*Warning: This story contains some disturbing themes.
There will be talk of emotional, physical and psychological abuse, grooming, gaslighting, sex trafficking, extortion and more.
The relatively quiet suburb of Bronxville, New York was rocked recently by a story that seems like the kind of thing that only happens in movies where Liam Neeson is angry.
Sarah Lawrence College is considered a quiet and prestigious school. Certainly not the type of place you would expect to find a person who is practically a one-man crime syndicate and cult leader.
But that's exactly what happened.
In 2010, a man named Lawrence V. Ray moved into his daughter's college dorm after his release from prison. Yeah ... that's your first red flag right there.
And there are so, so many red flags in this story...
We don't know how Mr. Ray was able to live in his daughter's dorm without being removed by school officials. The student body of Lawrence College is only between 1500 and 2000 students.
Someone absolutely should have noticed. How was he able to get away with this?
To answer that, we turn to his past.
For years Lawrence Ray had bragged about his connections to the mob as well as the government and military. Most people who heard him would have brushed him off as a liar—an older man trying to lend himself an air of danger around these younger college kids.
Most people would have been wrong.
We don't know a lot of details, but there are a few things that can be confirmed and they add up to paint a portrait of a man not to be trifled with.
- Mr. Ray was a federal informant in the 90's, during which time he gave up insider info on the Gambino family.
- Mr. Ray likely worked for United States intelligence in Kosovo.
- Mr. Ray was a key figure in setting up a meeting between NY mayor Rudy Giuliani and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
- NYC Police Comissioner Bernard Kerik (a man many consider terrifying in his own right) spoke about Mr. Ray in a New York magazine article. It's worth noting that Kerik had been a close friend; Mr. Ray had even been the best man at Kerik's wedding. Kerik had this to say: "Larry Ray is a psychotic con man who has victimized every friend he's ever had. It's been close to 20 years since I last heard from him, yet his reign of terror continues."
The students of Sarah Lawrence college would not have stood a chance against a man with the kind of training, experience and connections that Mr. Ray would likely have. Perhaps that's how he was able to manipulate and abuse several of them for a period of almost ten years—continuing well beyond their time at Sarah Lawrence college.
According to charges filed, Mr. Ray terrorized a group of students in a calculated and systematic way.
He only lived at the college for a few months in 2010, but that was enough time to lay the groundwork. He presented himself as a person who could help his daughter's friends with their problems and began doing "therapy sessions" with some of them.
An older man with ties to military intelligence giving unlicensed "therapy" to younger vulnerable college kids?
Over time, those "therapy" sessions devolved into manipulation and gas lighting. Mr. Ray convinced some of the students to separate from their families and move with him to a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan.
There, he was able to really kick things into high gear.
The treatments escalated and began to include sleep deprivation and interrogations that lasted hours and often included physical violence, psychological torment and threats. Using those and other tactics, Mr. Ray was able to get the students to confess to crimes they did not, and could not have, committed.
Those crimes included things like damaging Mr. Ray's property or harming him or his family. He then used those false confessions to extort money and labor from the students.
He video taped those confessions and would sometimes upload them to social media sites. One video, uploaded in 2017, shows a disoriented young woman confessing to trying to poison Mr. Ray.
For one student it meant Mr. Ray was able to force her into several years of prostitution—with him taking her earnings. When she resisted, he tied her to a chair and placed a plastic bag over her head.
She nearly suffocated.
Mr. Ray was able to convince several of the students to leave New York and go to North Carolina to do manual labor on one of his properties for no pay. He convinced them that they needed to do it to work off their debts to him.
Those who could not earn the money to pay him often turned to their parents' bank accounts—draining hundreds of thousands of dollars for Mr. Ray. All told, he raked in about a million dollars, which he shared with at least two accomplices who are as of yet unnamed.
Ray now faces charges including extortion, money laundering and sex trafficking.
The story rocked the college, the greater NY area and now the world.
If you or someone you know believes you have been a victim of Lawrence Ray, the FBI is asking that you reach out by calling 800-CALL-FBI.