Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, breaking news, sweepstakes, and more!
Prosecutors Want Life Sentence For Alleged Cult Leader Larry Ray, Arguing He Took ‘Sadistic Pleasure’ In Crimes
"He intentionally inflicted brutal and lifelong harm on innocent victims that he groomed and abused into submission,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mollie Bracewell wrote in a sentencing letter advocating for a life sentence for alleged sex cult leader Larry Ray.
Federal prosecutors want Lawrence ‘Larry’ Ray to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
The 63-year-old dad, who moved into his daughter’s dorm room at Sarah Lawrence College in 2010, was convicted of 15 charges in April. Prosecutors accused him of grooming, manipulating and abusing his daughter’s friends for years, forcing them to perform unpaid labor, confess to imagined grievances against him and hand over millions of dollars in cash — even forcing one victim into sex trafficking.
“Over a period of years, he intentionally inflicted brutal and lifelong harm on innocent victims that he groomed and abused into submission,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mollie Bracewell wrote Saturday in a sentencing letter obtained by Law & Crime. “Once he had established control over his victims, he exploited them for his own profit through extortion, sex trafficking and forced labor.”
The abuse began in 2010 after Ray moved into his daughter Talia Ray’s communal dorm at Sarah Lawrence College after being released from jail.
He began to charm the young college students living with his daughter, including Daniel Levin, Isabella Pollok, Claudia Drury and Santos Rosario, by treating them to lavish meals and regaling them with tales of his political and business accomplishments, including once serving as best man for former New York City police commissioner Bernie Kerik and allegedly helping arrange a meeting with then NYC-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Mikhail Gorbachev.
Ray worked his way further into their lives by holding what he referred to as “therapy” sessions, in which he helped the students with their “psychological problems,” according to an earlier indictment in the case.
Using the information he gleaned from the sessions — and tactics like sleep deprivation, humiliation, violence and threats — Ray slowly gained control of nearly every aspect of his victim’s lives and began extorting money from members of the group for perceived grievances against him.
"While the defendant's victims descended into self-hatred, self-harm, and suicidal attempts under his coercive control, the evidence showed that the defendant took sadistic pleasure in their pain and enjoyed the fruits of their suffering," Bracewell wrote.
After gaining control over his victims, Ray isolated the victims, which also grew to include Rosario’s sisters who were not students at the school, and forced them to records videos of themselves falsely admitting to poisoning him or damaging his property. He later used the videos to extort money from them.
"He sought to convince his victims that they were worthless, undeserving of love, and irredeemable, and until his arrest in this case, he was succeeding," Bracewell wrote in the sentencing letter, also obtained by ABC News.
In Drury’s case, prosecutors said Ray forced the college student into sex trafficking, collecting the proceeds she made for himself.
Drury testified during Ray’s trial that over the years she had handed over $2.5 million.
“He extracted millions of dollars in extortion and sex trafficking proceeds from Claudia Drury, but the money was never enough, and at times it was besides the point: the defendant displayed an insatiable desire to make his victims pay, in both body and spirit,” the sentencing memorandum argues.
Prosecutors said Ray has shown “no remorse, accepted no responsibility, and impeded the prosecution of this case, including by disrupting the trial and prolonging the trauma to his victims.”
The trial was halted several times after Ray claimed to be experiencing medical problems, once being wheeled out on a stretcher during Drury’s testimony about the abuse.
After he was convicted in 2022 of extortion, sex trafficking, forced labor, tax evasion and money laundering, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams described him as an “evil man” who had controlled and destroyed the lives of those in his orbit.
“He exploited them. He terrorized them. He tortured them. Let me be very clear. Larry Ray is a predator. An evil man who did evil things,” Williams said in the April 2022 press release.
As Ray’s sentencing hearing looms, prosecutors have recommended that, in addition to the proposed life sentence, Ray should also be forced to pay his victims back $5.5 million in restitution and pay another $761,000 in back taxes.
However, Ray’s defense attorney Marne Lenox has advocated for a much shorter sentence of 15 years behind bars, arguing that Ray's own abusive childhood contributed to his acts.
"The physical, sexual, and psychological abuse Lawrence Ray suffered as a child and through his young adulthood bears a striking resemblance to the conduct underlying the offenses he now stands convicted of," Lenox said in a sentencing submission obtained by ABC News. "Mr. Ray's traumatic childhood experience of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse at the hands of his own family members undeniably shaped his adulthood."
They also claimed that Ray “knows the consequences of his actions” after already spending three years behind bars as he awaits his formal sentence.
“Never will he violate the law and risk the brutal detention that has stripped him of substantial time with his loved ones over the past nearly three years," Lenox said.
Ray is expected to be sentenced for the crimes on Friday.