Tag: James Arthur Ray

Manslaughter Trial Begins for AZ Sweat Lodge Operator

Opening arguments begin today in the trial of James Arthur Ray, owner of the Sedona, AZ sweat lodge where three people died in 2009. Ray is charged with three counts of manslaughter. The prosecution alleges he was criminally reckless. Among other things:

Prosecutors maintain that Ray psychologically pressured participants to remain in the lodge even when they weren't feeling well, contributing to their deaths.

The defense claims the deaths were an accident.

"We do not seek to minimize the tragedy of the sweat lodge deaths," said a December 2009 letter to prosecutors from defense attorney Luis Li. "But these deaths were not the result of criminal conduct. Mr. Ray and his team relied on Angel Valley to provide a safe environment, warned people of the risks, did not force people to participate, did not prevent them from leaving, and did everything they could to prepare for any problems and to assist when problems arose."

The Indictment is here. Each count carries a possible penalty of four to ten years in prison. Background from the article: [More..]

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Sweat Lodge Guru Indicted for Manslaughter

Arizona has indicted and arrested motivational speaker James Arthur Ray, the spiritual guru who led a retreat in October at which 3 people died and more got sick during a ceremony inside a sweat lodge. His bond is set at $5 million.

The indictment is here. There are three counts, each alleging he recklessly caused the death of the victim. Manslaughter in Arizona is a class 2 felony which carries a penalty of up to five years. His attorneys released this statement, saying he had been cooperating in the probe.

"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," the statement read. "We will now present this evidence in a court of law, and we are confident that Mr. Ray will be exonerated."

Ray was arrested at his lawyer's office. I guess they couldn't pass up the opportunity for a perp walk. The $5 million bond seems completely excessive.

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