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The trial of a former Sarah Lawrence College dad accused of moving into his daughter’s dorm room and then sex trafficking, extorting and manipulating her friends for nearly a decade is set to begin Tuesday.
Lawrence Ray, 62, faces 16 counts including racketeering conspiracy, violent crime in aid of racketeering, sex trafficking and extortion. The jury selection was expected to begin Tuesday in Manhattan Federal Court, according to The New York Daily News.
Ray allegedly met his victims after moving into his daughter’s on-campus housing in 2010, shortly after being released from a New Jersey prison.
While living in the dorm room, authorities say he began to indoctrinate his daughter’s friends and roommates through his own “therapy” sessions to “help them with their psychological problems,” according to a federal indictment in the case.
But rather than helping the students, authorities have said that Ray subjected the students to “sexual and psychological manipulation and physical abuse” that went on for nearly a decade, even forcing one woman into engage in commercial sex acts for his financial benefit, authorities said.
“As alleged, for nearly a decade, Lawrence Ray exploited and abused young women and men emotionally, physically, and sexually for his own financial gain,” then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said when announcing the charges in 2020. “College is supposed to be a time of self-discovery and new-found independence. But as alleged, Lawrence Ray exploited that vulnerable time in his victims’ lives through a course of conduct that shocks the conscience.”
According to prosecutors, Ray forced his victims — who eventually moved with him to an Upper East Side apartment in Manhattan — to confess to alleged wrongdoing during videotaped “manipulative interrogation sessions.” He then used the recordings as blackmail to convince his alleged victims to repay him for “damages” he believed they owed him or coerce them into forced labor or sex trafficking.
During these interrogation sessions, investigators say Ray often made “false accusations” that the victims had either damaged the apartment or his property, harmed or sabotaged his family members, lied about their intentions or tried to poison him or his family members, according to the affidavit.
“Ray demanded confessions from the victims through tactics that included sleep deprivation, psychological and sexual humiliation, verbal abuse, threats of physical violence, physical violence and threats of criminal action,” the affidavit states, adding that he was ultimately able to extract “false confessions” from at least seven people.
He also allegedly forced one of the victims into prostitution and is accused of placing a plastic bag over her head while she struggled to breathe at a Manhattan hotel.
Prosecutors say Isabella Pollok, a former roommate of his daughter, helped him control his victims by helping him make the video recordings.
She’s also been indicted by federal authorities, but is not expected to go to trial until the summer, according to the New York Post.
Prosecutors have said in prior court filings that they may introduce statements made by Pollock, who they referred to as his “trusted lieutenant,” during Ray’s trial along with other statements made by his daughter, according to The New York Times.
Prosecutors said when announcing the charges that Ray was able to extort approximately $1 million from his victims over the years.
The allegations came to light after a New York Magazine article delved into the bizarre connection Ray had with his daughter’s college friends and their harrowing allegations of abuse.
The trial is expected to include testimony from his alleged victims and evidence such as journals and notes.
Prosecutors requested on Sunday in a letter to the judge that those exhibits document “sexually explicit, violent, or degrading circumstances” including evidence like “Backpage advertisements, containing explicit photographs, text messages with sexually explicit photographs and nude photographs” be filed under seal during the trial, according to the New York Post.
Ray, who once served as the best man in former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik’s wedding and allegedly was once connected to organized crime, pleaded guilty in 2003 to bribing an executive of a bond brokerage firm as part of a securities fraud scheme, according to the magazine.
He was sentenced to five years of probation, but later served time in the Northern State Prison in New Jersey for charges related to a child custody, according to The Times.
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