Arrest Warrant Issued after Hot Yoga Founder Allegedly Fled U.S. Without Paying $7M Lawsuit
This week, a Los Angeles judge signed off on an arrest warrant for Bikram Choudhury, the 73-year-old hot-yoga guru who, in 2016, was ordered to pay millions following a harassment lawsuit by his former attorney.
Court records obtained by PEOPLE allege that Choudhury — the founder of Bikram Yoga — has yet to pay a penny of the more than $7 million that was awarded to Minakshi Jafa-Bodden last year.
Jafa-Bodden accused Choudhury of sexually harassing her and then firing her after she began looking into claims by other women that he had sexually assaulted them.
Jafa-Bodden had served as general counsel to Bikram’s Yoga College of India.
In 2016, jurors unanimously found Choudhury had also acted with fraud, malice and oppression.
Authorities believe Choudhury has hidden his financial assets and fled the country.
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Carla Minnard, the attorney for Jafa-Bodden, tells PEOPLE the arrest warrant, which was approved Wednesday, “will enable us to have [Choudhury] arrested in any country that is a member of the Hague convention,” including his native India and Mexico, where he is leading a training.
Choudhury’s bail has been set at $8 million dollars, court records confirm.
“We are going to pursue payment of this judgment no matter where he goes, no matter how much it costs and no matter how long it takes,” Minnard says. “We are going to get justice for Micki and her daughter.”
Minnard has also filed a fraudulent transfer lawsuit against Choudhury’s family, including his wife and adult children, “who have assisted him in hiding, absconding with and attempting to dispose of assets.”
Choudhury’s attorneys could not be reached for comment. But he has professed his innocence to multiple news outlets since the allegations first surfaced, and he has not been charged in connection with them.
The yoga instructor has been sued by six women saying he groped, raped or harassed them. Three complaints remain outstanding while the others were settled out of court.
Citing insufficient evidence, the L.A. County district attorney declined in 2013 to prosecute Choudhury after reviewing sexual misconduct allegations from four women, according to the Los Angeles Times.