This just in…Two women filed separate lawsuits earlier this week claiming they were raped by Bikram Choudhury and that Bikram’s inside circle actively recruits women for him.
We know, there are so many Bikram-related lawsuits it’s hard to keep track. This is where it gets real.
“Jane Doe No. 2 sued Choudhury and Bikram Yoga College of India in Superior Court on Monday, alleging sexual battery, false imprisonment, discrimination, harassment and seven other counts. Jane Doe No. 1 filed a similar complaint Tuesday against the same defendants in the same court,” Courthouse News Service reported earlier today.
Note, this is in addition to the lawsuit from March that rocked the house that Bikram built filed by former student and Bikram Yoga teacher Sarah Baughn alleging sexual harassment and sex-based discrimination, all of which Bikram denied. We thought there might be more. This time, it’s rape. And it is incredibly ugly, contemptible and beyond disturbing.
This is the information we have so far. Via courthousenews.com, a nationwide news service specializing in civil litigation:
In her complaint, Jane Doe No. 2 claims that Choudhury raped her in November 2010 after her boyfriend gave her a gift to be trained as a teacher at Choudhury’s Bikram Yoga studio in San Diego.
Doe No. 2 says in the complaint that defendant Does 1-25, “other persons in defendant Bikram Choudhury’s inner circle, were aware of defendant Bikram Choudhury’s pattern and practice of causing, inducing or persuading young women to enroll in teacher training classes to become yoga instructors only so he can sexually assault and/or rape them.” She claims the Doe defendants knew this was in the cards, but “did nothing to prevent this from happening to plaintiff or to protect her.”
Her 36-page complaint claims there is a disturbing cult-like environment in the studios, where studio owners and instructors enroll attractive, vulnerable young women for Choudhury to sexually assault or rape.
There is more detail in the complaint of brainwashing, abuse of power and the description of Bikram as a ‘combustible tyrant who orders students during classes to remain mute, and treat him “with unquestioning obedience.”‘
“Students are also often required to attend evening lectures, where defendant Choudhury rants on subjects including his negative views on certain races; negative views on homosexuality; the moral lassitude of Americans; his guru; his views on sex, marriage, and relationships; and whatever else he should care to talk about,” the complaint states.
Bikram’s rants and outrageous antics are something we’ve grown accustomed to in the yoga community and have even made light of in the past, and for which he is largely unapologetic, but after reading this you may never think the same way about him again.
Flattered at first by the “special attention” she received in class, Jane Doe #2 says that changed when he made sexual advances. She alleges that Bikram Choudhury raped her on November 18, 2010 in his room at the yoga studio.
Doe claims that on the night of the attack, Choundhury told her he wanted to discuss a job offer in his room.
“Defendant Bikram Choudhury said he saw himself in plaintiff (he had said that to her before) and that, ‘I need to spiritually enlighten you. In order to do that, we need to become one.’ Then, without warning or consent, defendant Bikram Choudhury forcefully pulled plaintiff towards him and had one hand around her and the other was unbuttoning her jeans. He hooked his hand at the top of her pants and tried to pull them down with force,” the complaint states.
Though in a “weakened state” from her training, Doe says she pushed Choudhury away, but he threatened her, grabbed her by the wrist and forced her into his bedroom.
“Defendant Bikram Choudhury pulled her pants down and forced her onto the bed. Plaintiff Jane Doe No.2 could not stop crying and kept begging him over and over to stop. He forced his unprotected penis in her vagina. Within moments it was over. The only thing defendant Bikram Choudhury said was, ‘How many times did you come?’ Plaintiff Jane Doe No.2 was in pain, in shock and could not speak. Defendant Bikram Choudhury then ordered plaintiff to watch him until he fell asleep,” according to the complaint.
Doe adds: “The next day during lecture, defendant Bikram Choudhury made offensive sexual comments to the whole class. It was demoralizing and humiliating. He told the plaintiff and rest of the class that when he first moved to the U.S. women raped him all the time and taught him how to have sex. Defendant Bikram Choudhury said he would have sex marathons. Then he started talking about women’s bodies and how he liked ‘pussy’ without hair on it. Defendant Bikram Choudhury said, ‘I can’t stand fat unattractive women.’ As he spoke, his voice was becoming more and more intense and his language more vulgar.'”
As in the case with Sarah Baughn, Doe says no one wanted to help her.
Doe claims that when she told Choudhury she planned to leave the studio, he told her, among other things, “‘If you fuck with me, I’ll fuck with you.’ …
“Plaintiff Jane Doe No. 2’s life unraveled after she returned home. Her long term relationship fell apart, she went into a severe depression, attempted suicide, started drinking, doing drugs, engaged in uncharacteristically impulsive behavior, quit her job and cut off communication from almost everyone in her life,” the complaint states.
She says she “lived in constant fear” that Choudhury would come to her home and attack her.
She was a “volunteer” in the program and these individuals (some of them brought into the country illegally) are required to serve Bikram. If you read any of Benjamin Lorr’s Hell-Bent which helped get the ball rolling on bringing these stories to light (as well as aid in the YTTP copyright lawsuit), or have a friend on the inside you may already be familiar with these tales of servantry and have maybe even witnessed it yourself. Though, this may be the first time you’ve heard about forced sexual assaults and rape.
“Once in the United States, these ‘volunteers’ are required to serve defendant Bikram Choudhury for zero or little pay. Their duties include grooming him, massaging him, making his tea, bring him food and being forced to submit to sexual assaults and rapes against their will,” according to the complaint.
Doe #2 is seeking “punitive damages, lost wages, and costs.” We don’t know further details about Jane Doe #1’s complaint at this point, but we are told it is “substantially the same” and that she claims Choudhury raped her twice.
We’ve reached out to Shea Law Offices defending these two individuals and Sarah Baughn. We will update as we learn more.
Update 1: We have confirmation from Sarah Baughn’s lawyer that Bikram has been served for her lawsuit. They are in the process of service for these two recent suits.
Update 2: Both of the complaints can be viewed online in their entirety. Thanks to commenter ezekieldas for alerting us.
- Bikram Choudhury Sued for Sexual Harassment, Sex-Based Discrimination
- Bikram on ABC Nightline: Like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous with Yoga, Lawsuits, ‘Bitches’ and ‘Whores’
- Big News: Federal Court Rules Bikram Can Not Copyright Asana Sequence
- Kausthub Desikachar Returns to Teaching, Prefers We Forget Sexual Abuse Allegations