Should James Ray Go to Prison?

sweatlodge heat.jpg
New Times
James Arthur Ray, the Oprah-approved snakeoil salesman responsible for the deaths of three people, is set to be sentenced next month after getting convicted of three counts of negligent homicide -- and he doesn't think he belongs in prison.

Ray considers himself a self-help guru -- the three deaths for which he's responsible happened during a "spiritual warrior" self-help event where he stuffed dozens of people into a poorly ventilated sweat lodge and discouraged them from leaving.

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 faces anywhere from probation to nine years in prison when he's sentenced on October 6.

Ray recently told a probation officer that he knows he's responsible for the deaths, but, because he doesn't consider himself a danger to society, he thinks he should only be sentenced to probation.

That's James Ray's opinion -- we want to know yours: should James Ray go to prison?

Cast your vote below.



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88 comments
Meg
Meg

Prison will not help. J.A.Ray is no longer a danger to anyone. Make him pay restitution to the victim's families, make sure he no longer has his business and keep him on probation.

Ms.Hypnotized
Ms.Hypnotized

  I know that being in a Sauna is hard for me, after only 4 or 5 minutes I have to get out!  Everyone has been to an aquatic center and used a hot tub or sauna, ALL of them have signs saying "If you have heart problems or fatigue DO NOT USE!!".  That sweat-lodge was the same thing!  If they didn't remember or do any research on what they were getting into, WHY on earth would it be James fault?  The whole thing is ridiculous, each individual is responsible for His/Her own actions!

Ms.Hypnotized

    

FrankBarone
FrankBarone

*Sent to Mr Ray, Mr Ray's lawyers and the Kirby Brown Memorial email address

UPDATE: The Kirby Brown email address was discontinued. Obviously they want money, but don't want the truth

A COURTROOM SCENE I WOULD LIKE TO SEE:

The three representatives of the three who died from the 2009 Sedona sweatlodge ceremony give their testimonies as to the quality of those three who died. In short, the three who died are portrayed as literal paragons of virtue who were strong, determined and could do no wrong. Then all three of the representatives are on the witness stand before the jury as the defense asks them:

DEFENSE: That was a touching testimony you gave about the three who died. Obviously, they were extremely honest people. Am I correct in assuming this?

THREE REPRESENTATIVES: Yes indeed!

DEFENSE: So then it stands to reason that if YOU were at the 2009 sweat lodge ceremony event and, like others, you asked them if they were alright and wanted to stay in the sweat lodge and they said "yes" you would believe them just like the others who asked believed them. And if you were there and asked those three and you believed them, because they are so honest, and they eventually died would you still be determined it was Mr Ray's fault or would you be inclined to blame yourselves for believing those three who said they were fine and wanted to stay in the sweat lodge? Be honest now

THREE REPRESENTATIVES: Um...er.....

Phuckspam666
Phuckspam666

What a doucher! Being honest and knowing the symptoms of heat stroke are two totally different things. The reason why James Arthur Ray was found guilty of negligent homicide by a jury of 12 of his peers was that he was profoundly DISHONEST. Ray tried to sell honest people the idea that they symptoms of heat stroke and evidence of a medical emergency were actually some fluffy-wuffy nuage "transformation."  James Arthur Ray's honesty is what should be examined closely. He is a consummate con-artist who found a way to trick 3 intelligent people into believing that they were having some sort of nuage "out of body" experience. The fact is, that James Arthur Ray deliberately induced heat exhaustion in people so he could use his sleazy "programming" skills that he got from his time in $cientology to convince them that angels from other planets had chosen them for some sort of paranormal experience. It's a sad commentary on our society that people who had everything in it were not satisfied with all their privileges and so easily threw their lives away on nothing more than the shiny bullshit of a failed telemarketer and two-bit huckster like James Arthur Ray.  The defense failed miserably in creating reasonable doubt, but they'll be able to take Ray for every penny he has left in the appeals process.  That's poetic justice that sharks should feed on sharks, but Ray needs to be locked up or else he'll re-invent himself and find other suckers to bleed dry.  The mindless public needs to be protected from pond scum like James Arthur Ray. Just because he's rich and white doesn't mean he can't serve time in Arizona's fine for-profit prison system, just like every other poor schmuck who can't afford a high end "dream team" to make up ridiculous stories about nebulous toxins that might have been the cause of the 3 deaths. The cause of the 3 deaths was affluenza, hyper-credulity and gullibility. The only reason the case even went to court was because Ray killed rich white people this time. If Ray cooked a bunch of hapless brown people, the media wouldn't have even covered the trial. No matter how stupid people choose to be, it's still in society's best interest to protect them from predators like James Arthur Ray.

Guest23
Guest23

Another thing that has to be conisdered is that not all "white men or women" that utilize or base their beliefs or practices on shamanism are doing "evil" or defrauding the public but genuinely believe in what they are doing and in this country they have a constitutional right to do so, no matter how ridiculous I or you think of what they do or believe. And thus it is very difficult to pass laws that will stand constitutional muster. That's a fact whether you or I like it or not. It is a reality that people have to take responsibility for their actions and if they get burned it is a lesson best learned sooner than later

Try all you want to get your legislature to pass laws than can stop people like ray... I just think it won't happen because people like ray are smart enough to know how to work around whatever you create and it can be as simple as how they word their programs. Everyone simply cannot be saved from big bad boogy men and part of the process of learning is making mistakes. The best approach as I see it is education, encourage critical thinking, logic and rationality. Leave faith for issues that do not possibly infringe on others rights or harm others. Promote tolerance and dialogue because if you don't understand something it is better to ask and /or do some research first before outright condemning it. And most important promote and encourage self responsibility. These kinds of things have lead to me having a great life, business, friends, aquaintances even if we all do not see eye to eye on everything.

George Booker
George Booker

While Iagree that James Ray’s victims were gullible and stupid, I still think we needstronger laws to protect the sheep from the wolves. A lot of other countrieshave finally realized that there need to be laws to protect people from destructivecults like the one James Arthur Ray was running. I know that there’s a wholecontingency out there championed by the victims’ family that insist thateducated white people don’t get sucked into cults, but that’s just not true. Idon’t want to upset anyone related to the victims, but Kirby Brown, Liz Neumanand James Shore wasted their lives on a New Age cult based on ridiculousnotions of spiritual wealth that was anything but spiritual. While gulliblepeople like James, Kirby and Liz do pose a real threat to society, as anyonewho abandons their critical thinking skills does, I do not believe that societyshould assign blame to anyone who has lost their lives in a New Age scam. Theirdeaths should serve as a warning too other spiritual seekers out there that theself-help industry is rife with fraud and there are nothing but frauds peddlingneopagan shamanism and so-called Native American spirituality.  I agree with many others who have commentedhere. It’s all bullshit. That doesn’t mean that society isn’t obligated toprotect people from themselves.

The JRIemployee posting here wants the public to lose sight of the fact that JamesArthur Ray spent his whole life being a religious fraud. He morphed into a highlyskilled and manipulative con artist and a predator. He is still a danger to thepublic and he needs to be locked up much longer than the light sentence he’llprobably get for his first time offense (at least this is the first time he’sbeen prosecuted for causing deaths). I find it shockingly immoral to assign apercentage of blame, even when stupid, selfish spoiled rich fools are killed.They are still human beings and this society needs to respect all human life –even the clueless and the delusional. We should offer MORE legal protection NewAge seekers as we do the mentally retarded because they can be such a danger tothemselves and others. James Ray reduced the spiritual warrior participants tothe level of children. He conditioned them to obey him using sophisticatedthought reform techniques (commonly called brainwashing) and they should bethought of as children taken advantage of by an adult, in my opinion.  The fact the someone is posting on this sitesuggesting that the dead are some percentage responsible for their deaths isevil and immoral.  I can only assume thatthis person is paid by James Ray’s legal defense team to try to influence a Maricopacounty jury pool when James Ray inevitably uses his hidden money to pay for anexpensive appeal. 

James ArthurRay is to this day a fraud and a con artist. His “negligent acts” wereperformed while he was in the act of defrauding those New Age fools of theirmoney. It should be very easy to prove there was fraud involved as any idiotcan see that he is not an American Indian and any fool can do some research tosee that only American Indians have their religious practices protected by law.If you’re just an ordinary citizen, you can believe whatever batshitcrazynonsense you like, but you’re still accountable for your actions. ChristianScientist parents get prosecuted all the time for putting their kids in danger becauseof their wacky beliefs.  I’m prettysuspicious of Mr. anonymous law student and his reasons for commenting sofrequently on this blog. It seems to me he’s invested in James Ray in some way.

I thinkJames Ray should get the maximum sentence because he committed one crime (negligenthomicide) while in the act of another crime (fraud).  He wasn’t trained by any “experts” and hecouldn’t produce anyone of any real American Indian lineage to speak forhim.  He was even told by a Navajomedicine man that he hasn’t learned his lesson yet. You have to be prettystupid to think this was just an “accident”. Accidents happen out of the blue andyou can’t see them coming. People had been getting sick for years, but thedefense kept that information from the jury.  Ray ignored all the problems in years past andhis whole dog and pony show was cut and pasted from other dangerous New Age self-helpquacks. He was always about making as much money as possible from people withtoo much money and too little common sense. Arizona needs some serious laws to protect all the potential winners ofDarwin awards that are stupid and desperate enough to believe all the quackerythat’s sold up in Sedona –- the batshitcrazy capital of the world!   People keep saying that a tragedy happenedin Sedona, but it was just the inevitable consequence of rich white foolsabandoning their critical thinking skills so they could impress all their richwhite friends with how “spiritual” they had become.  The real tragedy in Arizona is when poorpeople from Mexico and Guatemala are forced by NAFTA to risk their lives in thedesert just so they can have some of the low wage shit jobs that we Americanswon’t do.  Why don’t you devote morecolumn space to them instead of these New Age crackpots? If this state reallywanted to take a moral stand against people who are cooked to death by extremeheat, it would make its immigration laws humanitarian. When three bored richwhite people pay for their gullibility with their lives, it’s not atragedy.  It’s just the inevitable resultof American affluenza – death by a 10 billion dollar industry of religiousfraud, pseudoscience and quackery.  Oprahhad a lot to do with selling this bag of baloney to the public.  She should be held accountable for promotingJames Ray and have to pay restitution to every American Indian tribe who hadtheir religious practices ripped off by these Sedona swindlers. And I’m notbuying all that crap about there being a long shamanic tradition and you can’ttell who’s an expert. The neopagan fad came about in the last few decades andthere’s no historical proof that anything they do is based on any ancientreligion. There’s just a bunch of white people who can’t stand being whitetrying to play at being American Indian so they don’t have to face their real,boring empty white-bread identities. The whole shamanism / self-help industryshould be licensed and regulated up the hoo-hoo after this.  Anybody with any common sense knows that it’sjust a way to make money in a bad economy and an excuse to do drugs and pimpout women, not a bona fide religion.

 

 The defense says this was a victimless crime,and to an extent they are correct. I wouldn’t call Kirby, James and Lizvictims.  But they aren’t to blameeither. They’re probably in a grey area somewhere in between the legal statusof defenseless children and unconscious people who freely chose to drink toomuch. However, we still need laws to protect the nitwits from themselves andfrom New Age predators like James Arthur Ray. If there was any justice in the world, Ray would be sent to Arpaio forhis crimes, but he’ll probably spend his ridiculously short sentence perfectinghis next scam which he’ll unleash on the gullible public in a few years.  Some other fool just died in a vision quest nearSedona last August, which shows how easy it’s going to be for James Arthur Rayto find fresh victims when he eventually returns to the New Age fraud business.He promises not to do sweat lodges, but that won’t stop him from making up hisown bogus American Indian rituals. The only thing that protects the public fromthis con artist is to lock him up and that’s the reason why the State ofArizona tried James Ray for manslaughter – to protect the public.  It won’t stop all the other con artists fromkilling people with their quackery, but it’s a good start and it will send astrong message to all the would-be self-help gurus and “shamans” – act responsiblyor go to jail.

 

Guest23
Guest23

It seems you have some idealistic wishes and I would be surprised if ray got the max esp if he has a decent lawyer.

I would also be careful about wanting the govt to legislate protecting humans that have well enough functioning brains to protect themselves but choose to attempt to find an easier path to a better life spiritually or otherwise. When the govt starts getting into the business of protecting people from themselves or their own stupidity than those adults with common sense tend to start having the govt trample on their civil and religious rights. I also think with the way social conservatives are these days, who were cheering during the last repub primary debates when it was brought up if we should just let a man die from an illness just because he doesn't have health insurance says a lot about where some of the american public is at. I surely do not want to lose any more of my rights as an adult esp because grown men and women are stupid enough to fork over their cash to charlatans and religious idiots. Realistically I think it is a pipe dream to think the govt will protect these people esp when they can't supply health care for millions of americans that can't afford it and because people will always find a way to act more stupid than anyone could imagine. If we taught children from a young age to think critically, which we do not when we shove religion down their throats and have numbskulls saying thatt creationism should be taught in schools, this is just teaching children to short circuit all critical thinking falculties.

Also if we start jailing every spiritual fraud out there we would probably have to build more jails and where praytell is the $30,000 per prisoner per year supposed to come from. I surely don't want my taxes raised because so many people are too stupid to think rationally and logically, that's for damn sure.

Blakwolf06
Blakwolf06

I have been in many lodges, the first thing said is: "This is not a contest, if you need to get out just let us know." His comment is he should not go to jail because he is not a danger. i beg to differ, his arrogance is a danger to others, he's proven that.

Guest23
Guest23

Odd, I have not read any posts here that state that Ray should not go to jail because he is not a danger. Are you speaking of a particular post, assuming the intention of someones post, or interpreting someones post incorrectly. Please point out which posters name your reply is in reference to.

Johnny Skee Mask
Johnny Skee Mask

James Ray is nothing more than an ingenious con man who loved to get the wealthy white folks to open up their wallets. I don't care if this was accidental or what. The con artist deserves prison time. So my vote is a straight up: YES!

Guest23
Guest23

I find ray ridiculous but I also have little sympathy for those that were so stupid they paid the man exhorbitant amounts of money to have an "experience" that Ray may or may not been able to deliver. I believe he believed in what he is doing much like mediums that think they can read minds when it is usually just a natural tendency for cold reading someone. There is a sucker born every minute and that is esp. true here in arizona otherwise how do idiots like arpaio, pearce and brewer get elected. While Ray needs to take responsibility for his actions, so do those that take his seminars, classes or whatever it is that he does. I could easily dupe people out of money because I do know how to cold read and put people through particular physical trials that cause them to have an experience but I value my honor and integrity so I avoid doing so. I do like pulling the covers on the people that do so much like my childhood here Houdini.

Sandy of Mesa
Sandy of Mesa

Why do we have laws that protect people from fraud and exploitation? Wasn't James Arthur Ray breaking the law when he fraudulently promoted himself as a sweat lodge expert? Why not strengthen existing laws on fraud so we can put people behind bars when they kill someone with their charlatanism? What is your mother or grandmother fell for the lies of a New Age fraud like James Arthrur Ray? Wouldn't you demand justice if one of your loved ones was killed by a spiritual huckster?

Guest23
Guest23

Also, people were killed because of rays negligence not necessarily because of fraud. If he would have been well versed in hyperthermia this most likely would not happened. It also could bring suanas into a realm of litigious torts and the end of saunas in gyms, not that that would be the end of the world imho.

People keep focusing on what they want ray in jail for when the issue is really what is the issue that he can legally be imprisoned for.

Guest23
Guest23

Legally you would have a difficult time proving that ray used fraud in this case. It would be hard to make a case for exactly what constituted an expert on sweat lodges, esp. Since its origins are spread out amongst many different cultures. Most people identify it with american indian culture but the truth is that there were finnish sweats, mayan sweats, arabic sweats and so on. The suana has its origins in sweat lodges as well. It also depends on how ray presented what he was doing with these people, did he promise them a particular experience or did he say he could put them in a situation that could bring about it, thus not promising but merely making it a possibility. What ray did is horrible and IMHO dishonest but nevertheless when it comes to law there are specifc rules and threshholds that must be met to declare the practices fraud and I don't think rays actions would rise to that level. One reason is that that ray could most likely come up with people that went through his program and experienced something they found unique, incredible, mystical, or profound and that the price of admission was well worth the money paid. It is also difficult to prove if someone can or cannot provide a spiritual or mystical experience and by attempting to do so would possibly come into the realm of constricting the right to practice religion and charge exhorbitant amounts to do so. Just look at the church of scientology to see where this happens today. Even some tv evangelists could fall into this category.

Ultimately, we cannot make enough laws to save everyone from their own stupidity.People follow religions based on someone that was born to a virgin mother, or that was raised from the dead or rec'd their sacred sciptures from gold tablets that could only be read with special sear stones aka sort of glasses, or was another person in another life... considering this is what ray was selling for the most part. Itis not all that odd for people to think such things are true except for those that are skeptical, critically think, or do not believe things on faith or in other words without concrete evidence.

I think religion is a fraud, but if people want to believe in such things to comfort themselves, then I have no problem with it unless it infringes on my rights... which is where I have problems with social conservatives. So I would say in regards to your statements... be careful of what you wish for or fools deserve what they get for acting foolish. Laws can't cover everything and people like ray are very good at treading that fine line but if laws were enacted to cover such things it could possibly create a monster you didn't realize. Just some food for thought.

Mistalee
Mistalee

There is indeed a sucker born every minute. That does not excuse those who take advantage of them.

Yes, those who were eager to pay up to $10,000 to participate in this folly pretty clearly have some issues themselves. They assumed they were somehow spiritually inadequate, and thought they could buy what they believed they were lacking. And Ray was cynical enough that he claimed to be selling what they were looking for. They were easy marks, and Ray was a con man. And his scam killed some of them. He needs to pay for that. His marks? I hope they emerge from their confusion. Until they do, they will be looking for the next con man who proposes to sell them enlightenment.

Guest23
Guest23

I agree with mistalee as well as this isn't a strict straw man argument since this whole exchange is touching on a number of issues and not just dealing with one argument. It is a slippery slope when attempting to legislate controlling religion and the ideal that you want to enforce is easily twisted to make it look like constricting religious freedom. So good luck getting any legislation enacted that conforms to your ideals booker.

Guest23
Guest23

We'll parents educating their children by example has the most probable chance in helping children to avoid getting hit by scams. Unfortunately when the parents are messed up there is a continuous cycle that needs and is very difficult to break but it can be done. People through education and the example of others today have chosen not to accept racit and bigoted views of their parents but then you get those that just continue in their footseps no matter how much logic and rationality they are presented with.

Mistalee
Mistalee

The problem itself is learned. When children are taught to feel guilty, ashamed and inadequate, they grow up to be the prey of con artists like James Ray [or insert organized religion of choice] who promise to make the bad feelings go away and restore parental approval, often using the great Sky Dad as a proxy. Making sure that children are all fucked up about their bodies and their sexuality is a great way to instill that guilt, shame and inadequacy. Which is probably why this is a component of most organized religion. So it's not a matter so much of additional education as it is a matter of not inflicting this kind of damage on pliable young minds to begin with.

Guest23
Guest23

Question is can legislating laws actually protect people from this sort of errant dysfunctional thinking? think not, even the tryrannical rule of atheistic communism couldn't stamp such thinking out.

I have to agree with George Booker but also insert that educating people has to start at a young age. Instill in them such things as critical thinking... this slone would prove useful in whatever they do in life. People should be encouraged to question everything but this in some ways goes against what the government and society as the powers that be desire... which is unquestioning, working robots that do as they are told and never upset the cart in any manner.

A big problem is that the pressure to conform, to not rock the boat, etc are so deeply ingrained in our culture as is religion and the problems it causes esp now in politics will be difficult to change and manyy people will not agree because it is fairly easy to create propaganda that is impossible to bring about change. Legalizing marijuana is one simple example as it is a schedule 1 drug which means it has no medicinal value whatsoever which is a lie, hell cocaine is chedule below mj and mj is less harmful than alcohol and outlawing alcohol is a proven historical failure but here are our govt officials repeating the mistakes of the past once again. But if very rarely will politicians speak the truth on such issues because the far right social conservatives would lie through their teeth and use whatever propaganda is at their disposal to prevent any change to occur. Hell look at what az stst senate majority leader is doing to fight being recalled in this state... talleing lies that his opponent is a closet democrat and supported by the dems, inserting schill candidates to siphon votes away from his opponents, using his own campaign people to do so... they will stop at nothing to win and keep control. It is scary and sad and makes me ashamed of human beings in general.

Mistalee
Mistalee

And how do you prove a religion is fraudulent? If I say that giving me money and doing my thing will somehow bind you closer to the creator of the universe and make some essential but undetectable part of you live forever in a happy place beyond the grave, there is absolutely no way to disprove that.

Mistalee
Mistalee

True enough. And I don't know that education would do it. I used to know a brilliant electrical engineer, who also believed that the Earth was 5,000 years old and God wanted his faithful to execute homosexuals. He had plenty of education. It just didn't seem to permeate into all areas of the brain.

Thing is, this stuff is all non-rational. I bet most of the dumbasses forking over money to this charlatan held college degrees. Doesn't matter. What they didn't have was a developed sense of self-sufficiency; they assumed that they were somehow flawed and that James Ray held the magic keys that would make them right. This sense of inadequacy, this self-alienation, is what drives all who follow the James Rays of the world.

George Booker
George Booker

That's a straw man argument. No body proposed outlawing religion. I am proposing stricter enforcement of existing laws and cracking down on fraud, quackery etc. We already have laws on the books to crack down on frauds. Prosecutors get scared because the frauds know how to manipulate the public into supporting them by hiding behind a cloak of religion. There's no "selective enforcement" if they would start prosecuting all the religious frauds.  Personally, I'm for taxing all the churches, but others disagree. In any case, it's possible to establish standards on what constitutes a bona fide religion. I would like to look at whether that so-called religion is doing any service to the community. Are they feeding the poor, housing the homeless, doing any kind of good work or are they raking int the dough and not paying any taxes on it because they're hiding behind the mask of a religion. But that's another discussion.

George Booker
George Booker

Agreed. But, the suckers who pay that money are part of the problem too. That's not to say they deserved to die or be injured, but the people who support the self-help / shamanism industry keep the frauds in business.  Another reason to invest in education so that we don't have so many people who are so easily fooled by frauds like James Ray.

Mistalee
Mistalee

Yes, you really can't outlaw religion in this country. Separation of church and state. Although the religious right has been arguing aggressively (and incorrectly) that there is no constitutional provision requiring separation of church and state. They would be smart to be real careful what they wish for.

Guest23
Guest23

People are easy marks generally just look at how well religion is sold to the masses. Are we going to outlaw religion? And though that sounds mighty keen to me, I don't see it as realistic since people have been indoctrinated for centuries to need it and also it would bring the govt into the realm of the thought police which I have a greater distaste for.

Johnny Skee Mask
Johnny Skee Mask

(Huh?) What on Mother Earth are you talking about? Plain and simple: you're either for Mr. Ray going to prison or no. I posted my comment to have a say that I support him going to prison for all the hypocritical shit he's been doing for years. I don't just mean for the deaths he's soley responsible for. Lay off of your meth pipe or whatever shit you're on and make up your dumb mind. And we'll call it even.

Guest23
Guest23

I could very well be utilized as an expert on alternative religion as I have written, practiced and am very informed on the subject and working on my legal studies as we speak. Just playing devils advocate and it seems I could very well come up with reason and situations that would justify what and how ray does, not that I agree with it but in my law studies one has to look at how both sides wpuld approach such situations and due to the constitution and public perception and that anything constricting what pseudo-shamans do could be twisted in the media to include christianity, it is just a very difficult and highly unlikely idealistic and utopian view you want legislated that just won't happen imho.

Guest23
Guest23

Where do you think anyone would have the best chance of winning anything like you propose but in a civil trial where the threshhold of guilt is lower. OJ Simpson won in criminal court but lost in civil court due to this. Open your perception a bit more and realize all the possible avenues that can be taken. Jeez!

George Booker
George Booker

Ray claimed to be trained by real authentic American Indian and Peruvian "shaman" and we later found out he was full of it. He misrepresented his skill and knowledge.  There are real live American Indians all over the country who could have testified that Ray didn't know anything about conducting their ceremonies,but the prosecution, for some unknown reason, didn't call any true experts. Perhaps she was too busy dealing with all the New Age crackpots who came forward and wanted their 15 minutes of fame.  It seems to me it would be very easy to prove Ray was a fraud if someone wanted to do it. It would be easy to prove that most of the kooks in Sedona are frauds, but they drive the economy up there. Another reason why we need stricted laws and stricter enforcement.  If we taxed all the fake churches and phony New Age non-profits, maybe we could take a chunk out of our debt. Pretending that there's no way to establish any standards is really disingenuous.

George Booker
George Booker

Why are you talking about torts? This is a CRIMINAL trial!

Guest23
Guest23

Exactly. If ray were charged for his selling enlightenment then law enforcement would have a legal obligation to arrest those heads of religions thaat basically do the same thing. As it stands now if law enforcement arrestted ray and attempted to put in prison for fraud he would have a pretty good case for selective enforcement.

Guest23
Guest23

As a student os law I see no fraud in charging people whatever they want to charge to participate in something. Please point out the exact statute. He puts people through a series of events that resembles a sweat lodge. If what you state is true, I am sure the prosecuter would have tacked it on to the list of crimes ray committed.

If someone wants to charge people to experience what it is like to play baseball and puts them on a baseballfield and runs them through the dynamics of the game... and charges. $1000 a head for the privilege, is approx. the same as ray has done, in this case he played on a radioactive waste site and people would have died from raditon poisoning... he can be charged for negligent accidental death if he didn't take the time to read the signs warning of this and went ahead anyway. Not really any different. That someone would pay $1000 for such an experience is laughable and obvjously not worth it esp since people can have the same experience in much cheaper ways. Usually most people are bright enough to see that paying so much is not worth it but alas some people are just stupid and all the laws in the world can't save them from that. It also seems many people were happy with the experience he provided, though letting their ignorance get the best of them. If done correctly or half shod like ray, some people can have an incredible experience and afterward feel the money is well worth it and I am sure ray probably would be able to provide many paying customers that would attest to this. If my grandmother got involved with this sort of person, the best I could do legally is attempt to nicely ask for the money back. And then if he didn't give it back, kick his ass, but that's just me. And then I would educate grandma and get power of attorney so she couldn't do something so foolish again. Thankfully my grandparents are not so naive.

I don't condone what ray did and how he has bastardized a long shamanic tradition but he is guilty of negligent homicide and not fraud. If I was a slick enough salesman, I could easily run the same scam as ray but. It would put my honor and integrity on the line and thus it would not be worth the cash.

Mistalee
Mistalee

Personally, I think that anybody who claims to be selling enlightenment, self-realization, a place in heaven, forgiveness of sin or any related hocus pocus is a fraud and should be ridden out of town on a rail. The genius of the religion racket ( and the closely affiliated "self-help" racket) is that  because it is all mumbo jumbo and there are no tangible deliverables involved, it is impossible to prove the fraud.

Seriously. Tomorrow, throughout the land, hucksters will be assuring the sheeple that they will live forever in the sky after they die so long as they say the magic words, and ritually cannibalize a 2,000 year old dead Jew. Then they ask for money. to seal the deal. That's no less outlandish than James Ray's hogwash, and yet it doesn't get prosecuted as fraud, either.

Sandy of Mesa
Sandy of Mesa

My reading of the Arizona revised statutes causes me to conclude that it is NOT "perfectly legal to charge ridiculous amounts of money and take it from stupid people for services rendered."  If there is fraud involved in enticing these people to shell out ridiculous amounts of money, it is a crime. Unfortunately, three of James Arthur Ray's customers did not survive to file a better business bureau complaint against him.

Guest23
Guest23

Heh, another poster with reading comprehension problems.

Ray is guilty of negligence that lead to accidental deaths and that is what he was on trial for.

It is perfectly legal to charge ridiculous amounts of money and take it from stupid people for services rendered and thus this is not the reason he was on trial.

It seems it is your mind that has a distorted perception of what this situation is about and the legal reasons for putting him in jail have nothing to do with his hypocrisy and congames (which are not really proper cons but actually selling information and how to apply it in a realworld situation. The sad thing is that people didn't need to pay him for this info and techniques since it is easily available on the internet.)

The only thing I have injested this evening is water and nicotine, which are hardly mind altering. What's your excuse? And make my mind up regarding what? If he should go to jail? A question I have answered a number of times here and delineated the reasons why. It seems I have more of a grasp on what was involved here and have dealt with people previously that are very similar to those on both sides of the fence of this situation, ie: the perp and the victims. I have also brought up inconsistancies with some peoples incorrect assumptions and understanding the anomalies between corporate and individual negligence torts and I am even humble enough to accept when it was pointed out that there was something I was not aware of. You on the other hand are more riled up about Ray paying the price for duping stupid marks out of their cash which is not a jailable offense so it doesn't really have any bearing on if he should go to jail. As I have stated previously, I would rather not have to pay $30,000 a year to keep him in jail and that either he should pay for his prison time or if this wasn't possible than creative sentencing so that he could be sentenced to work release and home imprisonment so we wouldn't be saddled for the expense of his mistakes, make him work and pay restitution for his negligence just like corporations have to, though they are rarely if ever imprisoned for similar negligence, even if it takes him the rest of his life.

Alamb
Alamb

James Ray was a proponent of "Law of Attraction" principles. Contained within these principles are the concepts of "there are no accidents" and taking responsibility for ones' actions. This viewpoint that he steadily holds, that it was an unfortunate accident, is no less than hypocrisy. If Ray had taken responsibility from the onset, he might have retained some credibility and grown as a soul. In this case, he truly deserves to spend many years in prison reflecting on his actions.

Southwestskeptic
Southwestskeptic

Hell Yes! I want to see the sweat lodge guru go directly to SherriffJoe’s tent city where he can lead by example and show all the other inmates howto “play-full on” in the Arizona sun inside a hot tent. Let Sherriff Joe showhim some of his “harmonic justice” deprive him of sufficient food and water so thathe can obtain an “altered state” and I hope he does a whole lot of “Holotropicbreathing” when the other inmates see what a pretty boy he is.  And if he does any whining about it being toohot or not getting any of his prissy vegetarian food, Sherriff Joe can show himhow he’s” more than his body.”  Even ifhe gets the maximum sentence of 9 years, that’s still a travesty of justice.This fraud killed 3 human beings with his New Age crap and he thought he couldhire some fancy high-priced lawyers to keep him from ever being accountable.Human life meant nothing to James Arthur Ray. He needs to be a “spiritualwarrior” with Sherriff Joe until he grows a brain and a soul!

Guest23
Guest23

I think Ray is an egotistical overcharging wannabe self help guru but the technique of using sweat lodges is not just "new age crap" but unfortunately he makes it appear as such and does a halfass job of recreating an authentic sweat lodge ceremony.

I do take issue with your statement that Ray killed the victims, the truth is an a. Ident killed them and that accident was caused due to Rays negligence in the majority and the victims negligence in the minority (read my other replies for an explanation of this). Indirectly he killed them but it was not premeditate or planned or even desired. I don't doubt it was the last thing Ray wanted to happen so your statement that "human life means nothing to James arthur Ray" is an absolute falsehood and nothing more than cheap rhetoric to support your anger.

And if Ray is put in prison he should utilize his time to use whatever enlightenment techniques he has learned, hopefully it will open his mind up to being more informed about the dangers his approach can put people in and that even though it may be good business to suck large loads of money from people that sadly look to such kooks for help, it is far from ethical IMHO.

Mistalee
Mistalee

What Ray did killed his followers sure as shit. He had them fast before the ceremony. Then, before the ceremony, he allowed them to break the fast in an uncontrolled and unrestrained fashion.

Fasting causes a great deal of water loss, and electrolytes along with it. Fasts should be broken GRADUALLY to avoid unnecessary shock to the system. But Ray let his followers break their fast by chowing down without restraint. This, even without the sweat lodge, could have been enough to cause a serious emergency medical condition due to electrolyte imbalance. The sweat lodge itself was the coupe de grace.

If this sociopathic asshole had simply done the bare minimum and consulted a medical professional about the risks and implications of what he proposed to do, this tragedy could have been averted. But he did not. He is guilty of negligent homicide, and deserves to serve some hard time for it.

In addition, every Indian in the joint should kick his ass for ripping off and misapplying Native American religious practice.

George Booker
George Booker

My research on the subject suggests that once again you are full of crap.  The American Indian ceremony is religious and has nothing to do with Finnish sauna. Shamanism is just a bullshit profession that people who are to dumb to get a college education go into. It needs to be regulated up the ying yang.  Self-help is just a bunch of parlor tricks that doesn't really help anybody. Like George Carlin says, why call it self-help if you need to pay someone for it? Why not just call it help. If anything, these deaths should have made it clear that we need more laws regulating these hucksters, not less and stronger sentences for cult leaders who cook their victims alive. The problem with this country is that there aren't any laws against destructive pseudo-religious cults. Other countries have laws regulating religious fraud, but Americans can't tell the difference between a bona fide religion and a scam.

Guest23
Guest23

As I pointed out else where sweat lodges are not just in the domain of american indians but many other cultures as well since there are finnish sweats, mayan sweat, arabic sweats and so on. And following your logic zorastrians should be kicking the asses of jews who should be kicking the asses of christians who should be kicking the asses of mormons. This is all getting more comical as it continues. It really is sad how uneducated people are when it comes to the history of religions, esp. When so many base their beliefs, politics and most often their lives on religios tenets but in the last case often do so hypocritically.

Guest23
Guest23

Though Ray may be a snake oil salesman, what he is offering is not any less dangerous than some things that many religions out there support such as medical care not being necessary because god heals and the handling of poisoness snakes. What he was selling does help some people gain what they believe to be a mystical experience but is in all actuality it is a biochemical reaction. Primitive gnostic techniques such as sweat lodges, piercing suspensions, piercing and for some tattooing and even S/M techniques can cause such experiences that range from dream like states to out-of-body experiences, going into the white light, hallucinations, etc. these experiences are often mistaken as mystical, a message from God, aliens, near death scenarios when they are biological states attained by inhibitory or exictitory trance techniques. Excititory experiences attributed to the biological system being overloaded with endorphins or the bodys own opiates that flood the brain or in the case of inhibitory trance due to lucid dream states or the heightening of alternate senses. These expereinces can be very powerful, life changing and/or over whelming esp by anyone that doesn't understand what they are going through which is the vast majority of the public. Though I find creating and accessing such mind states to be useful to my general well being and feeling good it does often require pushing the body beyond its normal limits and there is a risk involved but I do not find them necessary. I find self help gurus and new agers that support charging people to learn or experience these states of mind are complete ripoffs if they charge anymore than I would say $100 but many get much more since the experience seems so powerful and amazing. I feel that these techniques should be shared freely or for cost only but that is just my way of respecting the traditions these techniques originate from.

I don't feel that Ray should do prison time as it does nothing but satisfy revenge desires of the victims and doesn't really do anything positive for society esp since it is another $30,000 a year expense for tax payers. I propose that the best punishment is work release house arrest with mandatory fulltime work required and all wages except minimal housing and food expenses be paid as restitution to the victims families or a charity spporting victims if the victims do not want the money. The situation was an accident plain and simple with no premeditation but one that was caused by negligence on both Rays and the victims parts. Rays negligence is not educating himself to recognize the symptoms of over heating or hyperthermia, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. He is also possibly negligent since part of his defense was that some of the materials he used were alleged to have caused the death through some chemical release process caused by the heat and man made materials utilized to build the sweat lodge, if Ray would have stuck with tradtional and natural materials that have been used historically this situation may not have happened. The victims are negligent because they are stupid/dumb, etc for being so ignorant to fall for this sort of snake oil salesman. They should have taken the personal responsibility to research what they were getting involved with and since information on sweat lodges is easily found with a simple google search, ignorance is no excuse. The vicitims were also negligent in not removing themselves from the sweat lodge when they didn't feel well even if "bullied" by someone to stay, ones life is not worth any humiliation one might feel by perceiving themself as giving up. The vitims I believe signed liability releases so they were aware that there were possible dangers involved. I am big on taking personal responsibility for what one does in life and I don't feel these victims did such and I don't feel that I should have to pay the expense of imprisoning Ray when this does no good for anyone and alternative sentencing could be used to punish him for his negligence and pay rrstitution to the family, the problem then would become how to split up the percentage of negligence... 70% for Ray and 30% for the victims seems fair in my book but it that could be a whole other debate on its own.

Anna
Anna

Guest23--  Your post rant has some statements that are truths but your understanding of the situation clearly indicate you just dont get the big picture here.  When a leader puts others lives at risk he is responsible..period.  No ifs, and, or buts he is responsible.  Yes, the people at the events signed liability releases but those releases are USELESS and will ALWAYS be overridden by the laws of the state.  He has been found guilty of negligent homicide.  His sentencing will be a just one I am sure of that.  If he does jail time I dont think that means the victims are "getting even".  His prison time is is the result of breaking laws in which 3 lives were taken away.  This is why we have prisons in the first place. Did JAR intend to kill anyone with the environment he created in that lodge..no I dont think he did. but I also dont think he cared either.  There are many people in prison who are there because of a involuntary accident so welcome to the real world!  Again,  you are right in some of your statements but your understanding of the situation is clearly VERY WRONG. You silly, silly person. 

Also, you say "the victims are negligent because they are stupid/dumb". Yes, they should have left when they felt the first signs of feeling sick.  But staying inside the lodge doesnt make them negligent....  It made them victims.

Sandy of Mesa
Sandy of Mesa

Exactly what kind of New Age shill are you?

Are you employed byJRI or James Ray? You’re argument that James Ray should escape prosecution forkilling 3 people because it will cost the state to much money to incarceratehim was shut down, yet you continue to try to convince the public to let thesleazy religious fraud off. You sound like the but-licking shill that tried toconvince people that James Arthur Ray should skate on murder charges because heconned his victims into signing waivers. You try to confuse the public bytalking about civil negligence theory when James Arthur Ray has been foundguilty of negligent homicide in a criminal court. You won’t listen to well over86% of the commenters who want James Arthur Ray to pay for his crimes that occurredwhile he was engaged in an ILLEGAL act of fraud. You skirt the issue the JamesArthur Ray was a white guy who didn’t know the first thing about AmericanIndian religion, but exploited it and used it in yet another odious self-helpscam. The public wants James Arthur Ray to be accountable for his lies andmanipulations. The public hates con artists and would be cult leaders likeJames Arthur Ray. Do you really think the public is so stupid that we can’ttell that you have some monetary investment in trying to convince us that thiscriminal should be let off with a slap on the wrist? I want to see James ArthurRay in prison for 3 counts of first degree murder and serve consecutivesentences. I also want to see everyone associated with that creepy Angel Valleycult, all the fake American Indians that wanted to testify in the James ArthurRay trial and Deb and Teddy Mercer behind bars for fraud, theft andexploitation of the American Indian people. So much has been taken from American Indians by this country. The worstcriminals alive are people who use these people’s culture to make money.  I wouldn’t mind if the entire city of Sedonawas put in Arpaio’s tent city. Let all the blacks and Hispanics who got caught witha little pot out of tent city and fill it with the real criminals – the slimy whitecollar New Age con-artists that pollute the most beautiful parts of our greatstate.

George Booker
George Booker

You make a good point. Why would someone be so adamant to support James Ray unless they were financially entangled with him? If you're trying to influence the Maricopa county jury pool, you're wasting your time.  His chances on appeal are slim to none. He should just take his prison time and think about learning an honest trade while he's in the big house.

Jamesbutnotray
Jamesbutnotray

Well spoken. I agree. Being a fan of self help and handsome I feel for him. I have seen his videos and I also believe he has a huge ego and might have lost his way with all the money made. So I'm am oddly torn because there are people who get something out of finding a mentor. Even Satan and Hitler had some good lessons.

Now to offend the Christians. What if Jesus screwed up a few of the sick? Can you say crucify him? Oh, wait you did. Anyhow, not to say James is a Jesus I am just saying we all look to people we can relate to for self help or even a shoulder to cry on. Some turn to the bottle. Others turn to people like James. He is already in his own personal hell and if he is not then let God be the judge or whoever you believe.

Sandy of Mesa
Sandy of Mesa

Because, thankfully, in this country we have separation of church and state. We don't have listen to self-serving religious rhetoric that excuses crimes by the dominant White supremacist, patriarchal Capitalist ruling class. We can still think and express opinions about how OUR justice system should or should not function without being silenced by the same tired old xian dogma -- shut up, don't judge, wait until you're in heaven for justice. This dogma only serves the powerful in the status quo. We all create an unjust or a just society here on earth, right now in the present. Anyone who suggests otherwise should not be taken seriously -- like James Arthur Ray and his Lie of Atttraction poppycock.

Mistalee
Mistalee

"there are people who get something out of finding a mentor. Even Satan and Hitler had some good lessons."

OK, you should probably realize that comparing James Ray to Satan and Hitler doesn't help his case as much as you seem to think.

I agree, there are some innocents who find truth even when they follow a liar. It's because they were seeking the truth to begin with. It is no positive reflection on the liars they follow.

I leave you with the words of a Buddhist master- "Many years I have spent, selling water by the river." That is all, even in a best case scenario, that a "spiritual teacher" does.

Mistalee
Mistalee

I was quoting commenter "JamesbutnotRay" above. Read one post above mine and it will all be clear.

Didn't realize that James Ray said that about holocaust victims. He needs to have his ass kicked. And then be told that he chose that life experience.

George Booker
George Booker

It's not really clear to me either that you are quoting James Ray, but I heard that he teaches that the people who died in the holocaust chose their own deaths. He sounds like a dangerous nut that needs to be locked up.

Mistalee
Mistalee

Sandy, you should probably direct your question to "JamesnotRay" whom I was quoting and to whom I was replying. Re-read his post and mine and you will see that I am not agreeing with him.

Sandy of Mesa
Sandy of Mesa

As a Jewish American, I would be very interested in knowing exactly which "good lessons" that Hitler had to offer the world.  Could you elaborate?

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Ah, you're overlooking the obvious. By the time he gets out of prison he will have rehabilitated hundreds, perhaps THOUSANDS, of hard timers. If nothing else perhaps they can move a vortex from Sedona to the prison that will house Mr. Ray.

Either way, having to listen to James Ray move be tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment.

The Flaccid Fool of MCSO will probably offer to house Ray for free, just for the media coverage.

Southwestskeptic
Southwestskeptic

James Ray's victims are dead. Exactly how in your twisted mind are they trying to extract revenge from their graves?

Guest23
Guest23

I was under the impression that not every victim died. I may be incorrect but that doesn't address the points I made in my reply. What's your point?

Sandy of Mesa
Sandy of Mesa

If you could pay attention long enough to read any of the online news article on the sweat lodge trial posted over the last 2 years, you might have gleaned that James Arthur Ray is on trial for the DEATHS of Kirby Brown, Liz Neuman and James Shore, three human beings.

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