Questions related to the Independent Investigation of Manouso Manos
Didn’t BKS Iyengar clear Manouso Manos of all these charges? How can you "reopen" issues that he decided?
In 1990, Guruji had before him allegations of sexual misconduct against Mr. Manos that began in the 1980s. Guruji decided not to remove Mr. Manos from the system. He instead ordered remedial action and stated that Mr. Manos would not get another chance if the misconduct recurred. The independent investigator will address the question whether sexual misconduct occurred after January 1, 1992 (the date IYNAUS commenced operations). She will not reopen any issues that Guruji decided in 1990.
Why did IYNAUS allow complaints about Manouso over a 26 year period since 1992?
1992 is the year in which IYNAUS was formed, and to use a legal concept, there is no statute of limitations in our ethical guidelines. However, the lapse of time can render information less reliable, and our independent investigator will not rely on allegations that are not substantiated by credible evidence. These determinations cannot be made in the abstract. To determine if an allegation is well founded, the investigator must know (1) the allegations, (2) the quality and character of any substantiating information, and (3) the response of the accused.
This investigator is a highly trained lawyer with a wealth of experience, impeccable credentials, and an excellent reputation for thoroughness, sensitivity, and fairness. We ask for your patience and ask that you reserve judgment until her work is completed.
Why are you investigating a brilliant teacher who has helped many hundreds of students? Why are you treating him so unfairly?
There have been allegations of sexual misconduct against Manouso Manos. We cannot ignore them simply because he has done much good in our community. It is our duty to assure a full investigation of these allegations.
We have information that others do not, and we have an obligation and burden to act on that information. We are aware that Mr. Manos has passionate supporters and passionate detractors. We have not prejudged anything. Our objective is that Mr. Manos’s defenders, his detractors, and Mr. Manos himself will all believe that we had a fair and reasonable process when this investigation is concluded. We ask for your patience, trust, and indulgence in the interim.
Isn’t it unprecedented to hire an independent firm to conduct an independent investigation of a charge of sexual misconduct?
Independent investigations are now routinely conducted in the United States when there are allegations of sex abuse or other misconduct against a powerful member of an organization. Like other organizations, IYNAUS must enjoy the confidence and trust of our members and the public, and when there have been widely publicized allegations of sexual abuse by one of our most senior, influential, and powerful teachers, we must assure our membership and the public that we are effectively and fairly investigating them.
Ethics investigations are confidential in some other professions. Why have you published the fact that you are investigating Manouso Manos?
IYNAUS's historic practice has been that ethics complaints, investigations and results are entirely confidential.
Unique and unprecedented circumstances led us to depart from that policy. In early September, the press reported details of Ann West’s complaint in articles in which Ms. West and Mr. Manos were both quoted. Mr. Manos posted on his website his response to the complaint. When our ethics committee decided the complaint in Mr. Manos's favor, he announced the same on his website. Public discussion and criticism of the ethics committee and IYNAUS ensued, and it was publicly announced that Ms. West had appealed the decision. In the meantime, other allegations against Mr. Manos appeared on social media and on websites. During this period, there was also similar publicity of a complaint against CIYT Allan Nett.
Much of the information reported in the press and on social media was inaccurate and damaged the reputation of IYNAUS and Iyengar Yoga in the U.S.
For these reasons, the IYNAUS Board determined that it should assure that the public received accurate information relating to the proceeding on both of these complaints. We thus published the decisions on both the Manos and Nett complaints, and we publically announced our decision to have an independent investigation of both Ms. West’s allegations and any other allegations against Mr. Manos. We took these actions both to provide the public with accurate information about issues that had been injected into the public domain by others and to protect the reputation of Iyengar Yoga in the U.S.
Will membership fees be used to pay the costs of the independent investigation?
At this juncture, it is unclear whether membership fees will be used to pay any portion of these costs, and it is possible that that we will be able to fund the costs entirely from other sources of revenues.
Is the independent investigation a legitimate use of IYNAUS's funds?
Yes. Circumstances have placed the IYNAUS Board in the position of having to demonstrate that our ethical guidelines apply to all teachers in our community, and that all our students are safe in our yoga classes. The costs of the investigation are necessary to protect Iyengar Yoga in the U.S. We determined that we cannot afford NOT to incur these costs.
Why are you allowing the independent investigator to review the Ethics Committee decision on Ann West’s complaint and to discuss the issues with members of the committee? Don’t the Ethics Committee members have a conflict of interest?
Yes. We determined that Ethics Committee should not decide these issues because reasonable people would conclude that its members cannot impartially decide complaints against Mr. Manos due to his power and seniority in our community. The independent investigator is aware of these facts. She is a highly experienced former prosecutor and lawyer who understands the factors that potentially make ANY witness unreliable. When she addresses Ann West’s allegations, she will consider not just the Ethics Committee’s decision but also the external critiques of its analysis. She will further decide whether to interview senior teachers or other members of our community who are knowledgeable about physical adjustments and other technicalities of asanas. We will make available to her any teachers whom she requests and who are willing to be interviewed by her.