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A conman father who moved into his daughter's college dorm room and pimped out her friends used sex videos to coerce and extort them, prosecutors claim.
Lawrence Ray has been accused of setting up a 'sex cult' and forcing a group of students into prostitution or unpaid labor at Sarah Lawrence College, just north of New York City, and cheating them out of $1million.
The 60-year-old was charged on Tuesday with physical and psychological threats, coercion, extortion, forced labor, sex trafficking and money laundering against students he met through his daughter.
Investigators are studying large amounts of materials including 20 to 40 electronic devices seized from the home of the ex-convict, who reportedly had ties to mobsters and a former New York City police commissioner.
Assistant US Attorney Danielle Sassoon told a judge at the Federal District Court in Manhattan that 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 it.
She said he would also direct victims to write 'sensitive and incriminating things' in journals that he would then use against them, including videos of Ray berating a victim and using sexually explicit content in the alleged extortion.
Ray was living in New Jersey with two of the former students both of whom he called his wife, it was claimed.
Lawrence Ray was charged with federal extortion and sex trafficking charges involving a group of students at Sarah Lawrence College
The Barbara Walters Campus Center building on the campus of Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers. Ex-convict Lawrence 'Larry' Ray was arrested on Tuesday on charges he bilked several Sarah Lawrence students out of nearly $1 million and forced some into prostitution or unpaid labor
At the time of Ray's arrest, US Attorney Geoffrey S. 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, he said.
At least one of the women was forced into prostitution and Ray collected over $500,000 from her, prosecutors said.
He would video her encounters with customers and use it to extort money and force to continue in prostitution, investigators claim. Other victims he allegedly threatened with knives.
Prosecutors said Ray solicited false confessions for crimes they did not commit from more than a half-dozen victims, and coerced them to make payments they didn't actually owe and couldn't afford.
He began his alleged coercion by holding 'therapy sessions' with his daughter and her friends after he was released from prison and moved into her dorm room at Sarah Lawrence College, prosecutors allege.
Some were coerced into working without pay to install an irrigation system on a property his family owned in North Carolina, it was claimed.
US Attorney Geoffrey Berman pointing to a photo showing Lawrence Ray during a news conference on Tuesday in New York
Journals, financial records along with cellphone videos, described as 'particularly disturbing' will be examined, prosecutors said.
The prosecutor said evidence that would eventually be shown to defense lawyers under secrecy rules meant to protect the identities of victims.
Sassoon also said statements Lawrence Ray made after his arrest on Tuesday will be turned over to defense lawyers so they can prepare for trial.
She made the comments at an arraignment as Ray pleaded not guilty to a nine-count indictment including extortion and sex trafficking charges.
Ray subjected his victims to 'sexual and psychological manipulation and physical abuse' from 2010 to 2018, indictment stated.
He starved some of the girls, the indictment claims, by placing a lock on the refrigerator, while forcing them to carry out labor to 'repay him' for purported damages they had caused to his home in Manhattan.
Ray also used 'sleep deprivation, psychological and sexual humiliation, verbal abuse and threats of physical violence', the indictment states.
Assistant Federal Defender Marne Lenox told US District Court Judge Lewis J. Liman her client might make a bail application at a hearing scheduled in two weeks.
Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. Lawrence Ray, the father of a former student at the school, has been indicted on extortion, sex trafficking and other charges related to his alleged abuse of several students
After Wednesday's hearing, Lenox declined to comment. She told the judge that Ray would determine in the next few weeks whether he'll hire his own lawyer or seek court-appointed counsel.
Sassoon said between 20 and 40 electronic devices were seized when search warrants were executed on Tuesday at Ray's Piscataway, New Jersey, residence.
Ray was previously known for his role in helping to send former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was a close confidant of Rudy Giuliani, to prison.
At the time, Ray, who had been the best man at Kerik's wedding, was under indictment in a $40 million stock scam.
The felon also reportedly had connections to mobsters and intelligence officers.
Kerik told DailyMailTV that his former friend is a 'predator'.
He said: 'He's a conman. He is somebody that's a detriment to society. Hopefully, justice will take its course and he'll be held accountable for his crimes.'
In interviews with New York magazine, whose story last year 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.
Ray (pictured) was interviewed about the Kerik corruption case above
Sarah Lawrence said on Tuesday that it has not been contacted by federal prosecutors but would cooperate 'if invited to do so'.
Ray was said to have lived with some of the victims, first in on-campus hosing at a college in Westchester County, New York, and thereafter at locations in Manhattan, New York, Pinehurst, North Carolina and elsewhere.
The former convict and two of his alleged victims, moved into a home in suburban New Jersey 18 months ago and Ray was paying the mortgage on the home to help out a friend, a neighbor told DailyMail.com.
Bill Dubrow, who lives behind the property in Piscataway, New Jersey, said there were four people living at the house.
Dubrow described Ray as generous and said he never witnessed any forced labor.
The 77-year-old told DailyMail.com: 'Scott lost his job, can't pay the mortgage and Larry came and bailed him out. Larry's been paying the bills ever since.
'In fact, they replaced my fence because they hit it with one of the machines. He also hit the other fence in the back and he was in the process of getting that replaced.'
Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik told DailyMailTV his former friend Lawrence Ray 'deserves to be in prison for the rest of his life' and called a 'detriment to society'
Dubrow said that Ray did not talk a lot about his past, 'because I didn't believe him. I've been around the block. I used to work for the state police'.
He added: 'There was no forced labor as far as that goes. One came up here and she was a work horse. She loves it, nothing forced.'
Dubrow said that he had never seen anyone sleeping outside and that Larry did most of the work.
He added: 'One was more life a gofer, get me this, get me that.
'When I was in the hospital, they came in here and cleaned up the front of my yard. Larry was right in there, getting all the work done. I never had any problems with them.'
When Ray was arrested in New Jersey on Tuesday, two of the alleged victims were in the home with him.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Geoffrey Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., head of the F.B.I.’s New York office, announced the charges.
Berman said Ray 'ensnared' his victims when they were teenagers then 'preyed' on them for nearly a decade.
He went on to describe how his conduct 'shocks the conscience'.