Sarah Lawrence Parent Accused of Sex Trafficking and Abusing Students

10:15 a.m.


Lawrence V. Ray showed up at his daughter’s elite college, in a New York City suburb, in late 2010, shortly after being released from prison, and moved into her dormitory. Soon, he started doing “therapy sessions” with her roommates, convincing them he could help with their problems.
Over time, using threats and coercion, he persuaded the young adults he first met at the school, Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, N.Y., to confess to crimes they had not committed and then extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars from them, prosecutors said.
He eventually compelled some of them to work without pay on his family property in North Carolina, and he threatened others with knives. He forced one young woman into prostitution, taking the hundreds of thousands of dollars she made from selling sex to strangers, the prosecutors said.
On Tuesday, Mr. Ray, 60, once a close associate of former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik, was charged in a federal indictment in Manhattan with conspiracy, extortion, sex trafficking, forced labor and related charges. For eight years, through 2018, the indictment said, Mr. Ray “subjected the victims to sexual and psychological manipulation and physical abuse.”

For the better part of the last 10 years, Ray has continued to mentally and physically torture his victims,” William F. Sweeney Jr., the head of the F.B.I. office in New York, said at a news conference on Tuesday.
The charges depict Mr. Ray as a man who exploited his victims, initially college sophomores, like a cult leader, learning intimate details of their private lives and their mental health struggles under the pretense of helping them.
He alienated several of the young adults from their parents, convincing them that they were “‘broken’ and in need of fixing” by him, the indictment said.
“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 the news conference announcing the charges.

Mr. Ray “exploited that vulnerable time in these victims’ lives through a course of conduct that shocks the conscience,” Mr. Berman said.
Mr. Ray’s extortion scheme relied on false confessions that he extracted from his victims, using tactics like sleep deprivation, psychological and sexual humiliation, verbal abuse, physical violence and threats of legal action, the indictment charged. He got them to falsely confess to damaging property and in some cases to trying to poison him, then used those confessions as leverage, the indictment said.
Mr. Ray was also accused of laundering about $1 million he obtained from his victims, the indictment said. He was arrested on Tuesday morning at his home in Piscataway, N.J., and was ordered jailed overnight after a brief hearing in Federal District Court. Mr. Ray was escorted into the courtroom smiling, dressed in a flannel shirt, cargo pants and work boots with his legs shackled.
The investigation that led to the charges against Mr. Ray was prompted by an article in New York magazine in April titled “The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence,” Mr. Berman said at the news conference.
Sarah Lawrence Parent Accused of Sex Trafficking and Abusing Students Sarah Lawrence Parent Accused of Sex Trafficking and Abusing Students Reviewed by Anson Moore on February 12, 2020 Rating: 5

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