Scranton, Pa

Lawrence “Larry” Ray on Trial, Convicted of Sex Trafficking and Forced Labor at Sarah Lawrence College

Posted: May 12, 2022

On, April 6, 2022, Lawrence “Larry” Ray was convicted on all counts by a Manhattan jury after pleading not guilty to several charges, including sex trafficking, extortion, forced labor and money laundering. Ray was accused of psychologically manipulating his daughter’s roommates into a “life of servitude and maniacal rituals” between 2010 and 2020 at Sarah Lawrence College.

After serving a prison sentence in 2010 for a federal securities fraud conviction, Ray moved in with his daughter, Talia Ray, in her dorm suite at Sarah Lawrence College. While living in the college dorm, Ray injected himself into Talia’s and her roommate’s lives, promising to lead them towards, “a better and more honest life.” He further told them that if they shared their “deepest feelings,” he could help them gain “clarity and discipline.”  Ray put himself in the position of “spiritual and life counselor” to his daughter, her roommate, and several other individuals. He then used this influence to manipulate, abuse, and exploit the young women.

Over the course of several years, Ray cemented his control over his student victims using physical abuse, emotional manipulation, and blackmail. One of his victims, Claudia Drury, testified Ray suffocated her with a plastic bag and tortured her for several hours in 2018. Another victim testified that Ray called her his “wife” and she believed they were in a romantic relationship. Ray isolated the students from friends and family, using means of financial control, and would take away basic human needs like food and sleep. Additionally, Ray forced his victims into abusive “chores,” and often made them engage in sexual encounters together and with others. Drury testified that Ray forced her to sell sex and he convinced her that she owed him large sums of money, she allegedly paid him between $10,000 and $50,000 a week for four years.

In 2013, Ray took victims, Felicia and Yalitza, to North Carolina, and forced the sisters into unpaid labor at his stepfather’s property. The sisters testified that Ray would ration their food and make them sleep outside on the front porch. Furthermore, Ray demanded money from his alleged victims for their “supposed wrongs.” The students would have to ask their friends and family for money since they could not afford the high amounts Ray demanded.  Following Ray’s alleged abuse, several victims were hospitalized for psychiatric issues.

In April 2019, New York Magazine published an article on Ray detailing his alleged abuse, Ray was arrested approximately ten months later. On March 8, 2022, Ray went to trial. Twice during Ray’s three-and-a-half-week trial, he was rushed out of court on a stretcher after complaining of “medical ailment.” Defense attorneys for Ray claimed he was the real victim and the students put stories in his head and manipulated him. Ray is scheduled to be sentenced in September 2022. The sex trafficking charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum life sentence.

The CSE Institute commends the victims in this case for courageously telling their stories. We applaud the federal prosecutors’ efforts in bringing this case to trial and recognizing that sex trafficking can happen anywhere, even on a college campus. The CSE Institute will provide updates as they become available.

All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or of Villanova University.

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