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A father accused of running a sex cult out of his daughter’s Sarah Lawrence dorm roomates once handcuffed a naked woman to a chair and suffocated her with a plastic bag because ‘she was slipping from his control,’ prosecutors said Thursday. 

Ex-convict Lawrence Ray was cast as a mobster-like figure who coerced young women to join his ‘family’ as he accumulated power, sex and money, by prosecutors. 

During opening arguments on Thursday, they claimed Ray forced alleged victim into a sex work enterprise so lucrative that she gave him $1 million in a single year. 

Ray, 60, stands accused of 17 counts including sex-trafficking, extortion, money laundering, violent crime in aid of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy and forced labor in a bizarre case that reaches back more than a decade.  

In 2010 Ray – real name Lawrence Grecco – moved into his daughter Talia’s dorm room in elite liberal arts establishment, Sarah Lawrence College, just north of New York City.

Fresh out of jail following charges related to a custody battle with his ex-wife, Ray slept on a dorm room couch and, prosecutors allege, set about dominating the lives of a group of his daughter’s friends.  

Assistant US Attorney Lindsey Keenan began her opening statement with a description of a gruesome October 2018 alleged attack.

She said Ray and another woman who served as his ‘trusted lieutenant’ found the victim they had ‘forced into a life of prostitution’ at a hotel, where Ray tortured her for hours to make sure she’d continue her sex work.  

The prosecutor said Ray used ‘violence, fear, sex and manipulation’ to gain sex, power and money. 

Prosecutors said during opening statements on Thursday that Lawrence Ray manipulated his daughter's Sarah Lawrence College dorm roommates to join his 'family,'

Prosecutors said during opening statements on Thursday that Lawrence Ray manipulated his daughter's Sarah Lawrence College dorm roommates to join his 'family,'

Prosecutors said during opening statements on Thursday that Lawrence Ray manipulated his daughter’s Sarah Lawrence College dorm roommates to join his ‘family,’

Ray has been incarcerated since his early 2020 arrest

Ray has been incarcerated since his early 2020 arrest

Ray has been incarcerated since his early 2020 arrest 

In September 2010, Ray moved in to his daughter Talia's student apartment in Sarah Lawrence College, New York. They are shown when she was a teenager

In September 2010, Ray moved in to his daughter Talia's student apartment in Sarah Lawrence College, New York. They are shown when she was a teenager

In September 2010, Ray moved in to his daughter Talia’s student apartment in Sarah Lawrence College, New York. They are shown when she was a teenager 

Lawrence Ray, who goes by Larry, is shown in a 2016 interview where he described being assaulted by a mafia boss. He is accused of manipulating his daughter's friends by turning them into a cult-like group

Lawrence Ray, who goes by Larry, is shown in a 2016 interview where he described being assaulted by a mafia boss. He is accused of manipulating his daughter's friends by turning them into a cult-like group

Lawrence Ray, who goes by Larry, is shown in a 2016 interview where he described being assaulted by a mafia boss. He is accused of manipulating his daughter’s friends by turning them into a cult-like group 

Ray’s lawyer told the Manhattan federal court jury during the trial Ray committed no federal crimes as he encircled himself with college-age ‘storytellers’ who claimed to have poisoned him and arranged to have him physically attacked.

‘You’ll see that Larry Ray is not guilty,’ attorney Allegra Glashausser said.

Ray, who once served as the best man at a wedding of former New York City police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, has been incarcerated since his early 2020 arrest. 

The abuse began in the fall of 2010 when Ray began living in his daughter’s on-campus small townhouse dormitory dwelling at Sarah Lawrence College, where he persuaded his daughter’s friends to stay the next summer at his Manhattan apartment, she said.

There, Keenan said, Ray learned their secrets and insecurities and exploited them, ‘profiting off their labor, their money and even their bodies.’

‘Once he gained control of their lives, … he took over their lives,’ she said.

The women were forced to do manual labor for Ray in 2013 in North Carolina at his stepfather’s home and obey his commands after he convinced them they owed him money for damaging some of his belongings or for trying to poison him, the prosecutor said.

Against threats to release their secrets and embarrassing videotaped moments to friends and family or on the internet, the women and at least one man complied with Ray’s demands, she said.

‘When shame and embarrassment were not enough, he relied on violence,’ Keenan said. ‘The victims had no choice. They lived in fear of the defendant.’

The allegations against Ray attained public prominence with the 2020 publication of ‘The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence,’ a New York magazine feature.

Glashausser, an assistant federal defender, disputed the prosecutor’s portrayal.

She said her client was seeking to reconnect with his daughter when he went to her dormitory and told stories about ‘hobnobbing’ with Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet Union president, being best man at Kerik’s wedding and having friends who were U.S. military generals. 

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Ray is accused of starving some of his victims by putting a padlock on the refrigerator while forcing them to carry out manual labor at a North Carolina property that he owned

Ray is accused of starving some of his victims by putting a padlock on the refrigerator while forcing them to carry out manual labor at a North Carolina property that he owned

Ray is accused of starving some of his victims by putting a padlock on the refrigerator while forcing them to carry out manual labor at a North Carolina property that he owned

This is the student housing where Ray lived with the students in 2010. He at first charmed them by cooking them meals and taking them out but soon started controlling them with 'group' therapy and counselling sessions

This is the student housing where Ray lived with the students in 2010. He at first charmed them by cooking them meals and taking them out but soon started controlling them with 'group' therapy and counselling sessions

This is the student housing where Ray lived with the students in 2010. He at first charmed them by cooking them meals and taking them out but soon started controlling them with ‘group’ therapy and counselling sessions 

Soon, the college students told stories about their own lives, embellishing them with tales of having drugged drug dealers and other exploits, she said.

‘This was not a criminal enterprise,’ Glashausser said. ‘This was a group of storytellers.’

Glashausser said some of the women battled mental illness issues and frightened Ray when they told him they had poisoned him, prompting him to seek help from prosecutors, the Environmental Protection Agency and journalists. She said they also set him up to be physically attacked.

She said the woman who became a sex worker ‘started escorting’ in 2015 when she could not afford her rent.

She said jurors would see videos her client had recorded and ‘see some things that are hard to watch.’

‘I’m not saying that Larry Ray is a saint,’ Glashausser said. ‘You don’t have to like him. But these things were not crimes.’

Source: Daily Mail

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