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Judge Calls Larry Ray An ‘Evil Genius’ Who Preyed On Victims As He Hands Down 60-Year Sentence
“Having gained control of their minds and bodies, he forced them to do his bidding,” Judge Lewis Liman said Friday of cult leader Larry Ray. “He sought to take every bit of light from his victims’ lives.”
Larry Ray, the college dad who moved into his daughter’s dorm room and psychologically tortured her friends, was sentenced Friday to 60 years behind bars.
Judge Lewis Liman, who handed down the sentence in a federal Manhattan courtroom, called Ray an “evil genius” who physically, psychologically and emotionally manipulated his victims until they had “no way out” from what he described as Ray’s “sadism, pure and simple,” according to ABC New York affiliate WABC.
“Having gained control of their minds and bodies, he forced them to do his bidding,” he said. “He sought to take every bit of light from his victims’ lives.”
Ray sat silently in a tan prison uniform as he was admonished by the judge for his “heinous” deeds, which included forcing one women into prostitution for years, holding a knife to another’s genitals and forcing the students to falsely confess to perceived grievances against him which he would later use to blackmail them.
RELATED: Prosecutors Want Life Sentence For Alleged Cult Leader Larry Ray, Arguing He Took ‘Sadistic Pleasure’ In Crimes
Limon said Ray’s acts had all been done “for his profit and sadistic pleasure,” according to Fox News.
The 63-year-old was convicted in April of 15 counts, including racketeering, conspiracy, sex trafficking and forced labor for the decade-long abuses, which began after he moved into his daughter’s dorm room at Sarah Lawrence College in 2010.
Ray, who had just been released from jail at the time, initially seemed like a charming guest who regaled his daughter’s friends with tales of his political and business prowess and treated them to lavish meals.
But as Ray’s influence over the students grew, he began holding so-called “therapy” sessions with them. During these sessions, he convinced the students to divulge their vulnerabilities and “psychological problems,” which he later used to gain control against them, prosecutors said in an earlier indictment.
“Larry Ray is a monster. For years, he inflicted brutal and lifelong harm on innocent victims. Students who had their lives ahead of them,” United States Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement Friday. “He groomed them and abused them into submission for his own gain. Through physical and psychological abuse, he took control over his victims’ mind and bodies and then extracted millions of dollars from them. The sentence imposed today will ensure that Ray will never harm victims again.”
Ray used physical violence, threats, humiliation and blackmail to extort the students. One victim, Claudia Drury, was forced into sex trafficking and forced to hand over her earnings, totaling $2.5 million, to Ray in the years that would follow.
On Friday, Drury provided a statement read in court by a friend, describing the long-lasting damage she’d suffered.
“Larry forced me to abject desperation,” she said, according to WABC. “It was as if he was experimenting on our very souls.”
She described being stripped naked and being bound to a chair in one harrowing incident where Ray “suffocated me with a plastic bag over and over again until I begged for my life.”
Drury said the abuse “destroyed” her life, Fox News reports.
“The experience of being sex trafficked haunts me today,” she said, adding that she barely has “the energy to exist.”
Victim Santos Rosario told the judge Friday that he “contemplated suicide” daily during the decade of “absolute misery.”
During the trial last year, Rosario testified that Ray had once forced him to wear diapers, held a knife to his genitals, beat him in the legs with a hammer and choked him until he lost consciousness.
"He took ten years of my life away from me," Rosario said Friday, according to WABC. "All I know is I wish I had never met him."
Victim Daniel Levin, who later wrote the book “Slonim Woods 9” about his experience, told the court that Ray had once held at knife to him while he asked another victim to line a bathtub with plastic to catch any blood that might fall.
Levin also described Ray hitting him with a sledgehammer as he held his tongue with pliers and forcing him to put a large dildo into his mouth.
“My friend’s dad moved into my dorm and what followed were years of abuse, psychological, physical and sexual,” he said. “I can never life a life where this didn’t happen.”
Ray showed no emotion as his victims recounted their years of torment.
When it was time for him to address the court, he never referenced his victims and instead focused on himself and how difficult his incarceration had been.
"These three years [incarcerated] have been hard. I’ve had COVID twice, and I'm in pain all the time,” he said, according to Fox News.
Ray added that it was “frightening to feel this bad” and that he suffers from sleeplessness, ringing in his ears and other conditions while behind bars.
Prosecutors had advocated for a life sentence.
His attorney Marne Lenox asked that the judge impose a sentence not to exceed 15 years.
“Mr. Ray has been punished and he will continue to be punished,” she said.
Lenox noted that Ray had no supporters Friday after losing his father, stepfather and stepmother while behind bars.
“Today there is no one,” she said.
The argument did not sway Limon, who commended the victims for their strength.
“In a sense, this case speaks volumes to the resiliency of the human spirit,” he said, according to New York Magazine.