Yesterday James Ray went before a judge to argue that he was unfairly burdened by his felony conviction and that it should be set aside. But unlike the recent documentary Enlighten Us, that enabled Ray to play the victim without challenge or rebuttal, the judge allowed the family members of his victims to speak. It did not go his way. Some of his civil rights were restored, but his conviction was not vacated and his travel restrictions remain in place.
A victory and a defeat for convicted self- help entrepreneur James Arthur Ray.
A Yavapai County Superior Court judge restored Ray’s civil rights, except his right to carry a gun, but he denied Ray’s request to have his convictions set aside.
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Ray told the judge he wanted his convictions set aside because the international travel restrictions on him were limiting his ability to rebuild his self-help enterprise.
“It will help me in some countries and it will help me in Canada. That's why I’m asking for this,” Ray told Yavapai Superior Court Judge Michael R. Bluff.
In James Ray's alternate universe, his work was never on trial. (It was.) And his conviction for "negligence" means he didn't kill anyone. (He was convicted on three counts of negligent HOMICIDE.)
He says he's taken responsibility, even as he seeks to absolve himself of all responsibility.
These constant distortions of basic facts and rewriting of history have a name: gaslighting. It is a primary tool of narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths.
One after another, people directly affected by Ray's crimes spoke truth to madness.
The mother of a woman who died during the ceremony addressed the court as well. She noted that Ray refers to the event as accidental. He is not a victim of a tragedy, but the architect of tragedy, she said of Ray. He has no license nor credentials, she added.
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If he doesn’t understand his actions caused this trauma, how can he work in this arena, she asked.
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The sister of a victim took opposition to the motion that described the felonies as non-dangerous, non-repetitive. She said Ray should still be in prison, and isn’t remorseful. He received a nominal sentence, she said. She said he bastardized the traditions of Native Americans.
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The victim emotionally pleaded to the judge that he neither ignore nor turn his back on the victims and family members who live with the pain of the decisions of Ray.
Ray is straightforward about his goal. He wants to be able to travel to Canada, where he has always had a large customer base. Notably, a number of the people who survived Spiritual Warrior, and who testified in the sweat lodge trial, were Canadian. But many of the family members who testified or sent letters to the judge suspected that he has another more insidious motive, and it's implied in their comments. He's trying to rescript reality and kick his damning history down the memory hole.
Even some members of the press tried to reality-check his wild distortions.
His business, Ray said, was helping people. That people happened to pay him was a necessity of life, not what he wanted. He said he would keep working, and keep making money, because he never killed anybody.The videos embedded here are not exactly browser friendly, but they're worth the journey, just as a study in body language, Ray's and the newscasters'.
“The conviction is negligence,” he said.
“Negligent homicide,” a reporter added.
“Correct. Negligence, look it up,” Ray said, walking away. “I’m not here to retry the case.”
Even before the hearing, Ray made his relentless determination clear, asking the judge how long he should wait before filing again, should he be denied. And the families made clear that they would keep showing up in court to set the record straight.
Sheila Polk, as she did in the trial, used his own "disturbing and chilling" words to bury him. She quoted directly from his statements in Enlighten Us, to demonstrate his lack of personal responsibility and continuing threat to society. As I said before, Ray's mouth is always working for the prosecution.
Enlighten Us: The Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray is currently available on Netflix.
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