Wrongful Death?: Following 3rd “Sweat Lodge” Fatality, One Family Member Cries “Murder”

October 19, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

A third person has died after participating in the sweat lodge ceremony facilitated by self-help expert James Arthur Ray. Participants paid over $9,000 each to take part in his “Spiritual Warrior” program.

Part of the program involved over 50 people entering a sweat lodge for a purification ceremony. The October 8 ritual turned tragic when Kirby Brown, 38, and James Shore, 40, were pronounced dead and 19 other people became ill from a number of conditions, including respiratory arrest, elevated body temperature, dehydration, and kidney failure. On Saturday, sweat lodge participant, Liz Neuman, also died.

Neuman sustained multiple organ damage and went into a coma after sitting in the sweat lodge. Now, her family says that they plan to file a wrongful death lawsuit over the incident.

Meantime, Tom McFeeley, Brown’s cousin and the family’s spokesperson, is alleging that she, Shore, and Neuman were murdered.

Hey says that Ray decided when participants could leave the sweat lodge. McFeeley says he doesn’t believe that the self-help guru was equipped to facilitate the event.

Police are still investigating the fatal incident, which occurred on the grounds of the Angel Valley Spiritual Retreat in Arizona, to determine whether criminal charges should be filed against Ray or anyone else involved in the event.

According to the New York Post, the sweat lodge incident was not the only event facilitated by Ray resulting in injury or death. In July 2009, a woman attending one of Ray’s seminars committed suicide by jumping from the third floor of a balcony mall. In May 2005, a woman shattered her hand after Ray allegedly pressured her into breaking a board. She sued the self-help teacher for personal injury and the lawsuit was settled in 2007.

Mystic’s past is guru-some, NY Post, October 19, 2009

3rd person in sweat lodge ceremony dies, Boston.com, October 19, 2009

Related Web Resources:
James Arthur Ray

Angel Valley Spiritual Retreat

The Native American Seat Lodge


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