October 15, 2009

Ray investigated for homicides

Official:  Deaths at Arizona Sweat Lodge Ruled HomicideThe deaths of two people during a sweat lodge ceremony led by self-help expert James Arthur Ray are being investigated as homicides, authorities said Thursday.

Yavapai County Sheriff Steve Waugh said the deaths of Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown N.Y. and James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee were not accidental.

"A combination of circumstances led to the deaths," Waugh told reporters. "Whether or not we can prove a criminal case, that has yet to be determined."

Waugh said investigators are looking at the way the sweat lodge was built, the fact that people had fallen ill at previous sweat ceremonies led by Ray, and questionable medical care on site. Ray is the primary focus of the probe but others also are being investigated, the sheriff said.
Sweat lodge deaths investigated as homicidesA search warrant was executed Wednesday at the James Ray International offices in Carlsbad, California, the sheriff said. Authorities were attempting to determine whether documents exist on how to construct sweat lodges and on their proper use, as well as documents showing whether participants were advised of the risks of sweat lodges either before or during the program. They also were searching for rosters from past events, Waugh said.

Police would not say what, if anything, was found in executing the search warrant.

Asked why the deaths have been classified as homicides and the investigation upgraded, Waugh said, "We believe there are indications that it was not accidental, and ... we feel that there should be some culpability on some individuals."

Those individuals could include Ray and possibly others, he said.
Comment:  I thought a charge of criminal negligence was too mild. Ray twittered about how his clients "must die," and a previous sweat lodge rendered someone unconscious. Moreover, he crammed too many people into his steaming hellhole to call it an accident. I'm guessing he'll face some sort of homicide charge, and rightly so.

Let's hope Ray ends up behind bars with his career and his New Age empire destroyed. But only if he's found guilty, of course.

For more on the subject, see Sweat Lodge Victims Chose to Die?!, Ray Speaks on Sweat Lodge Tragedy, and How Sweat Lodges Can Kill.

Below:  "Kirby Brown, 38, from Westtown, N.Y., seen in April 2008, died Thursday outside Sedona, Ariz."

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