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Push for life sentence in Sarah Lawrence College sex manipulation case

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(NEW YORK) -- Larry Ray, alleged sex trafficker, extortionist and master manipulator of young women and men at Sarah Lawrence College, deserves life in prison when he is sentenced on Jan. 20 for unleashing a campaign of terror on his victims, some of whom were college classmates of his daughter, federal prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum.

Ray was convicted in April of befriending the students and then, once they were caught in his snare, steadily grooming them, turning them into his slaves, forcing them to engage in labor for his own benefit and the benefit of his relatives, extorting them, and torturing them. He also sex-trafficked one of his victims.

"Lawrence Ray's crimes were heinous. Over a period of years, he intentionally inflicted brutal and lifelong harm on innocent victims that he groomed and abused into submission," prosecutors said.

What prosecutors called the Ray Enterprise was formed as early as 2010 when the victims were first targeted. It continued through at least 2020 when he sent messages as part of an effort to keep his victims silent, and -- but for the investigation and prosecution -- it would have had no logical endpoint, the judge said.

Five victims testified at trial: siblings Santos Rosario, Felicia Rosario, Yalitza Rosario; their mother, Maritza Rosario, and Claudia Drury.

Santos Rosario was a classmate of Larry Ray's daughter, Talia Ray, at Sarah Lawrence College.

"While the defendant's victims descended into self-hatred, self-harm, and suicidal attempts under his coercive control, the evidence showed that the defendant took sadistic pleasure in their pain and enjoyed the fruits of their suffering," the prosecution sentencing submission said.

According to court records, Ray moved into a dorm and inserted himself into the lives of his daughter's classmates. He read textbooks on psychological manipulation, false confessions, and brainwashing and turned a group of young students -- his daughter's college classmates and their siblings -- into his slaves.

Prosecutors said that Ray steadily took over the minds and the bodies of his victims. He induced them to trust him and to believe he was all powerful and all knowing. Having gained their trust and convinced them to accept his lies as their truths, Ray made these impressionable young individuals doubt their own memories and knowledge, cut off relations with all other adults who might otherwise have offered support and guidance, and then -- having induced them to manufacture false confessions with which he could threaten them with prison or worse -- he forced them to do his bidding.

"He sought to convince his victims that they were worthless, undeserving of love, and irredeemable, and until his arrest in this case, he was succeeding," prosecutors said. "He has shown no remorse, accepted no responsibility, and impeded the prosecution of this case, including by disrupting the trial and prolonging the trauma to his victims."

Ray, 63, was convicted of more than a dozen counts including extortion, sex trafficking, forced labor, money laundering, and tax evasion.

The defense said he deserves the mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison.

"The physical, sexual, and psychological abuse Lawrence Ray suffered as a child and through his young adulthood bears a striking resemblance to the conduct underlying the offenses he now stands convicted of," defense attorney Marne Lenox said in a sentencing submission. "Mr. Ray's traumatic childhood experience of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse at the hands of his own family members undeniably shaped his adulthood."

Though prosecutors expressed doubt about Ray's remorse, the defense insisted he understood "the risks inherent to criminal conduct" because he has been incarcerated since his arrest three years ago.

"Mr. Ray not only knows the consequences of his actions, he has lived them. Never will he violate the law and risk the brutal detention that has stripped him of substantial time with his loved ones over the past nearly three years," Lenox said.

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