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Larry Ray is many things.
He is a father, political influencer, former best man to one-time New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik — and leader of a bizarre college cult that sprang up after he moved into his daughter’s college dorm room in 2010.
“I have to say, he is one of the worst, if not the worst cult leader I have ever heard of,” cult expert Janja Lalich said in Peacock’s “Sex, Lies and The College Cult,” describing Ray as “the epitome of a malignant narcissist.”
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams described Ray as an “evil man” who used “violence, threats and psychological abuse to try and control and destroy” the lives of his daughter’s friends.
“He exploited them. He terrorized them. He tortured them. Let me be very clear. Larry Ray is a predator. An evil man who did evil things,” Williams said after Ray’s conviction earlier this year.
Larry Ray, 62, was raised in Brooklyn, New York. He later portrayed himself as a former Marine and impressed his followers with war stories that demonstrated his bravery, but, according to New York Magazine, he actually only served 19 days with the Air Force in 1981.
After leaving the military, Ray married, had a daughter, and became involved in the worlds of business and politics, eventually forming a friendship with former New York City police commissioner Bernie Kerik. He even served as Kerik’s best man in his wedding and arranged a meeting between then-NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union, according to the outlet.
The friendship ended after Ray was convicted of securities fraud in 2003 and was sentenced to five years of probation. He ended up in prison in 2007 after violating his probation. After Kerik refused to use his political connections to help Ray out of the legal troubles, Ray became a witness in a federal case against Kerik that resulted in Kerik being convicted for tax fraud, ethics violations, and criminal false statements, Law & Crime reported.
Ray instituted himself as a fixture in his daughter’s life in 2010 after he was released from prison and moved into her dorm room at Sarah Lawrence College. It’s there authorities say he began to hold “therapy” sessions with his daughter’s friends to help them with their “psychological problems,” according to an indictment in the case.
Using tactics like sleep deprivation, humiliation, violence, or threats, Ray forced some of his victims to confess to supposed crimes in videos, which he’d later use to extort money from them, authorities said.
The years of abuse and manipulation finally came to an end after the shocking exposé in New York Magazine in 2019, catching the eye of the FBI and launching a formal investigation.
These days, Ray now has a new identifier, inmate 58374-053 in MDC Brooklyn, as he awaits sentencing for a slew of criminal charges, according to jail records.
Ray was convicted in April of charges including racketeering conspiracy, violent crime in aid of racketeering, extortion, sex trafficking, forced labor, tax evasion, and money laundering offenses.
Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, told Oxygen.com that Ray, who’s facing a possible life sentence, is expected to be sentenced in December.
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