A New Jersey man who moved into his daughter’s dorm at Sarah Lawrence College was indicted Tuesday on charges that he subjected a group of her friends “to sexual and psychological manipulation and physical abuse,” according to an indictment unsealed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York.
Lawrence Ray, also known as Lawrence Grecco, was charged with extortion, sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy and trafficking, two counts of use of interstate commerce to promote unlawful activity and money laundering, according to authorities.
The 60-year-old was arrested at his home in Piscataway on Tuesday morning.
The charges come nearly 10 years after Ray moved into on-campus housing at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers with his daughter, who was a sophomore at the time. According to the indictment, Ray began holding “therapy” sessions with some of his daughter’s roommates and presented “himself as a father figure.”
By 2011, a number of the college students began living with Ray at an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, authorities said. Through the therapy sessions, Ray convinced several of the victims that they were “broken” and “in need of fixing,” according to the indictment.
He used this authority to gain power over the young adults and alienate them from their parents, authorities said.
Ray often held interrogation sessions that lasted hours, according to the indictment, and allegedly subjected the victims to “sleep deprivation, psychological and sexual humiliation, verbal abuse, threats of physical violence, physical violence and threats of criminal legal action.”
He allegedly made one woman work as a prostitute and Ray obtained the majority of woman’s proceeds, which authorities said amounted to over $500,000, through “force, threats of force, fraud and coercion,” according to the indictment.
Ray also allegedly made some of the young adults under his control perform manual labor at a family property in Pinehurst, N.C, authorities said. He allegedly “berated” them, restricted their access to food and became violent when he thought they were doing an inadequate job, according to the indictment.
Authorities allege that Ray laundered around $1 million in proceeds from criminal activity through numerous bank accounts, including some of the victims.
Over the last decade, authorities said at least seven young adults were victims of Ray’s allegedly abusive behavior.
Ray’s alleged criminal behavior first came to light in April 2019 after New York Magazine published a story, “The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence,” detailing how Ray was able to move in to a college dorm and assert power over a group of young adults that eventually led to psychological and sexual abuse.
Officials at the college told the magazine they had no record that Ray lived on campus “at any time” and declined to comment further.
According to the New York Times, a law enforcement official said that the magazine story prompted the federal investigation that led to the charges.
Ray is expected to be appear in court Tuesday afternoon in Manhattan.
According to New York Magazine, Ray previously co-owned Malibu, a now-defunct nightclub in Scotch Plains.
Joe Atmonavage may be reached at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @monavage.
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