Judge indicts 19 yoga cult members who used sex to attract powerful
The Buenos Aires Yoga School, which operated for more than 30 years in the Argentine capital under the direction of 84-year-old Juan Percowicz, did not offer yoga classes. Instead, he lured people in with promises of eternal happiness before sexually and financially exploiting them, prosecutors say.
Investigation into the group revealed that opera star Placido Domingo had been in contact with the leaders of the organization for more than two decades.
Lijo decided that 14 of the 19 people charged would be remanded in custody and an embargo was placed on their assets. Prosecutors had requested the indictment of 20 people.
Law enforcement officials continue to search for six suspects believed to be in the United States, where the school had offices in New York, Las Vegas and Chicago
In her resolution, Lijo says the school encouraged vulnerable people to join, noting that leaders particularly went after those who were underage or had serious health issues, including addictions. People were courted to join in pledges of healing and support, but were then exploited, often sexually, for the benefit of the organization’s leaders.
The group worked by cutting off the students from the outside world by giving them accommodation, working within the organization, and ensuring that they began to socialize exclusively with people who were part of the organization.
The students were used and exploited, both sexually and financially, to gain economic benefits for Percowicz and other top leaders in the organization, Lijo said. Members were often forced to have sex with wealthy or powerful men in order to establish a business relationship with the men considered to be their “boyfriends”.
Students were forced to figure out what they could get from each person and they had to do whatever they could to get it, Lijo said.
Percowicz claimed to have great wisdom and even “godlike powers” as a means of indoctrinating students, and explained his beliefs about a mixture of classical literature as well as religious and spiritual texts.
It was up to Percowicz to decide how students moved up the seven levels of the school’s strict hierarchy that had the leader at the top, a system that amounts to psychological coercion, according to Lijo.
Even though the group’s leaders promised the students that they would receive philosophy teachings and be healed, the group’s leaders’ only goal was to earn money, Lijo said.