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.
- Bikram Studio Owners And Teachers Respond To Rape Charges And The Community Divided
- Bikram’s Rape Accusers Speak Out For First Time on ‘Nightline’
- Satyananda Yoga Reeling from Horrific Details of Sex Abuse, Rape Allegations and Accountability
- My Yoga Studio Invited a Sexual Predator to Conduct a Workshop