Sarah Lawrence College dad pleads not guilty in sex trafficking, extortion case

Lawrence Ray

At least one of the women was forced into prostitution and Ray collected more than $500,000 from her, prosecutors said.

In interviews with NY magazine, whose story a year ago prompted the federal investigation, Ray said he believed he was being poisoned as part of a conspiracy hatched by some of the students and Kerik, who denied any involvement.

In total, he is accused of extorting about $1m from at least five victims.

According to NY magazine, the abuse started when Mr Ray showed up at his daughter's university in 2010, after being released from prison, where he had been serving time on charges related to a custody dispute.

During one instance of alleged abuse, prosecutors say Ray falsely accused a male victim of wrongdoing and then "placed a knife" to his throat until the male confessed.

"He did all of our cleaning and definitely took on the dad role in the house in a big way", Juli Anna, one of the roommates, told The Cut.

In reality, the magazine reported, Ray had only served in the military for 19 days with the Air Force and had worked as a consultant.

He had once contracted with the Central Intelligence Agency and had a letter on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation letterhead thanking him for his "efforts to ensure good communication and understanding between ourselves and the Russian leadership", the magazine reported.

Ray was in jail for security fraud. At his arraignment Wednesday, he pleaded not guilty.

Once moved in, Larry allegedly began ingratiating himself to Talia's classmates, acting like a "father figure" and doing things like cooking steak dinners, ordering expensive delivery, regaling her classmates with tales of his days as an global Central Intelligence Agency operative, and counseling the students when they felt troubled or depressed. He then used the sessions to inject his own personal philosophies and hone in on each of the roommates' vulnerabilities, according to the indictment.

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Ray often falsely accused the victims of damaging his property, damaging the apartment he had moved into with numerous victims subsequently or poisoning him or his family members.

The publication said his daughter described him to friends as a "truth-teller" who had been unjustly imprisoned.

While living at Sarah Lawrence College and in the Manhattan apartment, Ray would interrogate the victims for hours and often employed such tactics as sleep deprivation, sexual and psychological humiliation, verbal and physical abuse, and threats until they made the false confessions, according to the indictment.

A man accused of abusing his daughter's university roommates has been arrested in the USA and charged with extortion, sex trafficking and forced labour. To repay their supposed debts to Ray, the victims resorted to measures such as draining parents' savings accounts, opening lines of credit and earning money through prostitution.

The indictment alleges Ray controlled the women by denying them food and putting a lock on the refrigerator.

It is alleged that Ray subjected "his victims to sexual and psychological manipulation and physical abuse", and laundering about $1 million from one victim under the guise of self-help.

Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said: "College is supposed to be a time of self-discovery and new-found independence".

Ray "exploited that vulnerable time in these victims' lives through a course of conduct that shocks the conscience", Berman alleged.

The charges were announced by Geoffrey S. Berman, the US attorney for the Southern District of NY, who said Ray was arrested Tuesday in New Jersey. "We thank the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the NYPD for their extraordinary work on this case".

The 60-year-old was arrested at his home in Piscataway on Tuesday morning.

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