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. Karma

    Thank you so very much, what a relief

    June 22, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff

    One line reads convicted the next aquitted?? which was it?

    June 22, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phil

      Not guilty of manslaughter, but guilty of negligent homicide for each victim. Each was sep. count read separately.

      June 22, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kiel

      Convicted of negligent homicide, acquitted of manslaughter. People can be charged with more than one thing, and only be convicted of some of the charges. Come on man, read the story next time.

      June 22, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. David in Cincinnati

    One wonders if the defense did protest too much in chanting "organophosphate" thousands of times, interspersed with the unrelated 2-ethyl-1-hexanol. There was no plausible source. There WAS a heat source. The hope was to find one gullible juror.

    This did not happen. Ms. Do nor Mr. Li had James Ray's talent for channeling the susceptible to sell his snake oil. The consequence for not checking your oil for lethal contaminants is a conviction of negligent homicide.

    June 22, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    It seems as if this was an accident. So lets say a motorist hits my car and they die... It's my fault now?

    June 22, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessie

      @Mike ... It's not the same thing. James Ray did not have the proper knowledge in operating s 'sweat house'. When people were getting sick he only pushed harder. He did nothing to help those people when they complained about being sick. He was found guilt of negligence and I agree with it.

      June 22, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • forexpreneur

      @ Mike; If you swerved on accident into the other lane, hit the car and they died, you could be charged with negligent homicide, or possibly manslaughter depending on the case. Mr. Ray was not conducting a sweat lodge ceremony on himself and someone else came in. He held the ceremony for others and he apparently did not head warnings of serious problems, but instead allegedly pressured others to stay in the sweat lodge. There is a huge difference and that apparently is why the jury was unanimous on their decisions against him.

      June 22, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bozon

    Well I hope he gets the max on all 3 counts.. that would give him 8 years in the joint.. ego's like this are a danger to self and others..

    June 22, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. maggie

    This guy was totally misusing and profiting from a Native American ceremony which he had no business conducting in the first place as he not Native. Too many people get suckered into these "rituals" and pay huge amounts of money because they think they are participating in something that is genuine. In the Lakota tradition, bad things happen to those who profit from ceremonies. May he get a just punishment for the loss of life that he has caused and for abusing something that was not his to give.

    June 22, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. truenative

    now maybe these "hobbyists" will leave alone what they will never understand!

    June 22, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Scatcatdad

    These people went into the sweat lodge of their own volition. Sweat lodges have been around for 100's of years. They are used as a purification ritual for mind, body, and spirit. MY theory is these people did not prepare properly like they should have. It takes a strong body and mind to do these retreats. This man is not guilty of anything in my opinion!

    June 22, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • my problem

      couldnt agree more, Scatcatdad.

      the fact that they didnt leave on their own free will from a place which is designed to dehydrate just amazes me. put a dog or cat in there and lets see how long it takes them to leave and get water, or fresh air...instinct is not something to be ignored.

      June 22, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ruby

      But were those people given all the necessary information and guidance prior to the sweat lodge so they could make informed decisions once the ceremony began? I think not.

      June 22, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. my problem

    with this, it those people were free to leave at anytime to get fresh air and water, but chose to ignore their body's warning signs.

    cant take the heat then get out...oops

    June 22, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CJ

    Maybe he shouldn't have been going by his three names – which already elicits reference to serial killers! I mean really ..... James – Arthur – Ray??

    June 22, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Democratic

    This is our democratic process in action...money is the pure motivation...let's do the math $10,000 times how many people...who's living in a beautiful home, driving fancy cars...not any more!

    June 22, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. maggie

    He is guilty for not only causing the loss of life but for stealing for profit a ceremony that he has no connection with. When will those clueless non-Natives who like to romanticize Native people and culture stop their patronizing and exploiting of something that isn't theirs. Too many wannabees in Indian country. Get a clue. You're not wanted. Stay back in New Jersey and New York.

    June 22, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ruby

      Though I think that that is a bit harsh, there are many non native american prople who have valid interest in such ceremonies, I have never seen a sweat lodge covered in plastic. I have always seen animal skins and/or fabric, both of which breath.

      June 22, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Nick M

    I hope people learned from stupid experience. If you need a spiritual cleaning go help a poor helpless kid in any poor country. You will acheive lot more peace and good Karma.

    June 22, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. KG

    I was so disappointed when I started to read The Secret because it is all about greed and selfish wishing. True wealth is the Joy of Living. It is such a Miracle that we have life to be responsible for. This man is a charlatan and he got caught – but way too late. It is frightening that people revered him so much. My father claimed he was a prophet of God. He was harmful in the name of Gos (unfortunately, his God was his own twisted mind talking to him.) Psychopathy and Narcissism can look very powerful and, sadly, charming. We must believe ourselves first. We must question, question, question. If it looks too good to be true, it is. I am glad that Ray is off the streets. I pray that some education about 'gurus' and spiritual charlatans will come out of this and, hopefully, save some lives.

    June 22, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. s kel

    its hot and humid outside, i sweated, damn i thought james ray was trying to kill me.

    June 22, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
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