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