Bikram Choudhury Yoga, studio which popularised yoga in sauna heat, files for bankruptcy amid sexual misconduct allegations
CHICAGO: Bikram Choudhury Yoga Inc, the studio that popularized doing yoga in sauna warmth, has filed for US Chapter 11 chapter, dogged by $16.7 million in authorized judgments and quite a few lawsuits and allegations of sexual misconduct.
Founder Bikram Choudhury, who constructed a worldwide following with courses of 26 yoga postures in rooms heated to 105 levels Fahrenheit (40.6°C), has been accused of sexual assault by his yoga practitioners, college students, instructors and trainer trainees.
The Simi Valley, California-based firm mentioned in a chapter court docket submitting on Thursday within the Central District of California that its liabilities have been price as much as $50 million.
It listed belongings of as much as $1 million, suggesting that its largest collectors – ladies who’re owed cash for court docket judgments awarded towards Choudhury – is not going to be paid in full.
They embody Miki Jaffa Bodden, former head of authorized and worldwide affairs at Choudhury`s yoga faculty who has an $eight million declare stemming from a wrongful dismissal case that included sexual harassment claims.
Bodden alleged that Choudhury repeatedly subjected her to vulgar sexual gestures and offensive feedback about ladies and minority teams.
“Bikram Choudhury created a hyper-sexualized, offensive and degrading surroundings for girls by, amongst different issues, demanding that feminine staffers brush his hair and provides him massages,” Bodden mentioned in her 2013 lawsuit.
She additionally accused him of pressuring her to cowl up sexual harassment of ladies, and in a separate lawsuit filed this 12 months, of fraudulently transferring belongings equivalent to luxurious vehicles together with a Ferrari and a Bentley to keep away from paying judgments towards him.
A warrant for Choudhury`s arrest was issued in Could.
Petra Starke, who moved from her job as lawyer within the Obama White Home to chief government of the Bikram Yoga Faculty of India in 2013, complained of wrongful dismissal, sexually inappropriate conduct and “racist tirades.” She has a $5.1 million declare.
Sharon Clerkin, who sued claiming she was fired for changing into pregnant, is owed $three.6 million.
The chapter submitting, which included associates Bikram Inc and Bikram Yoga Faculty of India, follows heightened social consciousness over sexual misconduct within the wake of allegations towards film producer Harvey Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey and comic Louis C.Ok.
Restructuring specialists have talked about Chapter 11 chapter as an possibility for the Weinstein Firm to keep away from mounting authorized claims towards its founder, Harvey Weinstein, over alleged sexual crimes.