Sarah Lawrence Cult Jury Hears From Key Witness: ‘I Turned a Prostitute’

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In journals, emails and movies, Claudia Drury cataloged the transgressions Lawrence V. Ray satisfied her she had dedicated.

Damaging Mr. Ray’s vacuum. Consuming all of his meals. Even poisoning him with cyanide.

In actuality, Ms. Drury now says, none of it occurred. However Mr. Ray demanded reparations anyway. And though she was quick on cash, she stated, Mr. Ray steered her towards a means of getting “enjoyable” — whereas incomes money to pay him.

“I turned a prostitute,” Ms. Drury stated throughout testimony that ended on Friday in Federal District Court docket in Manhattan, the place Mr. Ray is being tried on 16 counts of fees that embody tax evasion and extortion. “It was Larry’s suggestion.”

Her testimony, coming close to the trial’s midpoint, is pivotal to the prosecution’s case, providing an inside account in help of a number of the most severe fees in opposition to him, intercourse trafficking and violent crime in help of racketeering.

Over a number of days, Ms. Drury added new particulars about how Mr. Ray, in accordance with prosecutors, moved right into a dormitory at Sarah Lawrence Faculty in 2010 and spent years manipulating and abusing college students he met there.

Ms. Drury, a kind of college students, described how Mr. Ray exploited her at a time when she felt “anchorless and anxious.”

He gained her belief by pretending to be a mentor, Ms. Drury testified. Then, she stated, he turned abusive, pressuring her to confess to the phony infractions and utilizing her confessions to extract funds.

Mr. Ray was arrested in 2020 after he was the topic of a New York journal article.

In her testimony, Ms. Drury detailed how Mr. Ray had wielded energy over her and different impressionable college students at Sarah Lawrence, a personal, liberal arts faculty in Westchester County, N.Y., simply north of New York Metropolis.

Ms. Drury described how Mr. Ray made her imagine she had dedicated crimes, alienated her from her dad and mom and groomed her for abuse. He first spoke about intercourse, she testified, then initiated sexual contact together with her and inspired her sexual contact with others.

Lastly, she labored for years as a prostitute, Ms. Drury testified, soliciting shoppers over the web and giving about $2.5 million in earnings to Mr. Ray.

She additionally testified that Mr. Ray turned enraged after she confided in a shopper about facets of her life. At one level, she stated, he threatened her with waterboarding and held a plastic bag over her head in a Manhattan resort as she struggled to breathe.

“I used to be terrified,” she stated. “I used to be trembling.”

Mr. Ray’s attorneys have prompt {that a} group of storytelling college students, a few of whom have had psychological well being issues, had created a “improbable conspiracy” about him.

Underneath cross-examination, Ms. Drury acknowledged that she had a historical past of embellishing anecdotes and she or he stated she had fabricated an in depth account of being accosted on the road by mysterious males with a message from Mr. Ray’s onetime buddy, Bernard B. Kerik, a former New York police commissioner.

Ms. Drury entered Mr. Ray’s orbit after he appeared on the Sarah Lawrence dormitory the place his daughter, Talia Ray, lived. He had just lately accomplished a state jail time period in New Jersey stemming from a baby custody dispute.

On the dormitory, Mr. Ray regaled Ms. Drury and the opposite roommates with tales of intrigue. She testified that she realized of his time within the army and his function within the downfall of Mr. Kerik, who was nominated for a prime federal job however in the end pleaded responsible to fees of tax fraud and accepting free work from a contractor suspected of being tied to the mob.

Mr. Ray had a “very magnetic and charismatic type of character,” Ms. Drury testified, including that she believed that he had uncovered a plot to “rip up the Structure and damage America.”

He described a philosophy he had helped create referred to as “Quest for Potential” and in contrast himself to the Roman emperor and thinker Marcus Aurelius, Ms. Drury stated. She started to look upon him as a “confidant” who may assist enhance her life.

However whilst he was providing counsel, he was additionally displaying conspiratorial tendencies, Ms. Drury testified. She stated Mr. Ray believed that Mr. Kerik and others have been decided to hurt him.

In summer time 2011, she stated, she and different college students incessantly stayed at Mr. Ray’s house on Manhattan’s Higher East Facet, the place he supplied so-called remedy classes meant to make them “extra developed folks.”

Mr. Ray additionally introduced up intercourse, Ms. Drury testified, speaking about “swing golf equipment” and generally touching her sexually.

He urged her to have intercourse with a fellow scholar and with a salesman who visited the house, Ms. Drury testified, including that in accordance with Mr. Ray, “being very open and uninhibited” confirmed a “increased stage of non-public improvement and self-comfort and honesty.”

On the identical time, he started making accusations.

He stated the scholars have been damaging his property, hiding his possessions and throwing out essential paperwork. Hourslong interrogations adopted, Ms. Drury stated, with Mr. Ray quizzing the scholars till he gained a confession. He additionally threatened the scholars, she stated, and generally lashed out violently.

Ms. Drury stated she admitted to issues she had not accomplished partly as a result of Mr. Ray insisted that she had and partly as a result of the opposite college students have been confessing to imagined infractions.

“It was very straightforward for me to be like, effectively, perhaps I did harm that,” she testified. “As soon as I form of began confessing to these issues, each was like additional proof of all of the others.”

Ms. Drury ultimately confessed to poisoning Mr. Ray. In a video he created, which was launched as proof, he may be heard asking Ms. Drury for particulars. She stated she had put “mercury, cyanide and arsenic” in his meals and on his toothbrush.

Mr. Ray stated he may ship her to jail, Ms. Drury testified, and made her learn Solzhenitsyn’s “The Gulag Archipelago” so she would know what was forward.

A recorded telephone dialog from 2012, additionally launched as proof, captured Mr. Ray prompting Ms. Drury as she instructed her mom that she fantasized about pushing her from a window and strangling her father and that she needed to go to a hospital.

Ms. Drury testified that it was Mr. Ray who first prompt she needed to hurt her dad and mom and that she had not consciously thought of doing so. Whereas she was hospitalized, she added, he instructed her that her dad and mom needed to harm her and “distort the reality.” She stated her relationship together with her dad and mom worsened till she misplaced contact with them solely.

“Larry would inform me basically that they have been attempting to hold me out to dry,” she testified. “I turned actually paranoid towards them.”

In 2014, Ms. Drury testified, she started working at intercourse golf equipment at Mr. Ray’s suggestion. He inspired her to have intercourse with a cabdriver in lieu of paying a fare and to have intercourse with a stranger in Central Park, she added. She additionally stated he was “impressed” after she instructed him she had let a person run a knife over her physique and strike her with a heavy object throughout sexual actions.

All of the whereas, Ms. Drury testified, she was scared that she would go to jail if she didn’t give Mr. Ray cash he stated she owed him as compensation for hurt she had brought on him, particularly the supposed poisonings. Mr. Ray instructed her that prostitution could be “enjoyable” and a “sexual rush,” she stated.

Ms. Drury stated she was a prostitute from early 2015 till spring 2019, dwelling in resorts, seeing as much as 5 males a day, seven days every week, and charging them as much as $2,000 for an hour. She testified that she gave the cash to Mr. Ray and Isabella Pollok, a former Sarah Lawrence roommate who prosecutors say turned Mr. Ray’s “trusted lieutenant” and who has been charged with conspiring with him to commit intercourse trafficking, extortion and racketeering.

“I felt immense strain from Larry to get cash,” Ms. Drury testified, including that she additionally needed to get “off my soul” that she had behaved towards him in an “unforgivable” means.

In late 2018, Ms. Drury stated, Mr. Ray confirmed up at a Midtown resort the place she was staying, ordered her to take away her garments after which handcuffed her to a chair. Over about seven hours, she stated, he positioned a pillow over her face, choked her with a collar and leash and lined her head with a plastic bag, at one level saying: “I’m going to kill you.”

That, she testified, was a turning level.

“I used to be scared for my life,” she stated. “I used to be more and more anxious over whether or not he was really who I assumed he was.”

She stated she had fled New York about six months after the encounter. She didn’t see or communicate with Mr. Ray once more.

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