Sex cult leader sentenced to 60 years in prison after decade of 'unspeakable cruelty'
| Last updated
Featured Image Credit: US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York/Hulu
Trigger warning: this article contains descriptions of emotional and sexual abuse
A sex cult leader has been sentenced to 60 years behind bars for his heinous crimes, with his multiple offences being dubbed as 'unspeakable cruelty'.
On Friday (20 January), Lawrence Ray was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison.
Following a four-week trial before US District Judge Lewis J. Liman, the unanimous jury convicted Ray of every count presented to the jury in less than a day of deliberations.
First found guilty back in April last year for sex trafficking and racketeering among many other crimes, Lawrence Ray, or Lawrence Grecco, is set to remain behind bars for the next six decades.
Ray began to lay out his plan to commit these abhorrent crimes at the Sarah Lawrence College - a liberal arts college based in New York that his daughter attended.
Following this, Ray - who was 50 at the time - convinced several students to live in a one-bedroom apartment with him on the Upper East Side after the school year was over, where he would go on to carry out more of his deplorable crimes.
The now-63-year-old moved into his daughter's student living halls back in 2010 which is where he would engage in 'therapy' sessions with other students.
The Department of Justice in the Southern District of New York has since released a statement on the matter.
US Attorney Damian Williams said: "Twelve years ago, Larry Ray moved into his daughter’s dorm room at Sarah Lawrence College. And when he got there, he met a group of friends who had their whole lives ahead of them.
"For the next decade, he used violence, threats, and psychological abuse to try to control and destroy their lives.
"He exploited them. He terrorised them. He tortured them," Williams added.
Dubbing Ray a 'predator', Williams went on to say he was "an evil man who did evil things."
The 'evil things' in question include, but are not limited to, "sleep deprivation, psychological and sexual humiliation, verbal abuse, threats of physical violence, physical violence, threats of criminal legal action, alienating the victims from their families, and exploiting the victims’ mental health vulnerabilities," as per the Department of Justice statement.
"On one occasion," Williams outlines, "Ray tied his victim to a chair, placed a plastic bag over her head, and nearly suffocated her. Ray collected millions of dollars in forced prostitution proceeds from this victim."
Claudia Drury, a survivor of the brutal crimes, made a statement during the sentencing hearing.
"It was unrelenting sadism," Drury's statement read.
"It was hell – it was a deliberate, educated, and sustained campaign to break me. Every time I was forced to prostitute myself … I felt myself getting more numb.
"I barely have the energy to exist day to day."
When speaking of the devastating effect Ray's crimes had on his victims in the court hearing, Judge Lewis J. Liman said: "It was sadism pure and simple."
Assistant US Attorney Mollie Bracewell also added: "What the court saw and jurors saw was the defendant’s unspeakable cruelty."
Ray was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit extortion, extortion, sex trafficking, obtaining forced labor, forced labor trafficking, conspiracy to obtain forced labor, violating the Travel Act, four counts of tax evasion and money laundering, the indictment reports.
Following the conviction, Williams stated: "Today’s verdict finally brings him to justice."
Williams also took the time to praise the survivors for their incredible strength and 'bravery', saying: "This verdict would not have been possible without the victims who testified in court.
"We are in awe of their bravery in the face of incredible trauma."