A judge ruled that Bikram Choudhury must face most of the accusations leveled against him by a yoga teacher who contends in a civil lawsuit that the founder of Bikram Yoga raped her in 2010 when she was attending a training seminar.
In a hearing on Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge Rolf M. Treu ruled that Choudhury and his company, Bikram's Yoga College of India LP, would face sexual battery, gender violence, false imprisonment and five other claims brought by a woman identified only as Jane Doe No. 2, according to reports by Law360.com and MyLANews.com. The judge allowed the claims to move forward even though the suit was filed in 2013, past the two-year statute of limitations on rape allegations. The judge decided the plaintiff "had shown sufficient evidence that she was incapacitated after the alleged rape, entering into a serious depression, starting to drink and do drugs, and quitting her job," according to Law360. However, the judge dismissed the claims of civil rights violations, negligent infliction of emotional distress and injunctive relief.
In September, Judge Ruth Kwan ruled in a separate case that Choudhury would face eight of 11 causes of action leveled by a woman identified as Jane Doe No. 1, who says that Choudhury sexually assaulted her in 2011.
In all, five women have filed lawsuits alleging various claims against Choudhury. One of the women, Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, had been Choudhury's in-house counsel. Jafa-Bodden filed a suit against Choudhury in 2013 alleging discrimination, sexual harassment and defamation.
Mary Shea Hagebols, the lawyer for Jane Doe No. 1 and Jane Doe No. 2, told MyNewsLA.com that Jane Doe No. 2's alleged assault occurred on Nov. 18, 2010, in a room at Choudhury's studio, but when her client notified police, authorities declined to press charges because there were no witnesses.
Jane Doe No. 2 spoke to Benjamin Wallace for an article he wrote about the allegations of the five women against Choudhury. The article appeared in the January 2014 issue of Vanity Fair. The article states:
Choudhury told her after one class, “There were hundreds of bodies in that room tonight but you were the only one that listened to me.” But she says his advances quickly escalated: he held her after class one day and asked her to move to L.A. to work at his studio. “I can see something inside of you that no one else can,” he allegedly told her. “You will be greater than Mother Teresa, but you have to follow me. You have to do everything I tell you to do.” He gripped her hand and stared at her. “I am your guru,” he said. “I am your god…. Without me, you will be a piece of gold undiscovered and covered in dirt.” Another night, according to her lawsuit, he again pressed his case for her to come and work for him, asking that she come up to his room to talk. He assured her they would not be alone, but as soon as they entered his room, she realized her mistake. They were alone. When she started to walk out, according to her suit, he began crying and begging her to “save” him, and forced himself on her.
Treu asked the two parties to share information so he could set a trial date, according to MyNewsLA.com.