Renowned yoga guru Bikram Choudhury has denied he is a sexual predator who preys on vulnerable young followers, saying he didn’t need to assault women because they love him.
In an interview with CNN, the 69-year-old founder of Bikram Yoga said his accusers are being “influenced” by lawyers who want to target him for his wealth.
“Women likes me. Women loves me. So if I really wanted to involve the women, I don’t have to assault the women”, Choudhury said.
The California-based yogi, whose unique brand of ‘hot’ yoga has millions of followers across the world and which has made him a multi-millionaire, faces six separate lawsuits from women who accuse him of sexual assault.
Choudhury said he felt “sorry” for his accusers.
“I never assaulted them. I feel sorry for them. I have nothing against them. I don’t think they are bad people. They are not saying these things. They are influenced by somebody”, Choudhury said.
Asked if he thought if lawyers were behind the allegations, Choudhury responded in the affirmative.
Choudhury became emotional as he was asked what impact the allegations had had on his wife of three decades Rajashree.
Choking back tears, the guru said: “My wife never look at me anymore. Twenty-four hours a day, I work harder than any human being in this Earth. And this is my reward? I’m a rapist?
“Shame [on] your Western culture”, he said.
Among Choudhury’s accusers is Sarah Baughn, who was interviewed by CNN for the same segment.
Ms Baughn said she had signed up for Bikram Yoga in the mid-2000’s to help overcome “depression” and chronic back pain.
She claims that Choudhury pleaded with her “for a relationship”. He later told her that he needed someone to “have sex with”.
Baughn has previously said that she had “endured” Choudhury’s sexual assaults because she had been led to believe it was “normal” within the Bikram yoga community.
The lawsuits against Choudhury are set to come to trial in Los Angeles in August.
A previous lawsuit against the guru was dropped in 2013 for lack of evidence.