Hot Yoga ‘Guru’ Accused of Sexual Harassment
Bikram Choudhury’s signature ‘hot yoga’ practice is famed for its cultivation of the euphoric, spiritually energised state that earned him a cult following. But these days, Choudhury is arguably more famous for the scandal associated with allegations of his sexual misconduct.
On the run
In the wake of multiple sexual harassment claims brought against him, Choudhury is, according to attorneys, ‘on the run’, evading legal proceedings, as he continues to travel and teach classes worldwide. His arrest warrant means that authorities can flag Choudhury down at any international airport, and the legal team involved can work with them to arrest the yoga master in any member country of The Hague Convention. So it’s likely just a matter of time before he’s caught.
The 73 year-old has not paid any of the $6.8 million he owes to his former attorney, Minakshi Jafa-Bodden. When investigated, claims from a student who claimed Bikram fired and then raped Jafa-Bodden were confirmed. Bail was set at $8 million. Clearly in possession of sufficient funds, as well as a collection of 44 luxury cars and a $3 million diamond encrusted watch, Choudhury has refused to comply with orders to pay up, preferring to ‘run fast and loose with this legal system’.
“Women love me”: Choudhury denies allegations
He has also continued to deny the allegations. In 2015 he repeatedly denied assault, claiming he would never need resort to aggressive behaviour in order to receive sexual favours, because he had so many offers. “Women like me. Women love me,” he said. “So if I really wanted to involve the women, I don’t have to assault the women.”
Minakshi Jafa-Bodden worked as head of legal and international affairs for Choudhury from 2011 to 2013, alleging that he sexually harassed and inappropriately touched her, tried to entreat her to stay with him in a hotel suite, and subjected her to obscene comments about women and minority groups. He also allegedly
pressured her into covering up his sexual harassment of women in general. Six other women have since filed sexual lawsuits against Choudhury, five of whom accuse him of raping them.
Jafa-Bodden ‘vindicated and elated’ to win case
Jafa-Bodden’s attorney, Aaron Orsten told the Washington Post that when she tried to stop Choudhury, “he threatened her life, he threatened her family’s life, he threatened to have her deported.” So, Jafa-Bodden was understandably “vindicated and elated” to win her case against Choudhury, who she described as “a dangerous, dangerous predator.” A juror told her she was a “warrior for women” for standing up to him, according to the Los Angeles Times.
However, with Choudhury still at large, it remains to be seen where and when he will be formally arrested.