Arrest warrant issued for Bikram Choudhury for not paying $7M judgment in 2016

ByMarc Brown and Lisa Bartley via KABC logo
Thursday, May 25, 2017
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Famed yoga guru Bikram Choudhury is wanted under an arrest warrant after he failed to pay a $7 million sexual-harassment judgment and instead fled the country.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A Los Angeles judge issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for famed yoga guru Bikram Choudhury with a bail set at $8 million.

Choudhury is known as the founder of hot yoga. Last year, he was ordered to pay a $7 million judgment to Micki Jafa-Bodden, a one-time lead in Bikram's legal team.

She sued Choudhury for sexual harassment and wrongful termination. She said she refused to help cover up a slew of allegations against Choudhury that involved raping and sexually assaulting his students.

"I received threats from Bikram while I was working for him. That he would have me taken care of, he would have me deported, he would have me killed," Jafa-Bodden said. "There's a sinister undercurrent whenever one has to deal with Bikram."

No criminal charges were ever filed and he denies the wrongdoing, but settled three rape and sex assault cases out of court. He also has three more pending.

After Jafa-Bodden won the civil verdict against him, he did not pay the judgment and instead fled the country, hiding his assets. A process server for Jafa-Bodden tracked the guru to Thailand, where he reacted angrily.

Because he hasn't paid the court-ordered judgment, a Los Angeles judge turned his global yoga empire over to Jafa-Bodden in December, along with his fleet of 43 luxury cars and a diamond-encrusted watch.

Eyewitness News spotted some of Choudhury's fleet of exotic cars, including Bentleys and Rolls Royces at a warehouse in Van Nuys last year. But then the cars vanished, loaded up on flatbed trucks in defiance of the court order.

Jafa-Bodden's attorneys said he tried to ship the fleet overseas and they tracked 20 of the cars to a Florida warehouse.

"Pretty much everything that he's been doing in terms of his assets is a violation of one court order or another. Yes, it's highly illegal what he's doing," Jafa-Bodden's attorney, Mark Quigley, said.

Devotees still flock to the yoga master, who is now teaching in Acapulco despite sexual assault allegations, bizarre behavior and bad press.

"When you're in it, when you're embedded in it. You feel it. It's almost like having Stockholm Syndrome," Jafa-Bodden said.

Outside of court Wednesday, Jafa-Bodden celebrated her latest legal victory. It's a win she said is for women everywhere who've endured sexual harassment.

"To have that bench warrant issued for Bikram. It sends a message to a debtor like Bikram that he will be held accountable and that the wheels of justice, although they don't turn as fast as we would want them to, they do turn," she said.