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Self-help guru James Arthur Ray set free Friday

PHOENIX (WTAQ) - A self-help author will be released from prison Friday, after he served 20 months of a two-year sentence for the deaths of a Wisconsin man and two others in a sweat lodge ceremony.

40-year-old James Shore of Milwaukee was among James Arthur Ray’s victims. They collapsed in October of 2009 at a “Spiritual Warrior” festival that Ray put on near Sedona Arizona.

The sweat lodge was a hot tent where people were told they could experience powerful revelations in their lives.

Prosecutors said Ray jacked up the heat too much, and then ignored pleas for help as he watched people get overcome. A jury acquitted him of manslaughter, opting instead for less serious negligent homicide convictions.

Ray admitted responsibility for the deaths – but he did not say why he didn’t act as the chaos broke out.

One of Shore’s friends, Matt Collins, joined a non-profit group formed by another survivor called “Seek Safely.” It’s designed to prevent future tragedies like the one at the sweat lodge.

Survivors’ friends and relatives say they don’t want Ray returning to the self-help industry, or profiting from the tragedy. Collins said he hoped Ray reinvented himself in prison.