March 6, 2010 By Wallin & Klarich

Self-help guru, James Arthur Ray, has been charged with three counts of manslaughter after dozens of his followers collapsed in a sweat lodge at his retreat center in Arizona. Allegedly, over twenty people were hospitalized, and three of them never regained consciousness and died at a hospital. If he is convicted, Mr. Ray could be sentenced to more than 35 years in prison.

Since prosecutors charged Mr. Ray with manslaughter, Arizona law requires that the prosecution prove that James Ray acted with criminal intent. The prosecutors could prove criminal intent by showing that Mr. Ray acted recklessly and that his actions caused the deaths of his alleged victims. At trial, the prosecution might be able to show this by providing evidence that Mr. Ray was aware that others were ill at previous retreats. The prosecution could also show evidence that Mr. Ray lied about the incidents and ignored signs of medical distress among his followers.

At the same time, Mr. Ray’s best defense will likely be that his victims knew about the risk, and, nonetheless, decided to participate in a sweat lodge retreat. To successfully defend an individual who is charged with a similar crime in California, his or her defense team must prepare testimony of cult experts, medical professionals, sweat lodge leaders, former and current employees and prior participants.

Our firm has over 30 years of experience in criminal matters and has been recognized as an AV rated law firm. The vast resources at Wallin & Klarich allow us to offer outstanding representation to clients charged with crimes involving complicated scientific evidence. We have the legal knowledge and the resources to ensure that your rights and liberty are protected. Please call us at 888-280-6839, or visit our website at We will be there when you call.

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