James Ray Vows No More Sweat Lodge Events. Umm...Good Call

Oprah-approved snake-oil salesman James Arthur Ray says he won't be hosting sweat lodge events anymore, which is a great decision considering the last time he did, three people died and dozens were injured.

Ray is currently awaiting sentencing after being found guilty of three counts of negligent homicide in the deaths of three people during a "self-help" sweat lodge event in Sedona in 2009.

Ray recently told a probation officer that he has "extreme remorse" for the people who died during his "ceremony," and takes responsibility for their deaths.

"This is horribly tragic," Ray tells a probation officer, as documented in his pre-sentencing report, first obtained by the Associated Press. "I have been holding these events for years. I warn people in advance. I could never have imagined that this type of thing would happen."

Ray faces anywhere from probation to nine years in prison when he sentenced next month. Ray, obviously, is hoping for probation, telling the probation officer that while he's responsible for the deaths, he's not a danger to society.

Ray could have been convicted of manslaughter -- and faced a much harsher sentence. But his high-priced attorney, Thomas Kelly, persuaded jurors otherwise and he was found not guilty on those charges.

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's sentencing is scheduled for October 6.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
James King
Contact: James King