|Speak Up by Mimmo Rotella|
I wanted to let those of you who don’t already know that Richard C. Miller, founding president of the iRest Institute, has resigned from the iRest Board of Directors and stepped away from teaching at iRest Institute events for “an undetermined amount of time” after sexual harassment accusations made in 2012 against him by an employee of his organization were recently made public. He has also committed to immediately begin taking ethics and sensitivity training.
Richard has admitted his actions toward the employee in a public statement about the incident, which you can find at IRI Community Statement. (In addition to being a psychologist who specializes in trauma and a long-time yoga teacher, Richard was the President of the iRest Institute where the employee was the Director of Operations.)
In 2012, when the employee reported the sexual harassment to the Human Resources department, iRest took a corporate approach to the incident, using mediation and a non-disclosure agreement. But in 2020, the former employee questioned the legality of the non-disclosure agreement. After being released from it, she hared her story on her Facebook page last week. Only then did the iRest institute decide that other actions are needed besides the one they originally took. They are now pledging to:
- Overhaul our Board of Directors
- Reform our Ethics Committee and strengthen our ethics procedures
- Redesign our programming
- Enable and prioritize a diversity of thought, perspective, and influence
- Re-evaluate and update Human Resources (HR) procedures
- Strengthen and maintain an ethically informed and mission-driven organizational culture
To see their complete statement, go to A Statement from the iRest Institute Board of Directors.
Most of this information came to me, unsolicited, through my email, including both the letter from Richard Miller and the statement from the iRest Institute. I also saw a lot of concern being expressed about this on Facebook by members of the yoga community.
In 2018, after hearing Karen Rain on the J. Brown’s podcast discuss the importance of continuing to shine a light on sexual abuse in the yoga community (see Speaking Truth to Power About Sexual Abuse), I wrote down on a piece of paper “We have to keep this topic alive.” That’s why I’m sharing this information with you and why I will continue to report on this troubling topic.
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