Driving along Rt. 17 from Phoenix to Camp Verde, watching the sun turn the sky pink and orange with blazes of gold as it ends another day, I am transported to 2011, the year of James Ray’s trial for his role in the deaths of 3 people in his “sweat lodge.” We are here once again to watch the court struggle with the conflict of law vs. justice, manipulation vs. truth.
During the trial, we took five trips to Arizona to witness fancy, high-paid lawyers defend Ray at the expense of truth. Those old sensations of rage and disgust wash over me as I remember all the motions for mistrial and the lawyers’ attempts to blame the compromised and eventually traumatized victims of Sedona for not taking action to save the lives of Kirby, James and Liz.
Now, 5 Years later, James Ray would like the court to set aside his conviction of guilt to facilitate the international expansion of his business–the business he is rebuilding by rewriting his personal history. This story describes James Ray as the victim of Sedona who has suffered and was wrongfully accused, but has arisen from the ashes to teach others about overcoming adversity.
I feel nauseous, and want to scream and yell,
“Look at the facts! He left them in the dirt! He set them up to believe the signs of heat stroke were monikers to success! Five days of sensory deprivation stripped them of their ability for true rational judgment! She didn’t choose death! He knew she was unconscious and ignored repeated pleas for help!”
Years ago on a family camping trip across the country, I remember stopping in the middle of Iowa, getting out of the car and urging the kids to experience the vastness of the plains swallowing up their voices. No sound, no echo, no one to hear. Our voices just disappeared into the thin air. That same sense of futility threatens to swallow me up in this courtroom. “Listen!” I internally scream, “His narrative is false!”
We cannot allow him to publicly declare himself innocent of his actions, which caused the death of 3 people. He was the victim? No. He was the architect who made death inevitable due to his actions and inactions. Is he deliberately deceitful or simply delusional? Psychopathic or so blinded by his own declaration of omnipotence that he cannot see the reality of his own behaviors? Either way, he refuses to recognize his role in the deaths of 3 of his customers, and that makes him dangerous.
We have returned to the Camp Verde courthouse once again to plea for truth. We issue our objections to the granting of this motion and pray to be heard.
Thirty-six hours later, as we return to Phoenix, the sun is lighting the sky once again as it rises. The mountains are awash in pink and peach reminding me that the sun always follows the dark of night. We have prevailed, the motion to set aside guilt was not granted this time, leaving us to battle another day.