Bikram Choudhury accused of rape in new lawsuits
Two women filed separate lawsuits this week claiming Bikram Choudhury raped them. The lawsuit also claims that Bikram’s inside circle actively recruits women for him.
“Jane Doe No. 2 sued Choudhury and Bikram Yoga College of India in Superior Court on Monday, alleging sexual battery, false imprisonment, discrimination, harassment and seven other counts. Jane Doe No. 1 filed a similar complain Tuesday against the same defendants in the same court,” Courthouse News Service reported.
These lawsuits come after former student and Bikram Yoga teacher Sarah Baughn filed one in March. Baughn alleges sexual harassment and sex-based discrimination. Bikram has denied these allegations.
The new lawsuits are more serious as the defendants are claiming Bikram raped them.
According to courthousenews.com, Jane Doe No. 2 claims that Choudhury raped her in November 2010 after her boyfriend gave her a gift to be trained as a teacher at Choudhury’s Bikram Yoga studio in San Diego.
“Other persons in defendant Bikram Choudhury’s inner circle, were aware of defendant Bikram Choudhury’s pattern and practice of causing, inducing or persuading young women to enroll in teacher training classes to become yoga instructors only so he can sexually assault and/or rape them,” she claims in her suit.
Jane Doe No. 2 claims that on the night of the attack Bikram told her he wanted to discuss a job offer in his room.
“Defendant Bikram Choudhury said saw himself in plaintiff (he had said that to her before) and that, ‘I need to spiritually enlighten you. In order to do that, we need to become one.’ Then, without warning or consent, defendant Bikram Choudhury forcefully pulled plaintiff towards him and had one hand around her and the other was unbuttoning her jeans. He hooked his hand at the top of her pants and tried to pull them down with force,” the complaint states.
The woman claims she pushed Choudhury away but that he threatened her, grabbed her by the wrist, forced her into his bedroom and raped her.
She is seeking “punitive damages, lost wages, and costs.” Not much is known about Jane Doe No. 1’s complaint, but according to reports is “substantially the same,” as No. 2’s complaint.
Bikram has built an empire around a synthesized form of traditional hatha yoga. Bikram yoga classes run for 90 minutes and consist of the same series of 26 postures practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
Follow Mary Ann Georgantopoulos on @marygeorgant