Vancouver Woman Sues Bikram Yoga Guru for Rape

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Image: Wikipedia commons

Image: Wikipedia commons

Six women including a Vancouver yoga instructor Jill Lawler are suing yoga guru Bikram Choudhury for rape.

Lawler alleges she was “repeatedly sexually assaulted, raped and harassed” by Choudhury, and that he “preyed on … her youth and vulnerability … which caused her significant and enduring physical, emotional and psychological harm.”

The civil lawsuit was filed in the California Superior Court in Los Angeles this month. Lawler was 18 years old when she began training with, and then working for, Choudhury’s yoga business.

Lawler paid $10,000 in 2010 to attend a nine-week intensive yoga instructor training course after personally writing to Choudhury to be allowed to take part, despite not meeting the course’s normal minimum age requirement of 21.

The lawsuit alleges Choudhury assaulted Lawler during his training session, and on other occasions over the coming years while she was working at his studios, including at his home in Los Angeles, at another training course, and while training in India.

In the lawsuit, Lawler says she felt there was nothing she could do about the alleged assaults, because she thought Choudhury would retaliate by preventing her from working at his Vancouver studios and make it impossible for her to earn a living.

“Jill was terrified of … Choudhury because he had a number of close followers in Vancouver, would brag that he knew ‘all of the police’ and many other powerful people, he warned students, including Jill, not to ‘f–k with him,’ and frequently stated that ‘people who don’t listen to me, they die,'”  says the lawsuit. Read the rest of the CBC story here.

Bikram Yoga Vancouver has closed their West End and Kitsilano studio locations in April 2014. As for the remainder of the Bikram Yoga Vancouver team, they’ve called the events a:  “terrible tragedy for the individuals involved.” They went on to say, “If these allegations are upheld, we certainly condemn this type of behaviour,” it said in an emailed statement. “All of that said, once there is a verdict in this case, we’ll see where that takes us.”

Last modified: March 1, 2015

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