James Ray: Locked Up for 2 Years

November 19, 2011

Motivational torturer, James Arthur Ray, has been sentenced to two years in prison for three of the four lives he snuffed out. (Also, a wrongful death civil lawsuit is taking the place of charges which the San Diego Police Department didn’t bother laying in relation to the death of Colleen Conaway.)

Ray’s million dollar law team based their defense on attempting to cast doubt on the cause of death, and openly and cynically attempting to get Ray off on a technicality. After the judge ruled the state had technically committed “Brady violation” (failure to disclose evidence), which could have led to a mistrial, Ray tweeted:

Judge ruled it was Brady… That’s in our favor. Now he needs to decide what to do. Woohooo!! (13 April 2011)

At the sentencing, however he was suddenly blubbering apologies to the bereaved and claiming he

didn’t know anyone was dying or in serious distress

— A statement he chose not to make during the trial. He also didn’t say anything like that when the event occurred, preferring to tell police that the firekeeper was in charge of his fake sweat lodge. And although his defense attorneys also claimed before the trial that he didn’t know anyone was in distress, they also decided not to expose that claim to cross examination. Luis Li certainly made no mention of such an idea during his seven hour closing statement.

Ray’s tears, however sounded genuine, as did his statement that “If there was anything I could do to turn back the clock I would do it.” But that comes more than two and a half years too late, and only with a jail term staring him in the face. Check out Ray’s twitter account, if you think he feels any more remorse for these lives than he did for Colleen Conaway. All four of his victims were admitted to hospital or the morgue labeled Jane or John Doe because Ray valued PR damage control more highly than human life.

The legal justice system has been kind to James Ray.

The court excluded relevant evidence from previous life threatening sweat lodges and decided Ray was unaware of the danger of cooking people to death, as he was merely trying to cook them to within an inch of their lives. The court prevented the jury from hearing about Colleen’s death and Ray’s reaction to it. The court allowed the defense to waste endless months on their absurd theories about the deaths having resulted from unknown toxins, and forcing the state to cut important witnesses due to time constraints.

Despite these constraints, state prosecutor Sheila Polk presented a sound case for manslaughter. Such was her and her team’s dedication; and such was the overwhelming amount of evidence for Ray’s culpability. Nevertheless, a couple of the jury members wanted to cut Ray some slack and held out for the lesser the lesser charge of homicide, thereby reducing the maximum sentence from 39 to 9 years. Later they were shocked to learn that important information was withheld from them.

Judge Darrow then decided to cut Ray even more slack, ordering him to serve three two year terms “concurrently”. This is a very mild sentence indeed for a reckless, remorseless four time killer. The legal system’s bizarre notion that he can serve the sentences concurrently is also a quirk of the legal system that works in Ray’s favor. It sounds to me more like something out of New Age fake quantum physics than a part of reality.

Just as Ray exploited people’s basic trust, his million dollar defense attorneys exploited the legal system’s commitment to giving him a fair trial. But thanks to the extraordinary efforts of Sheila Polk and her colleagues, James Ray has been forced to serve at least some of the time he deserves.

UPDATE 19.11.2011 

This document (also linked to above) outlining the civil case against Ray and his staff relating to Colleen Conaway’s death is well worth reading. It details very clearly the way in which Colleen was scammed out of her money, psychologically broken down and humiliated to the point where she felt she had lost everything. This is the way the scam works: they steal your dreams and then sell them back to you, using fake expertise and fake magical “scientific” powers (the law of attraction etc) to make you believe they hold the key in their hands.

It is an unfortunate aspect of the hard wiring of human psychology that as soon as we perceive someone to be “spiritual”, we tend immediately to have higher trust and lower standards of skepticism. (Anyone can fall for it. It’s the quirk that all conmen use, and it works just as well with perceiving people as a friend or authority figure.) No one need be that shocked to learn that it turns the New Age industry into a hotbed of crooks and scammers.

What is truly shocking though is that it took only two months for James Ray and his team to utterly destroy Colleen’s life. Shocking beyond words is the way those named in the law suit – Megan Fredrickson, Michele Goulet, Greg Hartle, Aaron Bennett among others – worked swiftly to deceive the police, the other participants and even other staff members about the simple fact of Colleen’s death. Colleen gave Ray her money with the agreement that he help her plan a new life. It finished with Michele Goulet giving police the impression that Colleen didn’t want to live anymore.

James Ray and the above named people preferred to leave Colleen’s family dealing with a “suicide” rather than risk PR problems.

UPDATE 30.11.2011

LaVaughan has now written a typically thorough and astute run down of the sentencing procedings As always highly recommended. (See also the rest of her James Ray category for the most thorough coverage of the entire trial.) About Ray’s speech she writes:

Ray’s performance went on like that for some time with him appealing to both family members in the gallery and the judge. Although I could not see his face during most of it, the voice was enough. His meter never varied, he sniffled with metronomic precision, he never stumbled on a single word. He was in total control the entire time… I did catch a glimpse of his face as he turned to go back to his seat and I saw the dead eyes, steely determination, and barest hint of a smirk, that was so incongruous with the dramatic display he’d just given the court.

From a news article about criminal psychopaths:

“Psychopaths are so adept at “putting on a good show” and using crocodile tears that they can be convincing to psychologists as well as other professionals. They use non-verbal behaviour, a “gift of gab”, and persuasive emotional displays to put on an Oscar award winning performance and move through the correctional system and ultimately parole boards relatively quickly, despite their known diagnosis…

“Further, we need to acknowledge that psychopathy is largely unchangeable. It isn’t possible to miraculously create a ‘conscience’ in adults who have not had a conscience previously. It’s the cold, hard truth. Acting ability should not be a criterion for release.”



  1. Well said. Part of me wonders too about the leniency. Concurrently serving the sentence seems off. But I wonder if it’s the judge’s way or pre-empting an appeal. If an appeal is lost (from the J.A.R. perspective), is there a danger of the concurrent part being rolled out to consecutive by the next judge? Time will tell.

    Another part of me is okay with this as J.A.R. has been living with the burden of not knowing for two years now (due to his own tedious stalling) and now must serve another two years. Had he accepted responsibility of his role, his time might have already been served by now, and he could have been going into a new life now. So in a warped kind of way, it’s a four year sentence. The prison has shifted from an interior one to a physical one.

    That, and the honorary degree many of these gurus boast is the school of hard knocks. I think J.A.R. will have his degree revoked because, while drugs and poverty is okay, murder (or manslaughter) is not. He’ll have a record putting him in a social hole where he may well be left to rot.

    He’s taking a big fall for a powerful industry. I wonder which guru will be there for him when he’s paroled. None, I’ll bet. Even Oprah will probably continue her ongoing silence. This will not be on her list of things to expose.

  2. Yes, he has taken a powerful fall for the industry. An industry that does absolutely nothing to police itself also does nothing to protect it’s big names from getting themselves into hot water. It’s all cross promotion and absolutely no standards whatsoever. None of those who vouched for Ray bothered checking on any of his credentials – of course, because their credentials are just as bogus. The result is, of course, a culture of absolute and unconditional denial – and despite four deaths, it’s still in denial.

    I don’t think anyone could really say Darrow was anything but meticulous and unbiased in his interpretation of the laws and conduct of the trial. Clearly he also did a good job of avoiding a mistrial. If he was interested in letting the rich guy walk, he certainly had ample opportunity to do that, and didn’t.

    But I would have preferred a little boldness in some areas. It’s certainly an unusual case, but the there was also an unusually large amount of evidence of recklessness, courtesy of JAR’s tape recordings of his own bluster. I don’t think it would have been such a stretch for him to realize that the jury had already cut him a lot of slack by convicting of the 9 year charge instead of the 39 year charge (manslaughter). Instead he cut Ray slack again.

    But prison time at least sends a message, if not to Ray, then to his apologists who are still trying to claim it was an accident.

  3. […] [Update: This post covers the last part of the pre-sentence hearing. For some extra details on his two year sentence, follow this link.]  […]

  4. […] You Want to Become A Self-Help AuthorAriz. Prosecutors Press Author To Prove He’s BrokeJames Ray: Locked Up for 2 Years /* Thanks to Web Designer Wall for writing about this technique: […]

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