Founder of Bikram Yoga Accused of Raping Students
Six women are suing the 69-year-old hot yoga founder.
Bikram Choudhury, the yoga guru that founded "hot yoga," has been accused of sexually assaulting six women.
According to a report by The New York Times, the 69-year-old yoga teacher faces half a dozen civil lawsuits from females who are accusing the instructor of rape or assault.
On Feb. 13, the most recent suit was filed against Choudhury by yogi Jill Lawler, who claims he raped her four years ago during teacher-training. In 2013, the first complaint against Choudhury was filed.
“A lot of people have blinders on," Sarah Baughn said, who filed against the Bikram founder in 2013. "This is their entire world. They don’t want to accept that this has happened.”
But the creator of the 26 hot yoga poses, who built a global empire in his name, denies the claims brought against him and his yoga college.
"Their claims are false and dishonor Bikram yoga and the health and spiritual benefits it has brought to the lives of millions of practitioners throughout the world,” a statement released by Choudhury's lawyers said. “After a thorough investigation, the Los Angeles County district attorney declined to file any sexual assault charges against Mr. Choudhury or the college for lack of evidence.”
To learn Bikram practices from the founder, students pay $12,500 for weekslong training sessions.
Lawler signed up for the training at the age of 18 and claims that Choudhury groped her during her course in 2010. Weeks later, the Bikram founder sexually assaulted her in his hotel room; most recently she claims he assaulted her in February 2013.
Since July 2014, Lawler has abandoned teaching Bikram yoga and taken a position waitressing.
“The cases are moving very quickly,” said Mary Shea Hagebols, a lawyer for the six women filing against Choudhury. “Any stays have been lifted, and we’re moving full steam ahead.”