The ‘Sex Cult’ That Preached Empowerment
In 2009, three followers of an Oprah-endorsed motivational speaker named James Arthur Ray died in an Arizona sweat lodge. Now, after serving two years in prison for negligent homicide, Ray is trying to get back on the self-help circuit.
Before the guru, Prakashanand Saraswati, vanished in March—before a jury convicted him of sexual abuse; before he slipped across the border into Mexico overnight—he led the premier Hindu temple in Texas and, perhaps, the whole United States.
Twenty-five years ago, a guru from India showed up in rural Oregon with 2,000 followers. Here’s what happened next: they legally turned their multi-million dollar ranch into an incorporated city, imported homeless people to swing local votes, poisoned hundreds and attempted to assassinate the state’s U.S. attorney.
The man who brought together heat, yoga, monthly fees to use his methods, and raw sexuality, on allegations that he has slept with scores of his followers: “Only when they give me no choice! If they say to me, ‘Boss, you must fuck me or I will kill myself,’ then I do it! Think if I don’t! The karma!”