In April of 2019, The Cut published a story titled “The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence: What happened to the group of bright college students who fell under the sway of a classmate’s father?”
In the article, authors Ezra Marcus and James D. Walsh detail a sex-trafficking cult allegedly ran by a man named Lawrence “Larry” Ray of Brooklyn. The cult allegedly began in 2010 when Ray moved into his daughter Talia Ray’s residence on the Sarah Lawrence College campus in Yonkers, New York after being released from prison.
Once moved in, Larry allegedly began ingratiating himself to Talia’s classmates, acting like a “father figure” and doing things like cooking steak dinners, ordering expensive delivery, regaling her classmates with tales of his days as an international CIA operative, and counseling the students when they felt troubled or depressed.
Marcus and Walsh went on to explain how Ray would allegedly then use the information he gleaned during these regular “therapy” sessions to indoctrinate the students and isolate them from their parents so he could further control them and make them a part of his alleged sex trafficking cult.
Ray would use these “intimate details about their private lives, vulnerabilities, and mental health struggles with the pretense of helping them,” according to the indictment.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s office announced that Ray had been arrested by a joint NYPD-FBI task force at his home in Piscataway, New Jersey. At least one former college roommate of his daughter was at the home at the time, according to the New York Post.
The indictment also alleges that Ray would make false accusations against the students and when they denied the accusations he would allegedly interrogate them for hours using tactics like sleep deprivation, psychological and sexual humiliation, and physical abuse, coercing them into “confessing” on video that he would use as blackmail.
After they had falsely confessed, Ray allegedly would force them to drain “their parents’ savings in the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars, opening lines of credit … [and] selling real-estate ownership.”
Federal prosecutors stated in the indictment that Ray made half a million dollars using one co-ed that he had “sexually groomed” and blackmailed into more than four years of prostitution.
Following Ray’s arrest, officials at Sarah Lawrence College issued a statement which read, “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. In April 2019, New York Magazine published a range of accusations about this former parent. 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 claims.”
The 60-year-old now faces numerous federal charges including extortion, sex trafficking, forced labor, and money laundering.