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Statements from Our Response Team

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August 28, 2020

 

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

 

Sat Nam. With the release of the report from An Olive Branch, the next substantive task before us is to turn our attention to the process of healing. As stated previously, the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation and our related organizations are committed to taking action to address the findings in the report, to assist all reporters of harm and to promote healing in our community. We approach this huge task with an open heart and a sincere desire to reach out and move forward with the process of healing and reconciliation.

 

We have embarked on a program of Compassionate Reconciliation based on the principles of restorative justice, mediation and other healing modalities. We are currently interviewing and vetting a number of the most respected restorative justice experts throughout the world to assemble a team with specific qualifications that meet the needs of our community. We place the utmost importance on three main areas:

 

●Expertise in working with reporters of harm

●Knowledge and experience in working with trauma in school and youth programs 

●Working with spiritual communities to heal after major conflicts

 

Within the next two to three weeks, with the guidance of the consultant team, we will be forming a Compassionate Reconciliation Commission. The commission will consist of members from our community, including: reporters of harm, those who experienced harm from our youth programs, representatives from our organizations, Next-gen members, and others to address the various facets of healing and our community needs. The commission will share specific steps and work plans as they are developed.

 

We are also continuing our Listening Tour calls for all who wish to participate. To learn more about the Listening Tour and how to join, please click on the following link: https://www.ssscorp.org/listening-tour.html

 

We are in a time of change and have an opportunity to meet challenges with honesty, courage and grace. We look to the healing light of Guru Ram Das to open our hearts, heal our spirit and transform our consciousness.

 

In Service and Consciousness,

 

Siri Singh Sahib Corporation

August 20, 2020

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

Sat Nam. In our August 13 letter that accompanied the report by An Olive Branch, we reflected on the challenges that face us collectively as a community. We recognized that the last few months have been very painful for members of our community and that there is a degree of polarization in our community. We also affirmed the SSSC’s commitment to creating an environment where all feel welcome to participate in a collective dialogue about our past and our future as a community. We expressed our hope that community members with differing views will be able to talk with each other, listen to each other, and be heard by one another. And we offered a prayer that this collective dialogue will illuminate the path forward.

We have been saddened to witness the rising level of harmful communication among community members over the recent weeks. Many of these communications have been directed at the SSSC itself. As a public-facing organization that exists to serve our constituencies, the SSSC welcomes input and feedback and will not shy away from the difficult conversations that face us as a community. The SSSC also welcomes the opportunity to participate in constructive dialogue about the ways in which it can better serve its constituencies.

However, name-calling, shaming, threatening, bullying, and other forms of abusive and harmful language have no place in our community and cannot contribute to a constructive dialogue. Such language, whether in emails or social media posts, serves only to deepen divides and build enmity. And it hurts everyone. The harm is intensified a thousand-fold when threatening and abusive language is aimed directly at individual community members and their families. 

In the strongest terms, the SSSC rejects the use of such language. It is antithetical to our community values and extremely harmful. We urge our fellow community members to embrace the highest standards of civility in our discourse with each other and to communicate with the consciousness that we all aspire to. Let us remember always to recognize that the other person is you. And let us seek to understand each other through compassion and with love.

 

Sincerely,

Board of Trustees,

Siri Singh Sahib Corporation

 

 

August 14, 2020

Re: Follow-up Letter regarding Community Concerns about AOB Investigation

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

Over the last several weeks, the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation heard from a number of people expressing their concerns about the investigation by An Olive Branch (AOB) and from others supporting the investigation and AOB. In particular, an assertion has been made that the investigation was an “illegal investigation” because AOB does not have a Pennsylvania private detective license. As promised by the SSSC in its August 13 cover letter to the AOB report, this letter addresses the licensing concern and other concerns that have been raised. 

An Olive Branch originated as a nonprofit program of the Zen Center of Pittsburgh. The Pennsylvania Private Detective Act of 1953 requires private detectives in Pennsylvania to have a license to perform many tasks, including activities that fall under a very broad definition of a “private detective business.” That definition includes an investigation for the purpose of “obtaining information with reference to … the credibility of witnesses or other persons.” To obtain a license under the statute, an individual must generally have three years of prior law enforcement experience and meet other requirements.

The District Attorney’s office in each of Pennsylvania’s counties is responsible for enforcing the licensing statute in its county. Several weeks ago, the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office received a complaint about AOB’s activities and opened a file on the matter. Reportedly, the District Attorney’s office independently investigated AOB’s activities and also met with SSSC’s local counsel.  After considering, among other things, that it did not appear that anyone in Pennsylvania was being investigated and that none of the activities under investigation occurred in Pennsylvania, the District Attorney’s office concluded it had no legal interest in AOB’s investigation and advised local counsel that it had closed its file. 

So while it is true that AOB does not have a license issued under Pennsylvania’s Private Detective Act of 1953, law enforcement in Pennsylvania is aware of and has familiarized itself with the nature and scope of AOB’s investigation and does not intend to take any action concerning AOB’s licensing status.  

Regardless of how the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office viewed AOB’s investigation, any attempt by a state regulatory or law enforcement agency to interfere with AOB’s investigation for SSSC would likely violate the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Under the First Amendment, the government is prohibited from interfering with a religious organization’s decisions on matters related to internal governance, faith, and the organization’s religious mission. 

The SSSC’s decision to conduct an independent investigation of the allegations of misconduct and hire AOB to do that investigation was based on the commitment to truth and fearless living that is required of us by our values as Sikhs. The investigation, moreover, focused on alleged sexual misconduct by the organization’s founder and chief religious authority—misconduct that if true departs sharply from the teachings of Sikh Dharma. Conducting an independent investigation and hiring AOB to handle it were critical steps towards facing this crisis in a manner consistent with our religious teachings as Sikhs and to ensure the SSSC’s integrity as a religious organization. SSSC’s constitutionally protected right to choose its course of action in this context would therefore likely foreclose any legal action against SSSC or AOB under private detective licensing statutes or analogous laws of any state. 

Aside from the private detective licensing issue, some members of the community have raised concerns that AOB’s consultants are incompetent and unprofessional. As described in its report, AOB either interviewed or received written statements from almost 300 individuals and reviewed social media, lawsuits, publicly available information and other relevant documents. While AOB does not have a private detective license, AOB’s consultants followed standard procedures for conducting an investigation, testing the credibility and motives of all reporters of harm and other witnesses, and seeking corroborating or refuting evidence and witnesses. 

AOB’s training and experience qualified them for this investigation. During the course of the SSSC’s due diligence in selecting an investigator for this investigation, AOB was found to meet the critical requirements to be entrusted with completing this task including:

●        Experience understanding the issues unique to spiritual or religious-based organizations.

●        Experience investigating claims of sexual misconduct.

●        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, unconnected with the SSSC organizations, lawyers, or law enforcement.

All of AOB’s consultants have careers in fields that make them well qualified for the work required for this independent investigation. As professional mediators and facilitators, AOB’s consultants know how to listen deeply and ask probing questions to tease out important details and distinctions in what people say. They also have graduate-level training and experience in gathering and analyzing qualitative data — data gained through interviews, observations and other sources — making them competent to conduct the investigation and synthesize their findings into a report. Their research backgrounds enable them to ask questions that are guided by social science knowledge, insight and practice, while their project management skills and experience support large-scale inquiries such as this one involving nearly 300 participants. Moreover, these consultants have performed similar investigations for two other organizations in the past, demonstrating their ability to do the work necessary in this matter. 

Some members of the community also voiced concerns that the investigation was unfair because no representative was appointed to represent Yogi Bhajan. They asserted that, because Yogi Bhajan is not here to defend himself, a representative should have been appointed to defend him. They asserted further that the appointed representative would need to be provided with the details of every allegation and the identity of every reporter of harm so that the representative could then attempt to refute the allegations and challenge the reporters’ credibility. The SSSC is not aware of any other posthumous investigation where such a representative was appointed or any principle of law or practice that would require a representative. Moreover, many of the allegations were publicly known from social media, a book, podcasts and interviews, and other public documents. Also, the very nature of the reports of harm—the fact that much of the alleged conduct occurred in private over a span of decades—does not support the usefulness of such a process.

As described by the CRT in a previous communication, all efforts were made through the investigative process to ensure that Yogi Bhajan’s voice was heard through his students and family. While some of them chose not to participate, at least 140 people came forward to speak on Yogi Bhajan’s behalf during the investigation, and AOB conducted more than 50 interviews specifically to explore his defense. In addition, AOB received and reviewed numerous written statements in support of Yogi Bhajan. Information related to possible motivations and the factual consistency of the allegations was gathered and assessed by AOB through questioning, fact-finding, and analysis.  

In short, AOB’s consultants followed best practices for conducting this type of investigation despite the subject of the investigation being deceased. They listened carefully to the reporters of harm, witnesses, and all others who participated in the investigation. They tested the credibility and motives of everyone they interviewed, sought corroborating or refuting evidence and witnesses, and prepared a complete account of what they learned during the course of the investigation. 

We appreciate all those who made the effort to express their concerns regarding the investigation, and we hope that the information in this letter helps to clarify the underlying issues. 

Sincerely,

Board of Trustees

Siri Singh Sahib Corporation

 

 

 

 

August 6, 2020

 

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

 

The Siri Singh Sahib Corporation (SSSC) and all of the affiliated organizations under its umbrella, stand united against abuse of any type, and we have a zero-tolerance policy for any conduct that harms or exploits anyone. We are committed to a safe environment for everyone who participates in any of our activities.

 

These last few months have brought to light very difficult experiences from the past. The SSSC recognizes our need to listen and reflect deeply on what these accounts have to teach us and how to move forward together with sensitivity, awareness and inclusion. The SSSC’s commitment is to continue this process and to act responsibly in light of what we learn.

 

In November 2012, the SSSC board became the first elected governance body of our family of organizations. From the time it assumed its governance role, the Board began to strengthen the ethics, compliance, and enforcement policies and programs of our organizations. Some of the SSSC initiatives to ensure a safe and respectful place for learning and practicing the yogic and dharmic teachings, include:

 

 

* Supporting the Office of Ethics and Professional Standards (EPS)

 

Since 2014 EPS has worked to ensure the safety of every student and teacher of Kundalini Yoga by providing training in professional standards and ethics policies. A Code of Ethics for teachers and a Bill of Rights for yoga students are in place to ensure that ethical standards are maintained. Additionally, a Code of Ethics for Sikh Dharma Ministers is in development. EPS provides a 24/7 hotline (1-888-805-4888) and a user-friendly, online process (https://epsweb.org/complaint-procedures) for reporting ethics concerns and addresses such complaints in a timely and effective manner. EPS has recently engaged an expert consultant to review and strengthen our policies and procedures organization-wide and to recommend ways to improve our organizational practices. For more information, please visit the EPS website at: epsweb.org

 

* Strengthening our efforts to cultivate safe environments for all who participate in our events or are part of our community. 

 

The SSSC has been taking steps to cultivate safe environments. Once the report is completed, the SSSC will study the findings with EPS and the Office of Dharmic Counsel. With input from the global community, we will seek a deeper understanding of all issues and will take the steps necessary to ensure that we maintain an environment that is safe for everyone.

 

* Safeguarding the youth in all of our programs. 

 

In 2014 an anti-bullying program was implemented at our school in India, Miri Piri Academy. More recently, based on accounts from next generation members of our community, the SSSC commissioned the Youth Response Team (YRT). Among other things, the YRT is focused on initiatives for supporting the next generation and will also coordinate a broad effort to evaluate our current youth programs to ensure that they are as safe and supportive for all participants.

 

* Commitment to diversity and equitable treatment. 

 

As an organization, we believe in the equality and dignity of all human beings and we stand for truth, social justice and equitable opportunities for all. In the months ahead, the SSSC Board will reach out to various constituents in our community in order to listen and better understand the work necessary to create a more inclusive and safe environment.

 

We remain committed to sharing the teachings that have enriched our lives and the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. As we move forward, we are committed to being conscious and caring, treating all with respect, compassion and kindness, and supporting and enforcing the highest ethical standards.

 

Siri Singh Sahib Corporation

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 19, 2020

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

An Olive Branch is continuing the intensive work of doing a thorough and balanced investigation. Almost 300 people have voluntarily participated in the investigation, including reporters of harm and their supporters as well as reporters supporting Yogi Bhajan and witnesses refuting allegations. As the number of individuals electing to participate in the investigation grew dramatically in the final weeks, An Olive Branch has advised that its report completion date is estimated for late July.

 

The investigation by An Olive Branch has been a challenging time for our communities, but it has been a necessary step as we seek truth and share truth with all. Regardless of an Olive Branch’s findings, we are confident that the strong bond of shared values within our communities and our collective commitment to live for one another will guide us to a successful future.

 

 

 

 

Collaborative Response Team 
ssscresponseteam.org

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

July 29, 2020

 

Over the last few days, we have received a large number of communications from the Sadh Sangat. In light of these communications, the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation would like to clearly state the following:

 

1. The SSSC has not yet received the report of the independent investigation by An Olive Branch;

 

2. The SSSC is committed to reading, reviewing, and publicly circulating the unedited AOB report in a timely fashion.

 

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 
 

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

 

 

 

April 30, 2020

 

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

This message is to provide you with some updates regarding the timeline and next steps related to the investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct by Yogi Bhajan. 

 

As we announced earlier, the intake email to An Olive Branch for individuals reporting harm as well as potential witnesses with information supporting or contradicting the claims of misconduct was scheduled to close today, April 30. To ensure that all voices will be heard, the CRT has requested that the email (yb.investigation@an-olive-branch.org) remain open and monitored through the end of this weekend, May 3.  

 

Thereafter, the intake portion of the independent investigation will be concluded, and the intake email will no longer be monitored. An Olive Branch will spend the next four to six weeks finishing the gathering of evidence, completing interviews with witnesses who have already contacted them, and reaching out to individuals suggested to have potentially relevant information. Once that work has been completed, An Olive Branch will begin to compile their findings and report. The scheduled report completion date of June may be extended due to the high number of individuals who have reached out to participate in the investigation.

 

This phase of the investigation has been a challenging process for us as a community. We greatly value the contribution of everyone who has provided information and made a real effort to help An Olive Branch assess the allegations effectively. If you have any questions, please contact the CRT at crt@ssscorp.org

 

Sat Nam,

 

Collaborative Response Team 
ssscresponseteam.org
 

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

April 21, 2020

 

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

 

To address questions that have recently come up in our community, the CRT has expanded the FAQ section on our website. We would like to share with you some of the new questions and answers.
 

What was the CRT’s process for selecting an independent investigator?

The CRT considered and interviewed several options for an investigative team. The CRT wanted an impartial third party who had 1) experience investigating the difficult issues of sexual misconduct, 2) appropriate training in interview and evaluation skills, 3) demonstrated ability to establish trust with reporters of harm as well as witnesses, and 4) awareness of the unique issues in handling such matters in a spiritually based setting. 
 

The CRT conducted an extensive analysis of possible investigators and found that there were very few who had all of the relevant experience that we believe was critical to a thorough investigation. We concluded that: 
 

•       Criminal investigators, such as retired FBI or other law enforcement, were not appropriate as this is not a criminal investigation or civil litigation before a court, and they would not have the ability to compel witness testimony or production of evidence.

•       Human resources investigators had ample experience in a “workplace setting” with harassment, but not with sexual misconduct in the context of a spiritual community. 

•      Judges and lawyers are often distrusted or feared, and this would be likely to discourage participation. 
 

An Olive Branch was unique and stood apart from more traditional investigators. They met our four critical requirements and had the most relevant experience of any of the individuals and firms we interviewed.
 

What are the qualifications and experience of An Olive Branch?

The three consultants 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. Of the five projects, two were independent investigations, including interviewing students who reported harm and receiving testimony from supporters of their teacher and rebuttal witnesses. Consequently, An Olive Branch has experience investigating the difficult issues associated with sexual misconduct using critical listening skills and responding sensitively both to those who are reporting trauma and to those defending the accused. 

 

All of An Olive Branch’s consultants have careers in different fields that make them well qualified for the work required by the SSSC to perform an independent investigation. They have graduate-level training and experience in gathering and analyzing qualitative data — data gained through interviews, observations and other sources.  
 

As mediators and facilitators, they know how to listen deeply and ask probing questions to tease out important details and distinctions in what people say. Their research backgrounds enable them to ask questions that are guided by social science knowledge, insight and practice, while their project management skills and experience support large-scale inquiries. 

 

Please visit the CRT website often and share it with others for accurate and timely information as we seek the truth and move together towards understanding and healing.
 

Sat Nam,

 

Collaborative Response Team 
ssscresponseteam.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 27, 2020

 

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

 

As the independent investigation by An Olive Branch continues, our organization is taking an initial step to respond with compassion to those reporting allegations of sexual misconduct by Yogi Bhajan. 

 

We are making available confidential, professional counseling to any individual asserting harm from the misconduct they have reported. Beginning April 1, we have engaged Concern (https://www.concernhealth.com), a third-party assistance program, whose staff will perform a confidential intake process of those wishing to enter into counseling. Concern will refer these individuals to one of its recommended and trusted local counselors. Click here for an explanation of how Concern selects its counselors in different localities. 

 

The services are available at no cost to the individual, and their identity will remain private. Anyone reporting harm from the conduct under investigation will be referred to Concern. 

 

Our decision to offer these counseling services is not an indication of any conclusions being drawn by the continuing investigation or by any part of our organization. These service are offered out of compassion for those who may find them valuable. We will continue to reach out to community members in ways that reflect our values of mutual respect and caring. 

 

We encourage anyone with relevant information, either supporting or refuting the allegations, to email An Olive Branch at Yb.investigation@an-olive-branch.org. Because of the high volume of contacts, you can expect return contact within 5 days.

 

We are here to support all members of our community as we seek the truth regarding these issues and move together towards understanding and healing.

 

Sat Nam,

 

Collaborative Response Team 
ssscresponseteam.org


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

 

 

 

 

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 


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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

Sat Nam,

 

Collaborative Response Team 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Sat Nam, 

Collaborative Response Team

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.

Sat Nam,

Collaborative Response Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

As additional information is released, we will share it here.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION