PHOENIX - The man convicted for negligent homicide in the deaths of three people at a Sedona sweat lodge is now describing those people as heroes – not victims.
James Arthur Ray is the subject of a documentary on CNN Saturday, and he made the unusual claims Thursday morning.
The documentary, called “Enlighten Us,” traces Ray’s rise and fall in the New Age movement.
“I have taken full and complete responsibility for what happened,” Ray said Thursday in a clip he filmed himself for YouTube. “I have done everything asked of me. I’ve paid restitution. I’ve done time. And you know, I think it’s really important for me to communicate that James Shore, Liz Neuman and Kirby Brown were heroes. They’re not victims.”
Ginny Brown, Kirby Brown’s mother, said she doesn’t see a man who’s taken responsibility for her daughter’s death.
“I think he believes that. But full responsibility to me would be, ‘I’ve been rehabilitated because I now understand that what I did was dangerous, and I’ll never do that again,'" she said.
Kirby Brown, James Shore and Liz Neuman died during Ray’s sweat lodge retreat in Sedona.
The sweat lodge was supposed to make them better people. The heat would test them.
During Ray’s trial, prosecutors played tapes of Ray repeatedly telling his customers things like:
“You will have to get to a point where you surrender and it’s OK to die.”
In sweltering temperatures, those same people who paid almost $10,000 to come to the sweat lodge were suffering dehydration, heat illnesses and death.
Now, Ginny Brown is worried Ray is still cashing in and not feeling any real remorse based on statements like this:
“What my hope is is that people who view this can say, ‘Hey, if he had the resilience to get through that, maybe I can do it as well.’”
“He may have helped people,” Brown said. “But he’s also responsible for killing people.”
James Ray’s response to all this? Nothing. He initially agreed to be interviewed for this story from NBC in New York.
But when his public relations people found out the interview would not be unedited and would include Ginny Brown, they called it off and claimed the story would be biased before we’d even asked a single question.
But Ray wasn’t done, he took to Twitter.
Showed up to do an interview with @wpitts@12news @william_pitts. to find we were not told the truth, it was a complete ambush. Disappointed— James Arthur Ray (@JamesARay) December 1, 2016
“He did something that was criminal. And, yes, he has served his time, but that doesn’t dispel the fact that he was guilty,” Brown said.
Copyright 2016 KPNX