If you thought the NXIVM cult was sus, just wait until you hear what happened at Sarah Lawrence College just a few years ago. A father of an undergraduate student began crashing at his daughter's dorm in 2010 and before long, had roped her whole group of friends into a cult, under the guise of advancing the students' self-improvement.
While some of the students under Larry Ray's spell continue to live with the cult leader in New Jersey and have cut ties with their families in order to stay with him, others have managed to escape his spell. Daniel Barban Levin was one of the lucky ones who broke free.
But is he OK and where is he today? Keep reading for details.
What exactly happened at Sarah Lawrence?
According to an extensive piece by The Cut, who broke this disturbing story, it all began in 2010 when Larry Ray, who had just gotten out of a six-month stint in prison, began to crash on his daughter Talia's dorm room floor.
Talia's housemates didn't think much of their new roommate, who provided them with expensive dinners and entertained them with stories of working for the CIA and movie screenings in the dorm's common area. It helped that he was a very good listener and took on the "dad role" in the house.
Slowly, Larry began manipulating his daughter's housemates with what he deemed to be a self-improvement program. "He said he knew techniques to discipline the mind, training he'd received from the government," per The Cut, and gradually urged the students to cut ties with their families, occasionally confronting their parents and threatening them directly.
Larry brought them all to move to his Upper East Side one-bedroom apartment, manipulated them into thinking they owed him tens of thousands of dollars, alienated them from their friends and family and would even put each of them through strenuous and humiliating interrogations that were designed to "reveal deep personal truths," according to Larry.
Thankfully, some of them broke free.
So, what happened to Daniel?
Years after the traumatic cult that affected Daniel so much that he was hardly able to seek therapy because it reminded him too much of his time with Larry, he seems to have put the past behind him for good. According to his Instagram, he's currently "between bio," and has even left New York.
After studying Creative Writing as an undergraduate at Sarah Lawrence, and even publishing a few poems, Daniel is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at the University of California, Irvine. According to his website, "before that, he was living in the White Mountains, caring for Robert Frost's house and running writing programs with The Frost Place."
His LinkedIn shows that he did more than just that. Daniel was able to effect some change in New York City by working at the Department of Education before focusing on pursuing poetry. You can hear Daniel read some of his poetry here.
And although he understandably keeps a really low profile, opting to set his social media profiles to private, he's "burning bridges ... bigger than britches" these days, per his bio. Good for you, Daniel. We're so glad you were able to make it out to the other side and live to tell the tale.
Read the full story of the Sarah Lawrence cult on The Cut.