Sweat Lodge Leader Negligent: Jurors

Jurors returned a verdict in the trial of the Carlsbad motivational speaker accused of pressuring people to stay in a sweat lodge ceremony after they had become seriously ill.

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.

Ray was acquitted of manslaughter but convicted of three counts of negligent homicide.

Three people collapsed and died during the ceremony.

Two participants -- Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, N.Y., and James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee -- died upon arrival at a hospital. Liz Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, Minn., slipped into a coma and died more than a week later at a Flagstaff hospital.

Prosecutors say Ray crammed more than 50 people inside the sweat lodge. They say he pressured them to stay, even after people started vomiting and passing out.

Ray's attorneys maintained the deaths were nothing but a tragic accident, and said Ray took all the necessary precautions to ensure participants' safety.

Ray became a self-help superstar by using his charismatic personality and convincing people his words would lead them to spiritual and financial wealth.

He used free talks to recruit people to expensive seminars like the Sedona retreat that led to the sweat lodge tragedy.

Participants paid up to $10,000 for the five-day program intended to push people beyond their physical and emotional limits.

Ray's popularity soared after appearing in the 2006 Rhonda Byrne documentary "The Secret," and Ray promoted it on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "Larry King Live."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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