The Ray Family Cult: Lawrence Ray convicted of exploiting his daughter’s friends in the sex cult case at Sarah Lawrence College

NEW YORK — A man who moved into his daughter’s dorm and charmed her schoolmates with stories of his wisdom was convicted Wednesday on charges of exploiting the close-knit group and using threats and violence to enrich himself millions of dollars.

Lawrence Ray, 62, was convicted in a trial in which weeks of testimony chronicled his psychologically manipulative relationship with young people he met in the fall of 2010 at Sarah Lawrence College, a small New York liberal arts college. Ray moved into his daughter’s dorm after completing a prison sentence for a securities fraud conviction.

Sentencing was set for September 16 on charges including racketeering, conspiracy, forced labour, sex trafficking and obstruction of justice. Ray, who stood with his arms by his side and faced the Manhattan jury as the 15-count guilty verdict was returned, could face a life sentence.

After the verdict was read, Ray was returned to custody, where he has been since his arrest in early 2020.

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His lawyers declined to comment outside of court and did not immediately respond to email messages seeking comment.

In a statement, US Attorney Damian Williams said Ray “transformed a group of friends who had their whole lives ahead of them.”

“Over the next decade, he used violence, threats, and psychological abuse to try to control and destroy her life,” Williams said. “He took advantage of her. He terrorized her. He tortured her. Let me be very clear. Larry Ray is a predator. A bad man who did bad things.

The jury concluded its deliberations less than a day after receiving the case after a month-long trial that included testimony from numerous victims who typically referred to Ray only as “Larry.” Some testified that Ray had led them to believe they had poisoned or otherwise harmed him and they had to pay him back.

One woman testified that she became a sex worker to try to pay reparations to Ray after she was convinced she had poisoned him. She said she gave Ray $2.5 million over four years in installments that averaged between $10,000 and $50,000 a week.

Ray’s lawyers claimed he was bullied by former friends who made up their stories.

Ray did not testify. Twice the process was interrupted when he was taken to the hospital by ambulance for unknown illnesses.

Several students testified that they were drawn into Ray’s world as he shared stories about his past influence on New York City politics, including his role in ruining the career of former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik after serving as best man at had served his marriage years earlier. Indeed, Ray had been a figure in the corruption investigation that thwarted Kerik’s appointment as head of the US Department of Homeland Security.

Some of the students agreed to live with Ray in his one-bedroom Manhattan apartment in the summer of 2011, where his darker side came out when he began to claim the students had poisoned and damaged him or his property.

To make amends, they testified, they did what he asked, including handing over money. One man said he gave Ray over $100,000.

Prosecutors said the money was never enough. Through threats and violence and videotaped “confessions,” Ray increased his influence on young people, including being forced to do landscaping and other work at his stepfather’s home in Pinehurst, North Carolina, in 2013, they said.

The abuse culminated in October 2018 when Ray repeatedly abused the woman who handed him her sex work earnings for hours, forcing her to be tied naked to a chair while he verbally abused her, choking her with a leash and holding her around her Fearing life caused a bag to be placed over his head, prosecutors said.

Ray carried out his crimes with the help of his daughter and Isabella Pollok, a woman who has pleaded not guilty, prosecutors said. Her trial is scheduled for later this year. The daughter was not charged.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The Ray Family Cult: Lawrence Ray convicted of exploiting his daughter’s friends in the sex cult case at Sarah Lawrence College

Dais Johnston

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