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New York man found guilty of abusing Sarah Lawrence students

By Ashley Williams

April 6 (UPI) -- It took 12 jurors about four hours of deliberating on Wednesday to find Lawrence Ray guilty of 15 counts related to his decade-long reign of abuse over students at Sarah Lawrence College in New York.

Ray, 62, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison with a mandatory minimum of 15 years.

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The father of a daughter who attended the small Westchester County liberal arts college faced charges including sex trafficking, forced labor, tax evasion and racketeering.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan argued that Ray's psychological abuse and physical torment of his victims started out by charming them.

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The ex-convict used his power over the victims to extort sex, money and other favors from them, even tricking some of them into thinking he'd poisoned them.

Posing as a fatherly figure to his daughter's fellow students, he targeted them after moving into his child's on-campus dorm in 2010 following a prison stint for securities fraud.

They'd shared the dorm with her male and female roommates, and the group later relocated to a one-bedroom Manhattan apartment.

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Ray's so-called therapy sessions with the students gave him a chance to learn private details about their personal lives and mental health struggles, according to the indictment in 2020. He would come to use that information against the students.

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"Every single one of his actions was designed...to keep control over them," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Bracewell.

One victim told the court that while working for Ray as a prostitute, she paid him between $10,000 and $50,000 per week over four years as compensation for allegedly poisoning him -- around $2.5 million dollars.

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Ray, who didn't testify, maintained his innocence, claiming he was falsely accused of the crimes, according to his attorneys.

The federal investigation into the Brooklyn native's behavior started after claims made against him in a New York magazine article in 2019.

Since his 2020 arrest, Ray has been incarcerated in the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center.

Sentencing is set for Sept. 16.

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