Self-help author anguished over sweat-lodge deaths
James Arthur Ray (file)
-- A self-help author who spent nearly two years in prison for the
deaths of three people following a northern Arizona sweat lodge ceremony
said he's still shocked and remorseful about what happened.
no greater pain than attempting to help people and they get hurt. It's
horrible," James Arthur Ray told CNN on Monday night in what the station
touted as his first interview since being released from prison.
very sorry and remorseful about what happened. I wish I could change
that," Ray added. "It's not easy to live with. That anguish has
continued every single day."
Kirby Brown of
Westtown, N.Y.; James Shore of Milwaukee; and Liz Neuman of Prior Lake,
Minn., died following the October 2009 ceremony Ray led near Sedona.
Eighteen other people were injured.
convicted in 2011 on three counts of negligent homicide and served 20
months in prison. He also was required to spend time in Arizona on
community supervision, which ended on Oct. 12.
appealed the verdicts but later dropped the challenge, saying he wanted
to avoid the possibility of a retrial and resentencing.
lodges are commonly used by American Indian tribes to cleanse the body
and prepare for hunts, ceremonies and other events. They typically hold
no more than a dozen people, compared with the more than 50 people
inside Ray's ceremony in Arizona.
involves stones heated up outside the lodge, brought inside and placed
in a pit. The door is closed, and water is poured on the stones,
producing heat aimed at releasing toxins in the body. In traditional
ceremonies, the person who pours the water is said to have an innate
sense about the conditions of others inside the sweat lodge, many times
recognizing problems before they physically are presented.
and families of the victims said Ray ratcheted up the heat in the
Arizona sweat lodge to dangerous levels, ignored pleas for help and
watched as participants were dragged out of the tent-like facility.
didn't know that anyone was in a life-or-death situation. I was totally
shocked," Ray told CNN. "It was my event. I designed it.
done this for a number of years, and we've never had anything close to
this. I had systems in place and the system broke down. ... I'm
Ray said he has lost "everything" because of the tragedy and he has "no intention of ever doing another sweat lodge."
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