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Are you familiar with the controversy about the Yoga Guru Bikram Choudhury? If you are then you’d definitely recognize Sarah Baughn.
Sarah Baughn was the first woman to speak up against Choudhury. She accused him of sexual assault followed by a lawsuit. Know more about the whole incident below.
What Triggered the Lawsuit Against Bikram Chaudhury?
The famous Yoga phenomenon stirred up some major media attention when Sarah Baughn came forward and accused the yoga teacher of sexual assault.
Sarah joined Bikram yoga seeking healing from her back injuries. In fact, the yoga did help her back injuries. Sarah, impressed by the teachings of Bikram, even called him better than chocolate. Little did she know that chocolate would later turn on her.
One day, the guru unexpectedly held her and asked her what was gonna happen between the two of them now? Sarah, confused by the sudden approach, asked him what he meant by that. Bikram then answered that he meant by the relationship between them. Sarah hurriedly left still trying to process what just happened.
The following day she consulted with her seniors about the incident. The seniors could do nothing but suggested her to stay away from him as much as possible and not to be alone with him. And so she did.
The Time He Crossed the Line
Sarah constantly tried to avoid being with him and it also was working to some extent. However, one night she and some of her other friends from yoga decided to watch a movie in his hotel room. Unfortunately, her luck ran out and ended up being alone with the guru when all of her friends left for their home without her.
Using this as his chance, Bikram approached Sarah. But when Sarah tried to leave he blocked her way out. And he started kissing her. She mentioned that he kept on saying that he was going to have her this time.
Sarah realized that she was going to be raped if she didn’t think of anything fast. At a moment’s notice, she quickly slipped out and ran out of the room. Although she happened to prevent a bad scenario, it undoubtedly left a scar.
The story did not end on that, though. She stated that after the incident, the guru started insulting her in front of other trainees and used to whisper sexual comments on her ear.
Why She Finally Decided To Speak Out?
On March 2013, 8 years after the incident, Sarah Baughn filed a complaint on the LA Superior Court accusing him of Sexual Assult, Harassment discrimination and defamation.
Baughn mentioned that looking at her newborn daughter, she realized that something like that could happen to anyone. And she decided that the culprit was to be put behind the bars or many more like her will have to go through the same.
Sarah was not the only one that went through the same feat. Her allegations were supported by five other women. They also accused Bikram of sexual harassment, gender violence, and false imprisonment. One of the lawsuits also state that a group of Choudhury’s people also assisted him in finding his next victim.
Well, of course, Chaudhury denied all the allegations. He claimed that there were many women that would gladly sleep with him and he had no need to assault anyone.
Allegations By His Own Legal Advisor
Minakshi Jafa-Bodden was the head of the Legal and International Affairs who started her work with Bikram Yoga from Spring 2011. Jafa-Bodden also filed a suit against Bikram Chaudhury claiming she was abruptly and unlawfully terminated from her position.
Jafa added that she was fired when she started to dig into the case that related to him raping one of his students. She further added that she was also one of the victims of his sexual misconduct and had even been a spectator of many of his misdoings.
On January 25, 2016, the Jury spoke in Jafa-Bodden’s favor and ordered the perpetrator to pay her $924,500 in actual damages. The jury also found him guilty of malice, oppression, and fraud. A day later, the court issued an additional award of $6.4 million in punitive damages to Jafa.
Running From Court Orders
Bikram Choudhury later flew to India and started another Yoga studio. He fled his court testimonials mentioning he will try to testify through Skype.
On May 2017, an LA judge issued an arrest warrant in Choudhury’s name for fleeing from his payments to Minakshi. A lawsuit was also filed against his wife, Rajashree Choudhury, and children for allegedly trying to hide, abscond and attempt to dispose of assets. It was later revealed that he tried to move his numerous luxury cars out of the state which led to the court issuing another order that prevented him from moving his possessions.
Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator
A Netflix movie is set to release on November 2019, Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator. The documentary includes the rise and fall of the ‘Hot’ Yoga Guru, Bikram Choudhury and the creation of his empire.
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