June 18, 2011 |
Lawyers this week painted contrasting portraits of a self-help guru who saw three clients die in a sweat lodge: reckless profiteer or victim of circumstance. Defense attorney Luis Li argued that the deaths during a so-called Spiritual Warrior retreat were a senseless tragedy, and that James Arthur Ray was not criminally liable for them. Li noted that people who paid nearly $10,000 to attend the weeklong workshop in October 2009 signed a waiver warning that death was among the risks.
October 26, 2009
Re "Sweat lodge deaths a new test for self-help guru," Oct. 22 I prepaid $6,000 for two James Arthur Ray seminars. I left the first, "Creating Absolute Wealth," following one of the "warrior games" after realizing that what I'd purchased was not only a waste of time but a wealth-creation vehicle for only one person. Approximately 175 participants, outfitted as homeless people and instructed to leave money, ID, cellphones, etc., behind, were loaded on buses and dropped off in downtown San Diego without money, food or water, to "go beyond our comfort zones" for the next several hours, on our own. I spent months trying to get my money back for either seminar (including the one not taken)
October 22, 2009 |
The story that self-help guru James Arthur Ray loves to tell his new audiences is a modern-day parable, a tale of overcoming adversity. The key character: James Arthur Ray. In 2000, he was living in a house on Mount Soledad in La Jolla ("higher than Deepak Chopra's," he says) with ocean views from seven rooms. "I was carried away with myself," he told 300 listeners on a chilly night in Denver this week. Then, a stock market plunge wiped out half his assets. His live-in girlfriend moved out and demanded half of what was left.
October 22, 2009 |
. -- More than 50 followers of spiritual guru James Arthur Ray had endured five days of fasting, sleep-deprivation and mind-altering breathing exercises when he led them into a sweat lodge ceremony near Sedona. People were vomiting in the stifling heat, gasping for air and lying lifeless on the floor, according to participant Beverley Bunn. One man was burned when he crawled into hot rocks, seemingly unaware of what he was doing, she said. "These people, including myself, were really just searching for a better way to live and a better life," she said.
October 19, 2009 |
A third person who attended a Sedona-area retreat has died more than a week after being overcome in a sweat lodge ceremony. Liz Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, Minn., had multiple organ damage and was in a coma before she died Saturday at a Flagstaff hospital. Self-help expert and author James Arthur Ray had rented the Angel Valley Retreat Center for his five-day "Spiritual Warrior" event. Sheriff's investigators in Yavapai County are treating the three deaths as homicides. Ray wrote on his Facebook page that he was deeply saddened by the death of Neuman, whom he had known for more than seven years.
October 16, 2009 |
The deaths of two people during a sweat lodge ceremony led by self-help expert James Arthur Ray are being investigated as homicides, authorities said Thursday. Yavapai County Sheriff Steve Waugh said the deaths last week of Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, N.Y., and James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee were not accidental. "A combination of circumstances led to the deaths," Waugh said. "Whether or not we can prove a criminal case, that has yet to be determined." Waugh said investigators were looking at the way the sweat lodge was built, the fact that people had fallen ill at previous sweat ceremonies led by Ray and questionable medical care on site.