Lawrence Larry Ray has a new medical emergency during a sex crimes trial in Manhattan
Accused sex cult leader Lawrence Ray had his second medical emergency in the space of a week during his federal trial on Tuesday. Coming during the testimony of a woman who says Ray forced her into prostitution, the incident raised the possibility that jurors were deliberately manipulated by a defendant described by prosecutors as a master manipulator, experts said.
“Nothing about this case is normal,” Moira Penza, the former Brooklyn federal prosecutor who won a conviction against NXIVM founder Keith Raniere, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “It is extremely rare for defendants to have multiple medical emergencies in the middle of trial, and given the nature of the allegations and Ray’s history of claiming illness in previous court proceedings, there is a legitimate question as to whether it is a ploy on his part to force a mistrial. or even to further victimize the witness on the stand in the only way he has left: by trying to show some form of continued control.
Ray’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The latest episode began when defense attorney Neil Kelly requested an abrupt break around 12:30 p.m., which was quickly granted by the judge. As the Manhattan federal courtroom emptied, crying was audible from an adjacent witness room before FDNY doctors finally entered the empty courtroom to find Ray, 62, alone at a vacant defense table.
As in a similar case last week, the jury was not present when Ray left the courtroom, or when he was finally transported in an ambulance outside the building. But Sarah Lawrence’s former student Claudia Drury was on her third day of giving evidence, in which she alleged emotional, physical and psychological abuse by Ray.
The abrupt end to proceedings marked just the latest medical emergency to disrupt a chaotic trial. Last Tuesday, Ray was kicked out of the courthouse hours after his lawyers said he had “suffered a seizure”. Defense attorney Marne Lenox initially said Ray did not need hospitalization, but he was in fact later carried on a stretcher.
The case centers on allegations that Ray moved into his daughter’s dorm in 2010 and effectively started a sex cult that continued for nearly a decade under the guise of ‘therapy sessions’ as a than “father figure”. Drury would be among his victims.
Meanwhile, last week two jurors were also excused from the highly anticipated trial, including one who suffered a medical episode on Monday that caused a separate hiatus in Drury’s testimony.
Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani told The Daily Beast that while medical delays are commonplace in criminal cases, constant turmoil around Ray’s trial was “extremely rare”.
“It also happened during really damning testimonies,” Rahmani added. “The judge will now have to say something to the jury. Then there is the question of whether these emergencies are legitimate or just another ploy to delay the trial.
The constant stopping and restarting will almost inevitably have an effect on the jury’s perspective on the case, the former prosecutor suggested.
“This is certainly a delaying tactic used by the defendants. The longer he delays, the better for him,” Rahmani noted, before cautioning: “If the jury thinks he is faking it, he is made.
Drury was the second witness to testify in Ray’s case – and one of many former students he is accused of ensnaring in a web of manipulation and abuse. Ray has pleaded not guilty to multiple counts, including sex trafficking, extortion and racketeering conspiracy, for allegedly physically, sexually and psychologically abusing students and laundering Drury millions after forcing her to prostitute.
On Tuesday, Drury had just started recapping the four years she spent as a sex worker, allegedly at Ray’s behest, after she was accused of damaging his property, poisoning him and “losing his time”.
Mumbling at times, Drury testified that she believed she had no choice but to prostitute herself because she “wanted to fix what I thought I had done to Larry”, adding that she also received ” immense pressure to get money for Larry”.
She said that between 2015 and 2019, when she finally left Ray, she understood that the “overwhelming majority” of the money she earned from her clients would be given to Ray and Isabella Pollok.
Pollok is another former roommate who prosecutors say was a co-conspirator in Ray’s twisted scheme.