Lawrence Ray, the father who moved into his daughter’s dorm room at Sarah Lawrence and allegedly proceeded to indoctrinate her roommates into a cult, has been charged with exploitation, engaging in sex trafficking, extortion, and forced labor.
Last April, New York Magazine published a lengthy report alleging that Ray extorted the students; coerced them into sexual acts with each other, him, and his friends; and used physical abuse and humiliation in order to manipulate the students into hours of unpaid manual labor, after which he allegedly charged them thousands of dollars in “damages” for mistakes he claimed they made. The parents of three of Ray’s victims say that they paid him more than $200,000 out of fear for their children’s safety, and were forced to sell their house in order to cover debts Ray convinced them their children owed. Two of Ray’s alleged victims attempted suicide after months of “family meetings,” in which the college students, coached by Ray, recounted often invented traumas they say that Ray then used to distance them from their families so that he could more completely control their lives. At the time the report was published, two of the women included in the story were still living with Ray, and one woman had allegedly worked as an escort to pay off the debts they believed were owed him.
In the New York Magazine report, families of the alleged victims said that they reported Ray to both the police and to Sarah Lawrence administration but were told by both that nothing could be done, as all parties involved were over 18.
The indictment also charges Ray with attempting to launder the more than one million dollars he is accused of extorting from the students. He was arrested on February 11 at his home in Piscataway, N.J.