Published January 14, 2015
An Arizona woman who survived James Arthur Ray’s sweat lodge is suing the self-help guru.
Sidney Spencer, 59, said she nearly died from kidney and liver failure after sitting in the Sedona, Ariz., makeshift sweat lodge tent for almost two hours. Her attorney, Ted Schmidt, called the sweat lodge a “death trap.”
"When she came to, she was spitting up blood, she had double vision, she was in intensive care for four and a half days," said Schmidt, according to MyFoxPhoenix.
Spencer reportedly claimed that Ray coerced and intimidated people to remain in the 120-degree sweat lodge.
"There were numerous times when people attempted to leave. He did not physically restrain them, but he told the group, 'You stick it out, you have to stick it out, break through your barrier,'" said Schmidt, according to the station.
MyFoxPhoenix also reported that Spencer was one of 21 people who became sick after sitting in the sweat lodge. Kirby Brown of Westtown, N.Y., James Shore of Milwaukee and Liz Neuman of Prior Lake, Minn., all died after participating in the lodge's Oct. 8 ceremony.
Another survivor, Beverly Bunn, spoke out about her experience last week, telling the Associated Press how someone cried out from within the tent, “I can’t get her to move, I can’t get her to wake up.”
Bunn said Ray responded to the woman by saying, “leave her alone, she’ll be dealt with in the next round,” according to MyFoxPhoenix.
Spencer reportedly paid $9,000 to participate in the 5-day “Spiritual Warrior” retreat, which began with fasting and physically strenuous activities, said Bunn. She said the sweat lodge ceremony was the final event of the retreat.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.