Thursday, June 23, 2011
From the New York Times:
PHOENIX — A jury found James A. Ray, a self-help guru, guilty of negligent homicide on Wednesday in the deaths of three of his followers during a botched sweat lodge ceremony near Sedona in October 2009.
. . .
[The prosecutor] had painted Mr. Ray as a reckless man who continued his ceremony, the culmination of a five-day “Spiritual Warrior” seminar that cost as much as $10,000 a person, without regard for the participants who were falling ill and slipping into unconsciousness.
The defense said the three victims were not coerced by Mr. Ray and may have died from unknown toxins in the sweat lodge, a round wood-frame structure covered with blankets and tarps. Besides the three deaths, numerous other participants were injured during the ceremony, which was intended to push people to conquer their limitations. All had signed waivers warning that death was among the risks, Mr. Ray’s lawyers noted.