In 2010, Lawrence Ray moved into his daughter's college dorm and launched a sex cult with her roommates, federal prosecutors allege

By Harriet Sokmensuer
February 11, 2020 03:56 PM
Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis/Getty; Inset: U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York

A New York man has been arrested after moving into his daughter’s college dorm room nearly a decade ago and allegedly sexually and psychologically manipulating her friends to create his own alleged sex cult.

On Tuesday, New York federal prosecutors released the indictment against 60-year-old Lawrence Ray for multiple offenses, including extortion, sex trafficking and forced labor. The 22-page document details the system of abuse Ray allegedly used to manipulate his daughter’s friends.

In late 2010, Ray moved into his daughter’s Sarah Lawrence College on-campus dorm room during her sophomore year. Shortly thereafter, he began giving “therapy sessions” to his daughter’s roommates to “help them with psychological problems,” the indictment alleges.

It was through these “sessions” that Ray allegedly laid the groundwork for psychological conditioning that would “eventually lead these young adults to become unwitting victims of sexual exploitation, verbal and physical abuse, extortion, forced labor and prostitution,” Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. said Tuesday.

Ray presented himself as the father figure in the dorm, and when school let out for summer in 2011, several of his daughter’s roommates moved into Ray’s one-bedroom apartment on New York City’s Upper East Side.

During that summer, the roommates began to introduce Ray to their friends, who eventually began spending more time at the apartment and allegedly eventually became victims themselves.

“For so many of us and our children, college is supposed to be a time of self-discovery and newfound independence, a chance to explore and learn all within the safety of a college community,” Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said at a news conference Tuesday.

Ray “exploited that vulnerable time in these victims’ lives through a course of conduct that shocks the conscience,” Berman alleged.

Ray was able to isolate his victims from their families and extorted approximately $1 million from at least five victims; forced certain victims to perform unpaid labor; and caused, through force, fraud, and coercion, at least one victim to engage in commercial sex acts, prosecutors claim.

“For the better part of the last ten years, Ray has continued to mentally and physically torture his victims,” Sweeney said. “There were no limits to the abuse … and there’s no knowing the amount of damage he may have caused them in the years to come.”

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The alleged crimes took place in Westchester County, New York, as well as New York City, and  Pinehurst, North Carolina.

The investigation was prompted after a story titled “The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence” appeared in New York Magazine in April 2019, Berman stated.

Upon his arrest Tuesday morning, officers discovered one of the female victims listed in the indictment as well as one of Ray’s daughter’s roommates was still living with him at his Piscataway, New Jersey, home.

Sarah Lawrence College could not be reached for comment.

Anyone with information that could help this investigation is urged to call 1-800-CALL FBI.

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