James Ray Guilty of Negligent Homicide x3June 22, 2011
James Arthur Ray, motivational torturer and “philosopher” from the film The Secret has been found guilty of three counts of negligent homicide.
Ray has so avoided being investigated by police in San Diego in relation to the death of his first victim, Colleen Conaway who died in one of his seminars barely two months before he negligently caused three further deaths at a further seminar. Colleen’s death was inadequately investigated by police after Ray and some members of staff lied to police about the circumstances of Colleen’s death, after they had abandoned her body in a shopping plaza in San Diego.
James Ray and some members of his staff told carefully co-ordinated lies to the San Diego police and to participants (who only learned one of the death through the media). They also lied to some concerned staff members about it, instructing them to inform any inquirers that “We’ve found Colleen, she’s fine and decided not to return to the group”. That was after discussing the situation with his attorneys.
The cover up has been covered extensively on this site (see previous link), and a more complete description of events can be found here in a comment posted by a member of Colleen’s family.
The San Diego police did not investigate the death and Ray went on to cause three more deaths, for which he has just been convicted. The jury never got to hear about Colleen Conaway as the defense was successful in having mention of it excluded. A document from the Arizona prosecutors:
[The] Defendant also tries to disclaim any responsibility for the suicide of Colleen Conaway. However the significance [for the current trial] of the suicide is not in the tragedy itself; instead it is in the reaction of the JRI staff to the event. Participants report that they were never informed that one of the seminar participants had died and the seminar continued through the end without mention of this tragedy, including Defendant making sales pitches for future events.
Hearing for sentencing Tuesday June 29. [UPDATE Scroll down for coverage of sentencing]
Salty Droid has posted his reaction to the verdict. One brief passage gives glimpse of the horror of the events, and the contemptible and brazen attitude of Ray and his attorneys in their attempts at escaping justice:
…The same is true for one of the defense’s primary arguments :: that a core temperature reading above 104 is required for a heat stroke diagnosis. Kirby and James were already dead because of Death Ray’s stalling :: and because of prior year shout downs for people with the audacity to call 911.
Liz was just laying out there :: in the mud and the desert night … half a corpse.
Her “friend” and “mentor” of 10 years just a few months away from arguing that he was innocent of killing her because her half dead body had already cooled while he was having a sandwich.
June 23 Here is a statement from Kirby Brown’s family.
The family of Kirby Brown would like to thank the members of this jury who have set aside their lives for 5 months as they carefully considered the evidence presented to them. We appreciate their dedication and careful discernment of the facts presented and regret that so much information which may have led them to a different conclusion was withheld from them.
Her family has also established a non-profit organization to promote safety standards in the self help industry, SEEK. There’s certainly plenty that could be done to improve the the standards of the self help industry. It’s a business completely and utterly devoid of advertising standards. (A few quick rules: never pay for more than one event/ session in advance, do read the small print, assume everything described in the waiver WILL happen and decide whether or not it’s worth it, assume any biographical details a teacher shares are a complete fabrication, and walk away from ANYONE who uses the word “quantum physics” who doesn’t have a proper degree in it. That would probably close down the entire industry over night.)
Anyone not following those rules can expect to lose their money and be an odds on chance for ruining their life. I have always found that easy to predict of the ideas so neatly packaged up in The Secret. What I never predicted and have been repeatedly shocked by is the extent of Ray’s ruthlessness and utter indifference to human suffering. I am deeply shocked at horrors he inflicted on his unsuspecting customers, and utterly stunned at his “business as usual” approach since the death of his first victim. No one except James Ray and probably some of his staff, could have known that.
June 28 The sentencing hearing has started. The prosecution is argues that Ray should get the maximum sentence (3x 3.75 years) because of aggravating factors: that the victims’ families suffer emotional harm; that Ray occupied a position of trust; and that Ray was in a position to benefit financially by placing them in danger.
The defense is arguing for the minimum sentence, probation, because James Ray has a clean record (thanks to the San Diego Police Dept not investigating the death of his first victim and not charging him at least with misleading police, obstruction of justice, fabrication of evidence, destruction of evidence, and possibly negligent homicide).
Members of the three families of Ray’s October 9 victims (but not the family of his July 09 victim, see above) testified as to the impact on their families. There is no way tell your kids their dad is dead.
What gets excluded from the trial, also doesn’t get into the media. At the time One family turned off their mother’s life support system, James Ray was still trying to conduct business as usual, running a public seminar in his money-making venture the “World Wealth Society”.
The hearing will probably finish on July 30. Then there will be a wait of a month or more before the sentence is given.
July 1 The jury has reached a verdict on the aggravating factors they were to consider. They found Ray guilty on only one of the aggravating factors — causing emotional harm to the victims’ families. They needed to find him guilty of at least two of these in order to increase the possible maximum sentence from 9 to nearly 12 years. The families of the victims are disappointed with this result, and Ray is still out on bail, still in business, and asking those still faithful to him to write letters of support for his mitigation plea.
It is insane that Colleen Conaway’s death was not mentioned in this trial, and his cover up of it has been excluded from being included in consideration of his sentence, yet Ray is asking his “followers” (i.e. people with a financial interest in supporting him) to write letters to get him either set free on probation or his sentence reduced.
The legal system is not equipped to deal with religious crime, which is why so many criminals are attracted to it.
Judge Darrow has stuck to the letter of the law in case, but I feel not the spirit of it. The state, aware of all the facts, presented a solid case that met all the criteria for manslaughter. The jury, unaware of a great deal of facts about Ray’s behavior, seems to have cut him a little slack and gone for the lesser charge.
Ray’s sentencing is now scheduled for September 26.