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Bikram’s Rape Accusers Speak Out For First Time on ‘Nightline’

in YD News


This report on Bikram’s rape accusations, that aired on last night’s ABC’s Nightline News, is everything from incredibly disturbing to deeply enraging to sadly depressing. Over the past year, we’ve read and discussed plenty about these accusations, the five women who accused Bikram Choudhury of sexual assault in civil lawsuits, four of them alleging rape, we’ve read court documents and claims, we’ve collectively shuddered at the thought of an undoubtedly powerful and notoriously outrageous man taking advantage of his students. However, seeing the women come forward to speak about the claims and share their personal stories is something we really couldn’t prepare for.

Sarah Baughn was the first to speak out publicly when she sued Bikram last year for sexual harassment and sex-based discrimination. Prior to that, she says she initially reported an incident to a Bikram staff member who then told her, “He may not be avery good man, but he’s a very good teacher.” A line that keeps repeating itself like a broken record when it comes to Bikram Choudhury’s questionable antics and ego-fueled behavior over many years. “Oh, that’s just Bikram being Bikram.”

Baughn goes on to tearfully describe how Mr. Choudhury tried to coerce her into having sex and then threaten that if she didn’t go along with it she would never win an Asana championship.

For the first time we hear from Larissa Anderson, one of the women accusing Bikram of rape. She details her experience of being forced into sex in Choudhury’s home while his wife Rajashree and his two children were sleeping upstairs.

A third woman, represented as “Jane Doe” who worked within the inner circle, claims that Bikram raped her three times. She viewed him as a “Godly” figure, she said.

I was in denial, praying that it would not be.

And he said, ‘you know how many people apply for the scholarship every training?’

‘And of all the people, you’re here. Because I believe in to you.’ No one believed in me before.

I looked at him as a godly figure. Like mother Teresa, you know? I said please don’t.

The question that keeps coming up is why didn’t they go to the police sooner and report what had happened? And the same answer keeps being repeated: no one would listen, no one would believe me. “Everybody was so hypnotized by him,” ‘Jane Doe’ said.

Right now it’s a case against he said, she said, but the she’s are in the majority. Since Sarah Baughn filed her suit, 4 other women have come forward with lawsuits of their own, four of them alleging rape. Bikram’s lawyers are known to be a fierce lot and will likely fight these accusations with everything they’ve got.

“The hardest problem in my life is staying away from women,” a typically confident and self-assured Bikram told Nightline’s David  News in 2012. Rumors had already been flying about inappropriate behavior, but Bikram denied any wrongdoing involving his students, adding that as a yogi you can’t be involved with “the women.”

“It’s wrong,” says Baughn. “No one is entitled to anyone’s body. Not ever. And nobody said anything. They just sat there and let him do it.”

Watching these women tell their stories makes us feel sad, not just for them, but for all who have come forward and for those who never will, for the students and teachers of Bikram who have invested so much money, time and energy and for the reputation of yoga in popular culture that only gets scarred from terrible situations like this, which we must recognize do happen not only in yoga, but in every other industry and facet of our society.

Watch the ‘Nightline’ clips below — Trigger Warning: detailed recounts of rape.

ABC Entertainment News|ABC Business News

ABC Entertainment News|ABC Business News

You can watch the full segment from the Nightline episode here.

If you have been a victim of rape or sexual assault report it to the police immediately or contact the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE.



19 comments… add one
  • S.

    The one thing that I appreciate about yoga is that on a long enough time line, one’s true character is amplified for all to see. In terms of karma, there is nowhere to hide.

    • joseph

      In terms of karma….. does that exclude victims or are they receiving theirs now? what does this have to do with victims of rape?… are we not all responsible for our own love of the human race? and if we are not responsible… then who is? if we keep separating ourselves from each other then there will always be rape!! If we are all re-united as an “all-knowing-human-being-knowing-one-another-as-we-know-ourselves-together” then… only then will karma complete itself full circle and we will see that we were only raping us! There is no-one else! Wake up!

      • Baker

        Are you serious? Essentially you’re saying that it’s the women’s fault they were raped. This is a woefully inaccurate view of karma that leads to a pretty perverted view of the world.

        We’d like to think that karma is an eye for an eye because deep down we like the idea of revenge. But it is not. It’s the psychological impulse for action, the chain reaction of craving. Being free from karma is not about achieving a perfected life. It’s becoming free of ignorance and being in the uninterrupted flow of pure consciousness. That doesn’t mean suffering and the terrible events of the world are not there. This is why the Bhagavad Gita says to act without attachment to fruits of actions. You will never stop action. You can only stop the craving.

        It’s sad that even in the yoga community, accusations of rape are met with “the woman deserved it” or that they are only looking for money.

  • DTrist

    I ain’t sayin’ that they g0lddiggers. Wait. Yes I am.

    • Cher

      Oh sure, blame the victims. What decade do you live in?

  • This is really sad. I think it must be incredible difficult for the women to stand up against Bikram, I wish them all the best!

  • Deann

    Besides the sexual assault, what disturbs me is that someone, a YOGI could be coerced by the promise of “never win the asana championships”? Really?
    I love Bikrams series, but let’s all take a step back and look at this. Why are we being competitive… In YOGA?

  • vick

    now its time to wakeup girls. Why you thinks that who is teaching yoga or spirituality would be godly person? 99% are just teacher nothing more,why cant you light your logic bulb? Who is engaged in any kind of pleasure cant be god-like and cant be at higly spiritual,he can be knowldgeable,wise or skilled but not like saint or god-like, its your expectation which hurts you not he himself,

  • Amyf

    He tried it on with my 21year Canadian room mate when I was doing my teacher training in 2006. She wanted to become a teacher but was scared of him and avoided him at all costs. She wanted someone with her at all times and always practiced her yoga at the back of the room (of 250 people) he definaty changed my view of Bikram yoga.

  • vick

    here is no yoga as ‘bikram yoga’ ,he just use his name.all yoga or yogic activities already explained by ancient yogis.and people does some usless change in them to show people that its their invention…..i am just saying do what you like and gives you happiness.but always use your mind for having right understanding.its us who makes normal people godlike,they dont even have a single indication.can you tell his one quality which shows him saintly or highly spiritual?

  • Bikram himself has been discussing his exploitation of his female students as a sexual playground since 2002, while these are only two examples from print interviews there is also a 60 minutes interview where he states the exact same thing- that his students threaten sucide if “The Boss doesn’t fuck them”. He is the most despicable “Bogi”, a demon filled with maya, and a force of darkness in this world. And hey all you white practioners, he has nothing but contempt for you, as you are the wrong ethnicity to ever achieve any kind of enlightenment.

    If there truly were a governing body for yoga (YA I’m looking at you) Bikram would be outted, shamed, and ostracized. Anyone who is still considering paying 10K to parrot a poorly written script, should have an intervention held for them by their family and loved ones.

    This is Bikram’s own words, why is this even titled as allegations? He admits it not only in this article, Yogi’s Behaving Badly, Business 2.0 published in 2002-
    “Bikram says he himself was actually blackmailed several times into having sex with students. “What happens when they say they will commit suicide unless you sleep with them?” he says. “What am I supposed to do? Sometimes having an affair is the only way to save someone’s life.”
    Enitre article—-http://www.healingsearch.com/Health%20News/yogis_behaving_badly.htm

    But here as well in Details Magazine, article title- The Overheated, Oversexed Cult of Bikram Choudhury.

    “Choudhury has other quirks too. He says he eats a single meal a day (chicken or beef, no fruit or vegetables), drinks only water and Coke, and needs only two hours of sleep a night. Then there are the stories about him having sex with his students. When I ask him about this, he doesn’t deny it—he claims they blackmail him: “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!”

    Read More http://www.details.com/culture-trends/critical-eye/201102/yoga-guru-bikram-choudhury#ixzz2v66CgORY

  • Elle

    These women should not have been looking to this man as if he were a God; he is not (Psalm 146:3). If you put your trust in man, you will be disappointed each time. Regardless of what the truth is, I pray that these women seek the one true God, and Bikram as well (he is not it)!!!

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