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Sweat lodge leader pleads not guilty

SEDONA, Ariz., Feb. 4 (UPI) -- The motivational speaker charged in the deaths of three participants in an Arizona sweat lodge ceremony pleaded not guilty Thursday.

James Arthur Ray was charged with three counts of manslaughter Wednesday after his arrest in his attorney's office in Prescott, Ariz., the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office said on its Web site. Bail was set at $5 million.

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A hearing was scheduled next week on a defense motion to reduce Ray's bond, one of his lawyers, Brad Brian, told CNN. Brian said Ray cannot pay $5 million.

Another lawyer, Luis Li, said Ray cooperated with the police investigation.

"This was a terrible accident, but it was an accident, not a criminal act," Li said.

An indictment alleged Ray's recklessness led to the deaths of Kirby Brown, 38, of New York; James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee; and Liz Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, Minn., either during or after an Oct. 8 sweat lodge ceremony. Eighteen other people were treated at hospitals.

The incident occurred at the Angel Valley Retreat Center, near Sedona, Ariz., which Ray had rented for several years for his "Spiritual Warrior" program.

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Besides the criminal case, two civil lawsuits have been filed.

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