Sweat lodge victim's family, former James Arthur Ray followers push for self-help industry changes

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

SEDONA, Ariz. -- As self-help speaker James Arthur Ray relaunches his career, another group has launched an effort to bring more accountability, safety and consumer protection to the self-help industry.

Ray spent 20 months in prison for negligent homicide, stemming from the deaths of three of his followers in a sweat lodge at the end of a retreat in Sedona in 2009.  

"His actions made death inevitable. He brought them to a place of danger, and then he didn't protect them, and then he abandoned them," Ginny Brown told 3TV. Her daughter, Kirby, died in the sweat lodge.

The Brown family helped create an organization called SEEK Safely. Their group asks, among other things, for those in the self-help industry to sign a pledge, promising to conduct business in a safer, truthful manner.

"We learned from painful experience that this industry can be a dangerous place," she said.

The Browns met with former Ray followers and colleagues in Sedona this weekend for a seminar of their own. Several people involved in Sedona's self-help and spiritual retreat business attended and have signed SEEK's pledge.

Ray now has a number of speaking engagements posted on his website, including an appearance in Arizona. He plans to hold a seminar in Scottsdale in August and charge nearly $500 for the two-day event.

Ray's website shows him surrounded by fans, who say he deserves a second chance.

The Brown family and others say while Ray resumes his work, they'll remain focused on their mission of bringing change to the unregulated industry.

"I just feel like (my daughter's) voice was taken and I have a responsibility to be her voice ," Brown said.