James Ray Vows No More Sweat Lodge Events. Umm...Good Call

Categories: Death Lodge
jamesray.jpg
James Ray faces up to nine years in prison when he's sentenced next month.
Oprah-approved snake-oil salesman James Arthur Ray says he won't be hosting sweat lodge events anymore, which is a great decision considering the last time he did, three people died and dozens were injured.

Ray is currently awaiting sentencing after being found guilty of three counts of negligent homicide in the deaths of three people during a "self-help" sweat lodge event in Sedona in 2009.

Ray recently told a probation officer that he has "extreme remorse" for the people who died during his "ceremony," and takes responsibility for their deaths.

"This is horribly tragic," Ray tells a probation officer, as documented in his pre-sentencing report, first obtained by the Associated Press. "I have been holding these events for years. I warn people in advance. I could never have imagined that this type of thing would happen."

Ray faces anywhere from probation to nine years in prison when he sentenced next month. Ray, obviously, is hoping for probation, telling the probation officer that while he's responsible for the deaths, he's not a danger to society.

Ray could have been convicted of manslaughter -- and faced a much harsher sentence. But his high-priced attorney, Thomas Kelly, persuaded jurors otherwise and he was found not guilty on those charges.

See more of New Times' coverage of Ray's death lodge fiasco here.

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.

One of the victims, 49-year-old Liz Neuman of Prior Lake, Minnesota died of multiple-organ failure after the ceremony. 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 maintains that the deaths were a tragic accident, but prosecutors feel that stuffing dozens of people into a hot, poorly ventilated sweat tent -- and then discouraging them from leaving -- is more than just an accident.

Ray's sentencing is scheduled for October 6.
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19 comments
sabujdc
sabujdc

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rakuspirit
rakuspirit

I don't care how many complimentary letters he gets...that does not give him a "bank account" of misdeeds he can commit at another time.  Remember Ann Rule who wrote in "The Stranger Beside Me" when she was shocked at all the horrible things Ted Bundy did, she will always remember him working next to her at a suicide prevention hot line and she will remember him for the lives he saved.  Maybe his sociopathic mind had him believe he earned the right to what he did to young vulnerable women.   I am sure Adolf Hitler would have gotten many letters of praise saying how wonderful he was and how he helped all those Nazis change their lives, but did that excuse him from the deaths of Six Milllion?  Ray needs to be kept away from the general population so he can't prey on people.  He also needs to pay back many, many people he harmed, their families, and those he cheated out of money for his high priced defense team.

Guest23
Guest23

Heh, another fool relying on the logical fallacy of reductum ad hiterum to prop up his argument. Such usage guts any point you were attempting to make.

Guest23
Guest23

Yes, authentic Lakota Sioux Indian sweat lodge run by a Lakota Sioux Indian.

The use of the term "brutal" is a subjective description and it doesn't surprise me that you assume otherwise. I am very respectful of these traditions and practices and abhor the white mans bastardization of the practice. I also abhor numb nuts like you that assume things like I am a white man just because you find my subjective use of the word "brutal" incorrect. This snobbish attitude by american indians does nothing but make them look like assholes. My description is how the overhwhelming steam heat felt to ME and according to the dictionary is an apt description:

Brutal: harsh, unrelenting, as in a brutal winter.

The heat in the sweat lodge was harsh and unrelenting esp. as we went from door to door. It was the first time I participated in a sweat lodge and I waited until I could find someone that would execute one tradtionally and authentically and it took a couple years until a friendship and enough trust wase earned to be invited to their private sweat lodge. I found the ordeal difficult and watched teenagers ten years younger than I handling what I perceived to be a harsh, unrelenting and therefore a brutal experience easily... when I began to sweat so much that I was drifting in and out of a dream like consciousness I realized the technical ritual aspects of this rite that made it so powerful. Perhaps if I participated more often I imagine I would find that my description would have changed with experience. But if you are attempting to put forth that a sweat lodge ceremony is like a health club sauna than from my research and the Indians I have spoken with, I would say you don't know what you are talking about.

So get off your high horse and f off you racist snob.

swskeptic
swskeptic

You sound like a twinkie to me. "Authentic Sioux Indian sweat lodge"???  Seriously Tonto, no ndnz talk like that -- only wanabes hiding behind a screen trying to use the Sedona exploitation to bolster their OWN plastic shame-man sweats talk like you. You can't fool skins, even hiding behind a screen.  When this trial became public, every fraud in the country came crawling out from every rock trying to promote their own "authentic' sweats and they've all been revealed to be frauds.  No one who has any factual knowledge about the Inipi ceremony would EVER discuss it on the internet. That's a dead give a way that you belong right next to Ray in Arpaio's tent city.

Guest23
Guest23

Have any of you ever participated in a sweat lodge?

The things I have issues with this situation is the strong urging of people to stay, it is not unusual for people wanting to give up and quit a sweat lodge as they can be brutal but one has to be careful and aware of warning signs of over heating. I do think this situation was a accident but the guy is negligent in not being informed and knowing when people are going through the over heating as well as his not using traditional materials in which to construct his sweat lodges which seems to be one of the issues he claimed contributed to the deaths. In all actuality I don't think prison would do society much good and that allowing him to work and pay the majority of his income in restitution would be better for all as well as community service, and I would say house arrest when he wasn't working or doing community service. I know many will disagree with me on this but I don't see what good prison will do other than satisfy the victims sense of revenge. This is not much different than a corporations product harming a person and the corporations negligence contributing to it, no one in the corporations usually goes to jail they just end up paying punitive damages.

Native Guns
Native Guns

Have YOU been to an *actual* sweat lodge? You're comment tells me otherwise. I'm not talking about those set up by these false "shaman" types, who'll charge you for participation(which most White folks go to, since its the closest thing they can get to genuine sweat lodge). I'm talking about a authentic sweat lodge made in the manner of our ancestors, where this has been practiced for centuries. It's an ancient ritual Native Americans still practice today. How you described it, is a typical White man's POV. This is not "brutal" by any stretch of the means. Those who are woefully clueless and unfamiliar with this ceremony, can only described it as such. I have participated in numerous sweat lodges, not those set up by snake oil sales people like James Ray. It is not brutal if you know what you are doing and is prepared for it. In real sweat lodges, you have the right to leave anytime as you see fit. The average stay in a sweat lodge(if constructed and performed properly) is 10 mins or longer.

As for his punishment, I'm still in favor of him receiving the maximum.

Guest23
Guest23

My reply is posted above, for some reason it did not post inline.

I never said I couldn't leave or was advised to leave but was made well aware that I could leave at anytime I desired. For a novice participant my description is apt and it seems your taking issue with my use of the descriptive word "brutal" is due to ascribing some meaning to the defintion of the word than what it actually means or can be used appropriately for. Your jumping to conlusions and making assumptions only goes to show how ignorant you are. I like pushing my limits and experiencing intense initiatory rites,such as suspensions, ball dances, piercing and tattoing and have been researching, paracticing and experimenting with such techniques in a careful and respectful manner for going on 30 years, much before the current craze of modern primitivism that grew out of the release of the book "'Modern Primitives" first released back in 1989. A trend I must admit I was surprised has gained so much popularity since a male just having a pierced ear in the late 70's- early 80's was looked at as bizarre by most everyone and nowadays piercing various body parts, tattooing, suspension clubs are all the rage, I never would have guessed.

teknik1200
teknik1200

"I warn people in advance"

Is that before or after you bully them into staying inside of something, telling them they will be safe while their physical body protests what it's being put through?

Guest23
Guest23

Anyone would have to be a moron to let them be bullied into killing themselves, if Ray used threats of physical violence to get them to stay than perhaps I would say the victims hold no responsibility but as I already stated here they should have done their own research into the hazards of extreme heat and not dive in head first uninformed.

The physical body naturally protest when subjected to heat, the first sign of this is sweating, hell I find gym saunas uncomfortable and unbearable and to a certain extant Ray would be correct that the physical body protests such treatment but if you want to cavort with the gods like many primitive cultures that utilize pain to do so, then you do have to learn to not listen to your body to a certain extant. This is done in martial arts and many very physical sports but one should educate themselves before indulging in any practice that can potentially have such serious side effects.

swskeptic
swskeptic

People can't do their own "research' because there's nothing but misinformation on the internet. REAL ndnz don't talk about real ndn ceremony. Why can't you get it through your thick skull that all there is out there for non-Indian outsiders are frauds and liars and con-artists who are willing to tell them what they want to hear --- for a price. You can't "research" Native ceremonies. Natives don't talk to outsiders about ceremonies. All you can do is get yourself conned by a plastic shame-man.

Guest23
Guest23

In any sweat lodge situation the body is going to protest... sweat lodges have their origins in ritual ordeal/initiation and this usually entails a difficult or painful process. I imagine many native american indians who practice sweat lodges would attest to this. The guy was negligent though so some sort of restitution or repayment to society is necessary as any case of negligence by a individual, company or corporation would be liable for.

swskeptic
swskeptic

The State of Arizona did not try a corporation. They tried James Arthur Ray and the people of Arizona found him guilty. He has escaped sentencing since late June when the law requires that he be sentenced in 30 days, because he has the power and privilege to hire attorneys to stall for him.  The idea that you can throw money at the surviving family members that you have negligently murdered is repulsive.  The comments on this site by JRI supporters just go to show how immoral and racist the plastic shaman industry is.

Native Guns
Native Guns

I hope the dreaded judge shows no mercy on that charlatan, and sentence him to the max as originally required. Let Justice be served.

Guest23
Guest23

Why so because he coopted your religious heritage, such thinking is only slightly different than that terrorist muslims use. Coopting other religions is what created just about every religion today including christianity, the jewish faith, mormonism, muslim faith ,etc. All these coopting myths and stories from zoroastrianism, buddhism and many others... it is what humans have done since the creation of shamanism which is probably the first type of organized religion.

Also, it has to be considered that this was an accident pure and simple though primarily caused by Ray's ignorance and negligence but we also have to consider the participants negligence... you have to be a moron to not remove yourself from a situation that is killing you no matter what Ray told you to do and to not do any research into the proper techniques and hazards involved before participating esp when it is all available is just plain stupid. Didn't Ray have them sign releases of liability? And if so that is a warning that hazards are involved. As I stated previously I don't think putting the man in prison does anyone any good, put him on work release house arrest and make him pay restitution to the victims families thus we taxpayers are not burdened with another $30,000 a year in expenses to keep and feed him in prison.

swskeptic
swskeptic

So should be excuse genocide and manifest destiny because it has been around for centuries?Your comment is typical of all White Shaman apologists. It's not even original.

First of all, it is not at all true that all religions corrupt other religions. This is a Euro-centric and ethno-centric remark. Indigenous religions, which you know nothing about and have excluded from your ethnocentric list, have never co-opted other religions. It is essential in indigenous spiritual practices to respect the integrity of other peoples' religions and follow their protocols. You commit a logical fallacy by universalizing Western behavior and implying that the behavior of Judeo-Xians in recent human history is any way universal or inevitable.  Most of the religions that have ever existed on this planet have not been co-opted from other religions. You can only see your own time and your own society's errors because you are blind.

 As I stated before, people cannot "research" these groups because there is too much misinformation on the internet and because they are not equipped with sufficient critical thinking skills to evaluate self help quackery, pseudo-science and outright fraud. People look for plastic shame-men who resemble the racist stereotypes that were deeply inculcated in their minds since they were children. Ray was successful at making people believe he knew something about indigenous spiritual practices because he was very skilled at manipulating privileged people's stereotypical beliefs about what a "shaman" looks like and how he talks about spirituality. 

Most of these wealthy seekers have never had any contact with real ndns and expect a certain stereotype. Self help quacks know exactly how to act to give their audience what they are expecting. That doesn't mean that they should receive the death penalty for their gullibility or that they were responsible for Ray's free choice to engage in acts of fraud. We don't kill people for being stupid in this country. If we did, the population would decrease dramatically and I wouldn't have to argue with fools like you online. 

Secondly, the people who died became unconscious inside the bogus sweat lodge. how are they supposed to get up and leave when they are unconscious? Besides, the effects of extreme heat limit your ability to think clearly or to know that you are in physical danger. Ray told them to ignore the warning signs of heat stroke because he was selling them as a bogus altered experience. Ray's victims had to be pulled out by others. You can't be held responsible for negligence in not getting out of a crowded, dangerous situation if you are unconscious and the criminal justice system doesn't try the victims of a homicide anyway.

Like all of Ray's supporters, you are deliberately confusing civil negligence with criminal negligence. There is no assigning partial blame in a criminal court and you can't just pay a fine and get out of a negligent homicide charge. The judge has already ruled on aggravating factors and he only has to listen to mitigating factors when all the stall tactics have been tried. It's ridiculous to try to convince the public that victims in a criminal case can be assigned a percentage of blame for their negligence.  The trial is over and its up to Judge Darrow to decide the sentence. You are being willfully ignorant of the Arizona criminal justice system and your comments here serve no purpose.

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