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Another New Rape Suit Against Bikram Choudhury Makes It the Sixth, and It Keeps Getting Worse

in YD News


A new lawsuit claims Bikram Choudhury repeatedly sexually assaulted, raped, and harassed a female yoga teacher over the course of several years. The suit, filed Friday, February 13, 2015, makes it the sixth formal complaint against Choudhury involving sexual abuse and/or rape.

We just reported yesterday a judge ruled that Bikram would have to face almost all of the accusations related to a 2013 suit brought against him involving a teacher trainee (Jane Doe No. 2) and the case is awaiting a date for trial. The judge ruled that Choudhury and his company, Bikram’s Yoga College of India LP, would face sexual battery, gender violence, false imprisonment along with five other claims.

The details of this new suit, filed by Jill Lawler, are not too dissimilar; allegations include sexual harassment, gender violence, sex-based discrimination. In fact, they make the state of affairs even more grisly. Lawler alleges that Choudhury used his position of power to exact control, to make her perform massages and engage with him in sexual acts, and when she refused, he raped her, the suit says. Lawler claims she became financially dependent on Bikram who made threats to decertify her and kick her out of the Bikram circle if she would not comply with his commands.

Lawler was 18 when she began her Bikram teacher training, three years younger than the requirement, but she was accepted after writing a heartfelt letter to Bikram Choudhury himself, it states in the suit. Bikram allegedly took advantage of Lawler’s youth, vulnerability and lack of experience. She knew all teacher trainees are powerless, exhausted and suffering from sleep deprivation, Lawler states in the suit, and are told to “trust the process” no questions asked.

Via the report on Law360.com:

…she first chalked up her discomfort over the massages to cultural differences, but then, she said, Choudhury put his hand down her pants in public.

“You are so beautiful, I felt drunk while you were massaging me,” Choudhury said according to the suit. “I couldn’t control myself.”

Despite Choudhury’s apology, he soon asked her to massage him higher and higher on his thigh, eventually pushing her to touch him in a sexual manner.

“Felling that she had no choice, in her weakened, exhausted and sleep-deprived state, she gave in to defendant Bikram Choudhury’s physical and financial coercion,” the complaint said.

In another incident during training, he took Lawler up to his hotel room and allegedly made more lewd sexual advances. When she refused, the suit alleges he raped her. After the training classes, Lawler alleges Choudhury continued to seek her out for sex, and one occasion flew her out to Los Angeles before assaulting her.

The suit states that Choudhury said many things to try and coerce Lawler into sexual acts like, “God wants us to be together” and “If you don’t have sex with me, I will die.”

Though the statute of limitations for sexual assault would have already been up, Lawler’s attorneys argue in the lawsuit that the case should stand because the abuse forced Lawler into severe debt and emotional duress due to Bikram’s threats of violence. Deeply entangled in Bikram’s circle, she had been teaching at a Bikram studio in Vancouver until July 2014 and had feared coming forward earlier would cost her her job, according to the suit.

Lawler is represented by Mary Shea Hagebols, the same lawyer representing Jane Doe No. 1 and Jane Doe No. 2, in their separate lawsuits against Bikram Choudhury and Bikram’s Yoga College of India LP, alleging rape and sexual assault.

Besides the personal implications, these rape cases could spell a major fallout for the Bikram empire as a whole. One part of the suit that stood out:

Plaintiff is informed and believes that Defendant BIKRAM CHOUDHURY treats the YCOI [Yoga College of India], YCPL [Yoga College Private Limited] and his other partnerships, businesses and corporations as his “alter egos,” or extensions of himself rather than as legal entities. On information and belief, Defendant BIKRAM CHOUDHURY exercises full financial control over YCOI and YCPL treats their bank accounts as personal bank accounts. Furthermore, Defendant BIKRAM CHOUDHURY uses personal funds and YCOI funds to pay salaries for employees who ostensibly work for YCPL in India.

The entire suit is available to the public and can be read below if you can stomach it. The description of the grueling nine-week teacher training experience may be enough for some.

Warning: The following document may be extremely triggering.

Bikram – Jill Lawler – Complaint by byci



23 comments… add one
  • Perhaps coincidentally, Bikram’s “Job Opportunities” page now lists the following for a full-time travel agent:

    “Fulltime Position:
    In house Travel Agent with minimum 20 years experience Taking care of ALL travel arrangements for Bikram, Rajashree as well as their guests and staff Located here at Headquarters in Los Angeles.
    Immediate start.
    Please send a cover letter with resume to Attention to HR – Hr@BikramYoga.com

    Is he getting out of Dodge?

    • Nothern Harrier

      Ha, you may be right – good catch! I lived through a comparable experience in a different yoga group, lawsuits and all, including the alter ego allegations of his vast empire of supposedly separate entities all under his hidden thumb. The serial rapist we were after also got out of dodge and hid behind his “demanding international teaching” schedule in attempts to avoid being sub-poened, but we got him finally. I love to see a true coward on the run. Catch him by the balls ladies and let him understand the suffering he has created!

    • Sam Louise

      Maybe he’s hiding out at Bill Cosby’s place?

  • Yoganthehood

    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. Are we in a country where one is innocent until proven guilty or not?

  • Yoganthehood

    ANd also why are there no rape allegations from his earlier years when he first got to America? Because he was broke as a joke! Has anyone attended TT posting on this board? The women(mostlywhite) in these trainings throw themselves at the man, fight between each other about who is going to massage him or bring him water. This was my first time ever seeing white women act this way towards a BROWN ‘guru’. Daily I would be like…wtf is wrong with these women so I can see how some women could feel as though they were not getting enough attention from Bikram yada yada and then the accusations start rolling in.
    Now if I am being raped in Bikram’s Beverly Hills home with his wife and son upstairs…best believe Rajasharee would have found out as soon as the act was over!!! Better have a rape kit test available….I just don’t buy it.

  • S Chapman

    Wow, Truely disappointed and not suprising when a Spiritual Person from the east is put on a pedastol and has been repressed. He should be banned from WORKING in the USA and be sent to India and for serious treatment as a sex offender…. Completely unacceptable after a filing of 1 case and how many more is needed for he to be shut down????

  • Vinyasha

    I’m truly disappointed and disgusted to see comments on here blaming the women in these sexual assault cases. Who are you to say that these women are only suing him for the money? The reason why only 10% of rape cases are reported is because of people like you who point fingers at the girls and accuse them of asking for it by “throwing themselves at him”. In this case I’m far more inclined to believe the female because she was so young and he was obviously in a position of power.

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