New Age guru James Arthur Ray is out of prison, but the families of three acolytes who died in a sweat lodge ceremony vow to keep on eye on him if he tries to rebuild his self-help empire.
Ray left an Arizona prison Friday after serving 20 months for the negligent homicides of three followers who sought spiritual breakthroughs but died of overheating in a sweat lodge near Sedona in October 2009.
According to testimony at his trial, acolytes who flocked to Angel Valley’s red rock foothills were willing to shave their heads, meditate in the desert for 36 hours without food and water and then symbolically die and be reborn in the sweat lodge ritual.
Fifty-five people followed Ray into the sweat lodge; three died from overheating and 19 others were hospitalized after they collapsed, vomited, had trouble breathing, hallucinated, foamed at the mouth or fell unconscious.
Ray was convicted of negligently causing the deaths of Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, New York; Lizbeth Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, Minnesota; and James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee.
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