Self-help guru James Ray convicted in sweat lodge deaths
James Arthur Ray was acquitted of manslaughter charges in the deaths of three followers in 2009.
June 22nd, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Self-help guru James Ray convicted in sweat lodge deaths

An Arizona jury has found James Ray guilty of negligent homicide in the deaths of Kirby Brown, James Shore and Lizbeth Marie Neuman. With its decision, the jury acquitted the self-help guru of manslaughter charges.

Prosecutors claimed Ray's recklessness in operating the sweat lodge caused the deaths of Brown, 38, of Westtown, New York; Shore, 40, of Milwaukee; and Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, Minnesota.They died after participating in a sweat lodge ceremony organized and led by Ray in 2009.

At least 15 others who took part in the sweat lodge ceremony became ill. More than 40 others were uninjured.

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Filed under: Arizona • Courts • Crime
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Jan

    What is wrong with these people in the first place that they follow such a guy, believe his hogwash and scams for their money, and would participate in such dangerous stupidity as a steam lodge? They all signed disclosures that they knew it could be dangerous an article states. If they were brain dead enough to be like sheep and follow someone doing whatever he can to take their money, that's their own problem. I would have never believed in or gotten messed up in such stupidity and the fact they are are adults and did, just blows my mind, the guy wasn't drugging them or anything, they CHOSE to be there and to do this, they weren't held against their will, they could have walked out if they started feeling sick, if they didn't that's their own problem, what about "personal responsibility" honestly, what was wrong with these participants, where/are they that weak minded brainless individuals?

    June 23, 2011 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Anonymous

      Go back and read the older news reports when he was charged with the crime... they say something to the effect that a number of people tried to leave the lodge and were discouraged from it or shamed into staying. THAT is why the leader is responsible. Sweat lodges have been used by the Native Americans for centuries, if not longer, and are beneficial when utilized properly. This incident is the exception in that it was not operated properly, people followed their instincts to run from danger, but they were misread as "weak students" by the inexperienced leaders in charge.

      June 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. M

    This comment is directed at the people on here who are questioning why the sweat lodge participants didn't leave.

    Generally when I, and presumably most people, sign a release form I interpret it as a basic warning and it lets me know what I should be especially aware of/on the alert for in terms of dangers. However, the agreement also implies that I'm being led into the semi-risky situation by an expert who will take all necessary precautions for everyone's safety and will be able to distinguish between unpleasant but not dangerous conditions and dangerous ones.

    Any personal beliefs about sweat lodges aside, I'd compare the scenario to personal training or physical therapy. One begins the process expecting to feel physical discomfort with the expectation that the discomfort will lead to an eventual improvement. One then needs to rely on the expertise of the professional to determine how much pain is normal and how much is actually dangerous.

    It seems pretty clear that Ray misrepresented the situation to the clients (the safety and risks of a sweat lodge, his own knowledge in how to make it safer, etc) and did not do his job properly.

    As an aside, social psychology research tends to say that people very consistently follow groups and obey authority figures. It doesn't always lead to good consequences, clearly, but on average there are definitely evolutionary advantages.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bool

    i believe when u sweat a lot like in an enclosure there is a point if u lose 2 much water ur kidneys can shut down ,now that is dangerious ,this sweating probably has 2 b done over a period of time ,and if u aren t 2 smart u better have a pro helping .also i would b afraid of putting any people through this course unless they r somewhat healthy .I MEAN I DON T WANT 2 GIVE SWEATING A BAD RAP HERE ,ITS SOMETHING THAT IS A VALUABLE TOOL IF DONE PROPERLY .PROBABLY AIR CONDICTIONING HAS CAUSED MORE HARMFUL EFFECTS ,IF NOT SEVERE FINANICIAL FALLOUT (NO 1 CAN AFFORD IT INCLUDING STATE GOV AND BUSINESS)THE OLD FASHIONED SWEATING IS A GOOD CURE 4 MANY PROBLEMS

    June 23, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. HedgeYbet


    July 6, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
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