Self-Help Guru Charged with Manslaughter in Arizona Sweat Lodge Deaths

February 4, 2010

(ChattahBox) – Controversial spiritual leader James Arthur Ray was arrested late Wednesday on manslaughter charges for the death of three people during a sweat lodge ceremony at the ‘Spiritual Warrior’ retreat near Sedona, Arizona in October. The charges stem from the deaths of Kirby Brown, James Shore, and Liz Neuman, who were participants in the Ray-led sweat lodge ceremony that led to tragic consequences — and national headlines — at the a retreat center on October 8, 2009. 

The self-help guru assembled about 50 people in a makeshift, sauna-like sweat lodge for about two hours on the last day of Ray’s five-day $9,695-a-person “Spiritual Warrior” retreat. When it was over, three people were dying. Eighteen others suffered burns, dehydration, respiratory arrest or kidney failure.

“With the arrest of James Ray, Sheriff Waugh hopes the families of the three victims will now have some measure of closure to this tragedy,” said a statement from the Yavapi County Sheriff’s Office.

In a statement, Ray’s attorney called the charges unjust.

“This was a terrible accident — but it was an accident, not a criminal act,” Luis Li said. “James Ray cooperated at every step of the way, providing information and witnesses to the authorities showing that no one could have foreseen this accident.”

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