He accused his followers of damaging his property and poisoning him, according to government evidence. Witnesses said he extracted false confessions from them during hours-long interrogations, then used those confessions as leverage to demand hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for imaginary offenses.
Mr Ray threatened to dismember a student as he stood over him holding a knife, prosecutors said, and threatened to smash another’s skull with a hammer. He was also accused of forcing a young woman into prostitution. Years later, she says, he clutched a plastic bag to her head as she struggled to breathe. About six months later, she fled New York and Mr. Ray.
“He used the threatening displays of violence to both create fear and maintain control over his victims,” prosecutor Mollie Bracewell said in her closing statement to the jury. “His victims would be too terrified to say no to his demands.”
Defense lawyers argued that Mr Ray had been caught up in a group delusion created by his daughter’s friends and roommates, some of whom suffered from mental illness. These youths, the defense said, embellished some of Mr. Ray’s intrigue stories about Mr. Kerik and other matters, creating a “fantastic conspiracy” targeting Mr. Ray and leading him to take confessions as evidence .
“The world that Larry and the others have cultivated over a decade may not be one that you or I can ever understand,” one of Mr Ray’s lawyers, Marne Lenox, told reporters. jurors at his summons. “But for Larry and others involved, through the looking glass, this world was real.”
While arguing their case, prosecutors relied on diary entries, email messages and written confessions from students. At one point, they introduced into evidence a list of academic articles found on Mr. Ray’s hard drives, including one titled “Cult Membership: What Factors Contribute to Joining or Leaving?” and another titled “Mind Control: The Ultimate Terror”.
Prosecutors also presented photographs and audio and video recordings that gave insight into life with Mr. Ray. A video shows a group of young people decorating a tree in Mr. Ray’s apartment in Manhattan while listening to the song “It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas”. Another shows a student, Claudia Drury, calmly telling Mr Ray that she had poisoned him with mercury, cyanide and arsenic – which she testified she had not done.