Patriarch of NYC hoops program paid $2 million in sex abuse bribes

A powerful former prep hoops magnate in New York who has been indicted on charges of sexual abuse in Massachusetts allegedly paid a former victim between $1,000-6,000 each month to stay silent between 1990 and 2008, a sum that eventually totaled at least $2 million.

According to the New York Daily News, Ernest Lorch made the payments to Sean McCray, under the guise that McCray was assisting Lorch with his powerful and expanding Riverside Church basketball program, an outfit that once boasted players including NBA All-Star Ron Artest -- who is pictured with Lorch above -- Chris Mullin and Mark Jackson. He resigned from his influential perch atop the program in 2002 when the Daily News reported that he was being investigated for sex abuse charges involving former players.

"I was protecting him," McCray told the Daily News. "He was buying my silence."

Equally troubling to McCray's pay-for-silence allegations are the errands that Lorch allegedly asked McCray to perform. In addition to traditional jobs like washing uniforms and driving Riverside teams to practices, McCray was also asked to attempt to bribe a former teammate, Louis Garcia, to take back his allegations that Lorch had abused him, claims that proved to be the catalyst behind Lorch's extended downfall, which has led to the indictments made against him in October.

Yet the unhealthy relationship between Lorch and McCray was a two-way street, with the onetime sexually abused basketball player extorting Lorch for cars and large sums of money at the drop of a hat. The Daily News reported that McCray repeatedly asked for up to $5,000 to host a party for an event like his birthday.

While McCray -- who decided to come forward now so he could be honest with his family and help place attention on delays in Lorch's Massachusetts case -- made highly unethical demands himself, he asserts that they were nothing compared to a legacy of illicit influence Lorch systematically bought with his massive wealth, gained from a long career as an executive with a Manhattan leveraged-buyout firm.

As McCray points out, Lorch's financial clout, combined with the rising profile of a select group of his program's former stars, ensured that top players continued to flock to the Riverside program, despite the troubling allegations that began to emerge nearly 10 years ago.

"Not many of his players were rich, and he used his money as a way to get in with kids," says McCray. "Mr. Lorch, he had an idea of who he could approach and who he could do things to. It was done so subtly, you didn't know what was going on at the time it was happening. He fed on kids who are vulnerable.

"The thing I don't understand is that people heard all those rumors about Lorch for years, and they still let their kids play with him. People heard the rumors, but it didn't stop them from sending their kids to Riverside."

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