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Yoga guru faces sexual assault suits

Bikram Choudhury faces lawsuits filed by six women who allege assault.
Bikram Choudhury faces lawsuits filed by six women who allege assault.(New York Times)

LOS ANGELES — A yoga guru who founded a rigorous routine of exercises practiced in steamy rooms around the world is facing lawsuits by six women who alleged that he sexually assaulted them.

The Los Angeles district attorney declined to bring charges in a case against Bikram Choudhury in 2013 for lack of evidence, a spokesman said.

The most recent civil case, filed Feb. 13 in Los Angeles Superior Court, said Choudhury raped a Canadian woman who had taken $10,000 from her college fund for a nine-week class so she could teach the 26-pose technique to others.

Jill Lawler said she went into the class elated to learn from the master, but things quickly soured as she was expected to massage him while watching Bollywood movies late into the night with hundreds of other students.

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Lawler said she was sexually assaulted on several occasions. ‘‘Throughout the sexual abuse, defendant Bikram Choudhury offered multiple explanations and justifications for his behavior,’’ including claims that he was dying, the lawsuit said.

Choudhury did not return an e-mail seeking comment, but his lawyers said he never sexually assaulted any of the women.

Associated Press