Nearly two weeks after a purification program led to three deaths, the self-help guru who brought 50 clients into a sweat lodge in Arizona has expressed sorrow but will continue with his work.
“I feel your pain. I accept your anger. And I pray for you all to have some measure of peace and comfort,” James Arthur Ray writes on his Web site in his most detailed response.
Ray, who is the subject of a homicide investigation stemming from the three deaths near Sedona, stops short of apologizing and says he appreciates that people continue attending his seminars.
“I, too, want to know what happened that caused this horrible tragedy,” he says. “My team and I are working with the appropriate authorities and have even hired our own investigators to find out the truth.”
No Criminal Charges
Ray, the author of Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want, was featured in the movie version of The Secret and has appeared on Oprah and other talk shows.
During the “Spiritual Warrior” five-day retreat, for which Ray charges approximately $9,000, participants are pushed to their spiritual and physical limits by fasting for 36 hours and cramming into a 415-square foot, sauna-like hut – essentially a wood frame covered in tarps and blankets.
Despite the police investigation, Ray is allowed to continue his programs because he hasn’t yet been charged with a crime, Yavapai County Sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn tells PEOPLE.
Investigators are still waiting for toxicology reports, and conducting interviews with Ray clients across the country. Any autopsy findings so far have been sealed by the court, he says, cautioning people about the sweat lodges in the meantime.
“We would warn folks to be very careful if they participate in this kind of event, especially with Mr. Ray,” says D’Evelyn.
Possible Victims’ Lawsuits
Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, N.Y., and James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee died after being overcome, and Lizbeth Neuman, 49, of Minnesota lapsed into a coma and died this past Saturday.
Regardless of what the authorites do, family members of the victims have hired lawyers and are blaming Ray for the deaths.
Louis Diesel, an attorney for Neuman’s family, tells the Associated Press that appropriate measures were not taken to prevent her death and “she left this world way too soon.”