Suspected of being involved in large-scale sexual violence within an international yoga movement accused of sectarian excesses, a Romanian-Swedish guru and 14 people were indicted on Friday evening in Paris, it was reported on Saturday (December 2) a judicial source at Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Of the 15 suspects, six were imprisoned, including the guru: Gregorian Bivolaru, 71, founding figure of the Movement for Spiritual Integration towards the Absolute (Misa), renamed Atman, which says it focuses on the practice of tantric yoga . The dragnet took place on Tuesday in the Paris region and in the south-east of France. Pavilions – where many women were housed – or even yoga rooms located on the street, were searched.

Mr. Bivolaru was arrested at his home in Val-de-Marne. Already convicted several times in Romania, he denounced a “political plot” during his custody, according to a police source at AFP. He defended himself against accusations of rape, explaining that he was “a spiritual master”: after a so-called “consecration” stage, women “loved” him at his home.

On Friday, he was indicted for four offenses: aggravated rape (in conjunction with several other rapes committed against other victims), kidnapping by an organized gang, trafficking in human beings by an organized gang, abuse of weakness by a leader of a group pursuing activities creating, maintaining or exploiting the psychological or physical subjection of the participants. His lawyer Anis Harabi assured AFP that “his innocence” would be “established”.

“Women’s Pavilions”

Like Mr. Bivolaru, the owner of two “women’s lodges”, was indicted for abuse of weakness, trafficking in human beings and kidnapping by an organized gang. This man, accused of being Mr. Bivolaru’s “right arm”, was also indicted for complicity in aggravated rape. A 41-year-old Romanian woman, doctoral student in linguistics, was indicted for complicity in aggravated rape, human trafficking and kidnapping by an organized gang.

The same goes for another man, arrested at Mr. Bivolaru’s house in the presence of two young Romanian women. While in police custody, he presented himself as “a simple yoga student” and denied having taken these women to the guru, the police source reported to AFP. Finally, two other women were imprisoned, after being indicted for human trafficking and kidnapping, all in an organized gang.

Among those released under judicial supervision are nine suspects. Eight were indicted for human trafficking and kidnapping, still in an organized gang. Among them, several alleged drivers, accused in particular of having transported women from the airport to Misa establishments. The ninth suspect is a woman, following Misa courses for seven years, indicted for the same charges, but also for complicity in aggravated rape.

According to the police source, this woman explained, while in police custody, that she was housed in an apartment and received money to participate in the editing of an erotic film project “with people urinating”. Still from the same source, she recognized certain rules of Misa: not going out alone for women or the confiscation of their phones.