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Bikram Rape Case Update: Judge Grants Trial Delay, Women Not Backing Down

in YD News

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It’s been a while since we heard anything about the Bikram rape cases. If you’re just tuning in, six women have filed lawsuits against Bikram Choudhury, and by extension Bikram’s Yoga College of India, claiming a range of sexual assault and gender violence offenses, among others.

Here are a few links to catch up:

And this latest update from NBC 7.

The women have since become one major thorn in Bikram’s side with all six of them now represented by the same attorneys, Mary Shea and Carney Shegerian.

“It’s about the conduct of this person towards six very vulnerable, very vulnerable and innocent women,” attorney Mary Shea told NBC 7.

“He told me that if I did not have sex with him, I would not have a chance of winning that competition,” said Sarah Baughn, a former competitor in Bikram’s Asana Championship and the first to file a lawsuit against Choudhury back in 2013.

More via NBC 7:

A spokeswoman for Choudhury declined NBC 7 Investigates’ request for an interview and has not responded to written questions. In other media interviews, Choudhury has denied allegations of sexual assault and battery and rape.

And, in a document filed in response to McClellan’s civil complaint, Choudhury’s lawyer denied all of the allegations. That legal response also specifically claims that McClellan consented to Choudhury’s alleged acts.

In the Baughn case, Choudhury’s lawyers have not directly denied the allegations but are aggressively challenging the legal reasoning in the complaint. Both women filed police reports after the alleged incidents but their lawyers told NBC 7 police declined to file any criminal charges against Choudhury.

But the women are not backing down.

“I’ve realized what a sick person, to take his position of power and switch it around on women, young women and force them to have sex with him,” said Dana McClellan, who claims in her lawsuit that Bikram raped her during a 2010 teacher training in San Diego. “Rape. It’s rape. That’s what it is.”

“Bikram took away my passion,” McClellan said. “He took away my love for yoga, which is really sad. He destroyed it.”

Meanwhile, another lawsuit filed by former Bikram legal advisor, Minakashi Jafa-Bodden, claiming sexual harassment, discrimination and assault was set to go to trial, but a judge ruled Wednesday to have it delayed due to Bikram’s counsel needing knee surgery. The plaintiff is not convinced:

“Plaintiff has been waiting patiently for her day in court for nearly two and a half years,” the opposition filing states. “Plaintiff’s counsel has a reasonable suspicion that Mr. Choudhury’s plan has been to consistently dely [sic] this case and flee the country so as to avoid all of the litigation, including this trial.”

But it looks like the trial will be rescheduled for May 2016.

We’ll keep you posted as there are further updates.

For now, this thread is still open:
Open Thread: How Are Bikram Choudhury’s Rape Charges Affecting Bikram Yoga? Teachers, Students, Studio Owners – Let’s Talk

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13 comments… add one
  • I feel so bad for this women! They have been violated in ways that will require extensive healing. When I hear “upcoming yoga competition” a part of me wonders if this man was more of a coach than a guru. Certainly a coach can be a figure in a athlete’s life that holds a position as a teacher, but not the same position that a guru in the traditional sense does. I think there is a lot of confusion here and that is partially why a situation of abuse and violation can thrive.

  • Any student who places others up on a pedestal is giving away their power.. This guy has creep written all over him. His lack of compassion and arrogance screamed out loud and strong, I felt that way before these ladies came forward. I give credit to these brave woman standing up and putting this guy behind bars hopefully~

    • He’s a sociopath through and through. You’re lucky you saw through him … this is only because for whatever reason you may not have been as admiring of his “guru” element or as interested in deeply delving into the Bikram Yoga style. — These young women didn’t “give up” anything. He is a criminal. A rapist preying on the trust that is meant to be a part of this relationship dynamic. It’s human nature to trust our mentors, teachers, parents, etc. is a part of life we all need and have a right to count on … the victims are not to blame. Choudry is a sociopath criminal. That’s all there is to it.

  • Artashes

    ALTHOUGH I DESPISE THIS BUTT-HOLE BIKRAM CHOUDHURY AND KNOW THAT HE’S STOLEN ALL HIS POSTURES FROM DIANE NEUMAN’S 1976 BOOK “How to get the Dragons out of your temple” and his sexual deviations…other so-called Guru’s have done this, many of them…Rodney Yee, John Friend, Ananda Yoga Founder Richard Alpert, even Swami Yogananda…I know that these butthole Guru’s ask these stupid bimbo yogini’s to touch their feet? But as a Male yoga teacher of many years you should see how these women behave and what they wear!

    This article below was printed in Yoga Journal and I have the hard-copy which I’ve laminated. Its by Samantha Dunn…Its loaded with sexual innuendo…Read the darn thing and judge for yourself what how these female’s act…believe me they DO come on to us males. Its interesting if you go to Yoga Journal’s website and search for this Samantha Dunn Article you will NOT find it but you will find her other articles how Yoga healed her from a bad accident falling off a horse? duhh….

    I’ll be watching you
    Reflections by Samantha Dunn
    The author discovers that when Sting is your yoga teacher holding the poses is the last thing on your mind

    Yoga Journal May/June 2001
    (www.YogaJournal.com has other articles by Samantha Dunn but NOT this one???)

    So there I am, halfway through a Sun Salutation, wondering if my breasts will indeed pop out of my new, stretchy black tank top, a top that fits fine when I am standing but is too tight for my less-than-lithe frame when in motion. This fact I neglected to consider on my frenzied shopping spree to find the perfect outfit for a yoga class with Sting- as in The Police, as in “ROXanne/ you don’t have to put on the red light…” as in “If you love someone/set them free.” Sting is making his debut as a yoga teacher for 35 contest winners, four of whom like me won a L.A radio station giveaway; the others have never done yoga in their lives and are winners of other contests from all over the country. I am directly in front of Sting, a location assuring that he will witness the moment when and if the stretchy black top, shall we say, lets me down.

    Ego Lesson #1. She who attempts to demonstrate to numinously-attuned and handsome-although-married celebrity that she is both Enlightened and a Hot Babe will be humiliated and thus find that when being brought back to earth, the landing is hard.

    The spandex held, thankfully. Still, certain events in life are so well aligned that is impossible for me not to believe karma is like a freebie pitched straight at my head to teach that which I most need to learn at the moment. The very month I won the “Yoga with Sting” prize, an essay I had written in Yoga Journal was on the newstands, and I was asked by a publisher to write about yoga for an upcoming literary anthology. I was feeling rather pious about my practice, a bit more yogini-than-thou. I have never entered a radio contest in my life (all right, once before, but that was when I was 15 and it was for Van Halen Tickets, plus my name was never called); that I was selected for this one certified for my small mind (“small mind” in the Buddhist sense) that I had been anointed as a representative for all things yogic. Friends commented on the unusual coincidence, to which I, bodhisattva of smugness, responded with a modest-but-indulgent smile and something about my humbler appreciation.

    Ha! The reason I entered the contest was twofold: One, I am always up for saving $15 and bumming a free yoga class, and two, while I am used to being around famous people as a longtime contributor to celebrity magazines, I am rarely in the company of an artist whose work forms a part of my emotional lexicon and who seems to conduct his life in a manner I admire. Not to mention the fact that said artist is also high on the ogle meter. Make that threefold.

    So on the appointed day I arrived in the Los Angeles Center for Yoga, my mat in its Indian-print bag slung over my shoulder with studied casualness. The four other winners and I sat up front and tried our best to relax, while keeping an eye on the door to see if our illustrious instructor was coming. The other winners arrived, cautiously entering the studio, unsure of what this whole yoga thing was going to be about. “Can’t we just watch him do this? I’m not very limber,” someone near me asked.

    “Do we have to sit on the floor?” said another.

    So busy was everyone trying to get situated that few notice Sting had slipped into the room until he had taken his place at the platform, flanked by two of his teachers, Ganga White and Tracey Rich, founders of the White Lotus Foundation in Santa Barbara, California. Sting also wore a black tank (though his looked a lot more comfortable than mine) and loose drawstring pants, and he was tanned, smiling, and soft-spoken. I admit I had impure thoughts, although in my defense I believe I was not alone.

    “How many here have a yoga practice?” he asked. The five of us in front shot our hands up. He regarded each of us, inquired about the forms we studied, and listened attentively as we told him about our experiences. “That’s wonderful,” he concluded. “They’re all branches of the same tree,” I think our collective, sighing reply was, “Goo.”

    Then he turned his eye on the rest of the group. “How many here have never done yoga before?” Most of the hands went up and with them his eyebrows. “All-right. You have never done yoga before and I have never taught it before, so we’ll all just do the best we can.” He told us all not to worry about the postures so much as relax into our breathing. “You’re doing yoga with…” he laughed a little self-consciously before the inevitable phrase “…with every breath you take.”

    Then he did something I did not expect. He started to speak earnestly about his own experience with yoga, how he came to it 20 years ago but still considers himself a beginner, how the practice not only has given him better fitness than when he was a much younger man but has also opened up his life incredibly and changed him ways he never anticipated. He said his dearest hope for today was that those who had never encountered yoga would come away with a positive feeling toward it. And who knows, maybe a few would actually be interested enough to start a practice.

    Then Sting began to lead us through the Ashtanga set he does regularly. He left the five of us to White’s care and focused his energy on the rest of the group, making sure the man from Nebraska who wore blue jeans and a button-up shirt got the hang of it and that the two girls from Seattle could manage Downward-Facing Dog without straining their wrists.

    “Do you think I can pretend to get this wrong so he can come adjust me?” joked the admiring woman next to me, a Bikram instructor for 9 years.
    “Not a chance,” I said to her. “I’m a far more desperate case than you, and besides he’s not adjusting anybody. Darn it.”

    As we got farther into the set I forgot about my too-tight top and about trying to look good. I had to. It was as if the yoga took me by the shoulders and gave me a little shake, admonishing me to “Pay attention! This is more important!”

    When it was time to relax in Corpse Pose, each settled in as quietly as the next: the man from Nebraska and the Bikram teacher, the rock star and the girls from Seattle. It occurred to me that this was one of the best classes of my life. The beauty of yoga was so clear. If we just do it, surrender to it, yoga always, always takes us to places so much bigger and deeper than anything we can construct on our own, no matter who we are or how we put a roof over our heads, or even if we put a roof over our heads at all. All we need to be, in fact, is human.
    Samantha Dunn is a freelance write in Malibu, California, whose work appears in SHAPE, InSTYLE, and MEN’s FITNESS magazines. She is the author of FAILING PARIS (Toby Press, U.K.), a nove

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