Dad arrested for running sex cult out of daughter’s dorm room, authorities say
NEW YORK - An ex-convict from New Jersey was arrested by the FBI Tuesday on charges ranging from sex trafficking, extortion, forced labor and other offenses against his daughter's friends. The alleged sex cult took place out of the daughter's New York college dorm room.
Lawrence Ray, 60, was charged with nine counts of sex trafficking, extortion, forced labor, and money laundering.
Ray was with one of the victims identified in the indictment unsealed Tuesday and one of his daughter's roommates when he was taken into custody in Piscataway, said Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Ray, who was released from prison in 2010, moved into his daughter's dormitory at Sarah Lawrence College soon after and “subjected his victims to sexual and psychological manipulation and physical abuse," added Berman.
An article in New York Magazine published in April 2019 titled 'The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence,' sparked the investigation.
Ray allegedly convinced victims to move into an apartment in Manhattan and later Pinehurst, North Carolina, where he would counsel them about intimate aspects of their lives and mental health, said Berman. Ray would convince them that they were broken and that he could fix them.
"After gaining his victims' trust, Ray turned on them, falsely accusing them of harming him by attempting to poison him or to deliberately damage his property. Ray then subjected his victims to grueling interrogations and force them to confess to his baseless allegations," said Berman.
Ray would allegedly record the confessions.
He is accused of putting a knife to a victim's throat, threatening to dismember another victim, slapping a victim, and shoving another to the ground.
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He was also charged with money laundering after he allegedly obtained about $1 million from five different victims.
One of his victims worked as a prostitute to pay back the money she did not owe Ray, according to the FBI. He allegedly collected more than $500,000 from the woman through forced prostitution.
"There could be additional victims out there," said Berman.
"If you are a victim of Lawrence Ray or if you have additional information related to the charges announced today, we are asking you to call us at 1-800-CALL-FBI," said William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the FBI.
Sarah Lawrence College issued a statement saying it had launched an internal investigation after the article was published. The investigation did not substantiate specific claims about events allegedly taking place on campus in 2011, according to the statement.
Ray once acted as an informant for the FBI as they investigated disgraced former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik. The pair were friends and Ray served as best man at Kerik's wedding, FOX News reported.
Ray was due in court later Tuesday. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. It was unclear if he had a lawyer.