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The father of a former Sarah Lawrence College student is accused of making almost $2 million in just two years by forcing one of his daughter’s friends into prostitution and then reaping the financial benefits of the sexual trysts, according to federal prosecutors.
Prosecutors revealed new details of the case against 60-year-old Lawrence Ray Monday at a bail hearing in Manhattan federal court, according to The New York Post.
Ray allegedly kept detailed records of profits he made from forcing the unidentified woman into prostitution. She allegedly handed over $700,000 in 2017 and more than $1 million in 2018, federal prosecutors said.
The money was allegedly given to female associates of the 60-year-old Ray and then deposited into bank accounts where he had access to the funds, prosecutors said.
Ray is facing charges of extortion, sex trafficking and forced labor after federal prosecutors said he used “physical and psychological threats and coercion to indoctrinate and exploit” his daughter’s college roommates after moving in with them in a scheme that went on for years, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Ray allegedly used tactics such as sleep deprivation, psychological and sexual humiliation, physical violence and verbal abuse to isolate his alleged victims and gain control over them, by forcing them to make “false confessions” about supposed damages they owed to him and his family.
Ray is accused of then using these taped confessions to extort the students, forcing them to repay the supposed debts by draining their parents’ savings accounts, opening lines of credits, or carrying out forced labor, according to the statement.
In court Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Sassoon said that when authorities arrested Ray he had been in bed with a woman who he was the guardian of and who he claimed had been like a daughter to him, the Rockland/Westchester Journal News reports. The unidentified woman had once been his daughter’s roommate.
Prosecutors believe Ray, who once served as the best man in former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik’s wedding, “sexually groomed” the woman by filming her having sex with other men and using verbal and physical abuse to gain control. One video obtained by prosecutors allegedly showed Ray verbally berating the woman as she sobbed, while another 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, according to The New York Daily News.
A second woman was also at the home at the time of Ray’s arrest, according to prosecutors.
“There were other victims still very much under his control at the time of his arrest,” Sassoon said in court.
The investigation into Ray’s alleged behavior began after a New York magazine article was published last spring.
Assistant federal defender Marne Lenox called the magazine’s report “false and salacious” and questioned the credibility of some of the students involved in the case, saying the female sex worker was a drug abuser with serious mental health issues and describing one of the males in the case as a “storyteller by trade,” according to the Rockland/Westchester Journal News. She said that man has already sold his memoir about the case to a publisher.
“Mr. Ray has every intention of telling his story,” she said, adding that he planned to fight the charges against him.
Lenox had advocated that Ray be released on $100,000 bond and confined to his home through electronic monitoring, arguing that he was not a threat to the public or a flight risk.
However, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Fox denied bail and ordered Ray to remain in custody at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.
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