Big Twist in Case of Victimized Sarah Lawrence Students

Isabella Pollok, painted as a victim of Larry Ray, now charged as accomplice
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2021 4:00 PM CST
Big Twist in Case of Victimized Sarah Lawrence Students
This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Attorney's office shows Lawrence Ray.   (U.S. Attorney's office via AP, File)

An unexpected twist in a bizarre case involving a group of Sarah Lawrence students that came into the public consciousness by way of a lengthy story from the Cut. "What happened to the group of bright college students who fell under the sway of a classmate's father?" Ezra Marcus and James D. Walsh asked in 2019. For one of them, the answer is this: She's been indicted. Isabella Pollok was one of the students who prosecutors claimed had fallen victim to Lawrence Ray, a then-50-year-old who in 2010 moved into his daughter's Sarah Lawrence dorm room, allegedly reeled students into a cult, and proceeded to use "physical, sexual, and psychological abuse" to extort almost $1 million from them. He was arrested in February 2020. Now prosecutors claim Pollok was not a victim but an accomplice and have charged her with racketeering, sex trafficking, and extortion conspiracy charges, reports the Cut. She has pleaded not guilty.

Ray allegedly forced one female into four years of prostitution, and prosecutors now claim Ray recruited Pollok to "join the criminal scheme" and that she helped him collect money from the woman. The New York Times reports that when it comes to cults, the "line between victim and accomplice" can be difficult to make clear. Indeed, Pollok's family says the 29-year-old is a victim who has been under Ray's "spell" for a decade. Cult Education Institute head Rick Alan Ross flags parallels with the Nxivm/Keith Raniere case, in which five of his followers were charged. If Pollok wasn't willing to play ball with prosecutors, "she's cast her lot with Larry Ray," says Ross. Last month, Pollok was ordered to undergo an evaluation after her lawyer expressed concerns about her competency to stand trial. (More cult stories.)

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