Yogi Bhajan investigation: What are they telling us

Updates from Collaborative Response Team into Yogi Bhajan sexual abuse investigation

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L-R: Sahaj Singh Khalsa (SSSC), Nirvair Singh Khalsa (KRI), Gurujot Kaur Khalsa (SDI, SSSC), Pritpal Kaur Khalsa (3HO) and Shanti Kaur Khalsa
By Asia Samachar Team | UNITED STATES |

The investigation into the allegations that Yogi Bhajan had sexually abused his followers is expected to be made public in June.

“This investigation is specific to determining whether and to what extent Yogi Bhajan engaged in sexual and other misconduct,” according to a dedicated website set-up by the legacy organisations of the Kundalini Yoga proponent who died in 2004.

Under its FAQ, the website, which went live sometime in February, states: “Multiple allegations concerning sexual and other forms of misconduct by Yogi Bhajan have come forward in recent weeks.”

“An Olive Branch will prepare a report of their findings, which will be published in a manner that protects the anonymity of any reporter of harm or witness who wishes to remain anonymous,” it added.

Despite years of hushed discussion on the alleged abuses, it is believed that the Yogi Bhajan’s legacy organisations were pushed over the top to initiate the investigation by the release of ‘Premka: White Bird in a Golden Cage (My Life with Yogi Bhajan)’, an explosive book by his former long-time staffer Pamela Sarah Dyson.

Among others, Pamela, who was then known as Premka Kaur Khalsa, alleges that Yogi Bhajan coerced her and other staff members into sex.

Internally, Siri Singh Sahib Corporation (SSSC) had resolved on 12 Feb 2020 to form a so-called Collaborative Response Team (CRT) to look into the allegations.

SSSC is the member of each of the non-profit organisations and the shareholder of KIIT, which is the holding company for the US and Indian for-profit companies and of KIT Holding BV (KIT BV). KIT BV is the holding company for the European for-profit companies. As the member and shareholder, SSSC is the legal owner of these entities, according to information at its website.

Among its for-profit entities are Yogi Tea, contract security provider Akal Security, KIIT Renewable Energy LLC (KRE) and Kundalini Yoga class provider Yoga West operated by Raj Yog Takht, LLC.

On the non-profit side, it includes 3HO Foundation, 3HO Europe (dedicated to spreading Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan in Europe), Kundalini Research Institute (KRI), Legacy of Yogiji ( LYF) Foundation, Amritsar-based international boarding school Miri Piri Academy, Sikh preaching vehicle Sikh Dharma International (SDI) and media portal Sikhnet.

LYF Foundation looks after Yogi Bhajan’s ‘heritage properties’ – Guru Ram Das Ashram in Los Angeles, Guru Ram Das Puri in New Mexico (venue for summer solstice, children’s camp and ladies camp) and Yogiji’s Espanola.

Asia Samachar will update below new statements as they emerge on the investigation.

Website cover page of Collective Response Team of Yogi Bhajan linked organisation towards the sexual allegations against the late yoga master

Statements from Our Response Team

 

(Extracted on 14 Aug 2020)

Dear Members of the Sikh Dharma, 3HO, and KRI Communities,

Sat Nam.

Early in 2020, multiple allegations concerning sexual misconduct by our founder Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji (Yogi Bhajan) came to light. As a nonprofit religious organization with a commitment to high ethical standards, the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation (SSSC) took formal steps to address the allegations. We directed the formation of a Collaborative Response Team (CRT), which was tasked with responding to the allegations in a transparent and timely manner. The SSSC then commissioned an independent organization, An Olive Branch (AOB), to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations. As the allegations were made posthumously, efforts were made throughout the process to ensure that Yogi Bhajan’s students and supporters had the opportunity to speak on his behalf. Neither the SSSC, the CRT, nor any of our affiliate organizations have had any influence over An Olive Branch’s process or its report. The SSSC Board would like to express our deepest gratitude to An Olive Branch and to all who participated in this process.

We share the report here unedited and in its entirety. The investigation concluded that much of the alleged conduct more likely than not occurred. As described in more detail at the end of this letter, SSSC and its related organizations are taking immediate action to address the findings of the report, assist reporters of harm, and promote healing in our community. 

The report is a difficult document to read. Please be aware that the report contains graphic descriptions of sexual misconduct and strong language that may trigger you as a reader. Please click here to read the report in its entirety. 

We hope the release of the report can advance the healing of those who experienced harm. As an organization, the SSSC is presented with many challenges as a result of the findings in the report, but please know that providing support for the reporters of harm will be our highest priority. As noted below, one of the steps we are taking to provide that support is to embark on a program of compassionate reconciliation based on principles of restorative justice. We will provide further details on this program as it is designed and implemented.

We acknowledge the reporters of harm for their bravery in sharing their experiences. We also acknowledge those who suffered harm but did not come forward to report their experiences. We extend our hearts and want to provide them a place of safety so healing can happen. The difficulty in reading the material in the report cannot compare to the experiences described by those who have reported harm. Their courage helps us all walk a path of truth, change, and reconciliation.

The SSSC has heard the voices from all segments of our community, and we thank you for your heartfelt and passionate expression. We have been present on the Khalsa Council and Listening Tour calls. We have conducted Zoom calls of our own to hear from the community. We have read and considered the emails, petitions, and text messages that we have received. We have in many instances made our best effort to respond to many of your questions and concerns through CRT communications and FAQs. However, we understand that the subject matter and gravity of this report is enormous and that strongly held viewpoints may remain and may not be amenable to rapid resolution. We accept and understand the magnitude of the task before us and, given the challenges that likely lie ahead, we accept and understand that it will take time, and all of us working together, to advance this mission.

We recognize that it will also take time for ourselves, and for the members of our organizations and community, to absorb, process and integrate the implications of the report. While the teachings of Yogi Bhajan are valued and deeply appreciated around the globe, we understand that it may be difficult to reconcile the report’s findings with the man who inspired thousands during his lifetime. We seek a path forward that rebuilds the faith and trust of those who look to our organizations and teachings for upliftment and inspiration.

Rebuilding faith and trust requires us to take a close look at ourselves and our organizations. The conduct described in the report does not conform with the values of our organizations. The SSSC and all of its affiliated organizations stand united against sexual abuse and abuse of any type. We are committed to creating and maintaining a safe environment for everyone who participates in any of our activities. The SSSC is committed to further strengthening the ethics, compliance, and enforcement policies and programs of our organizations and is taking steps to do so. All of our organizations take seriously our responsibilities to ensure a safe and respectful place for everyone who comes to learn about and practice the yogic and dharmic teachings that are the basis of our spirituality and the foundation of our communities.

Although the results of this investigation affect us deeply, both individually and collectively, the future of our community depends upon a clear understanding of our past. We recognize that the last few months have been very painful for members of the community and have resulted in a certain degree of polarization. Just as these allegations have created strong differences of opinion within the community, they also have created those same differences within the SSSC Board. Not every board member views An Olive Branch’s process or report the same way. Likewise, each person in our community will have his or her own response to the report. 

We understand that the investigative process raised issues for many in our community. Some community members have been deeply concerned with elements of the process. The SSSC will shortly publish a letter which will comprehensively address those concerns. The report is the beginning of an effort to search for the truth about the history of our community. And there certainly will be much more work to be done in the future.

Many members of our global community have also expressed concern that these allegations happened decades ago, before their involvement in 3HO, KRI or Sikh Dharma. Many students and teachers have come into our organizations after Yogi Bhajan left his physical body in 2004. They have a powerful positive experience of the spiritual practices that Yogi Bhajan brought to the West and have built wonderful programs locally based on these teachings. We honor and respect that, as our community moves forward, the body of work he left behind will continue to be validated by people’s experience of the practice. 

We also recognize that an entire generation lived, worked and served Yogi Bhajan directly. This Legacy generation built the foundation of our global community and of our organizations. The devotion and dedication of this group of people, over the decades, came from a genuine inspiration to do what they could to help make the world a healthier, happier and more elevated place. We recognize the path forward will need to honor their service while simultaneously reexamining the past and coming to a deeper understanding of it.

The SSSC is committed to creating an environment where all feel welcome to participate in the dialogue about the past and the future. By providing a safe space, we hope that community members with differing views will be able to talk and feel heard by one another. It is our prayer that our collective dialogue will illuminate the path to the future.

In beginning our healing process, we recognize that we have a lot of work to do, and we do not yet have all the answers. The steps we are taking to meet the challenge are as follows, and we invite the active participation of all community members in this process:

1. We are embarking on a program of Compassionate Reconciliation based on the proven principles of Restorative Justice. We are currently in the process of selecting a professional consultant to work with our global community, including reporters of harm, to design and implement such a program.

2. We are examining the totality of our policies and activities of all of our constituent organizations, events and teaching environments to ensure they live up to our stated values of being open, welcoming, respectful and safe for all.

3. The Office of Ethics and Professional Standards (EPS) recently engaged an external consultant to examine its policies and procedures to make sure they comply with industry best practices as EPS works to maintain the ethics and integrity of the 3HO communities, Kundalini Yoga Teachers, KRI Teacher Trainers, and Sikh Dharma International Ministers. The assessment is ongoing, and we will implement any recommended changes.

4. We acknowledge and will continue to examine our past to understand what present changes need to be made. We will continuously assess the improvements we have made and make changes if necessary. Finally, we are committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure that our organizations provide safe and protective environments for all community members and respond appropriately and quickly if allegations of harm are reported.

5. We will also continue to reach out to our global community to provide spaces so that we can hear from the community, get feedback through the Listening Tour forums for discussion and healing, and create long term mechanisms to receive feedback. We are expanding our ability to hear more from the community.

The path forward for our community and organizations will take time to discover. It will require deep and authentic conversations across our global community. Please hold all those who have been harmed, the entire community and the future in your prayers. The consciousness of Guru Ram Das is within each and every one of us. We trust that Radiant Consciousness will continue to guide our collective steps forward.

Sincerely,

Siri Singh Sahib Corporation

 

July 10, 2020

Sat Nam Dear Members of our 3HO, Sikh Dharma, and KRI Community,

The last few months have been a painful and difficult time for our global community. Allegations of past misconduct by Yogi Bhajan have stirred doubts about the past and created questions about the future. In these times of challenge, faith in God and in the goodwill our community members have for each other, provides a touchstone to face the uncertain times before us.

In order to keep the community updated as events around the allegations unfold, we are informing you that on Monday, June 29, 2020 a lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Case # 20STCV24359. The lawsuit names Sikh Dharma International, Siri Singh Sahib of Sikh Dharma, Siri Singh Sahib Corporation, Unto Infinity LLC, Akal Security Inc, and 3HO Foundation as defendants. The lawsuit seeks an undetermined amount of damages in relation to alleged misconduct that occurred approximately thirty years ago.

Because the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, the SSSC Board’s public communications around this lawsuit will, by necessity, be limited. It is possible that you will hear about this lawsuit through social media or other press. The Siri Singh Sahib Corp Board is doing our best to make you aware of this issue. If anyone from the press should contact you requesting comment on the lawsuit, we humbly request that you contact Satwant Singh Khalsa at: satwant@ssscorp.org.

2020 is turning out to be a time of profound challenge, for the world at large, and for our spiritual community, in particular.

Please hold this situation in your prayers, for the highest good of all, and for the healing of all concerned.

Blessings to All,

SS Gurujodha Singh Khalsa

President, Siri Singh Sahib Corporation

 

June 2, 2020

Sat Nam Dear Members of our 3HO, Sikh Dharma, and KRI Community,

An Olive Branch is working hard to complete its investigation of alleged misconduct by Yogi Bhajan and to present a report to the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation (SSSC) by the end of June or, more likely, in July. It has been contacted by close to 300 people who have shared information about the allegations, performed nearly 100 interviews with people both supporting and refuting the allegations, and evaluated available facts and viewpoints regarding motive and consistency of statements made. In this difficult time for our community, we will continue to provide you with clear and accurate information about the investigation and address concerns that have been raised about the process.

We would like to share with you some information important to the current dialogue occurring within our community:

Addressing the allegations of misconduct by Yogi Bhajan openly and honestly is critical. As a spiritual community that teaches and connects with thousands of people all over the world, we are committed to truth and righteous action, and secrecy and covering up serious issues raised about the history of our leadership is not in alignment with our principles. It is our duty to maintain the trust that people have in our organizations and the teachings that have been built up over decades. Therefore, we are dealing with these allegations by having them investigated independently. By adopting such an approach, without bias or limitation, and releasing a complete report of the findings, all those whose lives have been enriched by the teachings can learn about all the reported information surrounding the issues and can consider for themselves the conclusions reached by a neutral fact-finder.

All efforts are being made to ensure that Yogi Bhajan is defended in the investigation directly by his students who knew him well. Concerns have been expressed that Yogi Bhajan has not been adequately represented because he is deceased and therefore cannot defend himself. All efforts have been made through the investigative process to ensure that his voice is heard through his students and family. At least 120 people have reported to An Olive Branch on Yogi Bhajan’s behalf. To date, An Olive Branch has conducted more than 50 interviews specifically to explore his defense. In addition, An Olive Branch has received and reviewed numerous written statements in support of Yogi Bhajan, and those statements have been studied and made part of the record. Information about the motivations and factual consistency of the allegations has been provided to and assessed by the investigators through questioning, fact-finding and analysis.

The Collaborative Response Team (CRT) provided An Olive Branch with the names of over 100 individuals to be interviewed over the course of the investigation. These were people who spent extensive time in close proximity with Yogi Bhajan and were therefore likely to have information about the circumstances surrounding the allegations. This list includes anyone named in any allegation as well as those in his family, household, staff and personal environment. To our knowledge, anyone from this list who agreed to participate has been questioned about the veracity of claims made and circumstances described. The investigators want to get to the truth of what happened and are doing everything possible to accomplish that goal.

All reporters of harm are required to identify themselves to An Olive Branch, and their identities have been confirmed through various methods. Anonymous allegations are not being accepted in this investigation. However, to make people feel safe in coming forward and to protect those who are reporting harm from direct public attack, the identity of reporters, while known to An Olive Branch, will not be released to the public. Should a reporter choose to make their identity public, now or in the future, that is their choice alone.

As stated in a previous letter and in our FAQ, the reporters of alleged harm by Yogi Bhajan are “members of his staff, secretaries and other women who were close to him” at some time over a period spanning more than 30 years. Several reporters have made their statements publicly, which are available for anyone to review. Anyone who had comments on the motives or credibility of this group of reporters have been encouraged, over the past 60 days, to provide this information to An Olive Branch for consideration, and many have done so.

As previously stated, the path taken by the CRT is: acknowledge the allegations, investigate, act promptly, communicate often, and ensure safety of all parties. Responding to whistleblower reports and reports of harm occurs frequently within all different types of institutions today. Following this approach enables an organization to build trust and discover facts that can be shared and assessed by their constituents.  For more details about why we chose this path, please see our FAQ.

It must be understood that the practices for a criminal investigation are not applicable to our circumstances as this is not a criminal or a civil legal investigation. Testimony cannot be compelled or received under oath and documents cannot be demanded under subpoena. The purpose of this inquiry is to get at as much relevant information as possible and to communicate that information to all constituents so that they can learn what is being reported about our history and let that guide future action.

The CRT has had very little direct contact with An Olive Branch, ensuring the investigators operate independently. After the initial communication to establish the investigation, the CRT has had little communication with An Olive Branch. Interactions have been limited to receiving statistical information regarding the number of contacts received by An Olive Branch and to providing An Olive Branch with names and contact information of potential witnesses.

An Olive Branch has had comprehensive access to social media posts about the allegations.  Since the beginning of the investigations, the CRT has reviewed a daily collection of public social media postings relevant to the matters under investigation. An Olive Branch has also been provided with social media postings that are relevant to the allegations or defenses to them. They have read and assessed them all. However, An Olive Branch is unrestricted in their approach to the inquiry and is free to follow any information trail it sees fit. No effort has been made to use deceptive tactics to obtain private social media posts, which would be considered unethical.

Based on reports received and all that we have learned, CRT has full faith in the qualifications of An Olive Branch and the quality of its work. Investigators are not mind readers and must work hard to hear and reach out to witnesses from all sides of the allegations. That work is necessary in order to find as many relevant facts as possible and assess those facts critically and analytically. An Olive Branch is doing just that in this large investigation encompassing nearly 300 reports and 100 interviews, many lengthy and extensive.

Because of its experience dealing with spiritual communities facing situations like ours, An Olive Branch comes well qualified to serve the needs of this inquiry. The three investigators from An Olive Branch who are working on this project are all founding members, co-directors and certified mediators. Together, they have advised and counseled 25 organizations experiencing allegations of ethical misconduct by a spiritual leader. An Olive Branch has performed five projects for Buddhist organizations (this is relevant because those organizations have many similarities to our own). Of these five projects, two were independent investigations (similar to this one), which included interviewing students who reported harm and receiving testimony from supporters of their teacher and rebuttal witnesses. An Olive Branch is following a similar process in our investigation. Its prior work gives An Olive Branch valuable experience in investigating the difficult issues associated with sexual misconduct in a spiritual community, which has unique aspects that the corporate world does not. An Olive Branch is skilled at critical listening and probing interview tactics, while being sensitive to both those who are reporting harm and to those defending the accused.

To all people of our communities, we affirm our strong bond of shared values and caring for each other. We understand how difficult this process is for everyone and respectfully consider every point of view and criticism being expressed. Above all, we retain confidence in our collective ability to face this challenge. Please visit the CRT website often for accurate and timely information as we seek truth and move together towards understanding and unity.

Collaborative Response Team 
ssscresponseteam.org

To opt in to receive CRT updates emailed to you directly, send your request to crt@ssscorp.org.

 

May 18, 2020

Sat Nam Dear Members of Our 3HO, Sikh Dharma and KRI Community:

As of May 3, the intake phase of the independent investigation into the allegations involving Yogi Bhajan have concluded. During these next weeks, An Olive Branch will continue interviewing those who have contacted them and will go through the process of analyzing and processing the data they have received.

As we wait for the results of the investigation from An Olive Branch, we want to share details with you about the established principles guiding the steps we’ve taken to respond to the allegations of sexual misconduct. This clarification may be helpful in understanding the path we are taking.

In January 2020, a former secretary of Yogi Bhajan published a book detailing her experiences with him, including a sexual relationship. Shortly afterward, a number of serious allegations of sexual misconduct were reported by other women, including former staff members, on social media and through other communications. These allegations created a great deal of concern throughout our entire community. As nonprofit and religious organizations with a commitment to acting with integrity, and out of our respect for all members of our community, it was necessary to address the allegations appropriately and formally.

The teachings of our community guide us to strive for righteous action, to treat everyone with respect, compassion, and kindness, and to support the highest ethical standards. We are committed to living up to those principles and to strengthening our organization’s ability to meet our commitment to these values and each other.

Allegations of sexual misconduct can create a crisis for any organization, and experts from spiritual, religious, government and private organizations all over the world have developed principles and procedures for responding to allegations of this nature. These validated approaches mirror our community’s values and spiritual teachings, and we have moved forward using them as guiding principles.

  • ·Acknowledge the allegations. We have acknowledged the allegations publicly and have worked to ensure confidentiality and a safe and respectful process for all parties.

  • Arrange for a person or team to lead the organization through the situation. The Siri Singh Sahib Corporation formed a Collaborative Response Team (CRT) of six representatives of the nonprofit and for-profit organizations to provide a time-sensitive response to the crisis.

  • Act promptly and develop a process to respond to the allegations. The CRT meets multiple times a week to assess the situation and respond quickly to changing circumstances.

  • Be transparent and communicate often with all stakeholders. In addition to individual and email communications, we launched a website to provide transparency and serve as a central point of communication to everyone. Also, we have met with groups from our various constituent organizations repeatedly to provide them with updates on our process.

  • Engage a professional and neutral third party to conduct the investigation. We selected An Olive Branch to conduct this independent investigation based on its experience with the difficult issue of sexual misconduct and its specific skills in investigating allegations of this nature for spiritual communities.

  • Provide the opportunity for full and balanced participation in the investigation process. An opportunity for full participation is important to An Olive Branch’s ability to conduct a complete investigation, and the CRT has encouraged and supported this participation. An Olive Branch will assess all information they receive and individuals they interview during the course of the investigation.

  • Make counseling available to those who report harm. We have made confidential professional counseling available, at no cost, to any individual asserting harm from the misconduct they have reported. Our decision to offer these counseling services is not an indication of any conclusions being drawn by those involved in the continuing investigation or by any of our organizations. These services are offered out of compassion for individuals who may find them helpful.

  • Be transparent with the independent investigation findings. An Olive Branch will be spending the next four to six weeks finishing the gathering of evidence, completing interviews with witnesses who have already been in contact, and reaching out to individuals with potentially relevant information. Once that work has been completed, An Olive Branch will compile its findings and prepare a report that will be shared publicly. While the anticipated completion date is late June, it may take a little longer due to the very large number of individuals who have chosen to participate in the investigation.

This process continues to be challenging for us as a community. In taking the steps outlined above, our commitment has been to act based on our community’s values and out of respect for everyone. Our goals are to seek the truth and to address the past in order to ensure the future of our community’s service and teachings. Our organizational leadership is committed to assessing our current policies and procedures to ensure that we represent our values in all that we do, now and in the future.

An Olive Branch’s report will mark the end of the investigation, but we recognize that it will not be the end of this journey. Our organizations are committed to engaging our entire community to explore avenues of healing and to find a clear path to a successful future for all.

Sat Nam,

Collaborative Response Team 

April 8, 2020

Sat Nam Dear Members of our 3HO, Sikh Dharma and KRI Community:

This message is part of our effort to keep all members of our community informed about the investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct by Yogi Bhajan. Our intention is to share as much key information as possible while protecting the privacy of those who have requested confidentiality and maintaining the independence of An Olive Branch’s investigation.

We urge all individuals who believe they have information relevant to the investigation to contact An Olive Branch at their confidential email address, yb.investigation@an-olive-branch.org. Individuals will receive a response within about five days. Information both supporting and refuting the allegations is critically important and valued by the investigators, who are committed to conducting a complete, independent and balanced investigation.

The period of the allegations stretches from 1970 to the early 2000s. Evidence relevant to the investigation may include:

●Firsthand experiences with and observations regarding Yogi Bhajan and those around him,

●Statements heard that were made by Yogi Bhajan and by others relating to the alleged misconduct,

●Information about the relationships between Yogi Bhajan and those close to him.

Neither the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation (SSSC), its Collaborative Response Team (CRT), nor any other organizations under SSSC have any influence over the investigation or the report. An Olive Branch has provided the CRT with the following update:

●In total, 118 individuals have contacted An Olive Branch as of April 3. Those who contacted An Olive Branch have provided varied information, both supporting and refuting the allegations.

●An Olive Branch has either completed or is scheduling interviews with all who have requested them to date.

The investigation will remain open to new information, and An Olive Branch will continue to conduct interviews until at least April 30. A public report from An Olive Branch is expected to be released in June.

We are here to make our best efforts to support all members of our community. Our mission is to seek the truth regarding these issues so we can move forward together toward understanding and healing.

Sat Nam,

Collaborative Response Team 

 

March 12, 2020

Sat Nam Dear Members of our 3HO, Sikh Dharma and KRI Community,

There has been a lot of discussion, especially online, about the allegations regarding Yogi Bhajan and our response to the situation. We understand the need for people to share their thoughts and perspectives about this sensitive issue. We support women speaking out about their experiences, and we have no intention of judging or silencing the voice of anyone.

Please be aware that a few individuals making public statements may appear to be speaking for our organizations. They do not, in fact, represent them. The Collaborative Response Team is the only official representative of SSSC, KRI, 3HO, SDI and our other nonprofit organizations in this matter. Our regular updates and statements about the situation will continue to be posted at ssscresponseteam.org.

We have recently expanded the FAQ section addressing many of your questions and concerns. We urge you to check our website often and share it with others for accurate and timely information as we seek the truth and move on a path toward healing and restoration.

Sat Nam,

Collaborative Response Team

 

March 9, 2020

Sat Nam Dear Members of our 3HO, Sikh Dharma and KRI Community,

The dedicated email address for communicating with An Olive Branch is now active. This will be a fully confidential method of communication. You can reach them at yb.investigation@an-olive-branch.org until April 30, 2020.

We take the allegations that have been brought forth regarding Yogi Bhajan very seriously and encourage anyone with relevant experiences or information to speak with An Olive Branch. Interviews are private and confidential between the individual and the investigator.

An Olive Branch is conducting an independent third-party investigation. The sole purpose of this investigation is to seek the truth, and the investigation will not be influenced in any way by the CRT or the SSSC.

Due to the sensitive nature of its work, An Olive Branch is unable to share their specific work experience publicly. We realize that this level of confidentiality has prompted questions within the community about the organization’s capability to conduct a thorough investigation. During the course of our due diligence, we found An Olive Branch fully met the critical requirements to be entrusted with completing this important task, including:

  • Extensive experience in investigating claims of sexual misconduct with thoroughness and compassion.

  • Significant experience conducting investigations for and understanding the issues unique to spiritual or religious-based organizations.

  • Demonstrated ability to relate well to those reporting harm as well as others providing information.

  • Ability to instill confidence that all individuals in the matter will be treated with sensitivity and care.

As members of a spiritual community, we place a high value on righteous action and truthful living. We are committed to upholding these principles, in practice and policy, at all levels of our organizations and to strengthen our organization to meet these commitments. Our goal is to seek the truth and move toward healing. We open our hearts and prayers for justice and healing of all people.

 

March 4, 2020 

Sat Nam Dear Members of our 3HO, Sikh Dharma and KRI Community,

After careful due diligence, we have selected the organization, An Olive Branch (https://www.an-olive-branch.org/), to conduct the independent investigation of the allegations regarding Yogi Bhajan. An Olive Branch was chosen because of their extensive experience in performing thorough and compassionate investigations of allegations of this nature for spiritual communities worldwide. They are gathering background information and expect to begin speaking with individuals on Wednesday, March 11.

In order to seek the truth and move toward healing, the investigators will attempt to speak with any individuals reporting harm as well as potential witnesses with information supporting or contradicting the claims of sexual misconduct. We encourage people to speak with An Olive Branch confidentially about their experiences, and we have no intention of silencing anyone. They are establishing a dedicated email address for this purpose which will remain active until Thursday, April 30. We will share this address with you on Wednesday, March 11, when it is live.

Once the investigation is complete, An Olive Branch will prepare a report of their findings, taking care to maintain the confidentiality of personal or sensitive information out of respect for participants’ privacy. The report is expected to be made public this June.

The Collaborative Response Team is the only official response body representing SSSC, KRI, 3HO, SDI and our other nonprofit organizations. We strive to be transparent as we respond to these allegations, and we will continue to keep the community informed during the process through updates posted on ssscresponseteam.org. We all stand united against abuse of power, sexual abuse, any form of exploitation, and any use of sexuality as a vehicle for causing harm. If anyone has concerns or complaints unrelated to this investigation, we encourage them to contact the Office of Ethics and Professional Standards at eps@epsweb.org. We will respond to the matter with kindness and respect.

 

February 25, 2020

Dear 3HO, Sikh Dharma, and KRI Community,

As a community inspired by the teachings of Yogi Bhajan, we are currently facing a significant challenge. Following the publication of Pamela Dyson’s book, we received additional allegations from multiple women.

As previously announced, we are commissioning an independent investigation of all allegations. We are in the process of conducting due-diligence to identify the right independent investigator to conduct this important task – fairly and without prejudice or bias. We expect the investigation process may take several months to complete and ask that everyone be patient as this process moves forward.

We have established a website with official updates of the investigation and our path forward.

Please visit our website for updates – ssscresponseteam.org.

This very sensitive issue is bringing a great deal of pain and emotion, and we are moving forward with dignity and respect for all parties. During this time, we call upon all members of our community to unite in prayer and meditation. Let us stand with integrity and grace, letting the voice of Truth guide us now and into the future.

February 18, 2020

Dear 3HO, Sikh Dharma, and KRI Community,

Credible allegations concerning sexual misconduct by Yogi Bhajan have come forward. Our organizations take these allegations very seriously. We stand united against abuse of power, sexual abuse, any form of exploitation, and any use of sexuality as a vehicle for causing harm.

Our teachings guide us to look to the Truth and to seek the Truth with courage and commitment. The undersigned are the members of the Collaborative Response Team that has been formed to officially represent our community organizations in this situation. We are commissioning a third-party independent investigation to seek the truth and the extent of the allegations so that our members can feel secure and safe.

Future communications will explain the independent investigation process and provide our community with ways to participate.

We open our hearts and prayer for justice and healing of all people. As the organizations of 3HO, Sikh Dharma and KRI, we are committed to upholding the dignity of all humans and the highest ethics of this path of consciousness. We pledge to act with clarity and listen to all concerns. We will treat everyone with respect and will support the truth and the best outcome for all parties.

“Truth is high, but higher still is truthful living.” Guru Nanak Dev ji

Sat Nam,

  • SS Sahaj Singh Khalsa – Siri Singh Sahib Corporation
  • MSS Nirvair Singh Khalsa – Kundalini Research Institute
  • SS Gurujot Kaur Khalsa – Sikh Dharma International, Siri Singh Sahib Corporation
  • SS Pritpal Kaur Khalsa – 3HO Foundation International
  • SS Shanti Kaur Khalsa – Dharmic Office of Public Affairs

Who is the Siri Singh Sahib Corp?

SSSC is a religious non-profit corporation and is the sole member of KRI and 3HO, both of which are non-profit public benefit corporations. Learn more at www.ssscorp.org.

Who is on the Collaborative Response Team?

The Collaborative Response Team (CRT) is a group of people representing the nonprofit and for-profit entities, empowered by the SSSC in a resolution dated February 12, 2020. The CRT has been formed by the SSSC with the duty to respond effectively and responsibly to the allegations about Yogi Bhajan’s conduct. The CRT will act and communicate based on established best practices, transparency, respect and concern for all involved, and the goal of seeking the truth in all areas of this urgent situation.

The members of the CRT include:

  • SS Sahaj Singh Khalsa – Siri Singh Sahib Corporation
  • MSS Nirvair Singh Khalsa – Kundalini Research Institute
  • SS Gurujot Kaur Khalsa – Sikh Dharma International, Siri Singh Sahib Corporation
  • SS Pritpal Kaur Khalsa – 3HO Foundation International
  • SS Shanti Kaur Khalsa – Dharmic Office of Public Affairs
  • MSS Daya Singh Khalsa – KIIT Company

The CRT is the only official response body representing SSSC, KRI, 3HO, SDI and our other nonprofit organizations.

​​What are the allegations? How did this investigation come about?

Multiple allegations concerning sexual and other forms of misconduct by Yogi Bhajan have come forward in recent weeks. Our organizations take these allegations very seriously. We stand united against abuse of power, sexual abuse, any form of abuse or exploitation, and any use of sexuality as a vehicle for causing harm.

What is the purpose of the investigation?

An Olive Branch is conducting an independent examination of Yogi Bhajan’s behavior in response to the allegations that have been made against him. The purpose is to determine whether and to what extent Yogi Bhajan engaged in sexual and other misconduct. This process will allow the CRT to put into place policies and procedures for supporting reporters of harm, preventing abuse from happening within its organizations, and determining how the organizations should move forward. The CRT is following accepted practices that have been created, validated and established by experts in spiritual, religious, government and private organizations all over the world for responding to allegations of this nature.

Who is An Olive Branch?  / Who is conducting the investigation?

The CRT has chosen an independent organization, An Olive Branch (www.an-olive-branch.org), to complete this important task. They have extensive experience in performing thorough and compassionate investigations of allegations of this nature for spiritual communities worldwide. They will be completing an independent investigation, free from the direction of or control by the CRT or anyone associated with the SSSC.

Why was An Olive Branch chosen to investigate these allegations?

An Olive Branch has a staff of experienced and highly respected investigators. However, due to the sensitive nature of their work, they are unable to share the specifics of their investigative experience. During the course of our due diligence, we found An Olive Branch met the critical requirements to be entrusted with completing this important task, including:

  • Extensive experience in investigating claims of sexual misconduct with thoroughness and compassion.

  • Significant experience conducting investigations for and understanding the issues unique to spiritual or religious-based organizations.

  • Demonstrated relatability to reporters of harm as well as witnesses.

  • Ability to instill confidence that all individuals in the matter will be treated with sensitivity and care.

  • Service as an impartial, third-party investigator unconnected with the SSSC organizations.

What is the scope of the investigation?

This investigation is specific to determining whether and to what extent Yogi Bhajan engaged in sexual and other misconduct. An Olive Branch will attempt to speak with any individuals reporting harm as well as potential witnesses with information supporting or contradicting the claims of misconduct. We encourage anyone with relevant experiences to speak with An Olive Branch.

If anyone has concerns or complaints unrelated to this investigation, we encourage them to contact the Office of Ethics and Professional Standards (eps@epsweb.org). We will respond to the matter with kindness and respect.

How do I contact the investigator/An Olive Branch?

An Olive Branch has established a dedicated email address, yb.investigation@an-olive-branch.org, for individuals to share relevant experiences in a confidential setting. This email address will remain active through April 30, 2020. Interviews are private and confidential between the individual and An Olive Branch. They are committed to offering a safe place for all witnesses and reporters of harm to share their experiences and be heard.

Will participation in the investigation impact the current or future legal rights of allegers or reporters of harm? 

No. Any information shared with An Olive Branch by reporters of harm or witnesses will not be used against them or impact their legal rights.

What are the steps in the investigation? 

An Olive Branch will attempt to speak with any individuals reporting harm as well as potential witnesses with information supporting or contradicting the claims of misconduct. Once the investigation phase is complete, An Olive Branch will prepare a report of their findings. They will take care to maintain the confidentiality of personal or sensitive information out of respect for participants’ privacy. Witnesses or those who report harm will remain anonymous unless an individual asks to be identified. The report is expected to be made public in June 2020.

How long will the investigation take?

To ensure a thorough investigation, An Olive Branch expects that it will take 14 to 16 weeks to conduct and complete interviews, compile the findings and publish a full report. The interviews began March 9, 2020, and a report is expected to be made public in June 2020.

Will you share the results of the investigation publicly?

Yes, An Olive Branch will prepare a report of their findings, which will be published in a manner that protects the anonymity of any reporter of harm or witness who wishes to remain anonymous. The report is expected to be made public in June 2020. The investigation and the report will not be influenced in any way by the CRT or the SSSC.

Will the investigator/An Olive Branch report accounts of abuse to the legal authorities?

Members of An Olive Branch’s staff are mandatory reporters of child and elder abuse. They will report accounts of abuse to the authorities as required by law.

How does the investigator/An Olive Branch ensure anonymity?

The only people who have access to An Olive Branch’s interview notes are the three co-directors of An Olive Branch, two of whom are working on the investigation. Files are not accessible to outsiders or to anyone in or associated with the SSSC.

Will the investigator/An Olive Branch have any communication with the SSSC or its related organziations during the investigation process?

An Olive Branch will only be communicating with the CRT in order to obtain the information necessary to conduct the investigation. Persons associated with the SSSC and its related organizations may be witnesses during the investigation.

What are you doing to help those who have reported harm?

We extend our deepest sympathies to those who have reported harm. We are offering wellness supports in the form of confidential counseling. We are engaging a third party to perform confidential intake and refer individuals to one of their recommended and trusted local counselors. The services will be free for up to a year and entirely confidential. No information regarding who accesses these services will be shared by the referral agency or the counselors. We are in the process of setting up these services and will share details on how to access them within the coming weeks.

Why are counseling services being offered to reporters of harm before the investigation is complete?

Several people are describing serious psychological challenges connected to the harm they are reporting. While the independent investigation examines the evidence around these allegations of harm, we are providing compassionate assistance to these reporters by giving financial support for their professional counseling needs. This is a best practice that reflects our commitment to seek the truth and create a supportive environment in which reporters feel safe to share their experiences.

How often will the CRT communicate updates?

We strive to be transparent as we respond to and investigate the allegations. We will continue to post updates on our website as they become available: www.ssscresponseteam.org.

What if I wish to report a concern or complaint unrelated to this investigation?

If anyone has concerns or complaints unrelated to this investigation, we encourage them to contact the Office of Ethics and Professional Standards (eps@epsweb.org). We will respond to the matter with kindness and respect.

(Taken from the sscresponseteam.org website on 23 March 2020)

 

RELATED STORY:

Yogi Bhajan ‘more likely than not’ raped his followers (Asia Samachar, 15 Aug 2020)

Yogi Bhajan sexual allegations rock Kundalini Yoga world (Asia Samachar, 18 March 2020)

Yogi Bhajan’s sexual exploits under investigation (Asia Samachar, 7 March 2020)

 

ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs / Punjabis in Southeast Asia and beyond. Facebook | WhatsApp +6017-335-1399 | Email: editor@asiasamachar.com | Twitter | Instagram | Obituary announcements, click here |

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