise with the help of Isabella Pollok, a former student who became his co-conspirator, the feds alleged.

Ray’s most lucrative scheme was collecting money that victim Claudia Drury earned while working as a prostitute at his direction, she testified at trial.
For about five years, Drury worked seven days a week, meeting monied clients who paid her exorbitant amounts of money in exchange for sex, she said.

Drury turned over about $2.5 million to Ray that she earned while escorting and living in various Manhattan hotels, where she would meet her clients.

When Ray felt threatened that Drury was slipping from his control, he and Pollok confronted her at the Gregory Hotel in Midtown, where he tortured her for hours over the course of a night, prosecutors said.

He ordered her to strip naked, handcuffed her to a chair and tried to suffocate her repeatedly with a plastic bag, Drury told jurors.

“I was terrified. I was trembling. You can’t breathe. You want to breathe a lot. That just makes it much worse,” she testified in March.

Ray also doused Drury’s naked body with water and moved her chair over to an air conditioner in the room, she said.

During the hours-long torture session, Ray and Pollok paused to eat hamburgers they had ordered from a nearby diner, Drury testified.
The torture session was powerful evidence that Ray had committed almost all of the crimes he was charged with, Bracewell told jurors in her closing argument.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this single night of crime tells you almost all you need to know. But, as we will cover and as you have seen, there is so much more,” she said.

In a statement, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, hailed the verdict.

“Let me be very clear. Larry Ray is a predator. An evil man who did evil things. Today’s verdict finally brings him to justice,” Williams said.

“This verdict would not have been possible without the victims who testified in court.  We are in awe of their bravery in the face of incredible trauma,” he added.

Throughout the trial, Ray’s defense team tried to undermine his accusers’ credibility and painted them as a group of “storytellers” who embellished stories about Ray because they were jealous of him or otherwise wanted to damage him.

In her closing argument, Ray lawyer Marne Lenox attacked Drury’s account of the night she was tortured by the defendant, claiming it was fiction.

“There was no assault in the Gregory Hotel. It never happened,” Lenox said.

Ray has been locked up in the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center since his arrest in 2020.

Pollok was subsequently charged for her alleged role in the enterprise and has pleaded not guilty. She’s scheduled to go to trial later this year.

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