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November 26th, 2013
04:37 PM ET

"Piers Morgan Live, Rewind": An exclusive interview with James Ray, the man convicted of three deaths following a sweat lodge tragedy in Arizona

Whether you fell asleep early, stayed out too late, or simply want to watch it again, we realize it's not always possible to get your entire "Piers Morgan Live" fix from television. As an answer to this, we offer the below labor of love – "Piers Morgan Live, Rewind" – dedicated and designed to getting you caught up and connected to the conversation.

  • Ted Rowlands details James Ray's story

In October of 2009 as part of a self-help boot camp, world renowned motivator James Ray led his followers into his version of a Native American sweat lodge ceremony. In the outing near Sedona, Arizona, temperatures reached 120 degrees, and three people perished. Additionally, 19 others went to the hospital. Ray was found guilty of negligent homicide for the deaths, and spent 20 months in prison. In a story filed exclusive for "Piers Morgan Live," on Monday evening CNN’s Ted Rowlands provided the background information.

  • James Ray: Prison was humbling

On Monday night, ex-con James Ray joined "Piers Morgan Live" for an exclusive interview, during which he opened up about the tragedy of a sweat lodge ritual accident that left three people dead.

On that horrific October day in 2009, Ray's successful career as a self-help guru quickly disintegrated, as the author would soon find himself in prison, serving 20 months for negligent homicide.

Now a free man, Ray spoke with Piers Morgan exclusively about the accident, the events that followed, and his time in prison, which he described as “humbling,” while offering details of his transformation into a member of an incarcerated society:

"When I first got there, Piers, I saw everyone else and then me. And then the longer I was there, I just saw us.”

Watch the clip above to hear Ray further discuss his time in prison, a sentence which followed the tragic events of a sweat lodge ceremony near Sedona, Arizona.

  • Ray on sweat lodge: I didn't know about dangers

On Monday evening, "Piers Morgan Live" welcomed best-selling author and former self-help guru James Ray to join the program for his first interview since being released from prison following a 20 month sentence.

Convicted of negligent homicide for the deaths of three people following an incident at a sweat lodge in Arizona, Ray joined Piers Morgan in person, and sat dutifully across from the host while he read details of the allegations and testimonies.

Ray "sat by the tent door which remained sealed as chaos ensured, people were collapsing, vomiting, having trouble breathing, hallucinating, foaming at the mouth,” Morgan shared.

In response, Monday's guest claimed ignorance:

“Well, I didn’t know nor did anyone know that anyone was in a death – in a life or death situation,” he claimed.

The former motivational speaker continued by suggesting that what he witnessed in the sweat lodge was no different than the extreme physical conditions people experience during other trying physical events, offering marathons as an example.

Perplexed by Ray's lack of knowledge, Morgan asked his guest who was heading up the ceremony.

Ray admitted he was leading the event, saying “I was in charge to that degree.”

To hear more of James Ray’s insight as to what precisely took place at that sweat lodge near Sedona, Arizona, watch the clip above.

And, for the next edition of "Piers Morgan Live," watch CNN every night at 9.
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soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Melissa Phillips

    Dear Piers,
    I felt this was a most disappointing interview. Is it true that your manager is the same one who manages James Ray?
    It looked like a very well planned PR move.

    November 27, 2013 at 10:47 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Melissa Peeker

    I was so disappointed when I heard that you cancelled on the victim's family. How can you say that you are true and just journalist when you only allow one side of the story? Are you rescheduling so they do get to tell their side? I am going to make sure you are asked the tough questions because you seem to have forgotten how to. You let the con man murderer get away with a grade school interview. It was pathetic. Shame on you. Shame on CNN. Disgraceful. Maybe FoxNews will tell both sides

    November 27, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Sally

    It's only "exclusive" because no DECENT person would ever have James Ray on their show. But when your talent agent–you know, the man who negotiates and makes Piers Morgan his money–asks Piers to put another of his clients on his show so he can stage a comeback and make that talent agent more money, well, gee, how can you say no?

    November 28, 2013 at 5:35 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Elana

    I've only seen short briefs of the interview. I'm surprised that Piers was not more harsh and relieved that he was not. It appears Mr. Ray is quite remorseful and clearly should not have provided this experience to his participants. I personally have participated in sweat lodges and participants always have the option to leave and return. Once again the media has intensified the bad remarks and/or created a far worse description thereby criminalizing a man who is held accountable for the lives of those who did not take responsibility for their own. They make him sound as though he forced them against their will to participate. This was not a cult experience. These participants had free choice and free will. I am truly sorry for everyone involved. But to continue to make Mr. Ray responsible, seems outlandish.

    November 29, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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