Lawrence Ray arrested update...
February 12, 2020 11:02 AM   Subscribe

Lawrence Ray arrested, previously on the blue... In 2019, the blue linked to an expose that was published about abuse at a small college in Westchester. Finally, it seems the wheels of justice are turning, thanks in most part to that expose. Victims family find some relief.... Warnings for sexual abuse of teenagers and cult-like behavior.
posted by rich (19 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The investigation that led to the charges against Mr. Ray was prompted by an article in New York magazine in April titled “The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence,” Mr. Berman said at the news conference.
Once again: Support journalism!
posted by gwint at 11:30 AM on February 12 [28 favorites]

I am really, really glad this guy was finally arrested. Evil creeps like this abound. My ex-gf's father moved in with her for a while on the UC Santa Cruz campus and started holding court with her friends on various topics regarding self-awareness, menstrual cycles, etc. He was generally a very manipulative and emotionally abusive guy. I have no doubt that he was up to the same shit as Lawrence Ray.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:44 PM on February 12 [7 favorites]

Yaaaaaay. Let's hope the justice system doesn't handwave away the severity of this man's abuse as so often happens to victims of cults / serial abusers / manipulative psychopaths. Let's hope this sheep really gets sheared.
posted by erattacorrige at 1:24 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]

Inside Higher Ed short article.

In a statement to The New York Times, the college said the charges were “serious, wide-ranging, disturbing and upsetting” and said it would cooperate with investigators.
posted by doctornemo at 1:28 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]

The college letter to alumnae about the arrest wasn’t great.

February 11, 2020

Dear Alumni, Parents, and Families,

Earlier today I sent the following communication to the campus community; I am sharing it with you as well to make you aware of these developments and our response:

I write to make you aware that Sarah Lawrence College has just learned of the indictment of a former parent in the Southern District of New York. The charges contained in the indictment are serious, wide-ranging, disturbing, and upsetting. As always the safety and well-being of our students and alumni is a priority for the College.

In April 2019, New York Magazine published a range of accusations about this former parent. At that time, the College undertook an internal investigation regarding the specific activities alleged in the article to have occurred on our campus in 2011; the investigation did not substantiate those specific claims.

We have not been contacted by the Southern District of New York, but will of course cooperate in their investigation to the full extent of the law if invited to do so.

Our campus is private property and your privacy and safety is of the utmost concern. Many of you may have questions or concerns in response to this development, and various areas of the College will be following up with a reminder of resources that are available to our students, staff, and faculty.

You should be aware that you may also be contacted by the media and, if you desire, you may refer them to our communications office. Any media outlet should in the first instance contact Communications before coming on the campus.

Again, the welfare of our campus community is my highest priority, as I make you aware of this development.


Cristle Collins Judd
posted by frumiousb at 2:15 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]

Our campus is private property and your privacy and safety is of the utmost concern

Unless it means ensuring actual consequences against a person who was a known abuser, felon, and at the very minimum, creep. Many people raised the alarm about this man, including enrolled students and parents, and the same justification came up, "private property", where students' parents should be free to come and go, including if the parent is a known felon, abuser, or creep.
What an absolutely spineless email and leadership.
posted by erattacorrige at 2:40 PM on February 12 [19 favorites]

Yeah, I'm sure it would be interesting to see the records of that internal investigation Sarah Lawrence did. That the guy lived on campus at all is insane. Is that normal at the college? For a parent to move in like that?
posted by mediareport at 3:44 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I'm sure it would be interesting to see the records of that internal investigation Sarah Lawrence did. That the guy lived on campus at all is insane. Is that normal at the college? For a parent to move in like that?

Yeah, THIS. And grumpybear69 - really? I have kids at college, and no one can get into the dorms without being signed in, and there are hard limits on length of stay (2 nights max in most cases).

How does anyone get away with living on campus in their kid's dorm? Every school I've visited nowadays has security and access cards.

And Sarah Lawrence's response is just piss-poor. Shockingly so.
posted by rich at 5:27 AM on February 13

So this guy is connected to the other sexual abusers recently in the news. Do they have some club we're not aware of?
posted by nofundy at 5:38 AM on February 13

@rich I think things have gotten way less lax over time, and it probably depends on the college / university. At my university in the mid-90's my dorm had a door that you could literally just rip open and no security. Anyone could have been living there, subject only to the whims of the RA. One of my roommates dropped out of school but was still living in our room for about a month and a half to no ill effect.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:35 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]

You should be aware that you may also be contacted by the media

If they are interested in the story, they are probably calling every student and parent of a student who was in school at the time, fishing for quotes. That's what they did with the Unabomber; my stepdad, who was a Harvard math grad student at the time Kaczynski was an undergrad, was getting calls from reporters (he did not remember him). And I bet the school wants those parents to "refer them to our communications office", rather than deliver speeches about their opinion of how this was handled.
posted by thelonius at 6:44 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]

the investigation did not substantiate those specific claims.

The prosecutors seem confident enough to charge him with serious crimes; unless they are overreaching for some reason it sounds like the original school investigation was a joke. Those investigations are meant to CYA, not expose you later as having failed to even make a pretense of doing the right thing. The college is going to be buried in lawsuits for years to come.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:54 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]

Really, for that fellow to have been able to even begin to get a foothold in his daughter's classmates' living space before the culty manipulation began, the college should be fucking closed. That is absolutely criminal irresponsibility. I presume everyone involved in the college admin and ownership is going to be financially ruined? It can't happen too soon.
posted by glasseyes at 7:51 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]

Hi. I went to Sarah Lawrence in the 90s and one year, I lived in the exact same place where Lawrence Ray lived in 2007. Here is some more detail that I hope offers context, not excuse:

Slonim Woods, where this took place, is not a dorm in the traditional sense. It's a series of townhouses that house eight students each, and they have private entrances. The houses don't face each other -- they're along a narrow walkway between more housing and commuter parking, and the studio arts building. (#40 on this PDF campus map) When I was there, I barely knew who was in neighboring townhouses. Most of the points to the "west" of Slonim Woods, like the sports center, commuter parking, and more housing, didn't exist yet. Now, that there's a lot more foot traffic on that path, I imagine there is even less opportunity to notice out-of-place adults and other patterns.

Students are allowed to form groups and petition for an individual house in Slonim Woods, which is what Ray's daughter coordinated in this case. (That wasn't true when I was there, and I have very mixed feelings about that change.)

It's a small campus, but scale and distribution always ends up being relative in college life. The campus is divided by Kimball Avenue, in more ways than one. The "eastern" side is where nearly all administrative/faculty offices, classrooms, and even food service is located. It would be VERY difficult to hide a felon adult squatter in most dorms on that side of campus. The "western" side, where Slonim Woods is, has little of that -- and no food except a small store with very limited weekday hours. (When I read in the NYmag article that Lawrence Ray's hold on the house started with his homemade "family dinners" every night, it didn't surprise me at all.)

My child goes to Sarah Lawrence now, and I genuinely don't worry about them. I worry that the administration's response will be limited to lawsuit management (which, to be fair, is a very worthy concern for a SLAC of this kind). I worry that no one will ever look at the environmental circumstances that contributed to what happened. Why are there still no gathering places and food services in a part of campus that generates so much of their revenue? I also hope that they've learned a lesson or two about taking complaints seriously, but I admit I am probably channeling some Susan Collins there.

I hope this is helpful to anyone who has questions, but I may not follow up quickly if wanted/needed. I've spent a *lot* of unanticipated time talking to people about this as an alum and parent already this week. Please feel free to MeMail me.
posted by gnomeloaf at 8:03 AM on February 13 [16 favorites]

Can anyone shed some light on why they specifically said that the school is private property? I'm not really following what they're trying to say there.
posted by brilliantine at 9:55 AM on February 13

In the initial reporting, college admin essentially refused to act on parents' and other students' complaints regarding Lawrence Ray living in the dorms because this was private property and that the administration didn't meddle in "private" student affairs, that these dorms weren't beholden to the same oversight because of the privacy issue. That's why I brought up the private property comment earlier. The justification of private property (IMHO) in the alumnae email to me suggests that the administration feels like they can do whatever they want to enforce whatever rules and standards as this institution isn't beholden to the larger, public sphere system of accountability, checks and balances, and standards. We set our own standards here and we enforce them as we wish, thank you very much. To me it suggests they feel they are above the law.

I think that in part the school's investigation into the incidents suggests the same, as well as the reference to the fact that the police district never contacted them regarding their investigation. Which of course they didn't- they'd keep it under their hat so as to not tip off anyone who would want to do damage control to hide the essential non-compliance of administration with the typical legal and social norms.

Kudos to the southern district of NY police and district attorney's office, though. They've been kicking ass recently. I gained a lot of respect for them after the Jeff Epstein stuff, which I was certain would never be pursued by legal gatekeepers again.
posted by erattacorrige at 10:11 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]

Oh also- the language of privacy struck a particular cord with me because it rang some of my own personal memory bells. As a child I was abused, and my mom would immediately say "we don't air out our dirty laundry." This of course enables powerful people to silence those with few options for recourse. I think in the case of a university, it's like the old boys' club mentality. But these are our skeletons. We'll keep them tucked away as long as we wish. It's really a way of maintaining the status quo and dodging accountability and generating silence.
posted by erattacorrige at 10:18 AM on February 13 [5 favorites]

In the initial reporting, college admin essentially refused to act on parents' and other students' complaints regarding Lawrence Ray living in the dorms because this was private property and that the administration didn't meddle in "private" student affairs

In other words, the Sarah Lawrence administration knew there was a potential problem, and refused to do anything about it.
posted by Gelatin at 10:25 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]

That previously story has haunted me ever since I read it -- in part because it helped me realize that cults don't necessarily look like what we tend to think of when we hear the word "cult"-- and left me with the impression that nothing would happen to that psychopath. I'm very relieved to hear that's not the case.
posted by treepour at 10:47 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]

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