NEW YORK (WPIX) -- The father of a Sarah Lawrence College student was indicted on charges Tuesday for allegedly manipulating, abusing and extorting his daughter’s friends and other victims in a scheme netting him about $1 million over nearly a decade, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said.
Lawrence Ray, 60, coerced false confessions from at least seven victims who admitted damages to him, his family, or friends and then extorted restitution in large sums of money, unpaid labor or prostitution, according to the indictment. He allegedly laundered the money through an online business.
The alleged abuse was first reported in April 2019 by New York Magazine.
Ray’s psychological and physical abuse began after he moved into his daughter’s on-campus housing during her sophomore year in late 2010 and started “therapy” sessions with some of her roommates, according to the indictment. He allegedly used these sessions to prey on their vulnerabilities and mental health problems.
By summer 2011, some of the victims moved into an apartment with Ray on the Upper East Side and introduced him to other victims.
While living at Sarah Lawrence College and in the Manhattan apartment, Ray would interrogate the victims for hours and often employed such tactics as sleep deprivation, sexual and psychological humiliation, verbal and physical abuse, and threats until they made the false confessions, according to the indictment.
To pay Ray back for their alleged debts or crimes, the victims drained their parents’ savings accounts, opened credit lines, sold real estate and performed unpaid labor on a property in North Carolina, according to the indictment. In one case, Ray allegedly coerced a victim to repay her supposed debts through prostitution and collected nearly $500,000 from her.
Ray, of Piscataway, New Jersey, faces a slew of charges, including sex trafficking, conspiracy to commit extortion, extortion, obtaining forced labor, labor trafficking and money laundering. If convicted on the top charge, he could face up to life in prison.