Elisabeth Röhm Was Driven to 'Get Deeper' Into the Sarah Lawrence Sex Cult Story as a Mother and Fellow Alum (Exclusive)

When Elisabeth Röhm learned of theSarah Lawrence sex cult, she knew she had to dig deeper

Published Time: 23.06.2024 - 20:31:10 Modified Time: 23.06.2024 - 20:31:10

When Elisabeth Röhm learned of theSarah Lawrence sex cult, she knew she had to dig deeper.

In 2010, Lawrence Ray moved into his daughter's dorm room at Sarah Lawrence College and set about sexually, psychologically and physically abusing her schoolmates and other young people. Soon after Ray began giving therapy sessions to his daughter's roommates, purporting to help them with their problems but psychologically conditioned them to become victims of abuse, forced labor and sex trafficking, per a 2020 indictment.

As a mother and a proud alumna of the liberal arts college, Röhm opens up about why she was inspired to explore the true crime story in her latest directorial effort in Lifetime's Devil on Campus: The Larry Ray Story in an exclusive sit down with PEOPLE.

"I kind of like the rest of the world didn't know about this until I read the New York Magazine article and I just couldn't believe it. And I thought, 'how did this happen over a decade with the unfortunate events of him, the father, Larry Ray living at the campus?'" she recalls, bewildered.

Reaffirming her "love" for the prestigious institution, Röhm calls it "one of the most special academic institutions to exist" as she gushes about her undergraduate experience. Despite this, as a mother to her 16-year-old daughter, Easton, she was "shocked" to learn that the university had failed in its responsibility to protect its students.

"Then I felt like, 'Well, let's get deeper,' and then I discovered that other people wanted to get deeper on this story, so you saw a few other projects happen," she continues, referencing her W -

ondery+ podcast, Devil in the Dorm, prior to her partnership with Lifetime.

More than just to simply serve as a "cautionary tale," Röhm says that the film was made out of the "deep reservoir of empathy" she held for the students. After all, she and the victims lived somewhat of a shared experience.

"I know that dorm, I know that world. I know that New York City, I know myself, I know the Sarah Lawrence student — and the Sarah Lawrence student is very special," she says wistfully, adding that the collective student body is "right", "deep," "seeking" and "soulful."

"I could see how it would've all gone down and it probably would've happened to me," she admits.

In April 2022, Ray was convicted of 15 criminal counts — with charges including sex trafficking, extortion and racketeering conspiracy — for his crimes against several of his daughters classmates and other acquaintances for nearly 10 years and in three different states.

He reportedly forced some of his victims into prostitution, threatened to dismember another and recorded coerced and false confessions from each, admitting to crimes and offenses they never committed. Eventually, Ray was sentenced to 60 years in prison in January 2023.

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Devil on Campus: The Larry Ray Story premieres Sunday, June 23 at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime.

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