Prosecutors said the investigation was prompted by an April 2019 magazine article, an apparent reference to an article titled "The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence", published on NY magazine's The Cut.
Marcus and Walsh went on to explain how Ray would allegedly then use the information he gleaned during these regular "therapy" sessions to indoctrinate the students and isolate them from their parents so he could further control them and make them a part of his alleged sex trafficking cult.
The president of the Bronxville school stressed that all of Ray's alleged crimes started in 2011 and occurred off-campus, with feds saying he tortured his victims for several years from a one-bedroom Upper East Side apartment. 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 22-page indictment laid out multiple ways the victims - both male and female - were physically threatened. He'd accuse victims of a range of crimes, including damaging his property. The indictment also says Ray took and kept explicit photographs of some of the victims and sometimes documented their false confessions, including on video.
Lawrence Ray faces charges including forced labour, extortion and sex trafficking. One female victim worked as a prostitute for four years and gave most of the proceeds to Ray.
Authorities said Ray then laundered the money-with the help of several associates-through an internet domain business.
Lawrence Ray, also known as Lawrence Grecco, was charged with extortion, sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy and trafficking, two counts of use of interstate commerce to promote unlawful activity and money laundering, according to authorities.
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Ray extorted approximately $1 million from at least five victims; forced certain victims to perform unpaid labor; and caused, through force, fraud, and coercion, at least one victim to engage in commercial sex acts. He allegedly "berated" them, restricted their access to food and became violent when he thought they were doing an inadequate job, according to the indictment.
When asked about Ray's alleged conduct, FBI Assistant Director In Charge Bill Sweeney said, "It makes you angry".
"So it freaked me out to hear about that happening on such a small campus", Brooklyn Golinvaux added.
"I just didn't think any of it was real", Marcus told CNN.
In April of 2019, The Cut published a story titled "The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence: What happened to the group of bright college students who fell under the sway of a classmate's father?"
Ezra Marcus, a 2014 graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, said he began digging into the stunning story around June 2018 when fellow alumni sent around odd online postings from people affiliated with Ray.
"As always the safety and well-being of our students and alumni is a priority for the College", the statement said. "We have not been contacted by the Southern District of NY, but will, of course, cooperate in their investigation to the full extent of the law if invited to do so", spokesperson Patricia Pasquale said in a statement.
It said it launched an internal investigation after the NY magazine story was published, which it said "did not substantiate those specific claims".
"We have not been contacted by the Southern District of NY, but will of course cooperate in their investigation to the full extent of the law if invited to do so".