69 year old yoga guru Bikram Choudhury has been accused of sexually assaulting a Vancouver woman and now faces a sexual harassment lawsuit. Jill Lawler claims she was repeatedly sexually assaulted and harassed by the yoga teacher when she attended an instructor training course in 2010.
In her lawsuit, she also alleges she was raped while Choudhury continued to prey following which she had to endure several physical, emotional, and psychological stress. The yoga guru operates over 650 studios around the globe and is currently one of Beverley Hills’ multimillionaire residents.
Six time offender?
This is reportedly not the first time the 69 year old holistic teacher’s card has been filed. Five other women have also filed lawsuits alleging sexual harassment or assault. Sexual harassment attorneys have filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of Lawler in the California Superior Court in Los Angeles.
According to the lawsuit, Lawler began training with Choudhury when she was 18 and was then employed in his yoga business. She was admitted to the training course after she wrote a personal letter to him requesting to be included as a special case since she was below 21, the minimum age requirement for the training course.
Guru of a different kind?
Lawler claims in her lawsuit that she paid $10,000 for the nine-week yoga instructor training course which she says pushed students to the limit where they became submissive to the guru’s requests. She alleges that Choudhury on one occasion attempted to put his hand inside her pants while she massaged his feet. The lawsuit also claims that the sexual harassment continued throughout the course.
On one night, he raped her in his hotel room and demanded that she say talk dirty. She also claims that he assaulted her on other occasions during training sessions. He continued to do so while she worked at his studios and at his Los Angeles home, and at a training course in India.
But she did not quit nor make a complaint right when this happened?
Open and veiled threats
The alleged victim claims in her lawsuit that she was vulnerable and did not take action against Choudhury’s repeated sexual assaults since she feared he would fire her from his Vancouver studios. She also claims she was intimidated by his constant threats about having connections with powerful people and the police. Lawler alleges that he frequently told her that people die if they don’t listen to him. That is incredible; she should have went to the police right when she first heard this.
Once she was made aware about a sexual harassment lawsuit made against Choudhury he tried to buy her silence although she refused. Her sexual harassment attorneys say Lawler is still suffering from physiological even after she stopped working at Choudhury’s studios in July 2014.
A terrible tragedy says the Bikram Yoga Team
According to sexual harassment attorneys, there has been no police investigation while the defendant has not yet filed any response to the lawsuit. An article in the New York Times suggests that his lawyers have not yet formally received a notice of the lawsuit. The Bikram Yoga Vancouver Team has termed it a terrible tragedy and in an email statement condemned such behavior.
What is interesting to note is that the Bikram Yoga website in an April 2013 statement says that the LAPD and DA’s office had decided not to pursue a criminal investigation at the time after looking into the prior allegations. According to New York Times reports, Choudhury has refuted all allegations of sexual assault through his lawyers and said that the women were seeking financial gain by exploiting the legal system. Lawler’s Oakland based sexual harassment attorney is also representing five other women in lawsuits filed in 2013 and 2014.