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A woman once believed to have been a victim of the cult-like sexual exploitation that began at Sarah Lawrence College has pleaded guilty to a role as a co-conspirator.
Isabella Pollok pleaded guilty on Wednesday to federal charges of conspiracy connected to the on-campus “sex cult” practices at Sarah Lawrence, as first reported in a 2020 New York Magazine article. Federal authorities said Pollok worked with mastermind Lawrence Ray — the 62-year-old father of Pollok’s former college roommate — to groom their victims and exploit them for power and profit.
In 2021, Pollok was charged with racketeering conspiracy, extortion conspiracy, sex trafficking conspiracy and money laundering.
Lawrence Ray — who was accused of moving into his daughter’s dorm in 2010 and then preying on her circle of peers for a decade — was found guilty in April of 15 federal charges, including counts of extortion, sex trafficking and racketeering conspiracy, according to the New York Times.
Pollok was said to be Ray’s “lieutenant.”
“I know that what I was doing was wrong and against the law,” Pollok said at Wednesday’s hearing, according to Law & Crime.
Federal prosecutors said Pollok helped funnel $2.5 million from one of the victims, sexually trafficked student Claudia Drury, to Ray.
Pollok was also accused of aiding Ray with inflicting a “long night of torture” on Drury after Ray accused the victim of getting too close to a client, according to Law & Crime.
During the night in question — which took place at the Gregory Hotel in midtown Manhattan in 2018 — Ray stripped Drury naked, cuffed her to a chair and used a bag to suffocate her, per Drury’s testimony.
The torture lasted seven hours, during which Pollok and Ray instructed Drury to “behave” when they took a break and purchased burgers from a nearby diner.
Much of Pollok’s involvement was aired during Ray’s trial and would have likely been revisited were Pollok’s case to have gone before a jury. Some witness testimony included allegations that Pollok forced a brother and sister to wear diapers around Ray’s Upper East Side apartment.
Pollok — who was 19 years old when she met Ray at Sarah Lawrence — was accused in the New York Magazine piece of acting as Ray’s “assistant” at times, then acting “more clearly [as] his girlfriend” or “corroborating witness.”
Ray was accused of gaining his victims’ trust by passing himself off as someone he wasn’t, including a war hero and the target of a large NYPD conspiracy (in which he claimed to have helped take down a former NYPD commissioner).
Ray also frequently coaxed what he believed to be personal grievances from his victims, often videotaping them into false confessions after hours-long interrogations. Some of Ray’s videotapes was poised as therapy sessions. The feds said that Ray and Pollok “leveraged the victims’ false confessions to extort money from the victims, to force some of the victims to perform unpaid manual labor, and to cause one of the female victims to engage in commercial sex acts for the enterprise’s financial benefit.”
Prosecutors said some of Ray’s victims lived with mental health issues, making them more vulnerable to his actions, according to the New York Times.
Pollok initially pleaded not guilty, and some in her life, including her own aunt, said she was brainwashed by Ray. During their time together, Pollok lived with Ray off-campus in several locations around New York, New Jersey and North Carolina.
Pollok’s attorney, David Keith Bertan, told reporters he was pleased with the terms of the recent deal Pollok made with federal prosecutors, according to Law & Crime.
She faces a maximum of five years in prison and $250,000 in fines when she is sentenced in 2023.
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