New Age

Self-Help Guru Charged with Manslaughter

Due to a mishap during his sweat lodge ceremony, self-help guru James Arthur Ray is now involved in an entirely different sort of ceremony: the kind that can end with a felony conviction and jail time. Ray has been charged with manslaughter in the deaths of three people who fell ill during a sweat-lodge ceremony held at one of his retreats. Ray packed more than 60 people into a 415-square foot dome for a two-hour cleanse in a sauna-ike environment, and reportedly urged the people who began vomiting and collapsing to push past it, scolding those who wanted out. Afterward, 21 people headed to the hospital where three of them died. The treatment was part of Ray's five-day "Spiritual Warrior" program in Arizona. Ray's lawyer pledged to fight the charges, noting that his client cooperated with the police at every step of the way, and calling the incident "a terrible accident" but not a criminal act.