- AOB did not require any proof of a person’s identity
- AOB did not require any corroboratory proof of any kind to the allegations people made to them.
- AOB did not truly investigate the allegations at all.
- AOB took everyone’s allegations as credible and true.
- AOB did not check any information provided to confirm or deny the credibility of the accuser.
- AOB did not verify whether the alleger/accuser ever even met Yogi Bhajan.
- AOB purposely did not include in its full report TO YOU (and the rest of the world), the volumes of information they had received, which seriously questioned the credibility of the claims.
This following situation is not specifically related to the AOB report, but is relevant to the report, because it establishes a pattern of how claims have been handled throughout this process, whether directly through the AOB report, or through other claims brought against our organization.
The understanding by some people in our community is that they would receive money if they made complaints. When asked directly, multiple people confirmed this was their understanding.
One adult, who was once a child attending MPA, recently made a claim that he was abused while attending MPA, and when offered, requested money for counselling.
He said that in conversations via social media channels, he was told he just had to say he was abused at MPA, summer solstice kids camp, or children’s camp after solstice, and he would receive money. “If you make a report of abuse to AOB, you’ll receive money”. He said “why not? It’s free money”.
Being part of the Listening Tour convinced him that he was an abuse victim and that he was wronged and deserved something. He contacted AOB to say he was beat up and called names. After telling his story, AOB asked him, “Do you want to receive counselling?” He said yes and he said he received a check. He did not actually receive counselling.
He said he and his friends were told there is possibly more money coming in the future. He also said that a lawyer is working on a lawsuit against the SSSC. They are working on this through the “listening tours”. He said “Old people are stupid. We are recording their conversations at the listening tours and taking screen shots and building a case against the Dharma”. Lawyers have told them that because the SSSC is making payments to the next gen for counselling, it is an “admission” of wrongdoing, and so it will help their case.
There was no ID check; he said he knew his ID would not be checked and no one would cross reference his story. He received money; “Free money” for “counselling”. He did not have to provide proof that counselling took place.
His understanding was that the money came from SSSC via AOB. He said that the people receiving money are not supposed to talk about it; that they had to verbally agree to confidentiality. He said he was breaking the agreement by admitting he was paid. He would not say what amount he and others were paid. Later, other people confirmed people are receiving $1200.
Even if AOB was inclined to investigate the veracity of the claims, instead of just simply taking down stories at face value, they were told early on by the CRT that they could not look at social media. This was a direct interference by the CRT into the independent “investigation” process.
When this was discovered, pressure was put on the CRT, that they were interfering with a supposed independent investigation. Subsequently, as stated in section 5.4 of the report, (“Other Data Considered”), the CRT started providing AOB with “public postings gathered by a professional firm from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube about and from Reporters and Supporters”.
If the allegations are supposedly anonymous, how would the PR firm even know who the “Reporters and Supporters” were, they could look for information from accusers who had made their claims publicly, but what about the other accusers? Instead of AOB having permission to freely review information themselves on social media, they had to rely on information provided to them by the PR firm. How can a PR firm, who is not involved in the investigation, even know what information to look for?
Instead of AOB having permission to freely review information themselves on social media, they had to rely on information provided to them by the PR firm. How can a PR firm, who is not involved in the investigation, even know what information to look for?
AOB was not allowed to collect their own data from social media. This was clear interference with the “independence” of the “investigation”. This is particularly troubling, since there was no representative of the accused and the claims were generally anonymous, so only AOB knew who was making what claims. This means that there were very few resources available to them for corroboration of the stories. The only options they seem to have used for cross reference as to the veracity of the claims was:
1. people who knew both the accuser and the accused and somehow found out about the allegations (through social media, the April Khalsa Council meeting or through word of mouth, hearsay) and
2. what was said on social media, which instead of looking for and accessing directly, was only shared with them by PR firm who, if confidentiality and anonymity were preserved, did not know what all of the claims were and who was making them. Full access to social media could have provided AOB with information showing inconsistencies in stories, etc.
Time and again in the sections of findings of the report, AOB states
“In public social media made available to us, we found no confirmation or disconfirmation of these allegations…”
If AOB was putting so much weight of referring to social media in their findings, they should have had free reign to look for the information that only they knew to look for and not just what was fed to them, by a PR firm who was not privy to the full details of the investigation.
In section 4, the report states
“that the SSSC Board of Trustees contracted with AOB to perform an internal investigation”.
This is an attempt to change the narrative, to make it seem that the requirement of AOB to be licensed (which they were not, and which means this report is actually ILLEGAL), can be discounted. AOB did not perform an “internal” investigation. They were an outside entity hired to do an “independent” “investigation”. An actual internal report would have been done by the EPS office. AOB is not part of our organization, so therefore, they did not conduct an “internal” investigation.
Other mistruths have been conveyed by the SSSC.
Accusing Our Community of Being a Cult
Why in an investigation regarding sexual misconduct, would AOB feel compelled to give a sociological evaluation of the organization as a whole, calling it a cult?
AOB claims that the reporters
“experiences conform to what authoritative sources list as characteristics of cults and how people are impacted in cult-like organizations.” The authoritative source they quote is an Integrative Psychology Magazine 2015 article titled “Recovery from church, institutional, and cult abuse”.
By whose standard is this an authoritative source and what is this opinion doing in an investigation of sexual misconduct?
Waxing Philosophical Regarding Celibacy of Spiritual Teachers
Page 51 (7.5 A. Allegations), AOB states:
“Spiritual leaders’ practice of celibacy offers benefits for the communities they serve. When a spiritual leader is celibate, they are free to redirect their time and sexual vitality toward nurturing the development of their students and toward service in general. By remaining celibate, they also free their students (and everyone else) from the potential frustration, disappointment, fear, clinging projections, jealousy, etc. that often attend sexual involvement.”
What is AOB doing here? Lecturing the readers on what the benefits are of celibacy of spiritual leaders are? Is AOB saying spiritual leaders cannot be married and still be spiritual leaders? Who is AOB to opine whether a spiritual leader should be celibate or not? This is outside of their scope of looking into the claims they were presented with. It comes off as haughty and demonstrates a bias in their analysis of the information they were presented.
Lecturing Us About Our Values
AOB continues by saying:
“As indicated in Section 7.2.3, allegations about Yogi Bhajan’s behavior include many activities that, if true, would violate the Sikh ethical standards he preached and that are clearly delineated in Vow #14 of the Sikh vows. This vow promises celibacy before marriage and prohibits sex out of wedlock.”
Here AOB presumes to lecture our community on what our ethical standards are. Again, this is beyond the scope of what they were hired to do and is presumptuous and disrespectful.
In conclusion, the report states:
“We offer a few additional questions for consideration: How could the voices of multiple women who allege sexual misconduct and abuse of power at the hands of Yogi Bhajan go unheeded for such a long time in a community rooted in compassion?”
First of all, this question itself assumes the behavior actually happened.
Second, if there was supposedly a “code of silence” amongst the staff and they kept all of this a secret, then how would the community be unheeding them?
Third, claiming that it was “unheeded for such a long time in a community rooted in compassion” is patronizing and insinuates that our community knew about these supposed behaviors, ignored them and in doing so were not compassionate. This is offensive and once again shows a large bias against not only the supporters, but others in the community, who also have only just recently heard of these claims.
These “questions for consideration” from AOB are insulting. None of the claims in the report were proven and in fact, they were not even investigated to determine if they actually did happen.
The report goes on to say:
”Is such secrecy beneficial to the overall goals of3HO/ Sikh Dharma? Going forward, can the community rally around Yogi Bhajan’s own advice to “Follow the teachings, not the teacher? Finally, we understand that accepting the findings of this report, that is, the likelihood that Yogi Bhajan engaged in sexual misconduct, will continue to be difficult for some individuals in the community. Nonetheless, we respectfully suggest that reconciling with this likely truth and the damage it has done to some of its own may be a way for 3HO/Sikh Dharma to move forward.”
This is disrespectful accusing our community of keeping secrets and using a statement by Yogi Bhajan to lecture us. Suggesting “reconciling with this likely truth”, is mind-boggling advice from an organization who bungled this report in so many ways, as were have been detailed out in this document.
It may be helpful for people to see an example of what a proper, fair and legal investigative report looks like. One that is publicly available is an investigative report which was done for Shambhala, a spiritual organization, who went through an investigative process into allegations against their leader. The Shambhala leadership had a proper, fair investigative report conducted by real investigators.
Here is a link to the Shambhala Investigative report, so you can see what a real investigative report looks like.
The SSSC ignored the publicized flaws of the unfair and ultimately illegal investigation which were pointed out to them early on. They should have taken the steps necessary to ensure that a proper and fair investigation was conducted. Because of their missteps, we now have an illegal report which stemmed from an improper and error ridden process, which directly resulted in damaging the reputation of Yogi Bhajan.
This report and the damning conclusion that resulted was instigated, directed, and supported by the SSSC, even against direct evidence that it was unfair and illegal. We need to hold its members accountable. We deserve to know who on the board supported this action and who did not. Unfortunately, the process by which the report was approved was determined to be “confidential”, and we are denied knowing who was responsible. It has not even been made public if there were resignations from the board as a result. It appears that the board is determined not to acknowledge dissent or differing opinions, even among its own members. And all of this while espousing honesty and transparency of the process.
Being hypocritical does not generate trust.