James Ray Trial: "Spiritual Warrior's" Attorneys Try to Keep Cult Expert From Testifying at Trial

sweatlodge heat.jpg
Ray Stern
"Spiritual Warrior"/snake-oil salesman James Arthur Ray -- accused of manslaughter in the deaths of three participants in a 2009 sweat-lodge ceremony in Sedona -- doesn't want the jury in his upcoming trial to hear what two experts on cult behavior have to say about his "self-help" retreats.

Attorneys for the "self-help guru" are asking Yavapai County Judge Warren Darrow not to allow testimony from Rick Ross and Steven Pace, both experts on cult behavior.

Prosecutors plan to use the experts to explain to jurors why participants in the retreat felt they couldn't leave the makeshift sweat lodge, the Associated Press is reporting.

According to court documents obtained by New Times, Ray discouraged participants from leaving the sweat lodge, even as some were throwing up and passing out.

Earlier this month, Darrow ruled that Ray's financial situation not be discussed at trial.

Part of Ray's whole gimmick as a "motivational speaker" is bragging about his money and success, which he does quite often in media interviews and on his website. He even
told Fortune Magazine in April 2008 that his annual financial goal is $21 million.

However, after three people died at his October 2009 "Spiritual Warrior" event in Sedona, and Ray's bail was set at $5 million, the "self-help guru" claimed he was broke.

"Despite misconceptions perpetrated in the media, Mr. Ray is not a man of significant assets and certainly not the millions reported in the press," Ray's lawyer wrote in court documents obtained by the Associated Press in February of 2010. Those documents are now officially sealed.

Darrow's ruling went further to say
that
evidence of Ray's refund policy for "spiritual warrior" events like the tragedy in Sedona would be allowed if it affected one of the victim's participation in the ceremony. Those victims include 49-year-old Liz Neuman, of Prior Lake, Minnesota, who died of multiple-organ failure. The other two victims, 38-year-old Kirby
Brown of Westtown, New York, and 40-year-old James Shore of Wisconsin, each fell victim to heat stroke after being in the sweat tent.

Ray's trial is scheduled to begin on February 16.
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35 comments
bonventre88
bonventre88

I would like to ask the author: Do you see any difference between believing James Earl Ray's promises and a nation believing that Obama (or Romney) is going to create a million manufacturing jobs? Face it - Humans are little more than talking chimps in a poorly designed zoo throwing feces at each other - and in America, prone to deadly shopping mall stampedes! For instance, Americans say nothing at all when corporate guru's make on average 475 times more than the average employee - Or that National Banks and the privately owned Federal Reserve Bank are allowed to create all the money it wishes out of thin air! From Dr Phil to Jim Jones, sheeple are eager to look for and follow the instruction of the head guru! Cognitive Linguists (like Peter Lakoff) have proven that man is NOT a rational creature.  Neurophysiologist have proven that man's unconscious mind makes his strategic decisions - And NOT his conscious mind!  Sheeple are eager to give anything to the master that promises to hold-them-by-the-hand in life! By the way, as a result of the MF Global fraud, the Appellate court ruled this year that the US FDIC no longer must cover any financial losses due to bank fraud!  So who is your personal savior now?

renatae
renatae

What a complete nutjob~

M Asbill40
M Asbill40

just for the death of kirby, this man deserves to forfeit his life, much less the death of two more innocent victims of his callous disregard for the lives of other peoples loved ones.

DanMiallan
DanMiallan

Is there any substance to the rumor I heard that Angel Valley paid a very large sum of money in order to bribe the investigators to elevate the investigation from an accidental death to a homicide so that the attention would be shifted off of the sweat lodge and onto James Arthur Ray? The investigators deliberately left exhibit A at the crime scene knowing full well that Angel Valley would completely destroy the evidence. One of the people who was paid off supposedly got guilty drunk one night and confessed to some friends who in turn spoke to others. They made certain Mr Ray could not get an independent autopsy performed on the three bodies. They actually died from a strange combination of toxins from the melting vinyl tarps of the sweat lodge and the scrap construction wood used to heat the Grandfather Stones. It's some weird combination of chemicals that apparently made especially sensitive participants feel they were fine when they were actually dying. Supposedly, Angel Valley made Mr Ray the 'fall guy' and threw him to the wolves in order to save themselves. I think it was one of the coroners who got drunk and spilled the beans. Have any of you heard this rumor?

SharonHope
SharonHope

Is there any substance to the rumor I heard that Angel Valley paid a very large sum of money in order to bribe the investigators to elevate the investigation from an accidental death to a homicide so that the attention would be shifted off of the sweat lodge and onto James Arthur Ray? The investigators deliberately left exhibit A at the crime scene knowing full well that Angel Valley would completely destroy the evidence. One of the people who was paid off supposedly got guilty drunk one night and confessed to some friends who in turn spoke to others. They made certain Mr Ray could not get an independent autopsy performed on the three bodies. They actually died from a strange combination of toxins from the melting vinyl tarps of the sweat lodge and the scrap construction wood used to heat the Grandfather Stones. It's some weird combination of chemicals that apparently made especially sensitive participants feel they were fine when they were actually dying. Supposedly, Angel Valley made Mr Ray the 'fall guy' and threw him to the wolves in order to save themselves. I think it was one of the coroners who got drunk and spilled the beans. Have any of you heard this rumor?

SharonHope
SharonHope

Is there any substance to the rumor I heard that Angel Valley paid a very large sum of money in order to bribe the investigators to elevate the investigation from an accidental death to a homicide so that the attention would be shifted off of the sweat lodge and onto James Arthur Ray? The investigators deliberately left exhibit A at the crime scene knowing full well that Angel Valley would completely destroy the evidence. One of the people who was paid off supposedly got guilty drunk one night and confessed to some friends who in turn spoke to others. They made certain Mr Ray could not get an independent autopsy performed on the three bodies. They actually died from a strange combination of toxins from the melting vinyl tarps of the sweat lodge and the scrap construction wood used to heat the Grandfather Stones. It's some weird combination of chemicals that apparently made especially sensitive participants feel they were fine when they were actually dying. Supposedly, Angel Valley made Mr Ray the 'fall guy' and threw him to the wolves in order to save themselves. I think it was one of the coroners who got drunk and spilled the beans. Have any of you heard this rumor?

Val Whelan
Val Whelan

Sadly, this is what happens when white people use and abuse Native American practices for financial profit. No one has ever died in a Native American ceremony run by Native medicine men or women, as opposed to 'plastic shamans' like Ray. It's time the New Age stop thieving in the name of spiritual growth.

N8tiv4lyfe
N8tiv4lyfe

as a native american, a spirtual being, a pitiful human....ones beliefs n choices are "souly" ones own. i wholeheartedly agree with that "argument". with respect to val whelan i ,Concour on ur comment and observational "kowledge"...i know of and have brothers and sisters all across this land whom everyday "live" their beliefs and ways. plain and simple this IS a ceremonial 'event"(doing)...and NOPE never in my time here on this earth have i heard the unfortunate(albeit possible) loss of "life" during a sweat. never heard of one of the chosen to refer to themselves as "gurus" either for that matter. don't know a thing about mr.ray....'cept he's made some $ thru his "teachings"...quite abit from some info i have saw...plain and simple GUILTY at the least of "manslaughter (?)...c'mon man he cost someones loved ones to lose their "life" for WHATEVER REASON..waiver(wtf?!?) or not this "man", for lack of a better word KILLED as in MURDERED!

Lee Majorbig
Lee Majorbig

Search into the matter and you will find that if you are to have a Native America vision quest without taking hallucinogenic plants you have to be taken to the very edge of your endurance. You have to learn the difference between what you THINK you can endure and what you ACTUALLY can endure. To be a true warrior you ABSOLUTELY MUST take full responsibility for your actions. Blaming your bad decisions on others is not for successful warriors in life. There is a world of difference between 'playing full-on' and 'playing over the edge' the difference is the difference between life...and death

Lee Majorbig
Lee Majorbig

Then there are those who say Mr Ray charged too much for the Warrior Workshop. If you are selling a house you will ask the most you feel you can get for that house. If no one is willing to buy it at that price eventually you either lower your price or you don't sell the house. From what I have studied, Mr Ray provided people with the best of everything available for this type of a workshop. If people were not willing to pay the price he would either have to lower his price or be the only person at the workshop. All the people I have encountered who complain about the price ALWAYS go silent when I say they would not be complaining if THEY were the ones being paid that kind of money for their services. Losers tend to complain the most about the success of others.

Sedona Cowboy
Sedona Cowboy

Yeee haaaa I want to spend $10K to die!!!!!! b Oh wait didn't Kavorkian go to jail for that? Heeeeehaaaaww I'l just follow JAR and sign waiver then he's GOD and I can commit suicide !!!!! Yeeeeeehawwww!!!!!!

Lee Majorbig
Lee Majorbig

If you went to the workshop to commit suicide you got what you asked for by staying in longer than you should have. How is the judge or prosecution to know whether or not those people actually wanted to die? They may have had some beautiful vision that they could not refuse. I've had 5 near-death experiences and I know for a fact that can indeed be what happened.

Llipten
Llipten

Because those related to the deceased claim otherwise. This was not suicide. Not by a long shot.

GeorgeJ
GeorgeJ

This is a matter of people trying to prove how tough they were making a bad decision that cost them their lives. They should have listened to their bodies and not gone back into the sweat lodge when they knew they could not handle it

Sedona Cowboy
Sedona Cowboy

Wasn't the purpose of this event to teach people to push themselves beyond their limits? I believe you have posted that numerous times under your other various pseudonyms. So if James Arthur Ray is telling people to push themselves beyond their limits, and that is exactly what they did, then isn't he culpable? Besides this, how do you know what these victims bodies were telling them? Were you there sitting next to any of the people who lost their lives or ended up being hospitalized? How do you know they didn't walk back into that death trap feeling fine and then on the subsequent round they became ill and passed out unconscious? Stop blaming the victims, they're not the ones bringing criminal charges against James Ray, that is the Yavapai County Attorney and he seems to think James Ray is culpable.

SamSpade
SamSpade

From what I understand the same event was held in the same place for 7 years prior. They obviously knew what they were getting into and should not have gone back in if they felt they could not handle it, period!

Hey, I've been in saunas and I know when I feel I can't take anymore. I get out! If I felt I could not breathe in that sweat lodge I would get out. After signing the liability waiver, whether I choose to participate or not is my responsibility and no one else's

Llipten
Llipten

Shocking comparison. If you were in a sauna and became very ill to the point that you were disoriented and could not get out and then died but people were around you who did not pull you out and just watched you sink into unconsciousness and die...would you blame yourself?

SamSpade
SamSpade

I also learned that the Sedona event was officially an accidental death investigation. Then it was elevated to a homicide. When the coroners officially ruled the three deaths as "accidental" it should have gone back down to an accidental death investigation. I don't believe it was. That is not justice at all!

Kara
Kara

James Ray prides himself on his use of NLP Neuro Linguistic Programming. ONe of his favorite expressions is, "You, like me, ......" which is a subliminal technique to program the listener's subconscious to a positive liking of the speaker. Of course, he is attempting to alter minds. The expert witness is VERY relevant to this trial and should be permitted to testify.

Seth7
Seth7

Study into the matter and you will find that trying to have Native American type vision question visions without taking hallucinogenic drugs means being taken to the very edge of your endurance. The real questions here: was that a safely constructed sweat lodge? Was a giant sweat lodge created with non-breathable material a safe environment? Could it have caused the injuries that were sustained at the Sedona workshop? If so who built that dangerous sweat lodge then did not even provide thermometers to regulate the internal temperature? Valid questions that deserve to be answered, don't you think?

Llipten
Llipten

A Sweat Lodge is a sacred ceremony that is used to cleanse and connect spiritually. It is never meant to house more than 12 people at a time; it is always meant to be fully voluntary; it is only meant to be made with 100% natural (aka breathable) materials only; only people in perfect health are to be invited into the sweat unless very specific guidelines are followed; the tent is to be opened at the ending of each quarter session or round and those who are not well are encouraged to LEAVE never provoked into "proving" they can stay (which James Ray is KNOWN to do).

I am a workshop leader and facilitator. Anyone who guides a workshop TAKES responsibility for his/her participants. If I were to offer a process for my workshop participants that proved to be unsecure - say a zipline event that breaks - even if I had a waver signed (which likely was the case) how could any responsible adult not accept his/her role in such an event. Jame Ray LEFT the scene of the death; showed no remorse through his actions and letters (which I received via email directly) and to me stands as a coward by accepting no moral culpability simply because he does not wish to do so legally. THAT is not a spiritual leader. THAT is something else altogether.

Sedona Cowboy
Sedona Cowboy

Yes, Angel Valley and Amayra Hamilton are responsible if the death trap she had constructed was unsafe, however James Ray is equally responsible. Inasmuch as someone was seriously injured at a previous Spiritual Warrior retreat in the same "sweat lodge" in 2008 and inasmuch as James Arthur Ray knew this, then he should have either personally, or should have directed his staff to, ensure that the "lodge" was safe this time. If I take a bus load of tourists down the 89-A switch back from Flagstaff to Sedona and I know the brakes on that bus are bad and that bus plunges off the side of the road into Oak Creek Canyon killing three and injuring at least 30 others who is responsible, me or Ford because they manufactured the bus? I am responsible because I did not ensure that the brakes were in proper working order and that the bus was safe to ride in, especially going down the switch backs. And if that same bus was in an accident two years prior because I didn't have the brakes fixed then I am grossly negligent. James Ray IS responsible to whatever degree because he did not take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of his followers regardless of what they signed or who built the so called sweat lodge.

Gunther
Gunther

The bottom line is they were adults and promised in writing to take fully responsibility for their actions if they chose to participate in the activities. Most suffered no adverse reactions to the sweat lodge so it was obviously safe enough. However, Angel Valley should have refused to build such a big sweat lodge and cover it with non-breathable material. If they would have refused, as they should have, those three who died would still be alive. Your bus analogy is not adequate for this situation. You can't get off a moving bus whenever you may choose to. All the participants were able to get out of the sweat lodge any time they truly felt they could not handle it. If someone is telling you to have one more drink at a bar when you know you shouldn't it's not his fault if you choose to have that drink. Adults must take responsibility for their actions, period!

Ellena
Ellena

By your reasoning the woman who downs a rohypnol-laced cocktail is at fault.

307777
307777

Okay. You're in a tent. It's hot. You're throwing up. You're free to leave, even though the "guru" suggests you shouldn't leave. What would you do? Maybe it's just me, but I would leave no matter who said what. This idea that Ray had some cult-like-leader spell over them is just plain silly. When did it become popular for people to hold others accountable? Oh wait. I know. When lawyers and prosecutors discovered they could make money and make a name for themselves by defending people who take no responsibility for their own actions. Come on man.

Ellena
Ellena

Same reason some recruits fall and die in intense boot-camp trials. Same reason some inductees drink themselves to death or pass out and die in extreme hazing rituals. Same reason young people take foolish risks and make monstrously stupid decisions that kill or maim. It boils down to social pressure, a need to "belong," a need to prove oneself, adolescent, immature, or insecure self-assessment. And a scheming authority figure can tap into this to make money for himself. It's not that hard. Normal influence and persuasion can be a ticket to the bank. It's what cult gurus have figured out a long time ago. It's usually that odd death or psychotic break that reveals one of these opportunists.

anythingonshirts
anythingonshirts

Ellena, you are correct, but that does not make Jame Ray any more, or the participants and less, responsible for their own actions. What you described, is in essence, the history of human kind. It's the same reason that normally kind hearted Germans turned in their neighbors in the late 30's, and it's the same reason that we still have a two party political system in America today. And most importantly, it's an excuse for greedy lawyers to try to make someone else responsible for actions that should only be those of the individual, while handily making a bunch of money.

Seth7
Seth7

People tend to pass judgments against James Arthur Ray without even knowing what he actually believes and teaches. Prove that you are not one of those despicable people. Share three quotes from Mr Ray's philosophy that prove him to be a scam artist. If you cannot you have a lot of nerve badmouthing the man when you don't have a clue what he actually believes

Ellena
Ellena

People have been taking advantage of other people since people walked upright. People have tricked, fooled, scammed, conned, lured, cheated, swindled, deceived, and bamboozled others since before the flood. If James Arthur Ray were selling ice cream or cough syrup that sickened and killed a few people instead of his psycho-scam "spiritual" nonsense he'd be in jail. Just because you can fleece people more easily with psychological mumbo-jumbo doesn't make it the victim's fault. Sure, they could have educated themselves before forking over money to this "guru," but they drank the kool-aid before sending it for a laboratory analysis. People are stupid or act stupidly. That doesn't make it legal to take advantage of them.

jo
jo

But the absolute lowest is the predators who cons unwary people into believing he is giving them a spiritual experience while cooking them to death in a sweat tent.

Seth7
Seth7

That particular event was held for 7 years prior and there is no way James Arthur Ray could charge as much as he did if people didn't REALLY want to go! I've read that most found the workshop to be an amazingly wonderful experience. Of course, the weaklings who washed out and don't want to take responsibility for their actions will not agree.

Sedona Cowboy
Sedona Cowboy

You're right, those three weaklings who washed out and died should be ashamed of themselves for not wanting to take responsibility for their actions. They should be condemned to abject poverty for all eternity for daring to vilify James Arthur Ray and Harmonic Wealth by having the unmitigated gall to die at this sacred event, how dare they. All poor Mr. Ray wanted to do was make millions by showing people how to improve their lives through buying his books, videos and going to his seminars and retreats where they could learn how to improve themselves by buying more books, videos and going to more seminars and retreats. They just disgust me!

George
George

They had no one to blame but themselves for going back into the sweat lodge when they knew, in their hearts, they could not handle it

George
George

Do you really want to know the answer? I doubt it. He is not a "guru" and he helps people to apply the information to better their lives. Adults MUST take responsibility for their actions, period!

I challenge ANYONE to review the actual philosophies put forth by James Arthur Ray and PROVE with Mr Rays's quotes that he is a "snake-oil salesman". YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO DO IT! People who slander without out being able to prove their slander are among the lowest human scum on Earth.

North shore surfer
North shore surfer

why does one need a self help guru $$ when your suppose to help yourself?

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