Sex Cult Survivors Accuse Sarah Lawrence of Negligence: ‘They Failed Us’

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Sarah Lawrence College for years has promoted itself as an experimental and progressive haven, a leafy enclave where students design curricula and believe in what its president has called “the underlying goodness of others.”

“You are different. So are we” was a slogan the school used. Some students saw it as a declaration that they would be understood and valued.

Now former students are accusing the college of betraying them by allowing a 50-year-old ex-con to roam its Westchester County, New York, campus; spend nights in a dormitory where his daughter lived; and form relationships with students whom he went on to abuse.

That man, Lawrence Ray, was convicted in 2022 of extortion, sex trafficking and racketeering conspiracy after a trial in Manhattan. Federal prosecutors said that he used cult leader tactics for a decade while indoctrinating and exploiting young people.

Four roommates of his daughter, Talia Ray, fell under Lawrence Ray’s control. One, Isabella Pollok, became his “trusted lieutenant,” prosecutors said, and was sentenced to prison. Now the other three are saying in legal papers and interviews that the school bears responsibility for their suffering.

Claudia Drury, who testified during Ray’s trial that he forced her into prostitution, said she was speaking up to hold Sarah Lawrence administrators accountable after students were exposed to a figure who, she once wrote, delighted in “psychological, physical, spiritual and sexual abuses.”

“They failed us so badly,” Drury said. “There was a predator living in our dorm, and they did nothing.”

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