February 6, 2010 in Nation/World

Speaker’s workers granted immunity

Felicia Fonseca Associated Press

PRESCOTT, Ariz. – Two employees of a motivational speaker facing manslaughter charges told authorities they had no reason to be alarmed when participants in a deadly Arizona sweat lodge ceremony began vomiting and passing out, because their boss told them such responses were to be expected, according to documents released Friday.

Megan and Josh Fredrickson participated in the October sweat lodge ceremony near Sedona, which authorities say led to the deaths of three people. The event was led by self-help guru James Arthur Ray.

Authorities in central Arizona’s Yavapai County interviewed the Fredricksons in mid-January on the condition that nothing they said would be used against them.

The couple said staff members at the sweat lodge ceremony provided water to participants and took some other precautions, but few had formal training in dealing with heatstroke and other health problems.

Ray was arrested earlier this week and pleaded not guilty to three counts of manslaughter. He is being held in a Yavapai County Jail on a $5 million bond.

The Fredricksons went to work for Ray in 2005 at his Carlsbad, Calif.-based company, James Ray International. Megan Fredrickson most recently was the company’s director of operations, and Josh Fredrickson worked in technology.

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