Women accuse Oregon spiritual guru of sexual abuse, claim he’s running a cult

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Editor’s note: This story contains discussions of sexual assault that some people may find difficult to read.

A longtime self-proclaimed spiritual guru has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women. Former members of The Movement Center, a yoga and meditation center once located in Portland’s Kerns neighborhood, told KGW that J. Michael Shoemaker, who goes by Swami Chetanananda or “Swamiji,” strangled and psychologically harmed them over the span of decades.

At least four women said they were sexually assaulted by Shoemaker. The mother of another woman involved with the center told KGW that her daughter was sexually assaulted in 2019. The allegations against Shoemaker span fifty years.

“It gave me a lot of relief to know that it wasn’t all in my head,” said Ruth Graham, a former member of The Movement Center.

While living at the center, Graham said she was sexually assaulted. Many people took meditation classes at The Movement Center, but others — like Graham — lived on-site. The center was housed in the historic Anna Mann House, a sprawling mansion near Northeast 33rd and Sandy that is now being repurposed for affordable housing.

“I was, I’m pretty sure, roofied and trafficked,” Graham said.

A visiting spiritual teacher raped her, Graham said. She said she was also groped by Shoemaker.

“What happened to me was very personal,” Graham said. “So I didn’t know it was a whole system.”

Content retrieved from: https://www.kgw.com/article/news/local/the-story/shoemaker-swami-chananandra-portland-oregon-guru-sexual-assault-women-movement-center/283-2741736c-9e9b-43ea-91f7-9728d70e6d19.

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