Suspect in Sarah Lawrence Cult Case Is Accused of Witness Tampering


In 1998, he was the best man at the wedding of Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York police commissioner. In a New York magazine article last year, Mr. Kerik was quoted, calling Mr. Ray “a psychotic con man who has victimized every friend he’s ever had.”

In announcing charges against Mr. Ray in February, prosecutors said that he had exploited his victims, initially at Sarah Lawrence, in Yonkers, N.Y., and later at residences in Manhattan and Pinehurst, North Carolina.

The authorities said he used psychological manipulation, offering “therapy” sessions in which he learned intimate details of their private lives and mental health struggles under the pretense of helping them.

According to the indictment, he later extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars from his victims, relying on tactics like sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, verbal abuse and physical violence as he persuaded them to make false confessions to damaging property or even trying to kill him.

The investigation that resulted in the charges against him was prompted by the article in New York magazine, titled “The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence,” officials have said.

Mr. Ray’s lawyers recently asked the judge, Lewis J. Liman of Federal District Court, to temporarily release him into home incarceration, citing what they called his “near-total inability” to meet with them and review discovery materials because of strict jail conditions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The office of Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, objected to the request, writing to the judge that Mr. Ray’s recent calls to his father demonstrated “ongoing efforts” to influence and tamper with victims, co-conspirators and potential witnesses.



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