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Sarah Lawrence’s ‘s*x cult’ trial came to an abrupt halt Tuesday morning when defendant Lawrence Ray was taken away in an ambulance after suffering a medical emergency in court.
An attorney for Ray called a recess in the middle of the proceedings today after his client trembled and gasped behind his mask.
Judge Lewis Lima cleared the courtroom as court officers rushed in with a first aid kit and defibrillator and a doctor followed.
Ray, 62, was taken on a stretcher from Manhattan Federal Court and placed in an ambulance waiting outside.
The incident marks the second time the trial has been interrupted in this way and came after nearly three and a half hours of dramatic and disturbing testimony from former ‘cult’ member Claudia Drury.
Last week, the court was forced to halt proceedings for several hours for Ray to recover from a seizure he suffered in prison earlier that day.
He was treated with oxygen before being brought back to the courtroom to resume testimony.
The ex-con is on trial for allegedly s*x-trafficking his daughter’s friends from a dorm on the campus of New York’s elite liberal arts college.
The emergency marked the end of a morning during which jurors heard often harrowing testimony from Drury, 31, as she recounted in disturbing detail how Ray allegedly stalked her and groomed her for a life of prostitution, convincing her that she had to right their “egregious mistakes”. ‘ and pay off debts over $100,000.
Yesterday, the court heard how Drury and his fellow students were allegedly worn out by weeks of physical deprivation and psychological abuse doing forced labor at Ray’s stepfather’s home in North Carolina.
Today, Danielle Sassoon targeted the s*xual grooming that prosecutors say Ray used to funnel Drury into a life of prostitution from which she earned more than $2.5 million.
Drury told the court that Ray suggested she participate in a gang bang
Drury told the court that Ray suggested she participate in a gang bang, telling her that s*x with multiple partners was liberating and fun.
She recounted how he posed s*xual challenges to her which she, already falling apart, accepted in an attempt to curry favor with her and ‘repair’ the wrongs he accused her of.
The accusations were primarily of property damage, but escalated to insist that she had poisoned him and her daughter, Talia.
“He told me to take a taxi to the right and in the end, instead of paying, he suggested that I have s*x with the driver,” Drury told the court.
“He also told me to pick someone up off the street and have s*x with them in Central Park.”
When asked if he did these things, Drury replied, “Yes.”
At Ray’s suggestion, the elite liberal arts college alumnus claimed that she had taken a job as an escort at a s*x club.
She there she detailed her introduction to BDSM (Bondage and Sado Masochism). She described some of them as “pretty harsh” and said that she took on the role of “submissive” with the s*x club’s clients and one of her managers.
She recalled an occasion when the manager “rubbed something sharp all over my body.” When she looked up, she saw that she was a razor and said that the scars remained for two years.
On another occasion, she said the same manager stopped her for “impact play,” or hitting.
She said she was restrained, looking forward on her elbows and recalled: ‘Another man put his genitals in my mouth to keep my head forward so I couldn’t move and he was hitting me with a flogger, 40 or 50 times.
“He came out at some point and I heard him put on gloves and hit me twice with something [that] was extremely sore.”
Drury said she thought it was a pipe, but was later told it was two by four.
The court was shown graphic images of her bruised buttocks, images that she said she had sent to Ray at his request.
She said that Ray, with whom she had fallen into a conflictive relationship pattern of confrontation, accusation, punishment, ‘confession’ and reparation on her part, was ‘heartened’ by her actions and the images of her.
Ray played on her fears, often speaking graphically about jail and what would happen to her there.
He talked about it for years and years. He described in detail the size of a prison cell, he made me walk the size of a prison cell,” he said.
‘He said that he could never hear the music he wanted [in prison], … that the colors would fade.
“He told me graphic things about what people would do to me. Since he was smaller [he said] that the women would play his bitch on me and he described how they would use the bathroom and defecate and use my face and tongue as toilet paper.
“He talked about it many times in many different ways.”
Finally, he said, “I felt extremely trapped, extremely overwhelmed.”
Cut off from reality and from her parents, with whom she barely spoke at the height of her association with Ray, Drury claimed that she agreed to Ray’s suggestion that he turn to prostitution to get back at her.
Ray is charged with 17 counts including s*x trafficking, extortion, money laundering, violent crimes in aid of organized crime, racketeering conspiracy.
She said she once thought he could just graduate and get a job and pay her back, but “that wasn’t fast enough for Larry.”
The first time she saw a client, she told her, she charged $700. She recalled the experience as “strange and creepy” but said she was glad to receive the money.
She intended to give Ray $200 and keep $500 for living expenses. But, she told her, Ray kept everything. It was then that she came to understand that it would be like that from then on.
At Ray’s insistence, she said, she left her escort agency and went freelance in an attempt to earn more and prevent the agency from taking a piece of her.
She said, “I thought I’d go to prison [if I upset Ray] but I also thought it was the only way I had to make amends for something I’d done that was egregiously morally wrong…something that’s essentially unforgivable.”
Drury worked as a prostitute from early 2015 until April 8, 2019.
At her most profitable time, she saw three or more clients a day charging $2,000 an hour, $2,400 for two hours, and the rates went up in increments from there.
She said that she gave most of her money to Ray and Isabella Pollok, her co-defendant and alleged ‘lieutenant’ of hers.
On two occasions Ray told Drury and Pollok to be s*xual with each other and on other occasions she said as he watched.
At other times, Ray would wear the accessories he told her to buy for clients. In a voice so low that the judge had to remind her to speak, Drury listed the accessories: “Handcuffs, riding crops, floggers, leash, collar, ball gag, dildos.”
The difference, she said, between clients using these and Ray was that when she told clients to stop, she knew they would.
With Ray, she said, ‘I was scared.’
She said that she continued to believe that she owed Ray money, ‘until the day I essentially left’.
Earlier on Tuesday, New York’s business elite were left shaking after a list of Drury’s alleged clients was inadvertently posted online.
The list, which was submitted as sealed evidence, included attorneys, businessmen and members of high society from throughout the tri-state area.
Larry Ray Quick and Facts
- Larry Ray’s s*x trafficking trial was halted Tuesday after the accused s*x cult leader suffered another medical emergency in court
- An attorney for Ray called for a break in the middle of proceedings today after the 62-year-old shook and gasped behind his mask
- Ray was stretchered out of Manhattan Federal Court and onto a waiting ambulance outside
- The incident is the second time the trial has been interrupted in this way and came after dramatic testimony from former ‘cult’ member Claudia Drury
- Drury, a former Sarah Lawrence College student who claims she was forced into prostitution by Ray, took the witness stand for the third day Tuesday
- Ray is accused of running a s*x cult out of his daughter Talia’s dorm at the elite liberal arts college in Bronxville, New York
- He is charged with s*x trafficking, extortion, money laundering, violent crime in aid of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy and forced labor