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Judge Rules Bikram Choudhury Will Face Most of Rape Allegations, Case Will Go To Trial

in YD News

bikram-rape-accusations

An update on the rape allegations. Bikram Choudhury will face almost all of the rape and sexual violence claims brought against him by a former teacher trainee, a Los Angeles judge ruled earlier this month. The lawsuit, one of five Bikram is currently facing from five different women, was brought against Choudhury in 2013 by a former student, known as “Jane Doe No. 2,” who alleged that she was sexually and emotionally abused during a 2010 Bikram teacher training.

Even though the suit had already passed the two-year statute of limitations on rape allegations, the judge allowed the case to move ahead anyway due to “sufficient evidence” that the plaintiff was “incapacitated after the alleged rape, entering into a serious depression, starting to drink and do drugs, and quitting her job.”

In a hearing on Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge Rolf M. Treu ruled that Choudhury and his company, Bikram’s Yoga College of India LP, would face sexual battery, gender violence, false imprisonment and five other claims brought by a woman identified only as Jane Doe No. 2, according to reports by Law360.com andMyLANews.com. The judge allowed the claims to move forward even though the suit was filed in 2013, past the two-year statute of limitations on rape allegations. The judge decided the plaintiff “had shown sufficient evidence that she was incapacitated after the alleged rape, entering into a serious depression, starting to drink and do drugs, and quitting her job,” according to Law360. However, the judge dismissed the claims of civil rights violations, negligent infliction of emotional distress and injunctive relief.

In September, Judge Ruth Kwan ruled in a separate case that Choudhury would face eight of 11 causes of action leveled by a woman identified as Jane Doe No. 1, who says that Choudhury sexually assaulted her in 2011.

In all, five women have filed lawsuits alleging various claims against Choudhury. One of the women, Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, had been Choudhury’s in-house counsel. Jafa-Bodden filed a suit against Choudhury in 2013 alleging discrimination, sexual harassment and defamation.

According to Mary Shea Hagebols, the lawyer for Jane Doe No. 1 and Jane Doe No. 2, the assault on Jane Doe No. 2 allegedly occurred on November 18, 2010, after which her client made a report to the police. However, the San Diego authorities dismissed it due to lack of witnesses.

“Everybody was so hypnotized by him,” Jane Doe No. 1 had said in ABC’s “Nightline News” story that ran almost a year ago. The details of abuse and intimidation put forth in the lawsuits are chilling and more than upsetting when, if true, this all happened right under our noses and knowingly in front of the loyal Bikram consortium, including his wife, Rajashree, who has made a conscious effort to try and distance USA Yoga from anything to do with the Bikram name.

The old, “That’s just Bikram being Bikram,” just doesn’t work anymore. Unless you’re talking about Bikram being an ego-fueled, power-hungry sexual predator, because that’s pretty much the picture we’re getting now.

In the Vanity Fair article that appeared at the end of 2013, for the January issue, all five of the women’s allegations were brought together, providing a truly disturbing bundle of formal charges. When it had arrived, it was right in the middle of the holidays and we were all sort of burnt out on yoga sex scandals, but still it was all too big to bury. Since the VF piece (which you can read here) and the “Nightline” story, the judicial system has been doing its thing. It may have gotten quiet over the past few months, but it seems like the nightmare has been slowly simmering for while and will (likely soon) reach a boiling point. With so much at stake, it may get pretty ugly.

A trial date has yet to be set.

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

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17 comments… add one

  • Northern Harrier

    I hope this will spur another wave of Bikram studio owners to give up their franchise and go out on their own. Its no longer socially acceptable to separate the man from the brand.

  • Schadenfreude

    I hope this ends up on Court TV.

  • Yet another rape allegation has surfaced. On February 13, 2015 Jill Lawler filed suit against Bikram Choudhury:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/256222525/Bikram-Jill-Lawler-Complaint

  • This whole episode has given yoga a bad name in the eyes of the general public. If found guilty, I am hoping this will be the last time this man has such great influence over yoga.

  • maria

    Trust me this is not the only one where this has been going on. Having recently stood up for myself and other woman, who had been sexual assaulted, i was threaten and thrown out of the place i was stay ( in an ashram in India) and come home. I was very scared. 2 days non stop travel to get home debt and the feeling of shame and guilt and that i failed. But these people are make so much money . They even posted that they have put up another 3 buildings. good for them. But what about the girls. The new ones going there and the others who have been there?
    Someone should check out these places to see what’s really going on. As a star rating would be for hotels.

  • It’s a bit irresponsible to have a footnote requiring survivors of sexual assault to report their assault to the police immediately. Survivors often have good reasons for not doing so (see http://feministing.com/2014/04/11/stop-telling-survivors-they-must-report-to-the-police/ for example), and in any event it should be their choice, as autonomous adults, whether to deal with law enforcement, not a requirement. I would recommend you change that to:

    If you have been a victim of rape or sexual assault and need additional support, you can call the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE if you are in the U.S. or find international resources on their website at RAINN.org.

  • John Boy Quincy

    I would love to see Bikram go in front of Judge Judy – She would destroy him!

  • Nancy

    To give you fair warning, this is a bit lengthy. While I understand the shout out that, “It’s no longer socially acceptable to separate the man from the brand” comments; Let’s examine what that suggests. I’m in no way condoning what Bikram and people like him do, I want to point out some hypocrisies of statements asking studio owners to drop the Bikram name. If you fall for that, then you should also never use an IBM product for it’s relation to the Holocaust; An Apple product, run by Pegatron Group as regards to child labor practices; Eat anything that comes from the Kellogg (KBR) manufacturer because of KBR human rights violations on the U.S. dollar; You should never drive a Ford (Among automakers, Ford Motor Company is the worst) or use anything from Chevron because it’s guilty of some of the worst environmental and human rights abuses in the world.

    We all have products including Saran wrap, Ziploc bags and Scrubbing Bubbles. Dow has been destroying lives and poisoning the planet for decades, but good luck not buying or using anything from them. Coca-cola…well lets see… abuse of workers rights, assassinations, water privatization, worker discrimination.

    Caterpillar is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives, but for years, the Caterpillar Company has provided Israel with the bulldozers used to destroy Palestinian homes. That’s not nice.

    With Nestle Chocolate the forced child labor is rampant, because more than 40% of the world’s cocoa supply comes from the Ivory Coast, a country that the US State Department estimates had approximately 109,000 child laborers working in hazardous conditions on cocoa farms.
    Don’t buy or use Samsung either because it’s facing allegations that one of its suppliers based in China has been using child labour in order to meet demand. (I know, they’re making changes, so is Bikram. They have to.)

    Don’t use sugar or buy products containing sugar from the sugar giant Tate & Lyle that is accused of using child labor and being complicit in expropriating land and inflicting violence on people. Tate & Lyle ingredients are used in a wide range of foods around the world. Don’t purchase or wear Nike clothing or shoes either, they have been accused of using child labor in the production of its soccer balls in Pakistan.
    Without realizing it, we all purchase products from Monsanto. It is, by far, the largest producer of genetically engineered seeds in the world, dominating 70% to 100% of the market for crops such as soy, cotton, wheat and corn. Monsanto, best known today for its agricultural biotechnology products, has a long and dirty history of polluting earth with some of the most toxic compounds known to humankind. From PCBs to Agent Orange to Roundup.

    You shouldn’t use anything from the beauty product giant L’Oreal. It has made a lot of headlines, but not in the most positive way. From the presence of lead in their lipstick, to resuming animal testing to sell new products to the Chinese market, L’Oreal has found themselves in hot water with consumers who demand ethical practices and safer products.
    L’Oreal is no stranger to controversy. Founder Eugene Schueller, who formulated the first hair dye product in 1907, was a well-known Nazi sympathizer and, to this day, the company is embroiled in a legal battle due to the fact that its German headquarters are situated on land that was confiscated from a Jewish family during World War II.

    Oh you yogi’s and your Lululemon. The seeds of that company’s problems were planted early, with its initial founding in Vancouver in 1998. Former CEO Chip Wilson, an avid snowboarder, said he came up with “Lululemon” because he delighted in the idea that trying to pronounce the name — with its three syllables beginning with “l’” — would pose a special challenge for the Japanese, whom he enjoyed making fun of. From that less-than-enlightened starting point Wilson went on to create a huge controversy in 2005 when he announced that the firm would rely on child labor and “sweat shops” in China, after three competitors in his native Vancouver went belly up due to rising labor costs.

    We all at one time or another have had the need to use doctor prescribed drugs. Pfizer is the largest pharmaceutical company in the world; it’s also one of the worst abusers of the human right of universal access to HIV/AIDS medicine.

    Who doesn’t want to save money on products that we use everyday in our home? So we go to Wal-Mart. It is the biggest corporation in the world. It owns 5,100 stores worldwide and employs 1.3 million workers in the United States and 400,000 abroad, as well as millions more in the factories of its suppliers. Many people have heard of the way that Wal-Mart steamrolls its way into every possible town, destroying local supermarkets and countless small businesses. We have also heard about Wal-Mart’s long track record of worker abuse, from forced overtime to sex discrimination to illegal child labor to relentless union busting.

    So lay of the Bikram owners to drop the Bikram name. Just teach the yoga.

    Sources:
    http://www.laborrights.org/in-the-news/14-worst-corporate-evildoers
    http://www.foodispower.org/slavery-chocolate/
    http://blueandgreentomorrow.com/2014/07/11/samsung-accused-of-using-child-labour-in-its-supply-chain/
    http://rt.com/business/apple-accused-china-kids-labor-742/
    http://news.sky.com/story/1300504/samsung-supplier-accused-of-using-child-labour
    http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/jul/09/tate-lyle-sugar-child-labour-accusation
    http://www1.american.edu/ted/nike.htm
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stewart-j-lawrence/when-yogis-kill-the-grisl_b_1077457.html
    https://books.google.com.au/books?id=yQ0N59fv38gC&pg=PA96&lpg=PA96&dq=companies+with+sordid+history&source=bl&ots=GCnfNKpzm7&sig=OTbfeOPOMeJ9HZzUaeJ__Bn9zaE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=R2bmVJmvDYSF8gWWmIGACg&ved=0CBwQ6AEwADgK#v=onepage&q=companies%20with%20sordid%20history&f=false
    http://www.vegetarianbeautyproducts.com
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_during_World_War_II

  • Northern Harrier

    Interesting logic train you have provided here – because the world is full of corruption therefore its ok for yoga to also be corrupt and we should just accept that is how things are. Then its ok to hang the name of a publicly recognized serial rapist on the awning of your studio to promote a path to inner peace and health. And to spout the words of a serial rapist over and over again, every single class, and call that “teaching”. And then to send him a portion of your income every month and to funnel him more students and teachers so he can add to his list of rape victims. Bikram teachers often rally behind the call to separate the man from the method. This is a perfect example of a cult thought stopping technique. Separating the man from the method is impossible if you keep sticking to his method verbatim. Many of us who have stood silent in the face of this hypocrisy for years no longer feel inclined to accept it, and we are probably boycotting most to all of the corporations you listed above too. You are welcome to continue to live in denial and hypocrisy if that makes things easier for you. But I dare you to stop sending him money and students, to stop spouting his words every single class and to remove his disgusting name from your business. It will be very, very scary at first to go out on your own, expand your knowledge, learn to speak your own voice, and to trust students come for you and not the brand. Self trust and integrity await if you make that leap. And you don’t have to give up everything you learned. Only you, his students, can take his power to destroy lives away.

  • Wondering

    Right on northern harrier

  • Not Buying It

    I do hope you recognize the difference between manufactured physical products and a body of teaching so closely associated with the person who asserts that he is the original creator and owner of the intellectual property rights to his method.

    A more apt comparison is the Nobel Prize winning scientist who was forced to give up his Nobel prize when he later asserted that black people are genetically intellectually inferior. Those in charge of the Nobel prize did not want the prestige of that award to be associated with that kind of thinking. The same here, at least for those who do not confuse yoga with a manufactured object such as a box of Kleenex.

    Bikram has enriched himself by so closely associating himself with his method that he is regarded as the premier and authoritative teacher of it. The truth is, you can continue to teach the series of postures of ‘Bikram Yoga’ without the ‘Bikram’ part. If you DO retain the name, you are attempting to profit from the name recognition — associated with HIS name and the brand he built on his own personality — and you are being too cute by a mile in claiming to separate the method from the man, or treating the method as a manufactured product, while still relying on the man’s name to bring in students.

    So lay off trying to silence criticism of the behavior of studio owners who persist in being disingenuous.

  • Northern Harrier

    Interesting logic train you have provided here – because the world is full of corruption therefore its ok for yoga to also be corrupt and we should just accept that is how things are. Then its ok to hang the name of a publicly recognized serial rapist on the awning of your studio to promote a path to inner peace and health. And to spout the words of a serial rapist over and over again, every single class, and call that “teaching”. And then to send him a portion of your income every month and to funnel him more students and teachers so he can add to his list of rape victims. Bikram teachers often rally behind the call to separate the man from the method. This is a perfect example of a cult thought stopping technique. Separating the man from the method is impossible if you keep sticking to his method verbatim. Many of us who have stood silent in the face of this hypocrisy for years no longer feel inclined to accept it, and we are probably boycotting most to all of the corporations you listed above too. You are welcome to continue to live in denial and hypocrisy if that makes things easier for you. But I dare you to stop sending him money and students, to stop spouting his words every single class and to remove his disgusting name from your business. It will be very, very scary at first to go out on your own, expand your knowledge, learn to speak your own voice, and to trust students come for you and not the brand. Self trust and integrity await if you make that leap. And you don’t have to give up everything you learned. Only you, his students, can take his power to destroy lives away.

  • Dwayne

    Wow. I wonder if this ever will go to trial. I halfway expect Bikram to flee back to India (or somewhere) if a trial really threatens. But I’m too lazy to research the extradition issues.

  • Wondering

    right on northern harrier

  • Yogantheood

    I come from a group of folks(black folks) that in the 60′s were falsely accused of rape by white women and the men were lynched(no trial). So in this season of Black history month let’s learn something. White women in history have always fantasied about being with Black/brown men and have lied about it. Black men have died and been jailed behind those false accusations so when I see accusations such as these it reminds me of American history. In the 1950′s Paramahansa Yogananda was accused of sexual things by white MEN whose wives were doing “these yoga kriyas” and learning about kundalini energy from a brown man in the 1940′s and 1950′s.

  • Inara

    @Yogantheood
    How do you explain the black woman pressing charges?

  • Scott Robbins

    Not surprising. Bikram is terrible. I have been doing yoga off and on for 30 years. So much trendy bullshit has come in this period. I won’t mention all of them. The only one I like is basic Hatha. The rest are terrible. Yoga is supposed to make you feel good. I always hate how I feel after a Bikram class. Its the worst of all the new fads. Just some new trendy crap like Kim Kardashian. This guy owns a Rolls Royce. lol Suckers! He actually tried to patent the Asanas in his sequence. They have been around for thousands of years and he tried to own them for his own profit. Look at all the minions in his class. Another Sociopath leading a bunch of sheep for profit. Oh and by the way for all you that do yoga. Your not more enlightened then the rest of us for doing yoga. Grow up
    P.S. Sun Salutations are awful.

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