Isabella Pollok, a member of Sarah Lawrence’s sex cult who starred in the Hulu documentary Stolen Youth, was sentenced to 54 months in prison on Wednesday.
Pollok, 31, pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy last year and avoided a trial. According to prosecutors, she served as chief lieutenant to Lawrence Ray, who relied on her to gain the trust of young women whom he would exploit for sex and money.
Ray was sentenced to 60 years in prison in January after being convicted of racketeering, sex trafficking and racketeering.
According to their settlement agreement, Pollok faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison. However, her lawyers argued that she should not face jail time, saying Ray “brainwashed” her into following his orders.
“Isabella did everything Ray ordered,” the defense argued in a sentencing memorandum. “She doesn’t deny that she enforced his bizarre edicts and philosophies. Rather, by admitting her guilt, she has taken full responsibility for her behavior.”
Pollok had a sexual relationship with Ray. Prosecutors claimed that she also managed his finances and helped enforce his rule over the cult’s victims. The prosecution also stated that she took part in the torture of Claudia Drury, who had been forced into prostitution.
“The extensive documentary evidence in this case indicates no remorse, ambivalence, guilt or horror on the part of the defendants for their role in bullying their former roommates and friends,” prosecutors argued as they served the full, 60-year-month sentence.
Pollok was charged in January 2021. Her defense team states that she has since worked with mental health counselors to “disconnect from Ray and their shared delusional beliefs” and “break away” from his control.
“I am truly ashamed of my behavior and the pain I have caused others,” she wrote in a letter to the judge. “I know I have committed serious crimes and I take full responsibility for my actions…Lawrence’s impact on me changed who I was and it continues to be a healing process.”
The defense also produced a letter from Drury, who asked for leniency and said she did not accuse Pollok of participating in the torture or forcing her into prostitution.
“I don’t think she was really able to stop Larry or mitigate what he did to me in any way, either mentally or physically,” she wrote. “I don’t think she had an honest choice, or a big choice.”