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'Sadism, pure and simple': Sex cult dad who groomed and abused daughter's college friends sentenced to 60 years in prison for sex trafficking

U.S. Attorney's Office

A man convicted of sex-trafficking and abusing his daughter's college friends has been sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Lawrence Ray, 63, was convicted in April of 15 counts — including racketeering, sex trafficking, assault, forced labor, extortion, money laundering, and tax fraud. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Lewis J. Liman sentenced Ray to 60 years in prison.

Liman said Ray was an "evil genius" who used "psychological terror and manipulation" to coerce college students into doing activities "for his profit and sadistic pleasure."

"His crimes are particularly heinous," Liman said. "After gaining control of their minds and bodies, he extorted them to do his bidding. They had to keep paying him. They had to remain his slaves."

Liman added, "He sought to take any light from his victims' lives. It was sadism, pure and simple."

Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, which prosecuted the case, said in a statement, "Larry Ray is a monster. For years, he inflicted brutal and lifelong harm on innocent victims. Students who had their lives ahead of them. He groomed them and abused them into submission for his own gain. Through physical and psychological abuse, he took control over his victims’ minds and bodies and then extracted millions of dollars from them. The sentence imposed today will ensure that Ray will never harm victims again."

In the autumn of 2010, Ray moved into his daughter's dorm at Sarah Lawrence College — a small liberal arts school in Bronxville, New York. Ray had just finished a prison stint for a securities fraud conviction.

His daughter, Talia Ray, introduced him to her college friends.

To manipulate the college students, Ray presented himself as a father figure. The father from Piscataway, New Jersey, learned "intimate details about their private lives, vulnerabilities, and mental health struggles under the pretense of helping them," according to the indictment.

Ray, also known as "Lawrence Grecco," would tell the college students that he worked in U.S. intelligence and had ties to powerful individuals such as former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, ex-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and ex-New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik.

In the summer of 2011, some of the college students moved in with Ray at his Upper East Side, one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan.

Suddenly, Ray took a dark turn and accused his new roommates of attempting to poison him or damaging his property. He would demand the students pay him or face repercussions. Ray is accused of running a cult that forced the students to be subservient to him in physical and sexual ways.

He allegedly forced some of the young people to do physical labor at the North Carolina home of his stepfather in 2013.

Claudia Drury, one of Ray's victims, revealed some of the "unremitting sadistic torture" she endured. Drury accused Ray of forcing her into prostitution for four years and then extorting her. Ray reportedly took more than $2 million of her sex work earnings.

Drury said during the trial through a representative, "Larry forced me to abject desperation."

Drury said Ray "stripped me naked, bound me to a chair, and suffocated me with a plastic bag over and over again until I begged for my life."

She continued, "The experience that I had while being sex trafficked haunt me today. I feel profoundly violated in a way that I cannot fully communicate."

Daniel Levin, another victim, said Ray hit him in the ribs with a sledgehammer, pulled his tongue with pliers, squeezed his testicles with a garrote, and forced a sex toy in his mouth, according to Law & Crime.

Santos Rosario claimed that Ray held a knife to his genitals. Rosario testified that he "contemplated suicide daily" after Ray "physically abused, degraded, and blackmailed" him.

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