Bikram Choudhury, who has amassed a fortune as the leading pioneer of the Bikram yoga movement, is in the midst of a sexual misconduct lawsuit brought by his former general counsel. The Los Angeles Times reports that Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, who was hired to defend Choudhury against several assault charges, alleges that she was sexually harassed by her client. She also says she was fired when she investigated claims that the guru had raped one of his students. Appearing in a Los Angeles court, Choudhury denied Jafa-Bodden’s accusations, saying, “I don’t do that. I don’t have to.” He described allegations of mistreatment and abuse of his employees as both “lies” and “big lies.”
Three sexual assault cases against Choudhury are currently pending. Larissa Anderson, Sarah Baughn and Dana McClellan were all training to become teachers of Bikram Yoga — which consists of 26 poses, carried out over 90 minutes in a room heated to 104 degrees — when they were allegedly raped by Choudhury. The women say that Choudhury encouraged a cult-like devotion among his followers, which then allowed him to prey on female students. “You feel like you owe something to him, and he can really zero in on that and he knows which girls will be excited by him, or vulnerable,” said Baughn, who claims Chodhury raped her in a hotel room during a teacher training session.
McClellan alleges in her lawsuit that during a 2010 course, Choudhury called her to his hotel room and raped her after she refused his advances. She initially sued the guru under a pseudonym, but has since decided to make her name public. “Over time, I’ve realized that he is a coward and that he doesn’t have power over me anymore,” McClellan said. “I’m not afraid of him.”
Read the full story at the LA Times.