Cataloguing alleged humiliations on his third day of grueling testimony, a former Sarah Lawrence College student told a jury on Monday that accused cult leader Larry Ray forced him and his sister to wear diapers.
“I don’t remember the context or what we were being blamed for this time,” Santos Rosario testified on Monday, referring to himself and his sister Felicia Rosario.
During his second day of testimony on Friday, Santos Rosario said his sister Felicia had been “dating” Ray, who is standing trial on 17 counts of racketeering, sex trafficking, extortion, forced labor, money laundering and other charges. He pleaded not guilty.
“He had Isabella put diapers on us,” Rosario added this morning, referring to Ray’s accused “lieutenant” Isabella Pollok.
Since trial began on Thursday, Rosario has told a jury about how Ray allegedly bullied and browbeat Sarah Lawrence students to control them. “He would hit me, slap me, held a knife to my throat,” Rosario told a jury on Friday. “He hit me with a hammer. He held a knife to my genitals. He put me in a chokehold and put me to sleep.” Time and again, Rosario described being subjected to hourslong interrogations, wherein Ray would allegedly force him to confess to a variety of imagined infractions. Rosario said that Ray would force him to confess to poisoning him, damaging his property, and colluding with his enemies, then force him to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to supposedly make him whole. The interrogations were documented in video and audio recordings played for the jury.
Another recurring theme of Rosario’s testimony was sexual humiliation. Rosario said that he had dated the defendant’s daughter Talia Ray in his sophomore year, but that allegedly did not stop Ray from ordering Rosario to have sex with Pollok and Claudia Drury, whom Ray allegedly forced into prostitution. The indictment alleges that Ray made millions on Drury’s sex work.
In 2015, Rosario said, Ray directed him to pick up the money Drury made from prostitution at the Hudson Hotel. Drury gave Ray “several thousands” of dollars, and Ray directed Drury to give Rosario a “blow job,” Rosario testified.
“How did it make you feel when the defendant directed Claudia Drury to perform oral sex on you?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsey Keenan asked him.
“Like I didn’t have control over my life any more,” Rosario replied.
Later that year, Rosario testified he left Ray’s orbit because he “couldn’t take it any more.” Jurors saw videotapes and heard audiotapes of Ray appearing to extract confessions from Rosario, who can be heard agreeing that poisoned him.
Footage of a white board shows Rosario’s purported confessions next to his initials.
When asked by the prosecutor why confessed to poisoning Ray at the behest of corrupt cops, Rosario responded: “He kept insisting that I did, and when I said I didn’t, he said that I was a liar.”
On cross-examination, Ray’s attorney Neil Peter Kelly suggested that his client had real enemies. At the Hudson Hotel, Ray was allegedly attacked by one of those supposed antagonists in 2015, in an incident that electrified the New York City tabloids.
Construction magnate Frank DiTommaso was seen on surveillance footage attacking Ray on Sept. 17, 2015, in an incident Ray claimed to have been payback for providing information to local and federal prosecutors about DiTommaso’s links to ex-New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik. Ray’s cooperation reportedly helped expose Kerik’s improper acceptance of tens of thousands in free renovations on his then-Riverdale apartment from DiTomasso’s firm, Interstate Industrial. DiTommaso reportedly pleaded down to disorderly conduct, and Kerik’s political career was sidelined by federal convictions, eventually pardoned away by former President Donald Trump.
Rolling tape on footage of the scuffle, Kelly asked: “Did we just witness Mr. DiTommaso punch Larry in the head?”
“Yes,” replied Rosario, agreeing that he watched it at the time, too.
Later, Kelly pressed: “Mr. DiTommaso struck Larry several times, right?”
“Yes,” the witness said.
In 2019, New York Magazine unraveled the alleged sex cult in an article titled “Larry Ray and the Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence,” which also delved into Ray’s securities fraud-related prosecution and government cooperation in the late 1990s. Audio files played for the jury appear to show Ray plotting payback against its authors and instructing Santos to write a comment denying the allegations in the article. Santos said he complied, and his comment was shown to the jury.
Ray’s attorney also pressed the witness on his mental health, revisiting Rosario’s testimony about his feelings of suicidal ideation in high school. Rosario’s testimony will resume on Monday afternoon.
(Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
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