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Charlie Sheen Uncensored

Aired February 28, 2011 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, has Charlie Sheen crossed the point of no return? What the gaunt and strung-out-looking star says in his first sit-down, on-camera interviews is absolutely jaw- dropping. He declares war on CBS with a violent hatred, saying they should double his salary or he will sue them for more than $300 million. This, as he claims he got clean in one second. Is Charlie just white-knuckling it? You will not believe what the heck he`s saying while his so-called goddesses sit by his side.

And a charismatic self-help guru accused of leading three people to their death in a sweat lodge. The stunning details of the so-called spiritual warrior retreat will shock you. Did James Arthur Ray use mind control to keep people in excruciating heat until they passed out? Manslaughter or just a tragic accident? We`ll take your calls.

ISSUES starts now.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some would say that you`re defeated now.

CHARLIE SHEEN, ACTOR: They can say that, but what kind of car are they driving? What kind of girls are in their home? I said girls, yes.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, the tornado that is Charlie Sheen spins out of control. Sheen`s publicist throws in the towel, and the actor goes rogue, proclaiming, "I am on a drug. It`s called Charlie Sheen. And you can`t handle it."

Listen to this from ABC`s "Good Morning America."


SHEEN: Yes, I am on a drug. It`s called Charlie Sheen. It`s -- it`s not available, because if you try it once, you will die. Your face will melt off, and your children will weep over your exploded body. Um, too much.

So it`s, uh, yes, I know, it`s just -- again, I woke up and decided, you know, I`ve been kicked around. I`ve been criticized. I`ve been like the "ah shucks" guy with, like, this bitching rock star life. And I`m just finally going to completely embrace it, wrap both arms around it, and love it violently.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whatever that means. In a string of bizarre new interviews, the superstar actor brags about his raging drug benders. And really attacks CBS. He says if the suits cancel "Two and a Half Men," he will sue the network for $300 million.

Charlie made the morning show rounds and said he wants a big raise for, quote, "what they`ve put me through." Listen to this zinger from NBC.


SHEEN: Well, the war is that they`re trying to destroy my family. And so I take great umbrage with that, and defeat is not an option. They picked a fight with a warlock.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sounds like something out of "Apocalypse Now." Wait, that was his father`s movie.

Charlie also boasts about his rampant drug use. He says, "On the run I was on, it makes Sinatra, Jagger and Richards looks like droopy-eyed armless children." I can barely get this out. This is stuff he`s saying on the fly.

Is the superstar actor coming unhinged before our eyes? I personally think so.

Now, he let TMZ into his backyard. While porn stars -- at least we think they are -- women he called goddesses, served him coffee, he let loose.

Our question tonight, is Charlie Sheen having a mental breakdown? Has he gone bonkers? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7927.

Straight out to my buddy, Mike Walters, assignment manager with TMZ.

Mike congrats. Way to go. You sat down and interviewed Charlie one on one at his mansion. Give us the highlights, or maybe I should say the low lights of that wacky conversation.

MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Well, Jane, I mean, let`s start with this, and I know you`re interested in this. He`s 100 percent sober. Whether or not he sounds crazy or whether or not some of the stuff that he`s talking about -- a lot of people might not understand or don`t live like that -- Charlie Sheen is lucid. He`s sober.

And you know what? A lot of the stuff that he was telling me did sound a little out there, but you know what? It`s Charlie Sheen. You just heard him say it. You know what? Charlie Sheen will melt your face.


WALTERS: Some of the stuff he says, you know, it`s interesting but...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dude, dude this is how he speaks...

WALTERS: ... he`s sober...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dude, I saw the interview. I thought you did a great job, by the way, Mike. But...

WALTERS: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... you asked him, how long do you plan on staying clean? And he said, "I don`t know. That`s up to me."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So he may be sober at the moment, but you`re talking to him, but he`s basically leaving the door open that he can start doing drugs at any time. He`s saying, "It`s up to me."

And I suppose it is up to him to destroy his life. But the whole point about him taking a test and proving that he`s clean is -- is hopefully to show that he has the capacity for sobriety. But this is the guy who said he closed his eyes like this for one nanosecond and got sober on his own without any program. So what do you make of all that conflicted nonsense?

WALTERS: Well, Jane, I pushed him like -- and you know what? You would have done the same thing. I said, "Wait a minute. Heath Ledger, D.J. A.M., Michael Jackson, we talked about all these people. This is where the road ends, Charlie." I said, "How can you explain your way out of that? You`re saying it`s fun. It`s not fun. It ends in death."

And he said, "Don`t put me in the same little circle with those people." He goes, "I didn`t die. I made it to the other side. It`s now just a great story. My bender. I`m not Michael Jackson. I didn`t, you know, do the things he did. I`m not Heath Ledger."

So he doesn`t -- and maybe this is an addict thing. And Jane, you know better than me, maybe. Is it just him thinking he`s not an addict and thinking that way? I don`t know. But he definitely doesn`t put himself in that category, not at all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, generally, people don`t -- there is no cure for addiction, and they certainly don`t cure themselves by blinking their eyes and saying, "I`m cured." Again, it`s a daily reprieve. But he doesn`t believe in any of that. So that`s part of the problem.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: He doesn`t believe in programs and sobriety.

Now, Charlie did take the time to give "Two and a Half Men" creator Chuck Lorre a half-hearted apologies. Sheen had called him pretty much every name in the book: a worm, a turd, a fool, a clown. In fact, listen to this from "The Alex Jones Show."


SHEEN: I am so tired of pretending like my life isn`t perfect and (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and just winning every second. And I`m not perfect and (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and just delivering the goods at every (EXPLETIVE DELETED) turn, because look what I`m dealing with, man. I`m dealing with fools and trolls, you know, dealing with soft targets.

And it`s just, you know, it`s strafing runs in my underwear before my first cup of coffee, because I don`t have time for these clowns. I don`t have time for their judgment and their stupidity. And you know, they lie down with their ugly lives in front of their ugly children and just look at their loser lives. And then they look at me and they say, "I can`t process it."

Well, no, and you never will. Stop trying. Just sit back and enjoy the show.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow, that is nasty. When you start calling somebody`s wife and child ugly. But now Sheen`s saying, "I`m sorry if I offended you. I didn`t know you were so sensitive." And added that CBS actually owes him an apology, quote, "publicly, while licking my feet," end quote.

Mike Walters, does he not realize as far as "Two and a Half Men" goes, he`s done? Security guards have been ordered to keep him off the lot. Would it be fair to say his show is toast?

WALTERS: Yes, but, Jane, I mean, he fired off a legal letter through Marty Singer`s office this morning to CBS and Warner Brothers, saying, "Look, whether or not you shut it down and everybody`s gone home, you owe me $2 million an episode." In his contract, it says, as long as he shows up on time, he delivers his lines and he does it, his personal life is off the table.

So they are going to have an uphill battle trying not to pay Charlie Sheen and not doing season nine and the end of season eight, because Charlie Sheen has a contract that says, "You pay me if I`m there." And he`s ready to work whether he should or not, whether it`s healthy or not.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. You`re saying that they might be in a position to have to pay him almost $2 million for episodes that he does not shoot, 2 million per episode?

WALTERS: Right. Because he`s ready to shoot. And I was there today. Whether you or me or anyone thinks it`s healthy for him to do, he`s ready to shoot. They`re not. They are the ones that stopped the show. They might be there to hold the price tag.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Last question. The goddesses, the women who served you coffee. Who are these women, and why are they hanging around with him? And I call them, in program-speak, because I`m in recovery, they`re lesser companions. Not to put anything on them. But they`re enabling, and they`re being co-dependent.

WALTERS: One of them, Rachel, is Bree Olson, who is a huge porn star in the porn business. That`s one of his goddesses. The other one, Natalie, is a mode, Miss Chronic 2010, marijuana speaking chronic.

Look, both of them are there. They pretty much live there. They`re his girlfriends with an "s." And you know what? To him -- this is the weird part about Charlie Sheen, and I kind of soaked it in for three hours. This is the way he lives. This is his winning the game. This is his life. And if you don`t like it or I don`t like it, "So what? Screw you. I like it. They`re hot chicks. And whether they`re porn stars or not, they`re my girlfriends. They like it; I like it. I don`t care what you guys think."

And he lives that motto. And that`s just -- whether it`s right or wrong, I got that very clearly when I left there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, yes, we`ll see what happens, because I think act three is come down, and it ain`t going to be pretty.

Mike Walters, great job with that one-on-one interview.

WALTERS: Thanks.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m so proud of you, my buddy. We worked together years ago. And I`m very proud of what you`ve accomplished.

All right. My big issue tonight: is Charlie Sheen pulling back the curtain and letting us see inside the sick addict mind?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of your fans have been worried about you, worried about your health...


SHEEN: ... that`s for amateurs. Come on. I`m fine. I`ve always had a plan. I`ve always executed it perfectly. Sometimes I overshoot the mark, whatever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you avoid slipping back into that again?

SHEEN: I don`t know. I just won`t do it. I will not believe that if I do something, then I have to follow a certain path, because it was written. It was written for normal people, people who aren`t special. People who don`t have tiger`s blood and, you know, Adonis` DNA.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jameson Monroe, addiction expert from the Newport Academy. Addict thinking, classic, here?

JAMESON MONROE, ADDICTION EXPERT: Classic. For sure. Classic addict thinking. At the same time, most likely co-occurring disorders.

Now, I`m not a doctor, but if he`s not on drug, then he`s obviously got some sort of mental illness. And if he doesn`t have a mental illness, then maybe he`s possessed by beings. I mean, I don`t know. He said he`s not of this world.

Watching him unravel on TV publicly is really painful and sad, for me. I`ve seen it with countless addicts in the past with co-occurring disorders, including my own younger brother. What happens is -- is that substance abuse exacerbates co-occurring disorders, and unless you get proper treatment, it`s not going to get better. It`s only going to get worse.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s for sure.

MONROE: So that may only be the beginning. Really scary.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I say act three is on the way, but I hope I`m wrong, because act three, the way I see it, is ugly.

Everybody, stay right there.

We`re taking your calls on these stories tonight: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. We`re just getting started.

And also, did this charismatic motivational speaker lead three of his followers to their deaths in a sweat lodge? Or was it just a terrible accident? The stunning details of this so-called spiritual warrior retreat will shock you.

And more on self-proclaimed winner Charlie Sheen`s outrageous TV interviews. Is he melting down?


SHEEN: It`s a career high point, by the way. From "Platoon" to this. Hey, who`s winning now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was very simple. Can you just explain to us what happened, what you had to do?

SHEEN: A little thing I call confidence. And take it away, and the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) results.



ANNOUNCER: America`s becoming an Addict Nation. We`re brainwashed into buying more stuff we don`t need while we drown in debt. Do you really want to live this way? If the answer is no, you`ll want to read "Addict Nation."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: My new book "Addict Nation" available now at It`s not just Charlie Sheen. If you`re grappling with any sort of addiction or know somebody who is, find out exactly what you can do about it. Check out or Read it and free yourself from addiction.



DYLAN HOWARD, SENIOR EXECUTIVE EDITOR, RADARONLINE.COM: That constant challenge to be clean? Do you view it as a challenge, or is it easy?

SHEEN: No, it`s a choice. Just close your eyes. You change your brain. You wake up. And you`re like, "OK, let`s do something different." It`s not about a disease. It`s not about, you know, hanging out in a room with a bunch of weirdoes and talking about how depressed we are. Fine. Good luck. You`re going to need it. I`ll be over here winning.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight Charlie Sheen spirals out of control. Listen to this from ABC`s "Good Morning America."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell me about the last time you took drugs.

SHEEN: I don`t know, man. I was banging seven-gram rocks and finishing them, because that`s how I roll. I have one speed; I have one gear: go.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Seven-gram rocks. Frankly, I don`t even know what seven-gram rocks is. But it doesn`t sound good to me.

Dylan Howard, senior executive editor for Radar Online, you were there when Charlie Sheen took a drug test this weekend. Tell us all about it, because I understand you had the dubious honor of being in the bathroom with him as he peed into a cup.

HOWARD: Another career highlight there, Jane, unfortunately. But yes, Charlie Sheen took Radar Online`s challenge to undergo a drug test in the presence of the Web site and, indeed, in the presence of a court- certified drug laboratory. We took urine tests, and -- multiple urine tests, and we took blood tests, as well. And the results all came up negative.

We did one instantaneous test. The result came back within five minutes. It tested for 15 drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamine, opiates, antidepressants, alcohol, et cetera. And we also sent some results, some swabs off to the lab. Those results came back late last night. And the blood result, which has a window of some 24 hours of drug use, it all came back negative. And for the urine, it came back also negative, that showing a window of about 72 hours.

Now, this is important, though.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, so -- yes, well...

HOWARD: Because...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just want to play a little bit of the drug test under way because it`s -- well, it`s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you and for our viewers. So let`s play that, and then we`re going to discuss the significance.


HOWARD: I challenge you to a drug test.

SHEEN: I said -- I said, "Fine, if you drink it after it comes up negative."

And you were like, "Screw you."

I`m like, "These are my terms."

You`re like, "Grow up."

HOWARD: So you understood my wisdom?

SHEEN: Yes, I did. And I apologize for my part. I said sorry if I`ve insulted you. And let`s work together on this. Let`s bury these naysayers. Let`s make these trolls and these fools go away forever.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, I mean, look, yes, he`s negative now, but he also has said, "I don`t know how long I`m going to be free of drugs." I mean, he could be doing a bender tonight for all we know, Dylan.

HOWARD: Well, he`s not. I left his company about four or five hours ago. In fact, he`s -- in fact, it was before your previous guest was with him.

And, look, he`s in good spirits. He`s insisted he hasn`t touched a substance for about six weeks and says he has no intention of doing so.

It`s significant, those results, even though it`s a very short window, because it was on Thursday when Warner Bros said it was Charlie Sheen`s conduct and condition which forced the halt of that production.

Now, he was in the Bahamas at the time, going on those radio rants. People suspected the only explanation for that was because he was using again. So he jumped on a plane. He said to me, "Come to my house on Friday night and test me, and I`ll prove that I haven`t had drugs in my system for 72 hours." He says, "I haven`t touched drugs for six weeks."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to bring Wendy Murphy in.

You`re a former prosecutor. You`re also a law professor. Is it possible all these crazy stunts that Charlie Sheen is pulling could actually pressure CBS into making some kind of huge settlement or perhaps just continuing to pay him, if contractually obligated, even though they`re not going to have him back to work?

WENDY MURPHY, LAW PROFESSOR: Well, it`s an interesting question. Legally, it depends what the contract says. You know, if they are required to either film or pay him unless X, Y or Z happens, and he proves that he was clean at the time they should have started filming again, he may be entitled to some money.

But I`ll tell you this: there`s no way they`re going back to, you know, full relationship with this guy. It`s -- it`s destroyed. The show is destroyed. His relationship with CBS is destroyed. There may be a lawsuit out of this. I don`t think he`s likely to win too much. But no way is the show coming back. Not with this guy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I hope you`re right, because really...

HOWARD: There will be a lawsuit.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But it`s bizarre. I don`t think we`ve seen the final act. Maybe the final act`s changing, in my mind, a little bit now, hearing all you guys.

All right. We`re also going to talk about a charismatic self-help guru accused of leading three people to their deaths.

But more on Charlie Sheen next. What do you think?



SHEEN: Wow, I feel better.

HOWARD: Now, we put the lid on here. So, Charlie -- there we have it -- has just provided a sample.

SHEEN: Looks like a Guinness.

HOWARD: Sorry.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Gross. Charlie Sheen uncensored. He is at war with CBS, and he`s giving a slew of bizarre interviews. And as you just saw there, he took a drug test on camera for Radar Online, apparently, to prove that he is sober and that CBS may be contractually obligated to pay him huge sums of money, even though they have shut down production of "Two and a Half Men."

Kelly, New York, thanks for your patience. Your question or thought?

CALLER: My comment on Charlie Sheen is this person is in dire straits. He has a mental health issue, as well as a drug issue. He may not be using drugs right now. But he is -- he is in denial.

No. 2, he`s probably withdrawing from drugs.


CALLER: I`m a recovering drug addict myself.


CALLER: And it took me many, many years to realize, not only did I have a drug problem, but I had mental health issues, as well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. Let me say this, Kelly. I want you to listen to what he has to say about drugging and not drugging. Listen to this.


SHEEN: There`s some bootleg cult, you know, arrogantly referred to as Alcoholics Anonymous. Now, it supports a 5 percent success rate. My success rate is 100 percent. Do the math.

Another one of those stupid models, Alex, is don`t be special; be one of us. News flash: I am special, and I will never be one of you. I have a disease. (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I cured it with my brain, with my mind. I`m cured. I`m done.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that from Alex`s show.

Jameson Monroe, you`re the founder of Newport Academy. He`s basically knocking the only program in the history of humankind that has had any kind of track record with helping alcoholics and addicts and saying that he blinked his eyes in a nanosecond and got sober. But he`s also saying that he reserves the right to start using any time he wants.

MONROE: Yes, Jane, here`s the deal: look, I -- I was able to stay sober for three or four months at a time. But even the big book of AA says alcohol and drugs are just a symptom of underlying issues. So until he`s ready to step up to the plate and address those underlying issues, he`s never going to probably really have any long term of sobriety.

The type of interviewing that`s going on here is not really the type of interviewing that needs to be happening. The interview that needs to be happening is Charlie Sheen with a medical doctor, and we call that therapy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Dylan Howard, you were up close and personal with him. Do you think, as so many people are saying, he`s manic, he`s bipolar, he`s mentally ill? Did you get that sense?

HOWARD: He`s scorned. He feels that Warner Brothers has sold him out, CBS has sold him out. And he blames one person. And in a legal letter that was sent to CBS and Warner Brothers this afternoon, his lawyer identified a series of what`s called vanity cards that Chuck Lorre writes, a flash frame at the end of the "Two and a Half Men" episodes, and they`re detailed instances in which Chuck Lorre has attacked and bullied Charlie Sheen. He legitimately has some claim here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, got to leave it there, Dylan. But I just will say this is a study in addiction. The grandiosity, the sense of entitlement, the pity party, the blaming other people. Saying, "Oh, I`m the victim here." It`s such a classic case of addiction, in my humble opinion.

Thank you, fantastic panel.

Next, did this charismatic leader lead three people to their deaths?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s the problem?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two people not breathing. There`s no pulse.



911 OPERATOR: Ok, is this the result of a shooting or something?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, it`s a sweat lodge.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What happened inside that intensely hot Arizona sweat lodge, where it got so hot that three people died? Tonight, incredible insight into the investigation as famous self-help guru James Arthur Ray goes on trial for manslaughter. Here he is.

The self-proclaimed visionary and motivational speaker who rocketed to fame in "The Secret" -- perhaps you saw him talking there. Tonight, he`s facing three -- count them, three -- counts of manslaughter. The question is, did this man, James Ray, recklessly cause the deaths of three people who were in that sweat lodge or was it all just a tragic accident?

It all happened in October 2009 -- there`s the sweat lodge right there -- when James Ray brought his spiritual warriors to a new age resort in northern Arizona. The price tag to attend: just about $10,000 per person. And we`re talking about 50 people, all right. That`s a lot of money. Most fasted for 36 hours with no food or water. That fast ended just hours before the super hot sweat lodge purification ceremony began.

Ray told them, quote, "You will feel as if you`re going to die. I guarantee that. You will feel like your skin is going to fall off."

Here is James Ray after his arrest.


JAMES ARTHUR RAY, MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER: I`m really, really grateful for all the love and support and the prayers I`ve received during this time. I have a tremendous faith in our legal system. And I look forward to my day in court.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: James Ray and his followers entered the sweat lodge you see right there with ceilings so low that an adult couldn`t stand up straight. The top of the sweat lodge covered as you can see with blankets and plastic; the temperatures reportedly in the triple digits. It wasn`t long before people started getting sick and fainting. But did the ceremony stop? No.

James Ray has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter. He is out on $500,000 bail. Who were these people who died that night? And why did they stay inside the sweat lodge despite that unbearable heat?

What do you think? Give me a call, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

As the trial gets under way, we are going to talk to a former James Ray insider. But first we begin with Tom McFeeley. He is the cousin of Kirby Brown who died in that sweat lodge.

Thank you so much for joining us, Tom, I know this has to be difficult for you. You have been quoted as saying that death was inevitable. What did you mean by that?

TOM MCFEELEY, COUSIN KIRBY BROWN DIED IN THE SWEAT LODGE: Well, I mean, previous to this sweat lodge, there were years and years of sweat lodges where injuries occurred, where people were seriously injured physically and mentally. In that spiritual warrior week, that five-day retreat, you mentioned fasting. There was holotropic breathing. There was sleep deprivation. There was all kinds of NLP techniques to really help condition the participants to follow Mr. Ray.


MCFEELEY: And to ignore the signs of previously years, other people got hurt, other followers were seriously hurt. And nobody -- only once did somebody call 911. Mr. Ray thought that was a very big problem and discouraged that behavior in the future. It was to him part of the process.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we are looking -- we were just looking at pictures of your cousin, a very beautiful young lady. I think she was what, 38, there she is, when she passed away. Prosecutors are going to try to prove James Ray knew his followers were in trouble and ignored it. Let`s listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So people were passed out though and he was still continuing this and not making any comment about that.

BEVERLY BUNN: He made one comment and they did say, she`s passed out, she`s passed out, I don`t know if she`s breathing. And he said, the door has now closed and this round has begun. We`ll deal with that at the end of this round.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now that from Beverly, who was an orthodontist, who shared a room with your cousin Kirby. Again, you just heard her. She says that she noticed Kirby was passed out -- I believe she`s referring to your cousin in that particular account --

MCFEELEY: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And wasn`t sure she was breathing. And this was the seventh round. I`ll explain what these rounds are. But essentially this sweat lodge process was eight rounds and each lasted 10 to 15 minutes of intense heat and they would take a couple minute break and then go back in. So this was the seventh round.

And so she`s essentially saying that she alerted Ray, that your cousin was not responsive. And what was his reaction in your knowledge or your opinion?

MCFEELEY: Well, he knew that people were in trouble, whether they said Kirby can`t breathe or Liz can`t breathe or she needs help. Those, those calls for help were ignored.

And to say that this round has begun or this round is about to begin, she`ll have to wait till the end of next round, we can`t help her now. And then nobody helped her. I mean, that`s the plain truth. And in that round, the person who was helping her, James Shore (ph), who had already saved one life, he perished almost instantly in those minutes.

So you can`t tell me these people had a choice when they were conscious at the beginning of the round and unconscious at the end of the round. That`s simply not given a choice to survive.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, let`s take a look. What is a sweat lodge? Well, it`s similar to a sauna, where water is poured on heated rocks. Native Americans use sweat lodges to cleanse their bodies. And now let`s take a look at the layout of the sweat lodge where these people died. We know the sweat lodge was only 4-1/2 feet to five feet high at its highest point so it was impossible for most of the people to stand up.

The three people who died were actually the farthest from the door opening along the north wall or the flap I should say, the north wall of the circle. So there was about approximately, according to published reports, 50 people inside, including the leader James Ray.

Beth Karas, correspondent for "In Session", you know all about this case, you`re going to be covering it in depth. What is the defense here? What are they saying in defense?

BETH KARAS, CORRESPONDENT, "IN SESSION": The defense is this was a tragic accident. James Ray had conducted sweat lodges for years. This was his seventh at the Angel Valley Retreat Center in Sedona, although it was the second year in that particular sweat lodge.

They`re saying that something else was going on here. They`re taking issue with the cause of death. Not only that it was an accident, that`s manner of death, but they also don`t believe the three people who died, died of heat stroke.

In fact, the medical examiners in this case couldn`t decide what the cause of death was for a couple of months after the death. They had a meeting with the prosecutor. They finally decided on hyperthermia, one said, and heat stroke, another said, on February 2nd, 2010. Now, these deaths were in October of 2009. The very next day, the prosecutor went into the grand jury.

So the defense does not believe -- there weren`t -- the telltale signs of heat stroke weren`t present, the elevated body temperature and the elevated enzymes in the vitreous fluid of the eyes, not present. And those are characteristic of heat stroke. So they think there`s something else going on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what else could be going on? Are you referring to toxic chemicals? I thought I read that they did a test and they didn`t find any toxic chemicals in there.

KARAS: Well, they did do tests. Hazmat went in there. They also took samples of the water, the rocks, the wood used to burn, soil. We don`t know though because it hasn`t been disclosed yet publicly exactly what was tested. They said they didn`t find evidence of something toxic. We just don`t know if it was a comprehensive test and if they tested for everything --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tom McFeeley, you`re the cousin of one of the victims here, Kirby Brown. What was James Arthur Ray`s reaction after the tragedy? How did you feel he behaved: in a caring compassionate way or not?

MCFEELEY: Well, he tells us all to live impeccably, and then he did quite the opposite. Instead of staying there for his people and doing the right thing and calling the Brown family and calling the Shore family, he met with his staff. He called his lawyers. And he left town.

I don`t think that`s what anyone expects from a leader; a person who calls himself a true teacher, a true leader. And throughout the process, we`ve learned that he`s not the man that he says he is. He teaches all kinds of things about wealth and relationships and we`re not sure that he can put his money where his mouth is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What about the issue of mind control? I mean, Kirby, James, Lizbeth, these were highly educated people. The defense is going to claim, hey, they had the power to get up and walk out.

What is your reaction to that, Tom, when the defense makes that claim? What would you suggest the prosecution say in return?

MCFEELEY: They didn`t have the power to walk out. You can`t walk out of a tent when you`re passed out. You can`t walk out of a tent when you`re in an altered state which was the stated goal of in Mr. Ray`s. You can`t walk out of a tent when your capacity to make rational decisions had been taken away from you.

That began the instant these people arrived at Angel Valley. Everything -- why do you think this was the pinnacle event at the end of the week? Everything conducted that week was to make sure that people fell in line, followed directions, lived impeccably and played full on. This was not any kind of accident. And these people were given their rational ability to -- their ability to make rational decisions, that was taken away from them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Tom, I hope you come back. We`re going to be covering this trial in depth and we`d like you to weigh in on all the key events. So, thank you for coming and again, our condolences -- our heart goes out to you.

We have so much more to talk about --

MCFEELEY: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- in this sweat lodge manslaughter trial. And we want to hear from you at home. Do you think this self-help guru should be charged with manslaughter? Was it a tragic accident, as he claims? Call me. 1-877-JVM-SAYS.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When this thing happened, he immediately reached out to the families. We`ve been in conversations with their lawyers some of whom have filed lawsuits, some of whom haven`t. He`s been trying to get to the bottom of this. He`s been devastated.

So in that sense, you know, he feels like -- he feels a sense of responsibility in that sense, but that`s a lot different than legal liability and certainly criminal liability, which he denies.



GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At a different sweat lodge in Sedona, they have their theories about what happened. This one is conducted by the people who came up with the concept many generations ago, Native Americans who invited us to experience the sacred ceremony in the intense heat first hand.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, guess what, this weekend, I am going to join some of my "In Session" co-workers and experience a sweat lodge firsthand. Yes. I`m going to go in there and experience it and then I`m going to come out and talk on camera and we`re going to show you it all next week. And I`m going to do it with an organization that knows most about this sweat lodge and how they really should operate, a Native American organization.

And hopefully I will have some of the answers to the questions that you`ve been asking about these sweat lodges. So wish me luck. I`m going in there this coming weekend. And I certainly hope I get out. Ok.

I want to go to Connie Joy, author of "Tragedy in Sedona: My life in Jay Arthur Ray`s Inner Circle". You are a former member of James Arthur Ray`s inner circle. And you did many, many events with him.

But you ultimately became disillusioned with him before this 2009 sweat lodge event. What -- why did you become disillusioned with him?

CONNIE JOY, AUTHOR, "TRAGEDY IN SEDONA": Well, before we do that, Jane, I just want to say I know you just said you`re going to be in a sweat lodge --


JOY: -- but you`re going to be there with real Native Americans so your sweat lodge is going to be a real one. What we experienced and what other people experienced with James was not.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: How is it different? How is it different?

JOY: Well, how`s it different? First of all, usually they`re are around four rounds. Usually they pour some water on the rocks. Usually they let people that are in there talk in between the rounds to share what they`re experiencing. And I`m not aware of any true Shaman, Native American Shaman, who would allow people to pass out inside his sweat lodge and continue on with the ceremony.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, ok, you believe then, I would assume, or tell me, do you think he behaved irresponsibly?

JOY: I believe he definitely needs to take some responsibility for how he acted. There are people clearly in distress. By the way, though, this was not the first time this has happened. All the way back to 2005, a man was taken away in an ambulance with heat stroke after being in his sweat lodge.

In `07, when I was there, I saw a woman carried out who couldn`t control the movements of her arms and legs. Many, many people are always laying on the ground shaking, throwing up, disoriented. In `08, one of my friends stopped breathing twice when he came out in the middle. Another woman was unconscious for hours. Another friend of mine thought she was going to die.

So, again, he had plenty of warning that what he was doing was not safe. And yet he continued on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, I want to ask you about the claims that he may have had a God complex. Because we read one of the exercises leading up to this, during this event that they go to of several days, involved him actually playing God.

JOY: That`s correct. He actually --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tell me about that.

JOY: -- dressed up in a white robe. Yes, he dressed up in a white robe and he was God. He called it the samurai game which, of course, he adapted something, a growth game that`s used in business. But growth games in business don`t involve a God who points at you, orders you to die, and you have to drop to the ground immediately. If you don`t do what he tells you instantly, then another person from your team is told to die and drop to the ground. So they have to suffer the consequences of your non-action.

Once you`re there, you may be laying there for several hours on concrete. You`ll be missing meals. And if you move, another person on your team is told to die.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, what, has he got -- is this sadistic? By the way, his attorneys are invited on anytime to tell their side the story. We want to be fair here. But, I mean, that sounds kind of -- sounds kind of, to me --

JOY: Disturbing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL; Yes, it`s a little disturbing. Let me ask you this, what kind of training did James Arthur Ray have? He says he is qualified to conduct a sweat lodge ceremony. One thing`s for sure, he`s pretty high on himself.

Listen to what he said on one of his DVDs for sale. Listen to this.


RAY: And you say, James, you`re really harsh on TV. No, there`s some good things on TV. I`ve been owe on Oprah twice.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Sounds like he has a huge ego. I have to go to Dr. Kathleen London. You`ve been listening to all this testimony. What do you make of this sweat lodge and these people who died; two of them at the event and then one nine days later at the hospital.

DR. CATHLEEN LONDON, FAMILY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: It sounds like this was incredibly dangerous. From things that I`ve read as well, they had an experience in the desert where they withheld food and water even leading up to this. So they were in a sense dehydrated going in. That`s an extremely dangerous combination.

And for people who were as young as these three individuals were to drop, you know, like that -- there were a lot of warnings. People were vomiting. Someone passed out. Those are huge warnings.

You know, I`ve worked many marathons and when we`re in the med tent at the marathon, one of the things we look for is heat stroke and heat exhaustion and you need to be aware and be treating it right away.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: More on the other side. And we`re taking your calls -- next.



RUDABEH SHAHBAZI, REPORTER: This is the site where the sweat lodge took place and this was the actual place where the fire pit was. These are the stones that were used inside that ceremony. Now they`re formed a heart as a memorial to each of the three people who died. They`re also represented by these crystals here and the whole area is going to be turned into a garden called the Garden of Transformation.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The actual sweat lodge where those people tragically died was demolished but it would be very difficult to forget what happened there. It`s a horror.

Three people hoping to better their lives died from being inside that sweat lodge. And now the self-help guru, who led the event, James Ray going on trial for manslaughter, opening statements tomorrow. We here at ISSUES will be covering this trial in depth.

Mary, Illinois, your question or thought? Mary, are you there?

MARY, ILLINOIS (via telephone): Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What is your question or thought, ma`am?

MARY: Well, my thoughts on this -- this is what really disturbs me is that James Ray extorts the emotions out of people and he preaches so badly about levels of consciousness, the five levels of consciousness. And in this tragedy, what he did was he consciously ignored the calls for help. I don`t want to repeat everything Tom McFeeley said because he said it beautifully. My heart goes out to him on the loss of his cousin Kirby and to his whole family. But I can`t believe that James stood in that tent, James Ray, and he heard people call, like James Shore and say I need help here with her, I need help.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say this, Mary. First of all, we don`t want to convict him, the trial`s just getting under way. Beth Karas, I want to get his side of the story.

KARAS: Well, let me tell, you it`s not just James Ray who ignored these pleas for help. There was a medical doctor in there, Jean Armstrong is her name, she went all eight rounds. And you have to believe that Jean Armstrong, who, by the way, is on the defense witness was not on the state. For some reason, the state doesn`t want to call everybody who was in the sweat lodge.

If she thought anyone was in real danger, you would think that a medical doctor would have gone to her aid. I mean it`s not that big. It`s bigger than a typical sweat lodge, but it was a small area in there with 55 people. Other people did start leaving after about the third round.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: One second. Let me go to Wendy Murphy, you`re the former prosecutor; is this going to be a tough case to proof because the flap was open, even though people were passing out, allegedly?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: You know, look, I don`t know all of the evidence, there`s been a gag order, but it seems like a very strong case to me, on a very simple issue. They have to show that this guy consciously disregarded a substantial risk of death. Three people are dead and he said to them, when you feel like you might be dying, stay put.

I mean I don`t know -- this is a very strong case because three people are dead, not one, not two, three. Obviously there was a substantial risk of death. I see it very clearly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m going to give Dr. Cathleen London the last word here, Dr. London?

LONDON: Just because there was medical personnel in there, I heard she`s saying a physician, I heard a nurse. Regardless, if they aren`t people trained to understand, to recognize heat stroke and look for the signs of it, then they`re not useful to have there.

MURPHY: And clearly she was unconscious -- she was probably unconscious, this doctor.


KARAS: She was administering aid.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There was a doctor on the outside, and there was a doctor on the inside. The doctor was a participant. It was pitch black and people weren`t supposed to be talking, is my understanding.

MURPHY: She`s a participant, ok.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How is she supposed to know? We are staying on this trial -- thank you fantastic panel -- here on ISSUES and "In Session". We will be right back in a second.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Connie Joy, author of "Tragedy in Sedona". Your thoughts about the underlying problem here?

JOY: Well, I go into detail in the book, which of course you can`t cover in a few minutes. There were a lot of problems here. This was building up on top of each other, especially over the entire year of 2009. This is a $2 billion to $3 billion industry. When you have that kind of money floating around, you`re going to have people taking advantage of other people.

In the last chapter of my book I call for specific things that have to happen in order to start building some controls. Really basic stuff.

James made a lot of claims about his training. It turned out likely not true. A lot of money disappeared, prepaid events, all this money evaporated. There`s a lot of things that need --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we`re going to have to leave it right there but we want to have you back because ISSUES is all over this trial. Opening statements tomorrow, we are going in depth into this tragedy and we will bring you the very latest as it happens day after day.

Thank you so much for joining us, check in tomorrow. Nancy Grace is up next.