Prosecutors don’t want alleged sex-cult leader Lawrence Ray to get his hands on his victims’ highly sensitive psychiatric records — including documentation about attempted suicides, it was revealed Friday at a hearing in Manhattan federal court.
Assistant US Attorney Danielle Sassoon said that Ray had exploited the vulnerabilities of his victims and several had “attempted suicide during the course of their relationship with Mr. Ray.”
She added that Ray had allegedly interfered with their care while they were hospitalized, directing them to cut out their parents and authorize their doctors to speak directly to him.
Sassoon argued that the records are confidential, and the government hasn’t decided yet whether to call these witnesses at trial.
Ray is charged with creating a a Nxivm-like sex cult to prey on his daughter’s classmates at Sarah Lawrence — using psychological torture and physical violence to extort them — and, in the case of one woman, force her into prostitution.
Ray’s defense lawyer issued subpoenas for the mental records of two victims authorized by US District Judge Lewis Liman, without the knowledge of prosecutors or the patients.
Now prosecutors and lawyers for the two victims want the subpoenas quashed, arguing that the records contain privileged medical information and that the defense is simply trying to get impeachment material to use against the women.
Ray’s lawyer, Marne Lenox, countered that prosecutors have argued that the victims sought treatment as a result of the defendant’s abuse and that this psychological harm led to the extortion and sex trafficking, but she say the records contradict this.
In light of the government’s argument, the victims’ mental health is fundamental to the case, and the defense is entitled to the records to “assert an affirmative defense on Mr. Ray’s behalf.”
The judge has yet to rule on the subpoenas. Ray, who was the best man at disgraced former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik’s wedding, allegedly used sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation and compromising videos to keep his victims in line, according to court filings.
He’s pleaded not guilty and is slated to go to trial July 8.