An accused sex cult leader once forced a former Sarah Lawrence College student and his sister to wear diapers because they were “acting like children,” according to new testimony Monday in the ongoing trial.
Santos Rosario testified Monday that the humiliating act was one of the final straws before he decided to leave the group, known as “The Ray Family” in 2015, according to The New York Daily News.
Ray is accused of being the sadistic leader of the group, who used his influence and power to control and manipulate his daughter’s college friends after moving into her dorm room in 2010. He’s facing 17 counts of racketeering, sex trafficking, extortion, forced labor, money laundering and other charges connected to the alleged cult. He's pleaded not guilty in the case.
Rosario testified Monday that near the end of his five years with the group, Ray ordered his alleged “lieutenant,” Isabella Pollok, to punish Rosario and his sister Felicia—who had also been lured into the group—to wear diapers around Ray’s Upper East Side apartment.
“I don’t remember the context or what we were being blamed for this time but Larry said that me and my sister were supposedly acting like children and he had Isabella put diapers on us,” Rosario said. “We just waited there until Larry said we could take them off.”
Rosario testified last week that Ray berated and abused him, interrogating him for hours and forcing him in video-taped confessions to falsely admit to poisoning Ray or damaging his property. Ray allegedly used the tapes to extort Rosario and others in the group out of approximately $2 million over the years.
Rosario also testified about being subjected to physical abuse, including being cracked on the legs with a hammer.
“He would hit me, slap me, held a knife to my throat,” Rosario said, according to Law & Crime. “He hit me with a hammer. He held a knife to my genitals. He put me in a chokehold and put me to sleep.”
Rosario—who met Ray while dating his daughter Talia Ray in college—also spoke about being humiliated sexually and described one occasion in 2015 when he went the Hudson Hotel to collect money from fellow student Claudia Drury, who had allegedly been forced into sex work.
Rosario testified that Ray, who had come along to collect the funds, forced the woman to perform oral sex on Rosario as he looked on.
When asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsey Keenan how it felt to be forced into the alleged sex act, Rosario said it made him feel “like I didn’t have control over my life anymore.”
Rosario reached his breaking point in 2015 and fled to a homeless shelter, according to The New York Daily News.
“I couldn’t take it anymore,” he testified. “These interrogations with Larry started getting scarier and longer. And I couldn’t articulate at the time but I was terrified to be there. So I just looked for an opportunity to run away.”
For several years, Rosario had broken ties with the group until he was contacted in 2019 by a New York Magazine reporter who was writing an expose about it, according to The New York Post.
After the reporter reached out to Rosario, he met Ray and got sucked back into the alleged cult. Rosario testified that he began giving his sister Felicia, who was still involved with the group, money.
“He said that she was sick because I poisoned her,” he said.
While cross-examining Rosario, Ray’s attorney Neil Peter Kelly focused on Rosario’s past mental health issues while challenging his credibility as a witness.
He also suggested that Ray had been the target of real enemies after he had testified against his former best friend, ex-NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik, during a corruption trial.
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