Bail Lowered for Jailed Self-Help Guru

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    James Ray's mug shot

    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- A judge on Thursday lowered the bond in the manslaughter case of a motivational speaker who led a fatal sweat lodge ceremony from $5 million to $525,000.

    Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Warren Darrow issued the ruling a day after a bond reduction hearing in James Arthur Ray's case wrapped up.

    Carlsbad resident James Arthur Ray was charged with three counts of manslaughter stemming from the deaths of three people following a sweat lodge ceremony he led last year in Arizona.

    Darrow said Ray can post cash or a secured appearance bond and ordered that he surrender his passport. Ray also cannot organize, supervise or conduct any sweat lodge ceremonies or other activities that might harm others, Darrow ordered.

    The order does not restrict Ray from travelling in the United States or conducting self-help seminars he built a business on, but he must first provide a written itinerary to his attorneys and to the court upon request.

    The bail is less than the $1.5 million that prosecutors had contended was appropriate to ensure his appearance in court.
    Ray's attorneys had asked that he be released without bail or bond set at a minimum. They said he could not afford even a $1 million bond, isn't a flight risk or a threat to public safety and has no criminal record.

    The bond reduction hearing this week largely focused on exactly how much money Ray has. A witness for the prosecution testified that Ray was worth a "conservative" $2.4 million and questioned why some of his money was unaccounted for.

    Ray's attorneys contended that he had nothing to hide and voluntarily submitted financial documents to authorities. Ray's financial controller testified that much of his boss's money has gone to legal fees and creditors and that his net worth was negative $4.2 million.

    Ray's arrest came four months after he led a sweat lodge ceremony that was supposed to be the highlight of his five-day "Spiritual Warrior" retreat. Instead, three people died -- Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, N.Y., James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee; and Liz Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, Minn. -- and 18 others were hospitalized.

    Prosecutors allege Ray recklessly crammed more than 50 people inside the 415-square-foot sweat lodge, a small heated enclosure used in traditional American Indian ceremonies to cleanse the body.

    Many participants have said Ray chided them for wanting to leave, even as people were vomiting, getting burned by hot rocks and lying unconscious on the ground.

    Ray's attorneys have called the deaths a tragic accident and said he took all the necessary precautions and immediately tended to the ill.