Con Man Led a Horrifying Sex Cult at Sarah Lawrence College

Inside the bizarre circumstances at the prestigious liberal arts school

Sarah Lawrence cult
Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.
(Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty)

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Liberal arts colleges are infamously insular, privileged communities, but within the safety bubble of the prestigious Sarah Lawrence College, a New York con man allegedly led a secret cult of brainwashed undergrads for years.

Lawrence “Larry” Ray became the ringleader of a cult at the college after moving in with his daughter and her friends in 2010, according to a recent New York magazine expose.

From a nondescript dorm room in the center of the school’s Bronxville campus, Ray reportedly manipulated the students, controlling their lives, isolating them from their families and convincing them to give him money and sex.

“He controlled every aspect of our lives,” an ex-boyfriend of Ray’s daughter told the magazine. “When we ate, what we did, when we went to bed.”

Through a pseudo-psychological “self-improvement” system, Ray gained increasing control over the undergrads, forcing them to reveal their personal traumas and write signed confessions claiming to have intentionally harmed their ringleader.

Over time, the middle-aged man’s tactics became increasingly violent and sexual in nature. Ray reportedly forced some of the co-eds to engage in sexual situations, which he sometimes joined. One student, Daniel Barban Levin, told New York Magazine he was once coerced to wear a dress and penetrate himself in front of the group. He also recalled being forced to wear a “necklace” of aluminum foil balls around his genitals, which Ray then twisted until Levin lost circulation.

“I was horrified and scared and crying,” Levin told the magazine.

Ray, a former friend of disgraced ex-NYPD cop Bernie Kerik, had a history of manipulative and criminal behavior, and was convicted of securities fraud back in 2003.

“Larry Ray is a psychotic con man who has victimized every friend he’s ever had,” Kerik told the magazine. “It’s been close to 20 years since I last heard from him, yet his reign of terror continues.”

Over the course of his time at Sarah Lawrence, Ray had successfully demanded an estimated $200,000 dollars from at least one of the students under his control. Ray reportedly told the magazine that his victims had made a combined 12 suicide attempts.

While some of the students managed to escape, Ray reportedly remains in contact and continues to live with some of them. Ray, along with many of the former students involved in his cult, denied the article’s allegations. “My intentions are honorable intentions,” he said.

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