NEW YORK (AP) — Two former students are suing Sarah Lawrence College, arguing the New York school failed to protect them from Lawrence Ray, who moved into his daughter's dorm after getting out of prison and then manipulated her friends and roommates into cult-like relationships.
Ray was convicted last year of charges including racketeering, conspiracy, forced labor and sex trafficking after weeks of testimony chronicling his manipulative relationship with young people in his daughter’s circle.
Some said they were coerced into prostitution or turned over earnings and savings to Ray over abusive relationships that lasted for years.
Ray was sentenced in January to 60 years in prison by a judge who called him an “evil genius” who used sadism and psychological torture to control his victims.
The plaintiffs, who also include the sister of one of the students, allege in a lawsuit filed late last month that Sarah Lawrence was partly to blame for their ordeal.
The lawsuit says Ray made little attempt to hide the fact that he had moved in with his daughter in 2010 after finishing a prison sentence for securities fraud, and was allowed to remain on the campus “while he committed acts of manipulation, grooming, sexual abuse, food deprivation and sleep deprivation.”
They say college officials ignored the presence of a then-50-year-old man who moved into his daughter’s dormitory and “immediately integrated himself into the lives of the young people who lived in it.”
A college spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the school had “deep sympathy” for Ray’s victims, but that it wouldn’t comment on the litigation “beyond noting that we believe the facts will tell a different story than the unproven allegations made in the complaint that has been filed.”
Ray lived in the dorm for nearly an entire academic year, the lawsuit says, and during that time several students, community members and parents contacted the college to complain about Ray's abusive behavior, yet the college “did nothing to investigate or intervene to prevent harm to Plaintiffs.”
The plaintiffs say Ray made himself so thoroughly at home that he once set off a fire alarm by cooking a meal.
Ray was the only person in the dorm room when firefighters and college security arrived, the lawsuit says, and no one from the college asked Ray what he was doing there. Nor was he monitored after the fire “to ensure he was not residing at the dormitory with the college students,” according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs in the Nov. 21 civil lawsuit say they were abused and manipulated by Ray for years after leaving college in locations including a Manhattan condominium and a home in Piscataway, New Jersey.
The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages for their pain and suffering as well as health care costs and lost potential income.