U.S. man convicted of sex trafficking for extorting New York college students – Metro US

U.S. man convicted of sex trafficking for extorting New York college students

FILE PHOTO: Trial of Lawrence Ray
FILE PHOTO: Trial of Lawrence Ray

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. man was convicted of sex trafficking and other crimes on Wednesday for coercing a group of students at Sarah Lawrence College in New York state to perform unpaid work for him including engaging in prostitution.

Prosecutors accused Lawrence Ray, 62, of using physical violence and threats of criminal legal action to extort payments from students between 2010 and 2020 at Sarah Lawrence, a private college located north of New York City. Ray moved into his daughter’s dormitory room at the college in 2010, prosecutors said.

Ray was arrested in 2020 and pleaded not guilty to charges including extortion, forced labor, sex trafficking and money laundering. His conviction came after a monthlong trial in Manhattan federal court in which several victims testified.

Prosecutors said Ray forced one female victim to engage in commercial sex acts and pay him more than $500,000 of her proceeds from prostitution. Ray collected sexually explicit photographs of her and once nearly suffocated her in order to coerce her into performing the acts, prosecutors said.

He also used psychological and physical abuse to coerce three other female victims to perform unpaid labor, prosecutors said.

“Larry Ray is a predator. An evil man who did evil things. Today’s verdict finally brings him to justice,” Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said in a statement.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Will Dunham and Noeleen Walder)