Bikram Choudhury, the famed hot yoga guru is again in the news for his connection in 2016’s sexual harassment case. A U.S. court has issued an arrest warrant against the Indian-American hot yoga guru to pay over USD $6.8 million.
Bikram, the millionaire founder of the global fitness business, has not paid the said amount and last year even claimed that he was nearly bankrupt. According to ABC News, authorities now believe that Bikram has hidden his assets and left the country.
According to the report, the arrest warrant against Bikram allows the authorities to arrest him if he returns to the United States or, possibly, in Mexico. In October 2016, Bikram’s attorney stated that their client is not interested in returning to the United States to defend himself in person at the other pending court cases. At that time, Bikram hoped to testify via Skype.
Bikram Choudhury’s Sexual Harassment Case
As of 2014, a total of five women were suing Bikram Choudhury with allegations including sexual assault and sexual harassment. Two lawsuits accusing Bikram of rape were filed in May 2013, in which an anonymous person alleged sexual battery, false imprisonment, harassment, and other counts in addition to the rape allegation. Another anonymous person claimed that the hot yoga guru recruited volunteers from around the world who are “so in fear of defendant Bikram Choudhury’s wrath that they will travel to the US and risk violating immigration laws in order to serve him,” reported Raw Story.
It was reported back in 2016, that Bikram had to pay for sexual harassment allegations in one of the several scandals simmering within his yoga empire. The Bikram yoga creator, per the order by a Los Angeles jury, had to pay more than $900,000 to an attorney. Los Angeles Times reported in 2016 that Bikram Choudhury fired her when she started digging into claims that he had raped a yoga student and that she was also the victim of sexual harassment during the period of her employment by the hot guru.
In the filed lawsuit by Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, she included that she was wrongfully terminated after battling sexual harassment and gender discrimination while Bikram Choudhury employed her. During that time, then 69-year-old Bikram argued that Minakshi’s claims that he mistreated her and abused here were nothing but lies.
Bikram and his lawyers tried to persuade the jury that rather than firing her, the Indian-American hot yoga guru let her go because she lacked the appropriate papers to perform as a lawyer in the United States. According to the attorney’s representative Mark Quigley, “Jafa-Bodden faced retaliation and intimidation when she refused to stay silent about witnessing illegal behavior. This verdict sends an important message, that speaking out when you see signs of sexual abuse is the right thing to do.”
“I feel vindicated,” she told ABC News in 2016. “I’m elated.”
Jafa-Bodden herself claimed that Bikram lured her to exit to India and take up the position of general counsel. The attorney further claimed that she struggled with problems that included sexual harassment, crude remarks, and unlawful demands from Bikram to hide the allegations that he raped other women.
Not only this, Bikram confessed that he talked about his male organ during the teacher training sessions. Those sessions were mandatory for would-be instructors.
Among the existing lawsuits is one that claimed Bikram raped 18-year-old Jill Lawler. The teenager had taken $10,000 out of her college fund in order to go through the nine-week course and thus become a Bikram yoga instructor. Jill later discovered that during her training sessions, she had to provide massages while watching Bollywood movies.
Jill Lawler accused Bikram of groping her during Bollywood movie-watching sessions. Bikram even apologized for the same — but then allegedly requested the teenager to visit his hotel room, where he sexually assaulted her.
“Women likes me. Women loves me. So if I really wanted to involve the women, I don’t have to assault the women,” Choudhury claimed.
Bikram Choudhury’s bail is set at $8 million.
[Featured Image by Reed Saxon/AP Images]