An astonishing piece in today’s Times. The headline:
Yoga founder loses empire to woman who exposed abuse.
The word ‘exposed’ leaves no doubt the man is guilty. This is important for a number of reasons, one being that many people will do no more than glance at a headline. Yet the final sentence in the piece is this:
The allegations have yet to be investigated by the police.
Bikram Choudhury made his fortune after starting a business in the early 1970s – 40+ years ago – providing yoga workouts in rooms heated to 40C. Ms Jafa-Bodden joined his legal team (in London) in 2011, and was dismissed for investigating allegations against him of sexual harassment and assault. From the article:
She was awarded $6.4 million by Los Angeles superior court. The award was reduced to $4.6 million in April, although with legal costs the total judgment in favour of Ms Jafa-Bodden is said to be nearly $6.7 million.
After the latest ruling Ms Jafa-Bodden is to receive the 700 franchised Bikram Yoga studios around the world and Choudhury’s fleet of 43 cars, which included 13 Rolls-Royces, eight Bentleys and three Ferraris. [Er… why is she to receive all this?]
She told the Mail on Sunday: ” Bikram is no longer the boss of Bikram Yoga. I am. I’ve been to hell and back but the jury has spoken. Bikram has tried to conceal assets and has fled America but justice will be done.”
All this has taken place without so much as a police investigation. What do we know of the jury which ‘has spoken’? For an insight into this, we turn to a piece in the Los Angeles Times. Extracts:
Tuesday’s award of punitive damages came on top of more than $924,500 that jurors awarded Jafa-Bodden in compensatory damages Monday.
“I feel vindicated, I’m elated,” Jafa-Bodden said after the verdict, describing Choudhury as “a dangerous, dangerous predator.”
She said she was “gobsmacked” by the size of the punitive damages.
One of the jurors hugged her after the verdict, telling her she was a “warrior for women.” [My emphasis – could it be clearer this is a battle in the gender war against men?] The juror, Elvira Castro, said she was appalled by the way Choudhury treated the attorney.
“He’s disgusting,” Castro said…
Several jurors said they did not believe Choudhury’s claims of financial hardship or his other testimony during the trial, including his insistence that he had not abused women.
Juror Debbie Valencia of Montebello said she was unconvinced by Choudhury. “You could tell he was lying,” she said. [My emphasis. An example of a phenomenon explored in the most whackadoodle book I’ve ever encountered, Women’s Ways of Knowing (2008).]
Welcome to a vision of what awaits men facing rape allegations, if and when US-style jury selection is ever introduced in the UK.
A final gender-related issue, from Choudhury’s Wikipedia profile:
In December 2015, Bikram’s wife of 31 years, Rajashree Choudhury, sued for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. The divorce was finalized in May 2016, with Rajashree being awarded the houses in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, as well as a number of her ex-husband’s luxury cars, whereas Bikram was allowed only to keep the apartment in Hawaii. The terms of the settlement also indemnified Rajashree from any financial responsibility in Bikram’s pending (or possible future) lawsuits.
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