Two former students and one of their sisters have filed a lawsuit against Sarah Lawrence College. They claim that the institution’s negligence allowed convicted felon, Lawrence Ray, to reside in his daughter’s campus housing, where he subjected them to various forms of abuse.
Lawrence Ray moved into his daughter’s four bedroom dorm at Sarah Lawrence in 2010. He sought the accommodation after returning from prison for a conviction on a “pump and dump” securities fraud scheme. From there, the then 51-year-old began a pattern of manipulation, sexual abuse, food and sleep deprivation on the student roommates. He ultimately forced some female students into prostitution; profiting millions from it.
Five victims testified against against him in court. The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, thanked them stating, “I commend the brave victims who testified in court in the face of incredible trauma.“
Lawrence Ray was convicted in April 2022 on charges including racketeering, conspiracy, forced labor, and sex trafficking related to his behavior while at Sarah Lawrence. The court sentenced him in January 2023 to 60 years in prison after calling him an “evil genius.”
Civil suit against the college
The civil complaint filed on November 21 in federal court contends that Sarah Lawrence College is partly responsible for Ray’s actions. Despite complaints from students and parents about Ray’s behavior, the suit alleges that the college did not investigate nor intervene.
The lawsuit emphasizes that the college failed to address numerous red flags. One incident involved Ray setting off a fire alarm by cooking in the dorm. And, despite their notice of this, college officials failed to intervene or monitor the living situation.
The plaintiffs seek unspecified damages for their pain, suffering, healthcare costs, and lost potential income.
A spokesperson for Sarah Lawrence College acknowledged Ray’s criminal actions. However, they declined to comment on the litigation, only expressing sympathy for the victims.