IYNAUS continued to solicit complaints about Manouso after the one-sided report was published. In a two week span, I received three official Iyengar communications soliciting complaints about Manouso. The fact that Manouso denied and continues to deny the charges was conspicuously absent from all these communications.
I am not alone in my opinion that the one-sided independent investigation served as a convenient vehicle to remove Manouso based on long standing jealousies and quarrels. The timing is uncanny. Iyengar died in 2014, Geeta died in December 2019, and Manouso was removed in April 2020. There were no complaints against Manouso for 30 years. He was at the top of his game and traveled the world propagating Iyengar yoga as his guru BKS Iyengar had instructed him to do. Nobody in the Iyengar system embodies the teachings of BKS Iyengar like Manouso does. All you have to do is watch a video of Iyengar teaching and you can see the trust and faith he had in Manouso. IYNAUS did nothing to protect Manouso from being branded by complaints and accusations on social media and elsewhere. In fact, members of the IYNAUS board, IYALA and senior teachers contributed on social media to perpetuate the ruin of Manouso’s reputation. The decision to release the one-sided report negatvely impacted Iyengar Yoga, not to mention Manouso and his family and all the dedicated teachers. Once the report was released, the original accuser posted a video of the abuse perpetrated by BKS Iyengar and put a call out for all Iyengar Yoga abuses. Her audience of IYNAUS board members and senior teachers and the Australian therapy teacher went radio silent. Crickets!! I wrote one of them a letter asking why she showed the accuser support when Manouso was on the chopping block and not when BKS was being called out.
Her reply was this:
I no longer follow those posts and as much as I like and respect (original accuser name) I unfriended her so I would no longer have to see these posts. I have found (original accuser name) and her team – Mathew and Donna et el, force their followers to agree with them 100% or else you are described as being against them, against justice brought to predators and of general low moral standard. I don’t buy into this.
Of course the YP and the Yoga Police jumped on board sharing the abusive BKS Iyengar video widely.
The investigation of claims of sexual harassment made against Manouso was one-sided and designed to find guilt rather than to independently investigate claims in an impartial manner. Every exculpatory bit of evidence was not considered, such as interviewing witnesses who are noted in the report as witnessing an assault or just a basic background check of the accusers. It would have been relatively easy to establish the personal vendetta that one of his acccusers has against Manouso.
We live in a free country, a democracy guided by rules and laws. In a democracy, a person being accused learns the identity of their accuser(s); has the opportunity to question their claims; to explain their ‘side’ of the story, to tell their truth and to have their day in court. Manouso was not given this opportunity. Admitting to a simple adjustment such as a pat to the inner thigh in ardha chandrasana could land him in jail depending on the state in which the common adjustment occurred.
I was struck by comments on social media comparing Manouso to Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein. These men have raped women. In recent #METOO cases that have reached the courts, the accused allegedly made unwanted advances of a sexual nature which included requests for private meetings, luring women to private meeting places under the pretext of business, and making outright demands for sexual acts and or rape.
The accusations against Manouso are materially different. All cases in the report allege instances of inappropriate touching occured during yoga classes with multiple students and or the entire class watching. Never once did a student receiving the instruction complain that the touch felt inappropriate nor did she ask Manouso to stop. In addition, never once did an observer speak up to say they were offended by watching the adjustment. All adjustments were public, all occured in the context of a yoga class, and all were observed by bystanders, including Iyengar Yoga senior teachers. No one took exception; no one asked Manouso to stop. In many cases, observing teachers had seen and experienced the same adjustments year after year and gave similar adjustments to their students. Decade after decade, nobody questioned the appropriateness of Manouso’s touch. And, all the adjustments in question were taught to Manouso by Iyengar. Moreover, the report contained no evidence that Manouso ever used his position to intimidate or prevent another teacher from advancing.
The reference that Manouso is guilty is not consistent with any legal finding. Manouso has denied and continues to deny all the charges.