’He took everything away’: inside a depraved and devastating sex cult

Published By with Comments

Categorized as Cult Crimes Tagged , , , , ,

In the fall of 2010, a group of sophomores at Sarah Lawrence College, a small liberal arts school 12 miles north of New York City, moved into a campus building called Slonim Woods 9. It was a laid-back college house – dirty kitchen, a lot of hanging out and being high, a half-thought plan to dump sand in one room and make a beach. So it was weird when one of the roommates, Talia Ray, invited her dad, Lawrence “Larry” Ray, to crash on their couch after he was released from prison on vague charges, but not, as several explain in a new Hulu docuseries, that weird. Ray made steak dinners, regaled his daughter’s friends with tales of his time in the marines and psy-ops for the CIA, promised to help some maximize their potential. It was off-putting to some, entrancing to others.

Over the course of several months, Ray seemed to gain control over several of the housemates – first his daughter Talia’s friend Isabella Pollok, then Talia’s boyfriend Santos Rosario, then another, then another. “Everyone thought Talia’s dad was weird, but then one by one he would get them alone, and suddenly he’s the greatest thing to happen to them,” says Raven Juarez, whose best friend and boyfriend both fell under Ray’s spell and cut off contact with her, in Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence. “I had a lot of theories, but none of them were are horrible as what was actually to come.”

As several survivors of Ray’s abuse and former Sarah Lawrence students attest, the depth of Ray’s depravity, first reported by a viral and genuinely unbelievable New York Magazine story in April 2019, was so much worse than anyone imagined. Over more than a decade, Ray isolated several of the roommates, as well as Rosario’s two older sisters, and derailed their lives through psychological manipulation, sexual coercion, financial extortion and routine emotional and physical abuse, the scope and shadow of which exceed what a flurry of headlines about the “Sarah Lawrence sex cult” could capture.

The three-part Hulu series recounts the beats of the original article from the perspective of several who were there, and extends far past it, into the long aftermath of his abuse and deprogramming from his conditioning. “What’s real? What’s the truth? I don’t know,” says Felicia Rosario, Santos’s older sister, who was still living with Ray when the New York article went live, in one of several sitdowns with film-makers in the months following his arrest in 2020. (Ray, now 63, was convicted on federal charges including sex trafficking, extortion and racketeering in April 2022; he was sentenced last month to 60 years in prison.) “He took away my career, my friends, my family. He took everything away so that all that’s left is me to him,” Rosario says later in the third episode, her perspective sharpened with time. “The rest of me just … there was no rest of me.”

Content retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2023/feb/09/stolen-youth-documentary-hulu-sarah-lawrence-cult.

1 comment

  1. This documentary series reflects the extreme pain and suffering endured by many cult members and how difficult it can be to recover after being dominated by a destructive leader.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Trenton, New Jersey 08618
609.396.6684 | Feedback

Copyright © 2022 The Cult News Network - All Rights Reserved