Anorak

Anorak | James Arthur Ray Is Guilty: The Full Story Of The Sedona Sweat Box Deaths

James Arthur Ray Is Guilty: The Full Story Of The Sedona Sweat Box Deaths

by | 23rd, June 2011

james ray datd James Arthur Ray Is Guilty: The Full Story Of The Sedona Sweat Box DeathsJUSTICE has been served on James Arthur Ray. The motivational speaker was complicit in the deaths of three people at the Sedona Sweat Lodge on October 8, 2009. James Shore and Kirby Brown, died at the scene. Liz Neuman died on October 17 after being comatose for a week. Ray is guilty of “negligent homicide” at the Angel Valley Retreat Center, Arizona.

Anorak has followed the case for months. Here are a few highlights of the case:

October 2009:

AT a James Athur Ray spiritual retreat in Sedona, Arizona, for “harmonic minded individuals” two guests are dead and 19 more are hospitalised. Kirby Brown, 38, and 40-year-old James Shore died at the five-day “Spiritual Warrior Event” that would “accelerate the releasing of your limitations and push yourself past your self-imposed and conditioned borders.”

More than 60 warriors enter a makeshift structure at Angel Valley Retreat Center where hot stones create an intense heat. It’s a sweat box that looks more like a circus tent.

Christine Whelan notes:

Participants should leave when the heat becomes too intense. However, after a week of brainwashing about pushing past “self-imposed” borders, human instinct was overridden by orders from a so-called great leader…

They trusted a well-known, well-loved inspirational leader who had been given the popular culture seal of approval…

James Arthur Ray has been endorsed by the cult of Oprah Winfrey,on Larry King Live and the Today show.

After the horror, James Arthur Ray is at a seminar at a hotel in Marina del Rey, near Los Angeles. He’s not in Arizona. He’s not under arrest. Before a crowd of around 200, he cries. He says he’s hired investigators to look into what went wrong:

“This is the most difficult time I’ve ever faced. I don’t know how to deal with it really.”

So should he go on to perform on stage so soon after a disaster?

“My advisers told me, ‘Don’t do that. You don’t know who’ll show up. They’re going to eat you alive… I’m grieving right now. I’m grieving for the families.”

We all grieve in our own ways. Ray does his grieving on a stage before an audience who give him a stranding ovation.

Two are dead, and Cassandra Yorgey brings news of a call from Ray to the injured – “a conference call that was only for the victims of his latest retreat-gone-wrong”. READ IT HERE. And bring a bucket for the puke.

OCTOBER 2009:

Texas resident Beverley Bunn speaks out publicly about the events that led up to the three deaths. Ms Bunn tells of the New Age oven than killed three, saying how the the participants had “undergone days of physically and mentally strenuous events that included fasting. In one game, guru James Arthur Ray even played God.”

But it is ok because James Arthur Ray is doing fine. And he’s making puns:

I promise you I am doing a lot of learning and growing. I have taken heat for that decision, but if I chose to lock myself in my home, I am sure I would be criticized for hiding and not practicing what I preach.

A survivor called  Sidney Spencer is talking:

“If this sweat-lodge experience had been conducted properly nobody would have been injured, but it was reckless how they handled this thing. Each and every one of them, they were told that to succeed you need to see this through to the end and if you don’t you will have failed this activity.”

Like so many others there, Spencer suffered multiple organ failures. She also has neurological issues and has difficulty talking.

Another survivor talked to CNN:

The only personal space you had was where you were sitting, nothing more,” says Richard. Every 15 to 20 minutes, James Ray would open the doorway of the tent to allow people to bring in more heated rocks, onto which water would be poured…

(I) Remember, coming out of the tent most of us were still delirious & just trying to gather our own bearings. I was aware of people being passed out, vomiting, etc but didn’t realize anything more serious was going on until the paramedics, ambulances, fire rescue,  started showing up.”

“We were getting people out of the tents while the staff tried to tend to everyone outside the tent.”

As members of the Angel Valley Retreat staff tended to those who weren’t physically hurt but needed to process the emotions of what had just happened, James Ray slipped out of town.

“We don’t know why James left,” Richard says.  “We can only assume his attorneys told him to get out ASAP… how he handled this since is not acceptable.”

In spite of what Richard experienced, he is reserved in the way he lays responsibility for the horror of that afternoon in the desert.

“The bottom line in all of this is that nobody knows what went wrong yet and why people died this time.  Should and could steps have been taken to ensure our safety?  Absolutely.”

According to Richard, reports that Ray had hired a nurse to be part of the event are not true.

“There was not a nurse on staff,” explains Richard.  “There was someone who used to be a nurse there that also just happened to be at the event as a volunteer.  She was not ‘hired’ to be there as a nurse.”

OCTOBER 2009:

Last March, the Los Angeles Times ran a blurb in its “Hot Property” column, a space reserved for real estate transactions involving the rich & famous.

Former footballer Rodney Peete and his actress wife Holly Robinson Peete were closing a deal to sell their home to a newcomer among the Beverly Hills-adjacent gliteratti… bestselling author, motivational speaker, disciple of “The Secret,” and self-described New Age shaman James Arthur Ray.

An aerial view of James Ray’s Mulholland mansion, located in the luxurious gated community of The Summit just north of the Beverly Hills corporation limits.

For his $4 million, Ray got a 7,200 square foot mansion in a gated community on the famed Mulholland Highway, the perfect place to sequester one’s self and relax after a five-day “Spiritual Warrior” retreat that brought in a half million dollars.

An even better place to hide from the media and Sedona investigators after such a retreat goes horribly wrong and costs the lives of three paying participants.

But James has worked – and continues to work – hard for his millions.

Just last Friday and Saturday, he toiled through two day’s worth of motivational sessions at his “Harmonic Wealth Weekend,” a gathering of 1,000 eager customers who doled out a total of nearly $1.3 million to learn from the master.

OCTOBER 2009:

Long before the fatal sweat lodge tragedy in Sedona, Arizona, people were complaining about James Arthur Ray’s business practices. Research finds there have been no fewer than seven complaints against Ray filed with the Better Business Bureau, all from people who unsuccessfully sought refunds for retreats or seminars with Ray. That’s according to BBB President and Chief Executive Sheryl Bilbrey.

One woman who complained, Donna Fleming, 60, filed a small-claims lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court, but lost her case. Fleming is a Topanga, California resident and business owner. She says she paid $6,000 to attend James Ray seminars.

During one of those in 2008 at Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego, Fleming told the BBB that about 175 people were told by Ray to put on thrift-shop clothing and mess up their hair to appear homeless. A bus then dropped them off in downtown San Diego with no money, IDs or phones. Fleming said she didn’t feel safe in the rough neighborhood they wandered in for about four hours.

“We were told not to associate with one another,” Fleming told a San Diego newspaper. “We were told that we’re warriors, surviving out there and living by our wits.”

She said she felt duped by Ray because the session wasn’t teaching her anything about how to achieve wealth. And the BBB apparently isn’t impressed with the way Ray runs his business… A check of the Bureau’s website reveals the company gets only a “C” rating (”A+” being the best, “F” being the worst)

OCTOBER 2009:

The James Arthur Ray Sedona sweat lodge story rumbles on. This week, Larry King meets the relatives of Kirby Brown, one of the three who died in the James Ray sweat lodge…

WHAT makes the situation interesting is the fact that the “Larry King Live” executive producer is known to have had a business relationship with Ray in the past, reportedly. Apparently, the producer was so taken with the philosophy of “The Secret,” that she focused at least two episodes of King’s show on the subject, and personally booked James Arthur Ray as a guest.

But wait. There’s more.

Around the time Ray last appeared on “LKL,” King’s producer was shopping him to a Hollywood production company to host Ray’s own syndicated show based on “The Secret.” Her efforts to pitch Ray were unsuccessful, in part due to the fact that Oprah Winfrey sent word to Ray that she was interested in building a show around him and his teachings.

Ray quickly abandoned King’s producer for Winfrey’s people – but talks with the Big “O” eventually broke off, leaving him out in the cold. So the question is: Will King go easy on Ray’s actions during Monday’s show… or will he be out for blood?

OCTOBER 2009:

THE 120-degree temperatures inside that sweat lodge was nothing compared to heat James Ray could soon feel from federal investigators.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobucher is asking both the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to look into what happened at the Spiritual Warrior retreat where three people died.

The dead include one Minnesotan, Lizabeth Neuman of Prior Lake.

Senator Klobuchar serves on both the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees.

“People came from all parts of the country to attend an event which they believed would enhance their lives,” said Klobuchar. “Instead, three people died, 18 were hospitalized and dozens more were traumatized. Mr. Ray neither enhanced their lives nor protected their safety.”

OCTOBER 2009:

WE now know now what it takes for James Ray to finally talk or write about what happened in Sedona: the potential loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars, allegedly. Ray has broken his eight days of silence, with an e-mail to the people who had enrolled in what was supposed to be his upcoming “Quantum Leap” experience at a Las Vegas Hotel.

The fee for the experience: $3,995 per person On Tuesday, however, the Green Valley Ranch Hotel notified all of those enrollees booked at the hotel that the event – and their reservations – had been canceled.

No explanation was given. They merely received an e-mail that read “we are saddened to cancel your booking with us…”

Then, in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, the Quantum Leapers, got an e-mail from one of James Ray’s associates, Director of Operations Megan Fredrickson. In the e-mail, Fredrickson said the cancellation message from the hotel “was as much a surprise to us as it was to you, and for that we offer our sincerest apologies.

Megan went on to offer a standard confused apology: “We are currently in communication with Green Valley Ranch and regret that we do not have any further information to share at this time.”

Then, in an e-mail time & date stamped at 3:51am on Thursday (10/29), The Big Kahuna himself reached out to his followers.

“The lives of the families impacted by the Sedona tragedy have been changed forever,” the missive began.

“These families deserve to have the questions raised by the tragedy answered as quickly and authoritatively as possible. That is the goal I’m dedicated to achieving.”

But Ray’s dedication to resolving everything doesn’t stop there.

“This is the most emotionally wrenching situation I have ever faced,” he says in the e-mail, “and it’s now clear that I must dedicate all of my physical and emotional energies to helping bring some sort of closure to this matter. That means helping the authorities and the families get to the bottom of what happened.”

But apparently “helping the authorities” doesn’t include speaking directly with them.

As of the time he wrote that e-mail, there had been no reports of any conversations between James Arthur Ray, and the Yavapai County Sheriff’s office, which is investigating the case.

In his e-mail, Ray goes on to explain that the Quantum Leap experience will be re-scheduled for a time after the first of the year. He makes no mention of refunds.

For your reading pleasure, the full missives can be read here.

OCTOBER 2009:

HERE’S a new piece at people.com about James Arthur Ray and the Sedona sweat lodge disaster. The apparent thesis is both chilling and fascinating.

Essentially, James Ray appears to be obsessed with death:

“If you review Ray’s writing and lectures, you will find many references such as: ‘If you’re not growing, you’re dying’ and ‘for anything new to live, something first must die,’” says the source. “He speaks a great deal about dying to limitations, dying to the old self, (dying to old) ways of thinking,” and breaking free.”

NOVEMBER 2009:

HMMM.  This is perplexing.

Just last Saturday, James Ray posted an update on his internet and Facebook pages regarding the investigation into the Sedona sweat lodge tragedy.

“Not only is this situation requiring all of my personal focus,” said Ray in a very carefully worked statement, “it’s also consuming my entire team’s focus as well”

“For that reason,” he continued, “you can expect significant delays in responses to all general business requests.”

Interestingly enough, however, the tragedy hasn’t consumed so much of Ray’s time that it prevents him from e-mailing at least the occasional daily “Thought of Power” to the people on his mass correspondence list.

But it’s not so much the fact that he’s sending these thoughts, as it is what the thoughts themselves say.

Just today, one of the recipients of these daily “Thoughts of Power” forwarded one of them to Rumor Rat… see for yourself what it says:

Creepy, right?

NOVEMBER 2009:

In a Saturday evening statement posted on Ray’s website, he tells us he’s continuing to devote all of his energy “to determine the facts surrounding the tragic accident in Sedona.” ‘Cause there’s no way, as the proprietor of the sweat lodge, he could possibly already know any of the facts surrounding the tragedy, right? It’s not like he was in control of what happened inside that tent?

But we digress.

From now on, as the result of his zeal for finding the truth, we will refer to James Arthur Ray as “Detective Jim.”

Furthermore, we’ll now stop saying that Ray is refusing to cooperate with the authorities.

Why?

Because in the statement he posted Saturday night at about 7:00pm PT, Ray states very clearly that he has instructed his representatives “to meet with the authorities in Arizona, and to share with those authorities the fact they learn.

Finally!

james arthur ray poster James Arthur Ray Is Guilty: The Full Story Of The Sedona Sweat Box DeathsNOVEMBER 2009:

“Some friends of James Arthur Ray sweat lodge victim Kirby Brown are doing their part to spruce up the view from the New Age guru and motivational speaker’s Carlsbad, California offices.

“They’ve hung the above pictured banner in a spot that ensures Ray will have something to read every day when he goes into the office.

“It reads:

BE ACCOUNTABLE JAMES ARTHUR RAY. YOU WERE TRUSTED BY OUR FRIEND KIRBY BROWN AND NOW SHE AND TWO OTHERS ARE DEAD!

DECEMBER 2009:

ANOTHER eye-opening, if not downright shocking, report from CNN reporter Gary Tuchman on those three sweat lodge deaths at the James Ray “Spiritual Warrior” retreat back in October.

Investigators looking into those deaths that happened during New Age guru James Ray’s “Spiritual Warrior” retreat aren’t giving any details to the media.

But family members of the victims and a former James Ray employee say they’re confident, based on conversations with authorities, that Ray will face criminal charges.

And that’s not the only new revelation from Tuchman’s Monday night report.

During his segment, he spoke with Melinda Martin, the former event planner with James Ray International, who was present on the afternoon of October 8th when the sweat lodge became more like a human oven.

Martin told Tuchman in horrifying detail about giving mouth-to-mouth to one of the dying sweat lodge victims.

“I would breathe into her mouth, her stomach would go up, and when it would go back down again, she would vomit into my mouth. And this happened four times. And I really thought I was going to bring her back. I really thought that she was going to survive.

“My worst point or my most horrifying point was when the ambulances arrived, and the helicopters arrived, and the paramedics came and they… put her in an ambulance, instead of a helicopter. And that was the worst moment for me.”

Martin says authorities she spoke with gave her the discinct impression that many people would be charged in the three deaths.

“I think they told me there might be 10 people indicted,” she said.  “I don’t know who those 10 people might be.”

For a complete transcript of the “Anderson Cooper 360″ segment, click here.

FEBRUARY 2010:
Back when the story of those Arizona sweat lodge deaths first broke on October 8, we had to make a conscious effort not to confuse the name of New Age guru James Arthur Ray… with that of assassin James Earl Ray.

Tonight, there’s less of a difference between the two.

James Arthur Ray is in an Arizona Jail tonight.

He’s charged with three counts of manslaughter, one for each of the innocent people who died as a result of the ceremony he conducted inside a sweltering tent in the middle of the Arizona desert.

Ray, who reportedly would not talk to investigators in the hours after the tragedy unfolded, will be spending some quality time in close proximity to the same authorities he tried so hard to avoid last October – he’s currently locked up in a sheriff’s station in Prescott.

His bail has been set at $5 million.

The Angel Valley Retreat sweat lodge tent, scene of the (alleged) crimes on the evening of October 8, 2009

The local sheriff, Steve Waugh, released a statement saying, in part, “Sheriff Waugh would like to thank the victim’s families for their patience while the Sheriff’s Office completed a thorough and comprehensive investigation.  With the arrest of James Ray, Sheriff Waugh hopes the families of the three victims will now have some measure of closure to this tragedy.”

Ray apparently didn’t put up much of a fight.  He was peacefully arrested at his attorney’s office in Prescott.

Not to be one-upped by the law, Ray’s attorney, Luis Li, also issued a statement:

“The charges are unjust and we will prove it in court.  This was a terrible accident – but it was an accident, not a criminal act. James Ray cooperated at every step of the way, providing information and witnesses to the authorities showing that no one could have foreseen this accident. We will now present this evidence in a court of law, and we are confident that Mr. Ray will be exonerated.”

FEBRUARY 2010:

For you missed CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360″ last night, you missed a riveting rebuttal of claims being made by defense attorneys for self-help guru James Ray.

Ray was charged yesterday with manslaughter, in connection with three deaths at a sweat lodge ceremony he led last October near Sedona, Arizona. Texas orthodontist Beverley Bunn was one of the lucky ones that night.  She survived the two-hour sweat lodge ceremony.

Last night, CNN’s Cooper had Beverley respond to statements made by James Ray in a recent interview with New York magazine.

Here’s a partial transcript from Cooper’s Wednesday night telecast:

Orthodontist and sweat lodge participant Beverley Bunn

COOPER:  I want to read you something, Beverly, that this guy, James Ray gave in an interview to “New York” magazine recently. When asked, what did you do after making sure 911 was called because that is what he said he did, Ray replied I did everything I could to help. There was a medical doctor there and I was having her make sure that everything was being run appropriately. I held peoples’ hands. I stroke their hair. I talked to them. I held an IV for the paramedics. I was there the entire time doing whatever I could do to help until I was detained by the detectives. Beverly, you were there, is he telling the truth?

BUNN: No, that is completely false. The medical doctor was there as a participant and she actually was laying next to me. And when I actually was coherent and I started actually reviving one of the people that was in critical condition, I said we need medical assistance here and I knew she was a medical doctor. So I asked her to come and help. When we saw that they were doing CPR over in another area, that’s actually when I told — they required medical assistance. I told the lady that you need to go over — she needs to go over there.

COOPER: You were the one actually directing this doctor around? What was Ray doing at this time?

BUNN: James Ray was about five or 10 feet away from Kirby and James Shore while they were actually conducting CPR on them. He just actually stood there. He was nowhere on our side of the tent. There’s no way he was helping anybody. Those are very false, very false statements.

FEBRUARY 2010:

This just in from defense attorneys for New Age guru James Arthur Ray:

“Despite misconceptions perpetrated in the media, Mr. Ray is not a man of significant assets and certainly not the millions reported in the press.”

That’s a quote from documents obtained from the Arizona court in charge of Ray’s triple manslaughter case.

The documents are now officially sealed.

All this despite Ray’s purchase last March of a $4 million home in a gated “Beverly Hills Adjacent” neighborhood on Mulholland Drive, populated by the rich & famous (he purchased the home from former pro footballer Rodney Peete and his actress wife Holly Robinson).

The reason for Ray’s recent poor-mouthing? His bail is still set at $5 million, and his attorneys are trying desperately to get that amount lowered.

It’s also perhaps worth mentioning that Ray grossed somewhere around a half-million dollars from last October’s Sedona, Arizona “Spiritual Warrior” workshop alone.

Still, his attorneys insist that his bail amount is “excessive and oppressive.”

The documents they filed claim that Ray is has a net worth of negative $4.2 million.

Besides the L.A. mansion, Ray owns homes in Hawaii and Nevada, and rentals in California.

The paperwork filed by Ray lists liabilities of more than $8.5 million, but doesn’t give many details.

Ray had to fill out a financial statement on the day of his arrest. In it, he claimed that he pays out $94,000 a month in expenses.

MARCH 2010:

Ray Tweet this:

jamesraytweetpostjailbail James Arthur Ray Is Guilty: The Full Story Of The Sedona Sweat Box Deaths

MARCH 2010:

SOMETIME during the 2009 calendar year, when Megan Fredrickson and James Arthur Ray’s many other minions were laying out his events for 2010, they scheduled  a “Harmonic Weath” gathering for this coming weekend in San Francisco, at a “TBA” location.

The price:  $750 per seat.

Now, with just days until that seminar was scheduled to begin, the people who paid Ray in advance for the event are finding themselves high & dry and with wallets that are hundreds of dollars lighter than they should be.

One of those people – a man we’ll call Roman – attended one of Ray’s free gatherings, which are commonly used to recruit paying customers for high-dollar seminars.

Roman left the free meeting $1,500 poorer, having given Ray the funds up front for the San Francisco affair that would supposedly help him and his wife Create Harmonic Wealth.

“I Bought them in advance as it was ‘advertised’ as a one time deal during the mini-seminar in San Jose,” Roman tells us.

Now he and presumably dozens, or perhaps hundreds, of others find themselves hitting dead ends as they try to get answers or refunds from Ray, his people, or his PR genius Mark “Master of Disaster” Fabiani.

“I started calling in late December or early January, leaving numerous messages on the main JRI line asking for a call back,” says Roman. After James Ray’s arrest… I called several times again asking to get a call back to receive a refund or confirmation of the event.  None of my messages or emails were returned…I looked all over the web for the venue of the upcoming event, and there is nothing.”

The James Ray International 800 number has now apparently been disconnected, Roman says, and Ray’s e-mail link is broken.

“I’m over $1,500 in the hole for this event supposedly taking place on March 19-20 in SF, but no venue!” he says.

If there is an upside to this mess, perhaps it is that Roman and his wife won’t have to worry about the Harmonic Wealth weekend becoming a life ending rather than life changing event, as it did for Colleen Conaway last summer when she took a suicide dive from the second floor of building during the same seminar in San Diego

MARCH 2010:

In what anybody other than Our Man in LA might consider a shocking turn, triple manslaughter suspect James Arthur Ray has taken to keeping in touch his flock of sheeple by way of the internet.

It really should surprise no one.  After all, when he’s delivering a recorded message on the web, reporters can’t hassle him with questions… disappointed followers can’t ask for their money back… and skeptics can’t heckle or throw eggs at him.

Although he claims that “I don’t have a company any longer,” it’s not stopping him from spreading the gospel according to St. James.

In the brief message, he quickly glosses over the horrors that happened in Sedona last October and gets to the point: “(what) I still have inside of me even yet is a deep desire and a passion to make a difference.”

READ IT HERE.

MARCH 2010:

As deposed New Age nimrod James Arthur Ray continues to sermonize from the comfort of his $4 million dollar Mulholland Drive mansion on the outskirts of Beverly Hills, the son of one of his (alleged) sweat lodge victims is firing back from half-way across the country.

This morning, the triple manslaughter suspect pontificated in a tweet that “The Universe is conspiring for my good.  I am one with God and God is everything.”

Enter Bryan Neuman, whose mother Liz Neuman perished in the sweat-lodge-turned-human-barbecue last October.

Needless to say, he was not happy about this, and tweeted his own response.

Ray continues to do semi-regular postings on his website to teach would-be followers how to live their lives.

Ironic that he could find himself living many years of his life behind bars if found guilty.

MAY 2010:

James Arthur Ray, the New Age bag of hot air accused of barbecuing three of his followers – including a mother from Minnesota – has posted a special Mother’s Day message on his website, writes Anorak’s Man in LA:

As one might expect, his message on appreciating mom is not sitting well with the son of one of Ray’s (alleged) victims.

Bryan Neuman’s mom suffered for days before finally succumbing to the physical damage done to her body during the sweat lodge in the Sedona, Arizona area lasts October.

JUNE 2011:

Kim Brinkley, a teacher in California, participated in the 2009 retreat and testified in Ray’s trial. She said she feels a sense of relief now that Ray is convicted and looks forward to moving on.

“My feelings on it are James Ray was totally bogus. None of his credentials panned out,” Brinkley said. “We walked into that sweat lodge believing in his training, paid for his knowledge and wisdom, which was all false. Whether or not he goes to jail, somehow, this will force James Ray to take responsibility.”

Watch out for the appeal…

 



Posted: 23rd, June 2011 | In: Key Posts, News Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink