California, Nov 11: US-based yoga instructor Bikram Choudhury has filed for US Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Choudhury is facing numerous lawsuits and is dogged by $ 16.7 million in legal judgments over allegations of, among other things, sexual harassment.
Choudhury, whose, Bikram Choudhury Yoga Inc. is based out in Simi Valley, California, said in a bankruptcy court filing on Thursday that its liabilities were worth up to $50 million. It also listed assets of up to $1 million, indicating that its largest creditors will not be paid in full. Noteworthy that majority of those among his largest creditors are women whom Choudhury owns money for court judgments awarded against him.
Former Head of Legal and International Affairs at Choudhury’s yoga school, Miki Jaffa Bodden, accused him of wrongful dismissal including sexual harassment claims. In the lawsuit she filed in 2013, she said Bikram created a ‘hyper-sexualised, offensive and degrading environment for women. Noteworthy that Bodden has a claim of $ 8 million.
In January 2016, a jury determined that Choudhury had sexually harassed and then unfairly fired Minakshi “Miki” Jafa-Bodden, his onetime lawyer. He was ordered to pay nearly $6.5 million in punitive damages in addition to $924,000 in compensatory damages.
According to Bodden, she was fired because she refused to cover-up the allegations against Choudhury of raping and sexually assaulting a woman. She also claimed that because she was investigating another woman’s sexual harassment and rape allegations against the yoga guru and hence she was fired.
In May this year, an arrest warrant was issued to Choudhury by a Los Angeles judge, the Indian American “hot” yoga guru, as he failed to pay more than $7 million in 2016 to his former lawyer who was the victim in a sexual harassment case against him.
Several women accused Choudhury of sexually harassing them over a period of time, among other allegations. He has also been accused of ‘Racist tirades’ by Petra Starke, who was the chief executive of the Bikram Yoga College of India in 2013. She has a claim of $ 5.1 million.
Another employee, Sharon Clerkin, sued the Yoga Guru claiming she was fired for being pregnant and has a $3.6 million claim.