A judge ruled Friday that a Colorado woman can move forward with most of the allegations in a lawsuit against Bikram Choudhury, in which she alleges he raped her in 2010 after her boyfriend gave her a gift of a $13,000 nine-week teacher training program at the millionaire yoga guru’s studio in San Diego.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge also denied a defense motion to dismiss the woman’s punitive damages claim.
However, the judge did toss her cause of action for negative infliction of emotional distress as well as her request that the court find that Choudhury’s alleged conduct is that of a “sexual predator” who violates the civil rights of women.
Treu took under submission a motion to dismiss a gender violence claim against Choudhury’s co-defendant, Bikram’s Yoga College of India. Attorneys for the college maintain that as an entity a school cannot commit gender violence, but the plaintiff’s lawyers maintain the school is the “alter ego” of Choudhury and therefore equally responsible.
Treu urged both sides to begin sharing information in the case so he could set a trial date. Treu noted the case was filed in May 2013 and the other allegations include sexual battery, civil rights violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The plaintiff, who appeared in court, is identified in the complaint as Jane Doe No. 2. Her attorney, Mary Shea Hagebols, said her client flew in from Colorado to show her commitment to the case.
The plaintiff reported the alleged assault in a room at Choudhury’s studio shortly after it was said to occur Nov. 18, 2010, but San Diego authorities told her they could not move forward with a case without any witnesses, Hagebols said.
The suit alleges Choudhury induced young women like her to enroll in teacher training classes to become yoga instructors only so he can “sexually assault and/or rape them.”
During weeks of grueling training, Choudhury called the plaintiff as “a piece of gold in a roomful of brass,” the suit alleges.
Choudhury’s sexual advances were rebuffed by the plaintiff, but she was raped after she became too exhausted from the schedule to resist him, the suit alleges.
Choudhury’s students must abstain from sex, are taught that his can cure cancer and other diseases and told that Choudhury is akin to a God, the complaint alleges.
The plaintiff alleges the schedule to which she was subjected was designed to “break down her body, will and spirit” and brainwash her.
The suit alleges Choudhury’s students are directed to show “unquestioning obedience.”
Choudhury’s teaches a form of Hatha Yoga in which the temperature during training is set higher than 100 degrees.
—City News Service