From The “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring” Files: The Sarah Lawrence College Scandal

For “don’t ring,” maybe substituting “don’t exist” would be appropriate. I question the competence and sanity of any parent who would allow their child to attend Sarah Lawrence College after this.

You can read the details of the astounding story here and here, but I’m not especially interested in the evil Larry Ray, who was just convicted in New York on 15 counts including extortion, forced labor, sex trafficking, obstruction of justice, and various financial crimes, and faces life in prison. Nobody needs an ethicist to explain that his conduct was unethical (I hope!). I’m interested in this [From the Washington Post]:

After a federal securities fraud conviction, charges related to a custody dispute and a bail-jumping case, Ray was released from a stint behind bars in 2010.He began living at his daughter Talia’s dorm suite at Sarah Lawrence, a private liberal arts college in Westchester County, just north of New York City. There, he encountered Talia’s roommates and injected himself into their lives. Ray cooked meals and hosted late-night chats for the college sophomores, promising them he could help them lead “better, more honest lives…He told them that he had special training that could help them gain clarity and discipline…He said if they shared their deepest feelings with him, he could help resolve their problems…

Claudia Drury was 19 when she met Ray at the dorm suite called Slonim Woods 9. She testified that after drawing her into his orbit, Ray eventually physically abused her. At the same time, she said, he convinced Drury that she had tried to poison him and owed him huge sums of money as a result.

Eventually, Drury told jurors, she worked four years as a prostitute, meeting clients in hotel rooms and paying Ray $10,000 to $50,000 per week. In 2018, she said, Ray suffocated her with a plastic bag after she told a regular client that his name was on a website Ray created to post embarrassing and damaging information he could use to control her.

The full story of what Larry Ray did while living in his daughter’s college dorm is here. Was it a secret? Of course not. Several parents complained to the school about an adult male living in a dorm room. The suspicious  parents of one female student met twice with Allen Green, Sarah Lawrence’s Dean of Student Life. Green told them he’d received other complaints about Ray, but claimed the school’s “hands were tied; a father had a right to visit his daughter on campus.”  Sarah Lawrence’s official position is still that it “had no record that Larry Ray lived on campus at any time.”

I knew about Sarah Lawrence when I was in college. Along with Bennington, it had the reputation of being a women’s college for and run by ultra-sensitive  radicals. I knew one girl from my high school who attended Sarah Lawrence; she was brilliant, and also had a nervous breakdown, which she jokingly told me would help her get accepted. Maybe she wasn’t joking. Anyway, I assumed that the school had moderated over time.

Apparently not. Colleges keep blathering about keeping students “safe,” which is so broadly defined that it applies to trigger warnings and letting the students silence speakers who contradict their deeply held convictions. Yet Sarah Lawrence refused to act or even investigate when there was a clear and present danger to students’ welfare. Sure, the college was unlucky: Larry Ray could have been the perfect gentleman, a gifted mentor, the salt of the earth. It was moral luck that he was, instead, a con artist and predator, except he had just been released for prison. Current leftist cant, however, holds that such misfortunes as landing in prison mustn’t be held against former felons: remember that the Obama administration banned the official use of “ex-convict” and other negative terms, and issued rules that blocked employers and landlords from asking about jail time.

As one commenter on the Post story theorized, the college “didn’t want to be seen as moralistic enforcers of the rules. Sarah Lawrence was always known as being a refuge for fashionably unconventional, neurotic young people, and the administration so desperately wanted to be open minded…” 

That sounds about right. But it also supports a finding of signature significance. You can’t trust a college that does this even once. It deserves to be sued and shunned out of existence.


Pointer: Althouse

3 thoughts on “From The “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring” Files: The Sarah Lawrence College Scandal

  1. The place gave us Rahm Emanuel, who apparently went there to study dance, leading to him being poked fun at as “tiny dancer.” I’d pay real money to secure a picture of that asshat in dance gear, just to plaster it all over the net.

  2. Sarah Lawrence was always known as being a refuge for fashionably unconventional, neurotic young people

    That might help explain how a college sophomore could be talked into working as a prostitute by her roommate’s ex-convict father. Clearly he knew what kind of person to target, and where he could find them in bulk.

  3. Obama administration banned the official use of “ex-convict” and other negative terms,

    Umm… what’s negative about “ex-con”? Was society using twisted logic to define it in the first place?

    If “con” is for “Convict” or “Convicted Felon”, then being an “Ex-Con” should be a good thing because it means your conviction was overturned, right? Once convicted, you never stop being a person who was convicted, right?

    You may no longer be incarcerated or under a court order. So perhaps we needed a term for someone who has fully paid their societal debt? I don’t know what that would be, but I agree that we actually should celebrate people who have successfully navigated their way out of the US Criminal Justice System.

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