I had not thought that Arizona authorities would do this … previously, their behavior had indicated their willingness to let James Arthur Ray (of The Secret fame) skate on the sweat-lodged deaths … but they finally arrested him for it, and apparently will prosecute him. ABC News reports on this unexpected development (WebCite cached article):

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.

The reason I wondered if they would do anything is because, from the very start, Arizona and Yavapai county officials have treated Ray with kid gloves. For instance, they did not question him at the scene, and did nothing to prevent him from leaving their jurisdiction, leaving them unable to question him soon after. The sheriff’s announcement specifically mentions “closure” for the families, so I assume they were instrumental in, perhaps, coercing him into arresting Ray.

It’s understandable they’d be sympathetic with Ray. He’s an integral part of the Sedona Arizona region’s New Age movement, and holds many events there, bringing in thousands of his sheep robotic followers, thus propping up the area’s economy.

Thus, it remains to be seen whether or not Ray will even see a trial; if authorities don’t truly want to prosecute, and are only posturing for benefit of the victims’ families, there may be a plea deal which lets Ray off the hook, or they may even later decline to go through with a trial.

Thus — not surprisingly for me anyway — I remain skeptical that Ray will ever truly be held accountable for what he did.

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