Aug 25, 2014 12:41 AM by Rebecca Taylor
SCOTTSDALE - A motivational speaker and best-selling author who served nearly two years in an Arizona prison, was in Scottsdale this weekend hosting motivational seminars.
James Arthur Ray was arrested and charged after three people died during a sweat lodge ceremony he led, near Sedona in 2009.
He was acquitted of manslaughter but convicted of three counts of negligent homicide.
It's been 13 months since his release and Ray is once again holding live presentations, including here in Arizona.
Ray told News 4 Tucson's Rebecca Taylor that he is using his personal crisis to mentor others. He sat down with Taylor in his first local TV news interview since getting out of prison.
"The James Arthur Ray humpty dumpty fell apart and now he's put together again, this time maybe with tape," Ray said.
As he rebuilds his name and business Ray has a fresh look and perspective.
Taylor said, "most people would have changed their name, career, hid from interviews especially in Arizona, the state where you served time. Why are you here?"
Ray responded, "I think Arizona is one of my greatest teachers. It's taught me through pain, it's been very difficult. But I did find myself."
Taylor asked, "what do you say to those who consider it an 'insult' that you're holding a program in Arizona?"
"I'm sorry. I disagree. I'm really sorry if you think it's an insult," said Ray. "The biggest misconception is that I didn't care about the people who died, I definitely cared. And there was this whole idea in the press that I ran from the scene, which is not true. I was held in the back of a police car until two in the morning."
Ray said all civil suits against him and his company, stemming from the 2009 sweat lodge accident have been settled.
Taylor asks, "legally there's nothing keeping you from holding sweat lodge ceremonies, is this something you will do in the future?"
"Absolutely not," said Ray. "Based on my experiences and what I've learned, I choose not to go through that again."
At the height of his career Ray sold out arenas filling 17,000 seats with participants from 143 countries. As he re-launches his self-help business the scale is much smaller.
Presentations Friday and Saturday in Scottsdale drew 20 people each night to a private residence, with tickets costing between $300 and $500. Ray said there were no protestors.
Ray calls his latest approach 'The Conversation'.
"Most of it focuses on, hey I'm dealing with some real hard challenges in the life and James you've had some challenges, how do I get through them? How did you get through them?" Ray said.
Ray has two more cities on his current five city tour. He plans to return to Arizona in February.