Bikram yoga founder ordered to pay nearly $6.5M in sexual harassment suit

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Students practice Bikram Yoga at the City Studio in London, England.  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Students practice Bikram Yoga at the City Studio in London, England. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES — The found of Bikram yoga has been ordered to pay nearly $6.5 million in a lawsuit that claimed he sexually harassed and wrongfully fired an adviser.

A Los Angeles jury awarded punitive damages against Bikram Choudhury on Tuesday — one day after awarding $924,000 in separate damages for compensation.

Choudhury’s former legal adviser, Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, said he inappropriately touched her and wrongfully fired her in 2013 after she began investigating sexual abuse claims from other women.

Six other women also have sued Choudhury, saying he sexually assaulted them. His lawyers deny the accusations.

The 69-year-old Choudhury built a worldwide empire around Bikram yoga, which is performed in rooms that can reach more than 100 degrees. However, Choudhury contends he is now nearly bankrupt.