Feb 2, 2016

Manhattan yoga guru accused of sexual harassment in $1M suit

February 1, 2016

Holly Fourot
Holly Fourot
Holly Fourot, a yoga instructor, has slapped a Manhattan yoga center with a $1 million lawsuit. She claims an employee sexually harassed her.
A guru at a Manhattan yoga center was really twisted, a million-dollar lawsuit says.

Ruth Lauer-Manenti sexually harassed apprentice teacher Holly Faurot for years before dumping her for a new rookie, the bombshell Manhattan Supreme Court suit says.

Now Faurot, 35, of Brooklyn, is suing the center, its leaders and her guru, claiming that the years of harassment at Jivamukti Yoga Center near Union Square forced her into years of therapy.

“I followed their philosophy of total devotion and surrender to a guru with all my heart,” Faurot told the Daily News.

“That’s why I didn’t question her psychological manipulation.”

Faurot’s lawyer, Thomas Shanahan, said that in order for someone to become a teacher at the popular center, they have to do extensive personal training with a guru or mentor.

Yoga instructor Ruth Lauer-Manenti is accused of sexually harassing an apprentice.

“You have to have the support of a prominent guru. And at this school, you almost have to worship your guru. You are a devotee,” he said.

“Teachings in regard to the student/guru relationship are more akin to a cult,” according to court papers.

From the time she started there in 2009 until she left in 2014, Faurot’s guru was Lauer-Manenti, a 20-year veteran of Jivamukti.

Shanahan said Lauer-Manenti paid special attention to his client that started getting creepy in the fall of 2010. That’s when the married Lauer-Manenti asked to stay over at Faurot’s apartment in the city to be closer to work. She then asked to sleep in Faurot’s bed where she “spooned and cuddled” with her student, the suit says.

Gradually, court papers say, Lauer-Manenti’s conduct escalated — in addition to grabbing Faurot’s breasts and trying to get between her legs during 25 additional sleepovers, the guru asked her apprentice, in the staff bathroom, to examine her teacher to see if she had inserted a tampon.

Lauer-Manenti also persuaded Faurot to pose for nude photos in sexually suggestive positions, court papers say.

In exchange, Faurot got special access to Jivamukti’s founders, David Kirkpatrick and Sharon Gannon, and other yoga luminaries, and prime teaching slots.

That stopped in the fall of 2013 when Lauer-Manenti “lost interest” and focused on another young apprentice, the suit says.

Court papers say Faurot confronted the guru in a secretly recorded conversation, and her guru said she thought that Faurot “had wanted it.”

The frustrated Faurot quit — and the center’s higher-ups didn’t exactly get bent out of shape when she complained about the grabby guru, the suit says.

The center’s manager could not be reached. An employee who answered the phone stood up for Lauer-Manenti.

“Ruth is the sweetest person you’d want to meet. It’s very disappointing that a crazy person would do such a malicious act against someone who is so holy,” she said.


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