A Vancouver woman has become the sixth person to file a lawsuit alleging sexual assault against Bikram Choudhury, the millionaire founder of a popular style of hot yoga.
Jill Lawler filed her lawsuit in California Superior Court earlier this month against Bikram Choudhury, who lives in Beverly Hills and owns hundreds of Bikram Yoga studios around the world.
Lawler claims that Choudhury, 69, "preyed" on her starting at a teacher training course in Las Vegas in 2010 when she was 18, reported The Province.
She paid $10,000 for the nine-week intensive course, which she claims pushed "students to the point were they become compliant and unquestioning with regard to their guru's requests," said CBC News, citing U.S. court documents.
Watching mandatory Bollywood movies until 3 a.m. and massaging Choudhury's feet for hours was part of the training, said Lawler.
Her lawsuit claims the guru tried to grope her one evening, and then allegedly raped her in his hotel room, reported The New York Times.
While forcing himself on her, Choudhury "demanded she say disgusting and untrue things, including: 'Bikram, you’re the best,'" according to the claim.
Bikram Choudhury, front, leads a yoga class at the Yoga Expo 2003 in Los Angeles. (Reed Saxon/AP)
Choudhury's lawyers told the NYT on Tuesday that their client was innocent and that his accusers were abusing the legal system for financial gain. He has not faced any criminal charges.
Choudhury created a series of 26 yoga postures done in a room heated to 40 degrees Celsius that have become the foundation for his international empire.
Lawler quit as a Bikram yoga instructor last summer and now works as a waitress, said the lawsuit. She's seeking unspecified compensation for lost wages, mental pain and anguish and emotional distress.
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