Bikram Choudhury has fled the country to avoid paying a $7 million judgement for sexual harassment and wrongful termination.
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On Wednesday, a California judge issued an arrest warrant for Bikram yoga founder Bikram Choudhury—yes, the hot yoga style is named after a person—in order to satisfy a multimillion-dollar judgement won by a formal legal adviser who accused him of sexual harassment.
In January 2016, a jury determined that Choudhury had sexually harassed and unfairly fired his former top lawyer Minakshi "Miki" Jafa-Bodden. Jafa-Bodden said Choudhury pressured her to help him cover up allegations that he sexually assaulted students and fired her in 2013 after she began looking into claims that he raped a student. He was ordered to pay Jafa-Bodden more than $7 million: nearly $6.5 million in punitive damages and $924,000 in compensatory damages.
The 73-year-old Choudhury has not paid the judgement and authorities believe he has hidden his assets and fled to Mexico, where he is still teaching in Acapulco. Choudhury leads classes through his 26 signature poses in nothing but a pair of black briefs, a sweatband, and a Rolex.
Six former students and employees have claimed via civil suits that Choudhury sexually assaulted them; one of those suits is in the process of being settled and the rest are set for trial later this year, according to the Associated Press. No criminal charges have been filed. When Nightline asked him in 2012 about rumors of inappropriate contact with students, before any allegations surfaced in court, he said: "The hardest problem in my life ... is to stay away from women. Women like me, and I have to run, city after city, country after country, all my life to stay away from the women." He denied allegations in 2015, telling CNN, "Women like me. Women love me. So if I really wanted to involve the women, I don't have to assault the women." Remind you of anyone?
Since Choudhury hadn't paid the court-ordered judgement, a judge turned his global yoga empire over to Jafa-Bodden, as well as his fleet of 43 luxury cars including Bentleys and Rolls Royces. But it seems Choudhury is doing everything he can to avoid the transfer of property, including trying to ship his cars overseas. Jafa-Bodden's legal team now has court orders in Nevada and Florida to prevent him from moving property from warehouses there. Wednesday's warrant means that authorities can flag him at any airport and arrest him if he returns to the US, plus the legal team can work with authorities to arrest him in Mexico or any country that is a member of The Hague Convention.
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