Podcast Goes Inside Sarah Lawrence Sex Cult Case, When Student's Father Moved into Her Dorm

Lawrence Ray moved into his daughter's dorm room in 2010 and began sexually, psychologically and physically abusing her schoolmates and other young people

Lawrence Ray
Lawrence Ray. Photo: HONS/AP/Shutterstock

A new six-part podcast examines the disturbing case of the Sarah Lawrence sex cult and ringleader Lawrence Ray, who was recently sentenced to 60 years in prison for multiple crimes including extortion and sex trafficking.

"Devil in the Dorm," by Law & Crime, premieres Jan. 30 and streams ad-free exclusively on Wondery+. It's hosted by actress Elisabeth Röhm, herself a Sarah Lawrence alum who, in a press release, says she feels "a sense of responsibility to tell this story."

It's a harrowing, implausible-seeming story. Ray was the father of a Sarah Lawrence student who moved into his daughter's dorm room in 2010 and set about sexually, psychologically and physically abusing her schoolmates and other young people. The abuse began at Sarah Lawrence, a prestigious liberal arts college just outside of New York City when Ray began giving "therapy sessions" to his daughter's roommates, purporting to "help them with psychological problems," an indictment filed against him in 2020 said.

It was through these "sessions" that Ray 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," FBI Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. said at the time of Ray's 2020 arrest.

The abuse continued the following summer at Ray's apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where several students moved in with him in 2011.

Ray, who presented himself as a father figure, a psychologist and a spiritual advisor rolled into one, "learned intimate details about [the victims'] private lives, vulnerabilities, and mental health struggles under the pretense of helping them. Ray alienated several of the victims from their parents, and convinced several of the victims that they were 'broken' and in need of fixing by Ray," the indictment stated.

Ray would often coerce his victims into giving false confessions for offenses they did not commit, and then would extract payment in compensation for those imagined offenses.

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The investigation by law enforcement into Ray was prompted after a story titled "The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence" was published by New York Magazine in April 2019.

He was convicted last April and was sentenced to prison on Jan. 20 of this year.

The podcast digs into the case's expansive court records, navigating the many disturbing details. Röhm, as the host, provides personal reflections as a Sarah Lawrence alum.

Elisabeth Röhm
Elisabeth Röhm. Courtesy Elisabeth Röhm

"It's a story I feel deeply connected to having been an alum of Sarah Lawrence and the mom of a teenager," Röhm, who also has a feature film on the case in development at Lifetime, says in the press release.

"I hope it is a reminder for all of us to never turn a blind eye on our children, and that this podcast and forthcoming movie begin a conversation so that this type of victimization never happens again," she says.

"Devil in the Dorm," a six-part podcast by Law&Crime produced by Elisabeth Röhm, premieres Jan. 30 and streams ad-free on Wondery+.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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