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Cell Phone Video from Germanwings; Backlash in Indiana; Bikram Yoga Founder Faces Sexual Assault Suits. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired April 01, 2015 - 08:30   ET



[08:32:55] MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Cell phone video that captures the unimaginable last few moments aboard Flight 9525 reportedly has been found at the crash site. French Magazine "Paris Match" and German newspaper "Bild" both published details of the video. Authorities say, though, that those claims are completely wrong. Julian Reichelt is the editor-in-chief of "Bild" online and he joins us now this morning from Germany.

Thank you so much.

First of all, Julien, keeping in mind the sensitivity of our viewership, what did you see on that video?


We saw the video with our colleagues at "Paris Match" and it was kind of disturbing, upsetting material. You know, it's shot in the cabin. It shows that there was, you know, a lot of chaos going on. That people, apparently, were very much aware of where this was heading. It also seems to document that there was kind of a metallic bang on, you know, what sounds like a metallic bang on a door which, you know, is kind of in line with, you know, results of the previous investigation that say that the pilot was trying to break into the cockpit. That is what we saw.

PEREIRA: How did you come to see this video? And how can you be sure that it is legitimate?

REICHELT: It was, you know, shown to us by a reporter for the (INAUDIBLE) who we trust and who has been with the magazine for a while, who's a very seasoned reporter, who is known for his great sources. And, you know, it was shown to us so we could look at it in detail and, you know, run it through a process of verification until the point where we felt comfortable in going ahead with the story.

PEREIRA: Have investigators seen this video?

[08:34:55] REICHELT: Well, that is something, you know, the investigators would have to tell you. From what I just heard from the prosecutor from Marseilles, he went out and said that, you know, he asked anyone who possesses this video to turn it in. You know, I'm not in a position to, you know, confirm that they have seen it.

PEREIRA: What do you think is the value of this? Because you know it's going to be very disturbing for the families. It may very well help investigators. They need to see this video.

REICHELT: Well, you know, that's what we tried to do. We tried, in our reporting, to reduce it to its news chorus, I would just say, which was basically two points. A, that it seems to support something that the investigation so far learned from the voice recorder, that, you know, you can hear this banging that seems to be the banging on the door and also that, you know, something that wasn't entirely clear so far, you know, did the -- did the passengers actually know where they were heading, where they were, what, you know, was coming. And, you know, that is what we tried to point out in our reporting.

PEREIRA: We have been learning here at CNN about Lubitz's revelations to the airline some six years back about his mental health issues, but you have some new reporting. What can you tell us that you have found out?

REICHELT: Well, our reporters learned from sources today, and that is something, you know, we are still checking and double checking, but from what it seems from what we know is that Andreas Lubitz has been seeking medical help for quite a while. Everyone was wondering, you know, why he never turned in his sick leave, why he never reported sick for duty or unfit to fly. What we have heard now is that whenever he was seeking medical advice, medical help, that he apparently told doctors that he was not in the cockpit, that he was off duty, that he was on sick leave, that he was not fit to fly and, you know, was trying to get back in the cockpit, which seems like, you know, he was trying to prevent any, you know, doctor he would have told about his condition to, you know, maybe report it to someone. He was, as it seems to us right now, actively trying to prevent that doctors would report his medical state by telling them that he was on sick leave anyhow and not in the cockpit.

PEREIRA: Julian Reichelt, thank you so much for that. We should point out that this is not something that CNN can verify at this point. We'll continue to dig and it sounds as though you're going to continue to do the same thing. Julian Reichelt joining us from Germany. We appreciate it.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, fascinating to hear from him, Michaela.

Well, millions of people follow this yoga method, but Bikram Choudhury brand is in jeopardy after very serious allegations of abuse. Stay tuned for our exclusive to hear his side.


BIKRAM CHOUDHURY: We die only once in our life. I die every day when I get up in the morning.



[08:41:55] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Time for "CNN Money Now." Chief business correspondent Christine Romans in the Money Center.



CUOMO: More backlash this morning over the controversial Indiana law. Tell us about it.

ROMANS: That's absolutely right. Nascar and Nike joining a long list of companies who say Indiana's religious freedom law is simply bad for business. Look at that list. It includes all of these organizations. These, too, say the law allows discrimination. Both organizations say they are committed to diversity and inclusion. Apple, Angie's List, Yelp, Cummins (ph), the engine company, the NCAA and many more oppose the law. Eli Lily, an important employer there, says the law will make it hard to attract and retain workers.

Arkansas has a similar law headed to the governor's desk. Walmart, which has its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, has asked Governor Asa Hutchinson to veto it. The nation's biggest retailer also the largest private employer, it says that law does not reflect its values or the values of Arkansas.


CAMEROTA: OK, Christine, thanks so much for all of that.

Well, coming up, his Bikram yoga method made him an icon, but allegations of sexual assault are threatening his empire and his marriage. Bikram Choudhury addresses the allegations for the first time in a powerful interview. That's next.


[08:47:04] CAMEROTA: He's the world famous creator of the Bikram yoga method, a guru to legends of devotees. But Bikram Choudhury's success story now being threatened. Lawsuits filed by a half dozen women claiming he sexually assaulted or raped them. I sat down with Bikram for an exclusive interview to talk about the allegations and their impact on his empire.


BIKRAM CHOUDHURY, FOUNDER, BIKRAM YOGA: Welcome to Bikram torture chamber. (INAUDIBLE) usually 90 minute but I don't know how long today.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): For five decades, Bikram Choudhury has built an empire through his signature hot yoga that bears his name.

CHOUDHURY: I implant my mind into your brain.

CAMEROTA: With studios heated to 105 degrees, Bikram credits the steamy, sweaty stretches with transforming people's bodies and minds. He says he's guided by a deep calling to help.

CHOUDHURY: Go around the world, share your knowledge and wisdom, help people, heal people and make this world a better world.

CAMEROTA: And for millions of Bikram students, all over the world, it's worked.

CHERYL BALDINGR, BIKRAM YOGA INSTRUCTOR: I love him. Every class, I feel like it's church. I've been kissed by the divine.

CAMEROTA: But he's more than a spiritual leader. He's become a celebrity icon, with a long list of famous followers and friends.

CHOUDHURY: I invited them to (INAUDIBLE) Tokyo in 1971.

CAMEROTA: From Brooke Shields to Elvis and lots in between. He credits Shirley MacLaine with putting him on the map in 1971 when he moved to the U.S. from India.

CHOUDHURY: First day I came here, she put me on Johnny Carson show. I don't know who is Johnny. Everywhere, every magazine, I'm the cover page, "Time," "Life", "New York Times", "Wall Street Journal", everywhere.

CAMEROTA: But now, the Bikram brand is in jeopardy. Some yoga studios dropping his name after he's been accused of rape or sexual assault by six of his former students.

Choudhury sat down with CNN to address the allegations for the first time.

CHOUDHURY: I watch this show to tell the truth to the world that I never assaulted them.

CAMEROTA (on camera): I've read all the affidavits, there's a pattern. You found vulnerable young women. And they came because they believed in you.

And then something happened, during the training. They say that you somehow managed to get them alone. You became physically aggressive with them. You demanded sex. And when they refused you, you raped them.

CHOUDHURY: I never assaulted them. The answer is, I feel sorry for them. I have nothing against them. I don't think they're bad people. It's not they're saying that. They're influenced by somebody, which is --

CAMEROTA: A lawyer?


CAMEROTA (voice-over): Choudhury, who has been married to his wife for more than 30 years, goes even further, saying he would never have to resort to physical aggression to have sex, because he has so many offers.

[08:50:09] CHOUDHURY: Women likes me, women loves me. If I really wanted to involve the women, I don't have to assault women.

CAMEROTA: The complaints tell a story of a different Bikram Choudhury, one who preyed on young women who looked to him as their guru.

Sarah Baughn, one of the accusers, explained how at first, she believed Bikram Yoga would be the answer to her years of back pain and depression.

SARAH BAUGHN, ALLEGES BIKRAM CHOUDHURY SEXUALLY ASSAULTED HER: It really was life-changing for me, I mean, even that first day. I went back the next day and I went back the next day. It was raining and I was singing "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow" from Annie, and I didn't care if anybody heard me, I felt good, for the first time in a while.

CAMEROTA (on camera): You credit a Bikram Yoga class with transforming your life.

BAUGHN: Yes, absolutely. And I knew then I wanted to be a teacher.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): Baughn said her dad helped her take out a $7,000 loan so she could attend Bikram's teacher training.

But within the first week, one episode left her feeling uncomfortable.

BAUGHN: I was asked by him to come into his office and he sat down behind his desk and immediately went into, "What should we do about this?" And I asked him, "What?" And he said, "What should we do about us? We need it make this a relationship. I've known from you a past life."

It was instantly shocking. I felt like my whole system just sort of imploded.

CAMEROTA: After that, Baughn said she told a staff member who suggested she not be alone with Choudhury again.

But late one night, after making a group of students watch a Bollywood movie, Bikram, she says, cornered her.

BAUGHN: He crawled on top of me. He put his hands on my inside of my thigh. And the other hand he wrapped around me. And he was holding me there.

He told me that he needed somebody to be with him, to massage him, to brush his hair. And I need someone to, to have sex with me.

CAMEROTA: Baughn says Choudhury made it clear she must sleep with him in order to advance her career.

BAUGHN: He told me I would never win the yoga competition if I did not have sex with him, and I looked him in the eyes, I pushed him off of me and said, "I can do this by myself." And he said, "No, you can't. There's no way." And I got up and I left the room.

CAMEROTA: Besides Sarah Baughn's claim of sexual assault, five other women have come forward with civil lawsuits claiming Choudhury raped them.

Choudhury vows to clear his name. But he says the damage has already been done to his family.

(on camera): How has your wife responded to this?

CHOUDHURY: Wow, that's a tough question. I just -- I can't answer that question. My wife will not look at me anymore, my children, my wife. We die only once, in our life. I'm dying every day when I get up in the morning.

CAMEROTA: Does your family believe you?

CHOUDHURY: What can I answer? How can I share my heart, my spirit to you? Twenty-four hours a day, I work harder than any human being in this earth, you know. And this is the reward? I'm a rapist?

Shame, of your culture, Western culture. Shame. Shame. Your job, to go and tell the world the truth.


CUOMO: What's the truth?

CAMEROTA: I don't know what the truth is. I've read the affidavits. The affidavits sound compelling. They sound honest, these women. You know, look, very rarely, very rarely do women come forward and go to the Los Angeles Superior Court and file an affidavit on the false claim. False claims, false rape claims, are between 2 and 8 percent of all of the claims. They are a fraction of the claims, so what motivation would they have?

However, when you're with Bikram Choudhury, he also makes a compelling case. He's friendly. He's enthusiastic. He says that these -- you heard him -- that on some level, it's ruined his life and that it never happened.

CUOMO: Any criminal investigations?

CAMEROTA: The LAPD decided not to launch any criminal investigations because it had been years ago.

There will be much more of my exclusive interview on "CNN TONIGHT". It's at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. And we'll also have more of that interview on "NEW DAY" tomorrow where he will talk about his complicated sexual history with his students.

PEREIRA: Absolutely fascinating.

CUOMO: Complicated.

[08:55:00] All right, coming up, who is leaving uplifting messages all over Detroit and how do we get them arrested? No, I'm kidding, it's the Good Stuff and we'll tell you why.


CUOMO: All right. It is time for the Good Stuff. In today's edition, Keenan Hastings from Detroit, he's at a Starbucks. This group of teen girls come up to him out of nowhere and say, "Your money or your life."


CUOMO No. They insist he takes this piece of paper.


KEENAN HASTINGS, "VICTIM" OF RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS: I was really nervous. I don't know what I thought would be in the card. It was flat, I kind of felt it around to see if there was anything in there.


CUOMO: He opens it up. The card said, "Never give up." A second card said, "Doubts kill more dreams than failure ever will."

CAMEROTA: I like that.

CUOMO: Nice sentiments. Meant more to him because he's a father and he's out of work. Now he carries the cards with him wherever he goes and it turns out he's not the only one. Detroit has been bombed by the cards. Nobody knows who the girls are doing it.

PEREIRA: This is very cool. How about that kind of love spreading. That's so good.

CAMEROTA: So great.

PEREIRA: Very impressive.

CAMEROTA: Those messages. They're sort of like fortune cookies in a card.

PEREIRA: They are.

CUOMO: Easter week, big part of that tradition -- rebirth/renewal. Do nice things. With what's going on with the intolerance stuff that we're dealing with in the country, these people reaching out to others, similar and different, and doing the right thing.

[09:00:03] PEREIRA: We did well on this April Fool's. We did -- No shenanigans. Turn it over while we're safe to Carol Costello and "NEWSROOM". Hi Carol. CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEWSROOM": Now I'm worried.

CUOMO: What is that behind you, by the way? Is that part of the show?


CUOMO: Nah, got you.

COSTELLO: Have a great day. "NEWSROOM" starts now.