Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram yoga, is no longer just fighting charges by several of his ex-students who allege that he sexually harassed or assaulted them; he’s also been ordered to pay out his former lawyer (who was investigating those very claims).
On Monday, a Los Angeles jury awarded $924,000 to Choudhury’s former attorney—who alleged that he sexually harassed her while she worked for him, and was then fired in 2013 after she began investing claims that he raped one of his students, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Minakshi Jafa-Bodden’s lawsuit claims she suffered gender discrimination, wrongful termination, and sexual harassment during the time she worked for the 69-year-old yoga bigwig, according to the LA Times—and she alleges that he subjected her to obscene comments about women and minority groups and pressured her to cover up his sexual harassment of women. Choudhury, who called these accusations “big lies,” said that Jafa-Bodden was terminated because she didn’t have a license to practice law in the US.
The jury, ruling unanimously in Jafa-Bodden’s favor, also determined that Choudhury acted with malice, oppression and fraud—which means that the lawyer can now seek punitive damages. (That hearing begins this week.)
Choudhury’s legal drama has been going on for years. In 2013, the yoga guru was sued for sexual harassment by Sarah Baughn, a star in the Bikram world, and five other women have since sued the yoga pioneer who’s seriously fallen from grace, alleging that he sexually assaulted or harassed them—all of which Choudhury denies. One case may be close to a resolution, the LA Times reports: Paperwork filed in January indicates that a conditional settlement had been reached—but details were not disclosed.
The outcomes of the remaining cases are unclear at this time, but one thing is clear: Choudhury’s going to have to hire a new lawyer to keep track of them. —Alison Feller
Maybe it’s a good time for us all to do some calming movements while we digest this information?