International News

US court asks yoga guru Bikram Choudhury to pay damages in sexual assault case with all his earnings

He has also been directed to turn over his fleet of 43 luxury cars.

A Los Angeles court has ordered the founder of Bikram Yoga, Bikram Choudhury, to give up his income to pay for damages worth $6.8 million (over Rs 42 crore) in a sexual harassment case filed by his former legal adviser, AP reported on Wednesday. The court told Choudhury to turn over his earnings from his global fitness business, his book sales and from all the yoga studios he has in Europe, Asia and Americas. Choudhury has also been directed to give up his fleet of 43 luxury cars, including 13 Rolls-Royce, eight Bentley and three Ferrari, reported The Australian.

In her lawsuit, Choudhury’s former legal adviser, Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, had claimed that she was fired when she refused to help him cover up a rape allegation. Jafa-Bodden also accused Choudhury of inappropriately touching her. Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Jafa-Bodden said “Bikram is no longer the boss of Bikram Yoga. I am.”

Jafa-Bodden headed Choudhry’s legal team between 2011 and 2013. The Los Angeles court in January 2016 had asked Choudhury to pay up to $7.5 million (more than Rs 47 crore) as punitive and compensatory damages to Jafa-Bodden. The yoga guru had then said that he was nearly bankrupt.

Using the concept of a rigorous 90-minute yoga routine in a room that can reach more than a 40° Celsius, Choudhury built an empire around Bikram Yoga. Choudhury has over 650 studios worldwide, including studios which pay him to use his name.

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