James Arthur Ray Arrested for Manslaughter
Note: The phony spiritual guru finally goes to jail where he belongs. Had it been any of you or me, we would have already been tried and convicted.
Charges stem from Oct. fatal sweat lodge incident
Updated: Wednesday, 03 Feb 2010, 9:20 PM MST
Published : Wednesday, 03 Feb 2010, 5:15 PM MST
by JULIE ROSE
PRESCOTT, Ariz. (MYFOXPHOENIX) -- Self-help guru James Arthur Ray, organizer of last year's fatal sweat lodge incident in which 3 people died, has been arrested on manslaughter charges.
Almost four months after three people died, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office has filed charges against motivational speaker James Arthur Ray. Ray has been indicted on 3 counts of manslaughter and is awaiting transfer to the Camp Verde Detention Center.
Sheriff Steve Waugh says the manslaughter charges stem from the deaths of 38-year-old Kirby Brown, 40-year-old James Shore, and 49-year-old Liz Neuman, who were participants in Ray's Spiritual Warrior retreat in Sedona, Ariz. last October.
About 50 people took part in a tented cleansing ceremony during which participants passed out, vomited, but were still urged to stay inside. In addition to the 3 people who died, 18 others were injured.
Interviews from participants portray Ray as "playing God", reckless and controlling -- he allegedly encouraged them to stay inside in the intense heat to break through their personal barriers. When some people tried to leave the tent, he told them to close the flap.
Ray has also been named in several lawsuits filed by the victims' families, accusing him of negligence and fraud.
Ray has long maintained his innocence, calling the deaths a "tragic accident" and saying he did everything he could to help the victims. But many sweat lodge participants have stated he should've done more to ensure their safety.
The California-based businessman has been laying low in recent months, canceling public appearances while his book publishers postponed two book releases.
YCSO served the arrest warrant for James Ray at his attorney's office in Prescott and he was taken into custody about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. Coincidentally, Ray was in town Wednesday for a meeting with his lawyers.
Sheriff Waugh issued a statement thanking the victims' families for their patience during the investigation, saying he hopes they will soon have some closure to the tragedy.
Ray's bond has been set at $5 million. Ray's initial court appearance is set for Thursday at 8 a.m. in Camp Verde Superior Court. If convicted, Ray could be sentenced to a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 12 1/2 years on each count.
Statement by James Ray's lawyers, Munger Tolles & Olson LLP
"The charges are unjust and we will prove it in court. This was a terrible accident - but it was an accident, not a criminal act. 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. We will now present this evidence in a court of law, and we are confident that Mr. Ray will be exonerated."