Oct 27, 2016

Veteran Sports Journalist Adversely Confronted by ‘Hot Yoga’ Guru Bikram Choudhury During Interview

SUNITA SOHRABJI
India-West
October 27, 2016

Veteran sports journalist Andrea Kremer was antagonistically confronted by ‘hot yoga’ pioneer Bikram Choudhury while she interviewed him for a segment for HBO’s “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel,” which first aired Oct. 25.

Kremer, who made history in 1989 as ESPN’s first female correspondent, interviewed Choudhury at his teacher training studio in Aamby Valley, in the Lonavala hills outside Mumbai. The journalist asked him about three lawsuits filed against him by former students who have accused Choudhury of sexual harassment and assault.

Choudhury denied the allegations. “They are lies. Lies. Lies. If I wanted to sleep with women, there would be a line outside,” the Indian American yoga practitioner said.

Of the three students interviewed for the HBO segment – each of whom have filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Choudhury – the guru said: “I picked them up from the trash and gave them a life.”

At one point during the interview with Kremer, Choudhury got visibly upset and left the room. When the journalist called out to him to finish the interview, Choudhury called down from a staircase where he was standing and called Kremer “the same trash,” along with other invectives.

“It turned personal,” Kremer told India-West. “He chose to respond in a very vitriolic way. It showed us who he really was.”

“We felt we had witnessed a degree of transformation,” said the Emmy Award winning reporter, noting that Choudhury had been affable and charming in the days prior to his meltdown. The interlude is shown during the segment.

Kremer interviewed Sarah Baughn, Jill Lawler, and Maggie Genther, who have each filed sexual harassment lawsuits against Choudhury. Producer Maggie Burbank interviewed 30 women who all allegedly had similar stories of being sexually harassed by Choudhury. All paid upwards of $12,000 to attend the guru’s signature teacher training course.

Baughn said that – after Choudhury allegedly assaulted her in 2008 – she tried to kill herself by swallowing pills and walking into the ocean.

Genthner and Lawler described in detail in the 20-minute segment how Choudhury forced himself on the young women. Genthner, who served as Choudhury’s personal assistant, settled her suit in July.

Kremer told India-West that each of the women she interviewed “unabashedly loved Choudhury. They felt he was changing their lives.”

“It was very difficult for them to speak publicly. The pain and anguish they felt was very palpable,” she said.

In May, India-West reported that Choudhury had packed up his Beverly Hills, Calif., headquarters and moved to Maharashtra after losing a $7.4 million sexual harassment lawsuit brought about by his former in-house attorney, Minakshi Jafa-Bodden. Calls to his Beverly Hills home at that time were answered by a housekeeper, who said she had not seen her employer in six weeks. Choudhury’s wife Rajashree – who co-founded Bikram Yoga – has reportedly separated from her husband.

The segment will repeat several times on HBO through Nov. 15, and on HBO2 through Nov. 19. The show is also available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and affiliate portals.

http://www.indiawest.com/entertainment/global/veteran-sports-journalist-adversely-confronted-by-hot-yoga-guru-bikram/article_60e98b34-9b1d-11e6-ae99-2bc9eeb314d5.html

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