Larry Ray was given a 60-year prison term on January 20 to start a cult in an on-campus apartment at Sarah Lawrence University in Yonkers, New York.
As per the Guardian, in 2010, Larry Ray moved into his daughter Talia Ray's on-campus accommodation, eventually gaining the trust of her roommates before promising to help them with various psychological issues.
A&E reported that Larry Ray conducted 'therapy sessions' with the roommates, supposedly helping them with several personal problems. Ray allegedly started abusing the Sarah Lawrence student verbally and physically over time, even going as far as to traffic one of his victims.
Prosecutors claimed that while Larry Ray made money from trafficking one of the victims, his primary motive was to terrorize the victims to his satisfaction.
The Sarah Lawrence cult victims speak out against Larry Ray
According to the New York Times, the court papers stated that while Larry Ray initially presented himself as a paternal figure to the Sarah Lawrence students, he eventually began to control their lives.
The court papers read:
“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 statement added that as part of his initiative to terrorize his victims, he forced them to take part in manual labor on his North Carolina property.
“It is obvious, for example, that his victims, without any experience with physical labor or construction equipment, had no real chance of making productive financial improvements to the property in North Carolina – and yet the defendant forced them to toil senselessly under punishing conditions for weeks on end simply to revel in their Sisyphean struggle."
If Sarah Lawrence's students upset Ray, he would assault them for even minor infractions. ABC reported that he slammed one of the female victims to the floor after she brought back cold food.
Presiding Judge Lewis Liman said of the case:
“It was sadism, pure and simple."
In an official statement, victim Claudia Drury claimed that Ray forced her to have inappropriate relations with other men for his financial gain.
Drury said in an official statement:
“It was hell – it was a deliberate, educated, and sustained campaign to break me. Every time I was forced to pr*stitute myself … I felt myself getting more numb.”
“I barely have the energy to exist day to day,”
Another victim, Santo Rosaro, said that he became self-destructive under Ray's control.
“He drove me to attempt suicide more than once and at one point, I was contemplating it daily."
In his statement to the court, Ray's defense team said that his sentence should not exceed 15 years as he is currently in poor health.