Larry Ray, Sarah Lawrence College 'sex cult' mastermind, sentenced to 60 years in prison

Byby Aaron Katersky ABCNews logo
Saturday, January 21, 2023
College 'sex cult' mastermind sentenced to 60 years in prison
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Larry Ray, who manipulated his daughter's classmates at Sarah Lawrence College, was sentenced Friday to six decades in prison. Josh Einiger has more.

NEW YORK -- Larry Ray, who sexually, psychologically and emotionally manipulated his daughter's classmates at Sarah Lawrence College, was sentenced Friday to six decades in prison by a federal judge in Manhattan who called Ray's conduct "sadism, pure and simple."

Judge Lewis Liman called Ray an "evil genius" and his crimes "particularly heinous," and noted how they enslaved college students who had "no way out" of his cruel and sophisticated actions.

"Having gained control of their minds and bodies, he forced them to do his bidding," Liman said. "He sought to take every bit of light from his victims' lives."

Ray, 63, seated at the defense table in wrinkled beige prison garb, looked on without visible expression as the friend of one victim, Claudia Drury, read a statement that described the "unremitting sadistic torture" Drury endured.

"Larry forced me to abject desperation," Drury's statement said, describing Ray as a "malevolent, deceitful shadow of a man" who forced her into prostitution, beat her, extorted and threatened her. "It was as if he was experimenting on our very souls."

Drury's statement described one instance in which Ray "stripped me naked, bound me to a chair and suffocated me with a plastic bag over and over again until I begged for my life."

Another victim, Daniel Levin, said Ray tortured him and his friends and told the judge how Ray brandished a knife over him while instructing another to line the bathtub with plastic to catch the blood; how Ray forced him to choke down a dildo; how Ray hit him with a sledgehammer while pulling his tongue with pliers.

"My friend's dad moved into my dorm and what followed were years of abuse, psychological, physical, sexual," Levin said. "I can never live a life where this didn't happen."

Victim Santos Rosario said a decade of "absolute misery" followed his meeting of Ray in 2010. He told the judge he "contemplated suicide daily" after Ray "physically abused, degraded and blackmailed" him.

"He took ten years of my life away from me," Rosario said. "All I know is I wish I had never met him."

Prosecutors said Ray's capacity for "unspeakable cruelty" was "unceasing" and they requested life in prison.

Defense attorney Marne Lenox sought no more than 15 years.

"Mr. Ray has been punished and he will continue to be punished," Lenox said, citing Ray's three years of incarceration since his arrest in February 2020 and the recent deaths of his father, step father and step mother.

"Today there is no one," Lenox said in noting the absence of any supporters in the courtroom.

Ray was convicted last April of 17 counts.

In a brief statement to the court he said nothing about his crimes or his victims, focusing instead on his ill health.

"It's frightening to feel this bad," Ray said after describing lesions, ringing in his ears, sleeplessness and other conditions that he said are getting "progressively worse."

The judge expressed doubt about the veracity of Ray's health claims. And despite his age, "There's no reason to believe Mr. Ray would age out of criminal behavior," Liman said in imposing the sentence.

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