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Sarah Lawrence ‘sex cult leader’ accused of witness tampering

The Sarah Lawrence ‘sex cult leader’ who allegedly moved into his daughter’s college apartment then turned all her friends against each other and forced them to have sex has been accused of witness tampering from his jail cell. 

Lawrence Ray is in custody on charges including extortion, sex trafficking and forced labor for his alleged abuses of young men and women who his daughter introduced him to when he went to stay with them after getting out of prison in 2010. 

On Wednesday, prosecutors filed new papers in court claiming he’d been trying to ‘control’ two of the women from his jail cell. 

They say he speaks to his own father on the phone in ‘code’ and that the father then gets messages to the young women. 

In one, Ray is said to have promised to marry one of the women if they stay loyal to him throughout the criminal proceedings.  

Prosecutors said Ray told pretrial services employees after his arrest that one woman was his common-law wife and the other was like a daughter he had ‘assumed guardianship over.’

Yet, prosecutors said, Ray has now told his father to tell the ‘supposed daughter’ that he would ‘marry’ her and to ‘make sure she knows that.’

‘These messages are plainly designed to tamper with witnesses and deter these women from cooperating in the government’s investigation,’ prosecutors wrote. 

According to prosecutors, in one phone call, he told his father of the government’s plans to make the women testify: ‘That’s never going to happen. 

‘What they’re going on is not the truth.’ 

Prosecutors say they have tens of thousands of video files and more than 150,000 audio files among over 15 terabytes of electronic evidence against Ray.

The government also said he’d been continuing to communicate with two women he was living with when he was arrested, and that he had incriminating videos and photographs of them that showed them performing sex acts at his instruction. 

The videos were designed to ‘debase’ the women, prosecutors said. 

Ray was arrested in March on a New Jersey property. At the time of his arrest, he was found in bed with an alleged female victim who he was the legal ‘guardian’ of at the time. 

Ray told investigators he was like a father figure to the woman in bed with him and allegedly likened her to a daughter.

But investigators say they have evidence including videos showing how Ray ‘sexually groomed’ the woman and filmed her having sex with other men.

One video shows Ray calling the victim he was found in bed with a criminal and berating her as she sobbed.

Another video showed him grabbing her by the hair and forcing her out of the house, prosecutors said.

‘He belittled and humiliated them. He broke their spirits,’ Sassoon said describing how Ray ran his ring of followers.

Ray subjected his victims to ‘sexual and psychological manipulation and physical abuse’ from 2010 to 2018, indictment stated.

Ray seemed to smirk in court as prosecutors built their case against the scammer, revealing he made nearly $2million in just two years by forcing one of his victims into prostitution.

Investigators found ledgers at his residence showing that he earned an ‘astonishing’ amount in running the cult.

He earned over $700,000 through one victim’s prostitution in 2017 and more than $1million in 2018 through the same victim, Sassoon said.

Prosecutors believe the woman was seeing more and more clients to meet Ray’s demands.

The cash payments by this woman were collected by a female associate of Ray and deposited into bank accounts that he had access to, prosecutors said.

Ray began his cult in 2010 when he showed up to his daughter’s university after being released from prison and stayed with her and her roommates in their dormitory.

That’s where he presented himself as a father figure and began conducting ‘therapy’ sessions where he learned intimate details about their lives, their mental struggles, and convinced them they were ‘broken’ and needed his guidance.

He took the private journals of his victims and elicited false confessions from them to keep his followers close.

Prosecutors say he was able to run his cult for so long because he convinced victims that they owed him money for property damage or claimed that they poisoned him.

He’s been charged with a slew of offenses including extortion, sex trafficking, forced labor and money laundering in running the cult.

But this isn’t his first run in with the law. He has a lengthy rap sheet with offenses including a securities fraud conviction, orders of protection stemming from child custody battles and a physical confrontation with U.S. marshals arresting him for bail jumping.

However, Ray’s attorneys claim that the New York Magazine article that exposed his band of followers as ‘false and sensational stories’.

One of the alleged victims in the magazine article has signed a book deal and is trying to make a movie out of his experience, Ray’s attorney Marne Lenox said.

A female victim mentioned in the story was ‘prone to hyperbole and exaggerations as an attention-seeking mechanism,’ she added.  

Ray was previously known for helping send ex-New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, a onetime close confidant of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, to prison. At the time, Ray, who had been the best man at Kerik´s wedding, was under indictment in a $40 million stock scam. 

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