Just ahead of the start of alleged sex cult NXIVM leader Keith Raniere’s trial this week, New York magazine has dropped a major story detailing another apparent sex cult, this one at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. According to the deeply horrifying piece, the cult was headed by a student’s father, who moved into his daughter’s dorm and began manipulating her roommates under the guise of life-coaching.
According to New York magazine, the father in question is Lawrence Ray, a notorious New York con man and former friend of disgraced ex-NYC Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik. Ray allegedly moved into his daughter’s dorm in 2010, when she was a sophomore, and convinced her friends to take part in his “core program of personal transformation,” a moneymaking venture which would require them to follow his orders and live under his rule.
The program consisted of serious emotional manipulation, with Ray allegedly pushing the students to dig into underlying childhood trauma (much of it invented) that sought to alienate them from their families. As the students got pulled deeper into the cult, Ray allegedly began exploiting them sexually:
One night, Isabella came out of the bedroom and began kissing Daniel on the couch. At first, he thought Isabella was acting on a crush, but a few weeks later Larry ushered the two of them into the bedroom, instructing Daniel and Isabella to have sex while he watched. The sessions became regular, and Larry would sometimes participate. He made it seem as if his presence were part of Daniel’s and Isabella’s journeys to clarity. Once, Larry invited Chen, his friend the landlord, to join them.
“I got so freaked out,” Daniel says. “There was no consent in that situation. Isabella may have seemed to be pursuing all of this, but her mind was being twisted by Larry.”
At points, Ray even allegedly became violent:
In a confession session that night, Daniel denied having anything to do with the missed deadline. Unhappy with Daniel’s denial, Larry crushed pieces of aluminum foil into little balls and rolled them up inside a string of Saran Wrap, fashioning what Daniel described as a “necklace” of metal lumps. Larry called it a garrote. In front of the group, Larry ordered Daniel to wrap the contraption around his testicles and penis, then Larry began twisting it. The metal cut off circulation to his genitals and dug into his flesh.
Though some students, like Daniel (whose name was changed for the article to remain anonymous) were eventually able to escape Ray, others were pulled in much deeper. One woman allegedly became an escort in an effort to pay Ray back for “damages” he claimed she caused his property. Two women still live with Ray, who refers to each of them as his “wife.” A number of students allegedly also made suicide attempts while under Ray’s influence
There’s much more wild shit in the whole report, which you can read here. Ray’s attorney, Glenn Ripa, denies the allegations.