Self-help author guilty over sweat lodge deaths
LOS ANGELES (AFP) – A US self-help guru was convicted of negligent homicide Wednesday over the deaths of three people at an Arizona “sweat lodge” ceremony in 2009, a court official said.
James Ray was found not guilty of the more serious charges of manslaughter over the deaths, which occurred after 60 people were packed into a sweat lodge for two hours after a 36-hour fast.
The well-known motivational speaker “was convicted of negligent homicide” on three counts, court clerk Sandra Markham of the Superior Court for Yavapai County, Arizona, told AFP.
The 60 participants paid Ray $9,000 each in October, 2009 for a spiritual retreat near Sedona in northern Arizona, in which participants could sweat out their worries in an enclosure where hot rocks were placed inside a tent.
Three people died and 19 were taken to hospital. The dead were named as Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, New York; Liz Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, Minnesota; and James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Best-selling author Ray, president of the multi-million-dollar James Ray International company in California, was arrested in February 2010 close to the retreat where the fatal ceremony was held.
An earlier version of this story identified Ray as the author of ‘The Secret.’ His book is actually called ‘Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want’.