‘His Evil Withered Us’: New York sex cult leader gets 60 years in prison


Lawrence “Larry” Ray, the abusive control freak who moved into his daughter Sarah Lawrence’s dorm room and started what amounted to a sex cult for years, was sentenced Friday to 60 years in prison, meaning the 64-year-old is likely to die on bars.

Ray was convicted of sex trafficking, racketeering, money laundering and other charges last year after sexually, physically and psychologically abusing multiple students he met at the liberal arts school in upstate New York. He was also convicted of laundering millions of dollars from a woman he forced into sex work for at least four years — a situation that resulted in horrific torture when she failed to meet his financial demands.

“His evil has destroyed us,” Claudia Drury, 31, a sex trafficking victim, said in a statement read Friday during sentencing proceedings. “I feel deeply violated in a way I can’t fully communicate.”

The sentencing marks the end of the harrowing saga first described in a 2019 New York magazine article – and the demise of a man who once boasted of his connections to then-mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev and notorious mobsters.

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It also brings a sense of redemption to several of Ray’s victims who have testified in court about how the man they once admired subjected them to years of abuse for even the slightest mistake fabricating wrongdoing.

At Friday’s hearing in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors argued that Ray should be sentenced to life in prison and $5.5 million in damages for his “heinous” crimes. However, Ray’s defense argued that he only deserved 15 years.

Prosecutors say that after Ray moved into his daughter Talia’s second room in 2010, he began a “campaign of terror” against her roommates, inducing a “climate of fear” under the guise of self-help.

Prosecutors argued that Ray “intentionally inflicted brutal and lifelong harm on innocent victims whom he groomed and abused into submission.” Prosecutors said that while the victims “descended into self-loathing, self-harm and suicide attempts under his coercive control, the evidence showed that [Ray] took sadistic pleasure in their pain and enjoyed the fruits of their suffering.”

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“He tried to convince his victims that they were worthless, undeserving of love and beyond repair, and until his arrest in this case he succeeded,” the prosecutors said in a memo outlining sentencing guidelines. “To maintain his control and the lifestyle that ensured it, he obstructed justice and threatened his victims with retaliation. He has shown no remorse, accepted no responsibility and obstructed the prosecution of this case, including by disrupting the process and prolonging the trauma of his victims.”

Prosecutors have also argued that in order to control the group, Ray enlisted the help of his “lieutenant” Isabella Pollok, who had been friends with the group and lived in the Sarah Lawrence dorm between them. In September, Pollock pleaded guilty to a money laundering conspiracy charge after admitting to a federal judge that she had participated in financial transactions “generated by illegal activity.” Pollok now faces five years in prison.

At trial, three victims testified about Ray’s abuse, including being forced to admit crimes they didn’t commit after hours of grueling interrogations, paying Ray thousands for their alleged mistakes, and being subjected to verbal and physical abuse as additional punishment.

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Drury described to jurors how she transformed from a Sarah Lawrence student into a New York City sex worker who was forced to give all of her winnings to Ray. She said Ray had led her to believe she had damaged so many of his possessions — even trying to poison him — that she had to pay him back for four years.

(None of those allegations turned out to be true.)

In his plea for clemency, Ray’s defense said he suffered his own childhood abuse and is remorseful.

“Mr. Ray not only knows the consequences of his actions, he has lived them,” his defense added in their sentencing memo. with his loved ones.”

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