Documents released yesterday by a Yavapai County judge show that the October deaths of three people at James Arthur Ray's "Spiritual Warrior" sweat tent debacle in Sedona were not the first time someone was injured while following Ray toward, um, spiritual enlightenment.
More than two months after the event, we come to find out that people had suffered broken bones, fallen unconscious at past events, and Ray just carried on with business as usual.
According to the documents, which contain scores of interviews with victims of the Sedona incident and other participants from past events, Ray seemed to think some of the participants were ninjas and had them break bricks with their hands. As (bad) luck should have it, many participants were not ninjas, and when they attempted to punch through the bricks, they broke their hands.
Other participants at past events claim to have puked just before falling unconscious after taking part in one of Ray's many idiotic quests for cosmic harmony.
While Ray seemed content with people breaking bones and passing out, the owner of the property where the October death tent ceremony occurred tells the Washington Post that she warned Ray that he would have to change his ceremony after a similar event in 2005 left one man "severely ill."
However, she, too, seemed to see nothing wrong with trapping people in a poorly ventilated tent while piling hot rocks inside, and claims Ray made the necessary adjustment to make the ceremony safe.
Um, apparently not.
Richard Wright participated in the fatal October sweat lodge ceremony and says, before the event, Ray told those in attendance that people puking and passing out was normal.
"We all chose what we did," Wright tells the WP. "But, again, if you make a choice with only having half the story, have you really made a choice?"
Hmm, which "half of the story" enticed Mr. Wright -- the puking or the passing out?
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.