AOB used the following factors to explain how they determined if the burden of proof was met for a given claim.
- Was the witness capable of knowing the thing thoroughly about which they speak?
- Were they actually present at the transaction and can narrate their recollections?
- Were their perceptions of events accurate compared to known facts or the observations of other people?
How did AOB know whether the accusers “perceptions of events were accurate” or not?
Since there was no representative of the accused, and because AOB set up an anonymous process, for which only they knew who the accusations were and by whom, they could not actively pursue information which could confirm or deny the claims.
When an accuser described something that happened at a particular event, or time in history, how did AOB “compare known facts or other person’s observations”, when because the accusers and the claims were anonymous, they could not ask the needed questions.
If there had been a representative of the accused, that person would have known what the claims were and could say who might be able to speak to them. For example, they might say “here are other people who were living in the house during that time”; or “Yogi Bhajan had medical surgery at the time and was not physically able to do the activities described in a particular claim”, etc.
If the investigator does not receive dates and locations and doesn’t know who can verify information surrounding the allegations, they do not have enough information to make a balanced determination. To get to the truth, input from both the accuser and the person representing the accused is required. In the report, there is not one reference to when or where any of the claims took place.
- Whether they paid sufficient attention (i.e., can remember the events that were perceived) to qualify themselves to be a reporter of a transaction
How could AOB possibly know if the accuser’s perceptions of events were accurate when no one else knew enough about the claims to say whether they had observed details of the events? Yogi Bhajan’s supporters were unable to provide information which would refute the claims because AOB interviewers would not reveal the who, what, when and where of the claims. If these facts had been known, it is possible that more witnesses would have been able to refute the allegations of these women.
AOB only seems to have considered accusers for this. Many supporters fell into this category as well. Only general supportive comments from supporters were included. Why was nothing of substance from the hours and hours of interviews with supporters shared in the report?
- Whether they are sincere, i.e. whether they honestly relate the affair fully as they know it, without any purpose or desire to deceive, or suppress or add to the truth
These are very subjective criterion. There is no way AOB could possibly determine from one or two interviews that the accusers are “without any purpose or desire to deceive, suppress or add to the truth.” Judges and juries spend months or years in court, weighing the testimony of witnesses and evidence to make this kind of determination. But with only 40 hours of mediation training, the AOB interviewers want us to believe they can judge that the women accusing Yogi Bhajan are telling the truth and have no ulterior motives?
- Whether or not they have a reputation for having a character for truthfulness
Without having a representative of the accused and by keeping the allegations anonymous, how is it possible for AOB to find out whether an accuser has a “character for truthfulness”? AOB was set up with a process where they could not do that, because they could not ask anyone about any of the accusers, if the claims were anonymous.
Even so, for the allegations which were made public, either via Facebook, at the April Khalsa Council meetings, or through “tell a Sikh” conversations, dozens of people in the community, who can speak intelligently to the “reputation for having a character for truthfulness” of the accusers, contacted AOB.
They reported about accusers who had sex with married men, broke up marriages, made a false claim of having sex with the husband of a friend, and about accusers who have previously lied in court.
Multiple accusers included former UI board members and associates, who were found guilty of trying to steal the assets of our Dharma, including selling the Golden Temple Cereal Company to themselves for $100 – a company which sold for millions of dollars.
At least one accuser was kicked out of multiple respected spiritual entities.
AOB was told that this same accuser, who claimed explicit sexual activity with Yogi Bhajan, once told someone at the ranch that she should be able to move into Yogi Bhajan’s dome (his personal residence). Then when asked, where she would expect he would go to live, she simply shrugged her shoulders as if to say she didn’t know. This extraordinary statement, illustrating the accuser’s state of mind, was not included in the report.
NONE of this information, shared by DOZENS of people in our community, was cited in the AOB report as a good cause for questioning the claims of these women. Why not?
- How they present themselves (i.e., their demeanor such as facial expressions, body language, reactivity, emotional expression, etc.)
This is a subjective determination and irrelevant for phone interviews or written statements.
- Whether they have made prior inconsistent statements
With no one representing the accused and the allegations themselves being anonymous, how could AOB determine whether the accusers had said something differently in the past or not? They could not ask anyone questions about whether the person had said something different in the past, since everything was kept anonymous.
Even so, for the stories which were made public, either via Facebook, at the April Khalsa Council meetings, or through “tell a Sikh” conversations, many people in the community, who can speak intelligently to the question of whether the accusers had made “prior inconsistent statements” of the accusers, contacted AOB.
None of this information, shared by DOZENS of people in our community, was cited in the report. Why?
Multiple accusers, who were staff members, told multiple people early on in this process that they never saw any sexual abusive behavior, nor were they victims of such behavior. Over time, they changed their stories from not having ever seen anything, to being an accuser themselves.
If this had been a true investigation, and not just a process of taking statements from accusers, AOB may have discovered these inconsistencies. If AOB was told about these inconsistent statements by anyone who was interviewed by them, there was no mention of it in the report. Most likely, AOB could not look into it anyway, since the claims were anonymous, and they couldn’t confirm information about them with anybody.
AOB could have had access to this information if there had been a representative of the accused who could tell them who may have been in contact with the accusers previously, who might know what they said in the past. AOB shut themselves off from that process, by not having a representative of the accused.
In the whole 70+ pages of the AOB report, there were only 2 or 3 times that AOB contacted people, who the accusers said had some knowledge of the claim. When AOB spoke with those people and they denied it, or said they could not remember, AOB dismissed what they said, because what they said did not fit their intended conclusion.
One way to confirm inconsistencies is to review dates and locations of the claims and confirm those with others who may be aware of who was where when.
There are no dates or locations in the AOB report. If there was a representative of the accused, they could have told AOB who to speak to, who may have had information about who was where and when.
Click here to see the Shambhala Investigative Report, which was a fair and legal investigation done for another spiritual organization, where sexual abuse of their leader was being investigated. Dates and locations were indicated in this report. For example, a claim was made that something sexual happened in Boston, during the 2005 Boston marathon, where 2 other people were supposedly present. The investigator contacted the witnesses and obtained proof that they were not even in Boston at the time. The claim was denied. This demonstrates the importance of being able to use this kind of information to confirm the credibility of claims.
- Whether their evidence is supported by other evidence
AOB set up a process where getting any verified or corroborated evidence was very difficult, and indeed was not pursued. Without the accused being represented and with the claims being anonymous, how could any evidence, other than the stories of the accusers, be discovered? “Other evidence” was severely lacking in this “investigation”.
- Whether they have other motives
AOB was provided information, including documentation, by multiple sources which questioned credible motives behind some of the accusations. NONE of this information was shared in the report.
The report says:
“We used all these criteria in assessing the credibility of both those offering evidence in support of Yogi Bhajan and those reporting claims of misconduct by him. Whenever possible, we sought corroborative evidence from other sources, not in the form of similar opinions, but substantive information about whether specific time frames, locations, and events offered by one person aligned with the information provided by others.”
This statement is completely bogus. It was impossible for AOB to do what they claim in the statement above, and there is no indication in the report of any of this kind of evidence. The few times when conflicting evidence was brought up, AOB dismissed the comments of the witnesses.
The report also says
“Because the alleged behavior typically occurred in private, however, we often had to rely on the statement of a single individual. In these cases, however, credibility was enhanced if a pattern of similar behavior was reported by multiple people.”
As mentioned previously, numerous accusers had a history of lying and making false claims in the past. So, the “pattern of similar behavior” listed by AOB in the report cannot be assumed to be accurate. If multiple people have lied, by making false claims against others previously, then the similar behavior is the accusers not being truthful, not that Yogi Bhajan’s behavior was not appropriate.