A Pasadena yoga instructor who told female students that his intimate touch would “heal” them has been convicted of sexual battery and will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, city officials said.
A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury in Pasadena convicted Naader Shagagi last week of four misdemeanor counts of sexual battery by fraudulent representation, city officials said in a statement. He will be sentenced Dec. 5.
Shagagi, 56, owns Yoga Kingdom Sanctuary on Lake Avenue. The studio’s website says Shagagi has taught yoga and meditation to more than 20,000 people and that he “frequently quotes from the writings of Yoga Masters and Sufi Mystics … reminding his students that 'health is not everything, but everything is nothing without health.’” He has made several Hatha yoga DVDs.
A female employee who answered the phone at Yoga Kingdom Sanctuary on Monday said the studio, which has numerous instructors, was still open and operating but that "as much as I'd love to," the studio is not commenting on the case at this time.
City officials said the case was based on complaints from three young female students who said they were assaulted during private “healing” sessions. He told victims he was a healer who had cured people of breast cancer and he was a “’messenger of gods’ who could communicate with gods,” officials said.
Yoga Kingdom Sanctuary advertises Curative Yoga, claiming it will “melt away the disease you may currently be experiencing” and that students have reported weight loss, cured migraines and no longer needing prescription medication for anxiety and depression.
Victims were persuaded to take multiple private sessions with Shagagi during which he repeatedly groped and touched them, officials said.
“We are grateful that the jury has sent a strong message that sex crimes will not be tolerated,” Pasadena City Atty. Michele Beal Bagneris said in a statement. She encouraged other possible victims to come forward.