College sex cult leader who lived in daughter’s dorm is found guilty of crimes
NEW YORK — The leader of the Sarah Lawrence College sex cult was found guilty Wednesday and now faces life in prison for a decade of physical, mental and sexual abuse of a group of wayward college kids.
The Manhattan jury brought down the guilty verdict on all 15 counts. Lawrence Ray, wearing all white, stood motionless as the verdict was read.
It took the panel roughly a half-day to convict Ray, 62, of racketeering conspiracy for his 10-year reign atop “The Ray Family,” preying on the vulnerable young friends of his daughter at the bucolic Bronxville college. Testimony and evidence, including videos filmed by Ray himself, showed he systematically broke down his victims until he controlled every aspect of their lives.
Ray’s followers said on the stand they lost their sense of self in his web of lies, conspiracies, threats and violence. Video footage showed them behaving as if in a trance. They hit themselves when he demanded it, laughed at his abuse of others and, in at least one case, went into prostitution and gave Ray the proceeds.
For Santos Rosario, 30, it wasn’t until he met with federal prosecutors after Ray’s arrest in 2020 that he finally snapped out from under Ray’s hypnotic spell.
“I remember thinking ... that I wouldn’t ever treat anyone the way he was treating me,” Rosario testified. “And that kind of led to the thought that maybe, just maybe, I was wrong about Larry. And that it was OK to think that.”
Ray viciously physically and sexually abused his followers under the guise of helping them. At the same time, he convinced the youngsters that they were poisoning him as part of a bizarre plot orchestrated by Ray’s’ nemesis, former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik.
“I was very dependent on Larry. The relationship meant pretty much the world to me,” said one victim, Claudia Drury.
In some instances, Ray convinced his alleged victims that they had poisoned or otherwise harmed him, and that they needed to pay him back, prosecutors said.
One woman testified that she became a sex worker to try to pay reparations to Ray after becoming convinced that she had poisoned him. She said that, over four years, she gave Ray $2.5 million in installments that averaged between $10,000 and $50,000 per week.
Ray’s lawyers maintained he was victimized by former friends who fabricated their stories.
Ray, who has been incarcerated since his early 2020 arrest, did not testify. Twice, the trial was interrupted as he was taken to the hospital in an ambulance for undisclosed illnesses.
Several of the students testified that they were drawn into Ray’s world as he told them stories of his past influence in New York City politics, including his role in ruining the career of former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik after serving as the best man at his wedding years earlier. Ray had, in fact, been a figure in the corruption investigation that derailed Kerik’s nomination to lead the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Some of the students agreed to live with Ray in the summer of 2011 at his Manhattan one-bedroom apartment, where his sinister side emerged as he started to claim that the students had poisoned and harmed him.
To make amends, they testified, they did what he asked, including turning over money. One man said he gave Ray over $100,000.
Prosecutors said the money was never enough, though. Through threats and violence and videotaped “confessions,” Ray tightened his hold on the young people, including forcing them to work at the North Carolina home of his stepfather for weeks in 2013, they said.