Ray charged in sweat lodge deaths of Prior Lake woman, two others

Categories: Crime, National

New Age guru James Arthur Ray may be headed from the sweat lodge to the big house, after being indicted yesterday on three counts of manslaughter following the October deaths of three of his clients at an Arizona spiritual retreat.

Among those who died was Liz Neuman, of Prior Lake.

Witnesses interviewed by police after the event described Ray telling clients that they might feel like they were going to die, that it was "a good day to die," and that he sat outside the sweat lodge in a shaded chair as two of them -- James Shore of Milwaukee, and Kirby Brown of Westtown, N.Y. -- died inside. Neuman, unconscious, was dragged from the tent and died nine days later in a Flagstaff hospital.

Not surprisingly, Ray, a man who grew wealthy beyond belief through his self-help books, lectures and "spiritual warrior" retreats, sees things differently.

"I did everything I could to help," he told New York Magazine. "There was a medical doctor there, and I was having her make sure that everything was being run appropriately. I held people's hands, I stroked their hair, I talked to them, I held IV for the paramedics. I was there the entire time doing whatever I could do to help until I was detained by the detectives."

He now sits in an Arizona jail, if or until he can post a $5 million bond, according to a statement by Yavapai County Sheriff Steve Waugh.

Besides the manslaughter charges, Ray also faces lawsuits alleging negligence and fraud.

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