The horrifying story of the Sarah Lawrence sex cult and its leader Lawrence Ray, who was recently given a 60-year prison sentence for numerous offenses including extortion and sex trafficking, is examined in a new six-part podcast.
The Law & Crime production “Devil in the Dorm” debuted on January 30 and is available exclusively on Wondery+ ad-free. Additionally, Elisabeth Röhm, a Sarah Lawrence alumna who serves as its host, said in a press release that she feels “a sense of responsibility to tell this story.”
It’s a terrifying, unbelievable-sounding tale. In 2010, Lawrence Ray, the father of a Sarah Lawrence student, moved into his daughter’s dorm room and started abusing his daughter’s classmates and other young people sexually, psychologically, and physically.
According to an indictment brought against Ray in 2020, the abuse started at Sarah Lawrence, a famous liberal arts institution just outside of New York City, when Ray started conducting “therapy sessions” with his daughter’s roommates, claiming to “help them with psychological problems.”
Furthermore, the FBI Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. stated at the time of Ray’s arrest in 2020 that Ray set the stage for psychological conditioning through these “sessions” that would “eventually lead these young adults to become unwitting victims of sexual exploitation, verbal and physical abuse, extortion, forced labor, and prostitution.”
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Additionally, in 2011, numerous students moved in with Ray at his Upper East Side apartment in Manhattan. And the abuse continued there the following summer.
Ray, who portrayed himself as a combination of a father figure, a psychologist, and a spiritual guide, “learned intimate details about [the victims’] private lives, vulnerabilities, and mental health struggles under the pretense of helping them. Ray alienated several of the victims from their parents and convinced several of the victims that they were ‘broken’ and in need of fixing by Ray,” indicated in the indictment.
Moreover, Ray would frequently use coercion to get false confessions from his victims for crimes they did not commit, and he would then demand cash as restitution.
A New York Magazine published an article titled “The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence” in April 2019 that served as the impetus for the police to look into Lawrence Ray. Additionally, he was found guilty in April last year and received his prison term on January 20 of this year.
On another note, the podcast explores the extensive court files for the case, sorting through all the upsetting details. As the host, Röhm shares her own perspectives on her time at Sarah Lawrence.