James Ray Arrested in Sedona Sweat Lodge Deaths

James Arthur Ray seen in his booking photo from Feb. 3, 2010, when he was arrested and charged with three counts of manslaughter connected to the deaths at an Arizona sweat lodge in October 2009.

Controversial spiritual leader James Arthur Ray was arrested today and charged with three counts of manslaughter connected to the deaths at a Sedona, Ariz., sweat lodge in October.

The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office announced the arrest in a statement on its Web site.

"With the arrest of James Ray, Sheriff [Steve] Waugh hopes the familes of the three victims will now have some measure of closure to this tragedy," the post said.

Kirby Brown, James Shore and Liz Neuman died following a ceremony in the sweat lodge led by Ray on Oct. 9.

Day of Reckoning
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Ray was "cooperative" with police and answered routing booking questions, officer Dwight Develyn of the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office told ABC News. Bond was set for Ray at $5 million, the sheriff's office said.

Ray's lawyer, Luis Li, called the charges "unjust" and said that Ray would be proven innocent.

"This was a terrible accident -- but it was an accident, not a criminal act," Li said in a statement released after the arrest. "James Ray cooperated at every step of the way, providing information and witnesses to the authorities showing that no one could have foreseen this accident. We will now present this evidence in a court of law, and we are confident that Mr. Ray will be exonerated."

VIDEO: Sweat Lodge survivor speaks out
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Brown, 38, and Shore, 40, both of whom paid nearly $10,000 to spend the week with Ray, died in the lodge.

Neuman, 49, spent more than a week in a coma and died Oct. 17. Eighteen others were injured.

Survivor Beverly Bunn told "Good Morning America" that even while people were collapsing, vomiting and gasping for air, Ray, who was leading the ceremony, urged everyone to stay inside.

More than 60 people were gathered inside the tent hoping to cleanse their bodies. But within the hour people began to collapse and vomit, Bunn said.

While people were not physically forced to remain in the tent, Bunn said Ray would chide them if they wanted to leave, saying weakness could be overcome.

James Arthur Ray Charged in Sweat Lodge Deaths

Days after the incident, Ray wrote on his Web site that for the families of the people who died, "the questions raised by the tragedy" needed to be answered.

"It's now clear I must dedicate all of my physical and emotional energies to helping bring some sort of closure to this matter," he wrote.

Andrea Puckett, daughter of victim Liz Neuman, told ABC News in October she held Ray accountable.

"I think he should take responsibility for his role in this incident," Puckett said. "Honestly, I think he deserves to be behind bars. I think that he was completely negligent and I believe that he is responsible for my mother's death."

Beverly Bunn, a participant who survived the sweat lodge ceremony, said Ray urged participants not to leave, even when people were passing out and vomiting.

In a statement to ABC News in October, an attorney for Ray called the deaths a "terrible accident" but distanced the self-help guru from accountability.

"The facts are that Mr. Ray was not the one who was responsible for the design, construction or maintenance of the sweat lodge," the statement said.

Before his arrest and in response to media reports that Ray's legal team deemed "filled with inaccuracies and poisonous innuendo," the team posted two documents known as "The White Papers" on Ray's Web site under a section called "Setting the Record Straight."

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