Man Accused Of Grooming Daughter's Roommates To Sex Cult
Piscataway, NJ – Authorities arrested the father of a Sarah Lawrence College student who moved into her dorm, brainwashed her friends, and then turned them into prostitutes while draining some of their parents bank accounts.
Investigators said that 60-year-old Lawrence Ray created a de facto cult to sexually and psychologically control and manipulate his daughter’s college roommates for years, WCBS reported.
“The conduct alleged here is outrageous. It makes you angry,” Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Assistant Director Bill Sweeney told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday. “If you’re not angry, you don’t have a soul.”
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman said Ray got involved with his daughter’s friends while they were still young and impressionable, WCBS reported.
“Ray ensnared many of his victim while they were teenagers – a time of particular vulnerability for the young people he preyed on,” Berman said.
Prosecutors said it all began when Ray moved into his sophomore daughter Talia’s room in her dormitory at Sarah Lawrence College in September of 2010, WCBS reported.
Talia told her roommates that her father – who was a “truth teller” – was getting out of prison and needed a place to stay and they agreed to let him stay in their dorm.
Ray cooked for them, counseled them on relationships, played a “father figure” role, and lectured them on his life philosophies, WCBS reported.
Sarah Lawrence College officials got complaints from other parents about Ray’s presence on campus, according to New York Magazine, the publication that first brought Ray’s activities at the school to the attention of the authorities.
One of his victim’s mothers said she met with Sarah Lawrence College Dean of Student Life Allen Green who told her his hands were tied and that Ray was just a father visiting his daughter on campus.
Sarah Lawrence College told New York Magazine it “had no record that Larry Ray lived on campus at any time.”
Ray eventually grew the group of his daughter’s roommates into a sex cult that he moved to an Upper East Side apartment, FOX News reported.
Prosecutors said cult activities included forced labor, prostitution, and mentally and physically abusing both male and female students.
"Ray put a knife to one male victim's throat, brandished a knife and threatened to dismember another male victim, grabbed a third male victim around the neck until he passed out, slapped a female victim and grabbed another female victim by her head before shoving her to the ground," Berman said.
"After enduring Ray's abuse, seven of his victims falsely confessed to having harmed or attempted to harm Ray,” the prosecutor explained. “Ray, who sometimes recorded these false confessions, then used these false confessions to extort money from his victims."
The indictment against Ray said he convinced the students to drain “hundreds of thousands of dollars from their parents' savings accounts at Ray's direction,” FOX News reported.
He also had others open lines of credit and borrow money from friends.
"Ray used fear, violence and coercion to induce one young victim to engage in commercial sex acts to repay debts she did not actually owe," Berman said. “She reportedly worked as a prostitute for more than four years while giving Ray the proceeds from her forced prostitution, exceeding more than $500,000.”
The prosecutor said Ray began sexually grooming the victim when she was one of his daughter’s roommates by collecting sexually explicit pictures of her and using physical violence to force her to into prostitution, FOX News reported.
"Ray tied this victim to a chair, placed a plastic bag over her head and almost suffocated her," Berman said.
Ray has also been accused of using violence and food and sleep deprivation against three female victims, FOX News reported.
He allegedly forced them to work at a family member's property in North Carolina, "sometimes forcing them to work in the middle of the night, all for no pay."
A neighbor told WCBS that he knew something fishy was going on at that house.
“All times of the night – 2, 3-o-clock in the morning – they’re still out there working,” he said. “I’ve been here probably about 4, 4.5 years and always questioned that house.”
Ray had a shady criminal past even before he moved into the dorm and indoctrinated his daughter’s roommate, FOX News reported.
He was former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik’s best man at his wedding.
But when Kerik was nominated for Homeland Security secretary under President George Bush, Ray had been indicted in a $40 million stock scam and told authorities that he had paid for the top cop’s wedding and that Kerik had failed to report thousands of dollars in gifts he had accepted while he was working for the city, FOX News reported.
Kerik ended up serving four years in prison for tax fraud, making false statements, and charges related to gifts that he had accepted while he was police commissioner.
The disgraced former police commissioner told FOX News in an email that he wished the authorities had realized that Ray was a conman back when he was testifying against Kerik.
"In their zeal to destroy me and my family, they ignored his lies, deceit and inconsistencies," Kerik said. "Hopefully, this indictment will be the end of his reign of terror on everyone he has conned, manipulated, or deceived, and the children he has hurt."
Ray has been charged with nine counts of sex trafficking, extortion, forced labor, and money laundering in connection with his daughter’s former college roommates, FOX News reported.
Sarah Lawrence College released a written statement in response to the announcement, WCBS reported.
“Sarah Lawrence College has just learned of the indictment of a former parent in the Southern District of New York. The charges contained in the indictment are serious, wide-ranging, disturbing, and upsetting. As always the safety and well-being of our students and alumni is a priority for the College,” the statement said.
“In April 2019, New York Magazine published a range of accusations about this former parent,” it continued. “At that time, the College undertook an internal investigation regarding the specific activities alleged in the article to have occurred on our campus in 2011; the investigation did not substantiate those specific claims.”
The school said it has not yet been contacted by prosecutors but would cooperate if they were asked, WCBS reported.