Victim of Sarah Lawrence Sex Cult Leader Who Later Became His 'Lieutenant' Gets 54 Months in Prison

Isabella Pollok was charged as a co-conspirator of sex cult leader Lawrence Ray

People/February 22, 2023

By Christine Pelisek 

A New York woman who became a co-conspirator to the man who started a sex cult out of his daughter's dorm at the prestigious Sarah Lawrence College was sentenced to 54 months in federal prison, the U.S. Attorney's Office confirms.

Isabella Pollok, 31, who pleaded guilty in September to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, was sentenced this afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.

She must report to federal prison in 60 days, U.S. Attorney's office spokesperson Nicholas Biase tells PEOPLE.

Pollok had previously been charged with one count each of extortion conspiracy, sex trafficking conspiracy, racketeering conspiracy and money laundering.

Prosecutors said Pollok became a trusted enforcer for Lawrence Ray, who manipulated his daughter's friends at Sarah Lawrence, a prestigious liberal arts college in Bronxville, N.Y., just outside of New York City.

 Former Student Once Thought to Be Victim of Alleged Sarah Lawrence Sex Cult Is Now Charged in Case
Ray sexually and psychologically abused a group of her schoolmates, using them to create his own sex cult.

Prosecutors said he isolated his victims from their families, extorted approximately $1 million from at least five of them, forced certain victims to perform unpaid labor and caused at least one victim to engage in commercial sex acts. In one instance, he tied one of his victims to a chair, covered her head with a plastic bag, and nearly suffocated her before making her give him more than $500,000 she'd earned in forced prostitution.

Ray was sentenced in January to 60-years in prison for extortion, sex trafficking, racketeering conspiracy and other charges.

Prosecutors said Pollok helped psychologically manipulate and control the victims by threatening them with violence and depriving them of food and sleep.

She held a "privileged position within the Ray Family, acting as Ray's lieutenant, with respect to his extortionate demands for financial payments, physical labor, and prostitution, and in laundering the criminal proceeds of extortion and sex trafficking through bank accounts and GoDaddy," according to a sentencing submission obtained by PEOPLE.

"While collecting money from her abused and trafficked college friends, the defendant was spending luxurious nights at the Pierre Hotel on the Upper East Side and buying expensive clothing, beauty products and high-end lingerie," according to prosecutors.

'Defendant Also Suffered at Ray's Hands'

Prosecutors had asked that Pollok be sentenced for a maximum of 60 months in prison but did recognize that she was also victimized by Ray.

"The Government does not dispute that the defendant also suffered at Ray's hands," prosecutors wrote in a letter to the federal judge. "Witness interviews and evidence recovered during the investigation show parallels between the defendant's experience and that of the victims in this case."

Pollok's lawyers, in a letter to the federal judge before sentencing, said Ray preyed upon her at a young, impressionable age and "brainwashed" her.

"There is the damaged, lonely Sarah Lawrence College freshman. There is the awed protégé. There is the broken automaton…If it were not for Lawrence Ray's presence at Sarah Lawrence, Isabella would not be here. She does not deserve jail time," the letter said.

Pollok's lawyers said that once Ray moved himself into their campus apartment he "became a domineering and manipulative monster."

"Ray groomed Isabella, at first by listening and paying attention to her," they wrote. "Ray then became her lover and convinced her of the need to explore her sexuality…Isabella did whatever Ray directed," the letter stated.

"He exercised complete control over her," it added.

It continued: "Now, she realizes the extent of his control — including what he made her do to the others — and she feels tremendous guilt and remorse. Isabella will live with this guilt for the rest of her life."

Abuse Began with 'Therapy Sessions'

According to a Feb. 11, 2020, federal indictment, prosecutors said Ray's scheme began in late 2010 when he moved into his daughter's on-campus dorm room during her sophomore year. He began giving "therapy sessions" to his daughter's roommates to "help them with psychological problems."

During these "sessions," Ray laid the groundwork for psychological conditioning that would "eventually lead these young adults to become unwitting victims of sexual exploitation, verbal and physical abuse, extortion, forced labor, and prostitution," Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. said in Feb. 2020.

When classes ended in the second semester of 2011, several of Ray's daughter's roommates moved into his one-bedroom apartment on New York City's Upper East Side.

During that summer, the roommates began to introduce Ray to some of their friends, who eventually began spending more time at the apartment and eventually became victims themselves, prosecutors said.

"For so many of us and our children, college is supposed to be a time of self-discovery and newfound independence, a chance to explore and learn all within the safety of a college community," Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said at a news conference in Feb. 2020.

Ray "exploited that vulnerable time in these victims' lives through a course of conduct that shocks the conscience," Berman said.

Polok's attorney could not be reached for comment.

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