Sweat Lodge Follower Speaks Out

Woman says James Arthur Ray was a "gifted teacher"


For years, a San Diego woman was in inner circle of a man who police said lead a group into a sweat lodge that later killed three people.

James Arthur Ray faced three counts of manslaughter for the deaths of three people during a sweat lodge ceremony he led near Sedona in 2009.

Two years ago, when Connie Joy found out something had gone horribly wrong with Ray's sweat lodge, she wasn't surprised.

She said she tried to warn others and even Ray the sweat lodge was too dangerous. And now she said she’s lucky to be alive.

Joy was like the many people who came in contact with Ray.

“He was a gifted teacher,” Joy said.

She met him in 2007 at a seminar in San Diego and where she and her husband became instantly drawn to the charismatic man they believed could help change their lives.

"He had a skill and that's the sad thing,” Joy said. “He had a gift and the gift was to take a lot of different information and merge it together in a way that people could understand.”

Joy and her husband attended 27 seminars and events between 2007 and 2009.

They became charter members of Ray's World Wealth Society, in which they paid $75,000 dues.

Joy said Ray would challenge his followers to do things they didn't think they were capable of.

"Eventually your walking on fire, eventually your bending a rebar with your throat, eventually your snapping arrows with your throat or your breaking concrete bricks.”

After her sweat lodge experience Joy tried to tell Ray it was too dangerous, however, he didn't listen.

"I was done. I was more than done. I was feeling sick and I'm thinking to myself, wait a minute. He's going to do more rounds. This is not ok.”

Joy and her husband were supposed to be inside the sweat lodge in Sedona. But just two weeks before the incident, they decided to cut ties with Ray.

“You look at it and wish. What could we have done? Had we been there would we have had the nerve to rip the covers off the tarps. You know James is a hard man to defy. “

Contact Us