By Bob von Sternberg
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., today sent letters to the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, asking that the agencies investigate a New Age self-help guru who conducted a sweat lodge ceremony earlier this month in which three people -- including a woman from Prior Lake -- died.
Liz Neuman died Oct. 17, eight days after 8 retreat near Sedona, Ariz., a town that attracts many in the New Age spiritual movement. Crowded into a sweat lodge with dozens of other followers, the 49-year-old Neuman fell ill from dehydration and lapsed into a coma.
In her letter, Klobuchar wrote, “people came from all parts of the country to attend an event which they believed would enhance their lives. Instead, three people died, 18 were hospitalized and dozens more were traumatized. [James Arthur] Ray neither enhanced their lives nor protected their safety.”
Klobuchar asked the FTC “to take a close look at the marketing and advertising practices of Mr. Ray’s ‘Spiritual Warrior’ program and similar activities offered by other individuals and companies.” And she asked Justice Department attorneys to determine if Ray's operation violates any federal laws.