Guru lawsuit update in Portland

By Oregon Faith News Note,

Oregon spiritual guru J. Michael Shoemaker and the Movement Center are facing a lawsuit filed by a former student in U.S. District Court in Portland that alleges sexual exploitation, assault and negligence—charges he and his organization deny, according to the Oregonian/OregonLive.

The woman, identified by the initials G.M., seeks unspecified punitive, economic and non-economic damages after she says Shoemaker, 74, who goes by the Hindi name Swami Chetanananda, choked her into unconsciousness, taught that sex facilitated energy exchange, and contended followers who cut ties with him would be cursed and thrown into hell.

In the lawsuit, she contends that Shoemaker engaged in sex trafficking and the Movement Center failed to report him to police or bar him from activities after similar allegations surfaced in 2001 when the Oregonian published a four-part series, “In the Grip of the Guru,” quoting 11 students who said Shoemaker had sex with them. He described the relationships as between mature, consenting adults.

The Oregonian reported that Shoemaker, who said he retired four years ago, denied the lawsuit’s allegations as complete and utter nonsense.

The Movement Center, which operated for two decades from a historic mansion in the Kerns neighborhood, teaches meditation, yoga, and tantric traditions, according to its website. In May 2020, the center sold the Portland mansion for $8.9 million and moved to Gold Beach, Ore. Shoemaker said it closed several years ago.

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