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A new lawsuit accuses Bikram Choudhury, the controversial founder of Bikram Yoga, of sexual harassment. The suit claims Choudhury harmed a female protege’s teaching career when she turned down his unwanted advances.
The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last month on behalf of Sarah Baughn, a Bikram Yoga teacher and competitor, according to the New York Post. “Baughn, 29, claims Choudhury, 67, relentlessly pursued her for years and then sexually assaulted her and sabotaged her Bikram Yoga teaching career after she refused to respond to the constant come-ons,” reported the New York Post earlier today.
Choudhury routinely asks his female students to brush his hair, give him massages, the suit claims. At one point Choudhury pushed Baughn down toward the floor and “pressed his body into hers and began whispering sexual things [until] she collapsed into sobs.” Baughn believes Choudhury rigged the 2008 International Yoga Championship where she came in second place to a student who shared a hotel room with Choudhury.
Choudhury has had a lot of legal trouble recently. Last December, he reached a settlement with Yoga to the People, a studio chain Choudhury sued for infringing on his copyright by teaching the 26-pose sequence that comprises Bikram Yoga. Then, a federal court ruled that he can no longer claim to hold the copyright to the sequence.