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Arizona man charged over three sweat lodge deaths

Motivational speaker James Arthur Ray is led by police

A motivational speaker has been charged with manslaughter over the deaths of three people who fell ill during a meeting at an Arizona sweat lodge.

James Ray surrendered to police at his lawyer's office and was taken to jail.

The deaths occurred at a retreat at the Angel Valley Retreat Center, 115 miles (180km) north of Phoenix, in October.

"This was a terrible accident, but it was an accident, not a criminal act," said Mr Ray's lawyer, adding that his client was confident of being cleared.

"James Ray co-operated at every step of the way, providing information and witnesses to the authorities showing that no-one could have foreseen this accident," said Luis Li.

Dehydration

Emergency services were called to the sweat lodge on 8 October after some of the 50 people at the event reported they were having difficulty breathing.

Two people fainted during the ceremony, and died later the same evening, and a third participant died a week later, after being in a coma.

A heart memorial at the site of the sweat lodge in Angel Valley
A memorial has been established at the site of the sweat lodge

Eighteen people were taken to hospital reportedly suffering from illnesses ranging from dehydration to kidney failure.

Some participants have said that Mr Ray pushed people to continue taking part in the event, despite their distress.

Mr Ray, who has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Larry King Live, had rented the centre for his five-day "Spiritual Warrior" event.

Reports said some of the participants had paid up to $9,000 (£5,650) for their stay at the retreat, which also reportedly included a 36-hour fast.

Andrea Puckett, whose mother, Liz Neuman, 49, was one of the three who died, said she was relieved Mr Ray had been arrested.

"It helps that he is, for now, being stopped from doing what he's doing, from harming anyone else, and that's the biggest relief for me and my family right now," she told the Associated Press.



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SEE ALSO
Third Arizona 'sweat lodge' death
18 Oct 09 |  Americas
Inquiry into 'sweat lodge' deaths
12 Oct 09 |  Americas
Two die at US spiritual retreat
09 Oct 09 |  Americas

FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
UPI Sweat lodge leader pleads not guilty - 6 hrs ago
TelegraphSelf-help guru charged over 'sweat lodge' deaths - 11 hrs ago
FOXNews.com Motivational Speaker James Arthur Ray Pleads Not Guilty - 13 hrs ago
USA Today Motivational speaker: Not guilty in sweat lodge deaths - 14 hrs ago
New York Times Sweat Lodge Leader Is Indicted in Deaths - 15 hrs ago
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