Electronics seized from home of Sarah Lawrence College dad accused of running sex cult out of daughter’s dorm room
Federal authorities have seized as many as 40 electronic devices from the home of an ex-convict who is charged with running a sex cult out of his daughter’s dorm room at Sarah Lawrence College, according to prosecutors.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Sassoon told a judge that statements Lawrence Ray made after his Tuesday arrest will be turned over to defense lawyers so they can prepare for trial.
Ray, 60, has been charged with nine counts of sex trafficking, extortion, forced labor and money laundering. At his arraignment Wednesday, he pleaded not guilty. He waived having his charges read aloud and said he understood the charges.
The government has requested another two weeks for investigators to acquire necessary warrants and to sort through the evidence, including some 20 to 40 electronic devices that were seized Tuesday at Ray’s Piscataway, N.J., residence.
Sassoon said investigators who conducted about 17 interviews with victims were told that Ray would sometimes use a woman’s electronic device to take sexually explicit materials and then seize that device.
She said he would direct victims to write “sensitive and incriminating things” in journals that he would then use against them.
The prosecutor said evidence that would eventually be shown to defense lawyers under secrecy rules meant to protect the identities of the victims included videos of Ray berating a victim and sexually explicit content that relates to the extortion.
At the time of Ray’s arrest, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said Ray used “physical, sexual and psychological abuse” to extort money from five different students at Sarah Lawrence College, a private liberal arts college outside New York City.
He convinced them they were indebted to him, subjecting them to “grueling interrogations” that spanned hours and deprived them of food and sleep, Berman said. At least one of the women was forced into prostitution and Ray collected more than $500,000 from her, prosecutors said.
Ray solicited false confessions from more than a half-dozen victims and coerced them to make payments they didn’t actually owe and couldn’t afford, according to prosecutors.
His next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 26 at 3 p.m.
Fox News’ Marta Dhanis and The Associated Press contributed to this report.