Any true crime podcast fan has no doubt heard about the cult at Sarah Lawrence College. And while this type of crime seems almost impossible in today’s world, the fact it all happened within the last decade seems almost more insane. When most people hear of cults or cult-like behavior, it seems like something that is so far-fetched or something that is so foreign from reality that it’s hard to fathom it happening at a small liberal arts college. But, that seems to be one of the main reasons this case actually happened.
Stolen Youth is a three-part docuseries coming to Hulu next week on February 9th. All three-hour-long episodes are easy to binge and watch in one sitting. It’s an interesting case study in the perfect storm, and the compelling part of the documentary is the story is told by all of the victims involved and supported by actual video and audio recordings that were made during the time that Larry Ray was abusing and using the students.
The case, and what actually happened to the victims seem larger than life and almost unbelievable. Watching each episode you’re going to ask how that could have happened or how someone could even allow themselves to be treated like that. But at the very beginning of the docuseries, one simple line sets it up – Sarah Lawrence was marketing to the outcasts. The liberal arts college, as many do, embraces the neurodivergent, the oddball students, and the ones that don’t normally fit in. And with that, can come the overwhelming desire to belong to something, no matter the cost. Masking and adapting to what is asked of you isn’t a far leap and once a victim is in the loop, they’ll do what they have to to survive and not lose their place of belonging.
The long and short of it, Lawrence Ray knew who to target, the personality types to go after, and just how far he could push them. Coupled with his narcissistic and controlling behaviors, Ray took it upon himself to record and document everything. No doubt, with the intent to use it against his victims later, but thankfully that footage is now being used against him to paint the whole picture of what actually happened in the courtroom as well as through the documentary.
Unlike other documentaries or series that cover even modern cases, this one doesn’t have paid actors or needs moments recreated. Each episode is a bit more insane and twisted than the last, but has first-hand accounts from all of the victims involved. There are moments of graphic violence, and discussions of physical and sexual assault as well. But everything is told through the victim’s eyes and they control their own stories and narrative.
The docuseries shows how far the impact of this type of cult can have on family and friends, relationships, and even the aftermath for the victims. It shows what their lives have been like after they left Ray’s hold but also how it’s not just as simple as walking away. The amount of deprogramming that still needs to be done for some of the victims, and the years of therapy and work it’ll take to even start to undo the damage.
Stolen Youth is a must-watch for true crime fans, and for once, let the victims tell their stories unimpeded. The series premieres February 9 on Hulu with all three episodes.
About Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence
With unprecedented access, STOLEN YOUTH: INSIDE THE CULT AT SARAH LAWRENCE excerpts striking first-hand interviews with conman Larry Ray’s victims and incorporates personal audio tapes and video recordings to tell the story of his grim 10 year influence over a group of young people. The series follows the story from the cult’s origins in 2010 on the Sarah Lawrence campus until its recent demise, when the last members find their own paths to survival.