Gary “Dijon” Bowden Jr., the son out outgoing Time’s Up CEO Lisa Borders, was accused of sexual misconduct during a “healing session,” The Los Angeles Times reports.
Borders abruptly resigned as the first CEO of the women’s empowerment group this week after just four months. The Times reports that she resigned because her role was “in conflict” with her desire to defend her son against the allegations.
The allegations against Bowden were first published in a Facebook post by Santa Monica yoga instructor Celia Gellert.
Gellert told The Times that Bowden offered her a “healing session” but left her feeling “violated” after he groped her, kissed her neck, and brushed his erect penis on her body during the session.
Bowden’s attorney denied the allegations and showed the Times a message in which Gellert thanked Bowden after the massage, calling it “gentle and authentic and loving.”
“My client vehemently denies that any inappropriate or nonconsensual touching occurred at any time,” the attorney told The Times.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Gary “Dijon” Bowden Jr. is a Podcaster and Life Coach
Dijon Bowden Jr. is a 36-year-old podcaster, artist, and life coach, The Times reported. He wrote on his website that he moved from Atlanta to San Francisco in 2007 and became homeless.
“While I was growing up,” Bowden wrote, “my mom was too busy working to be present with my creations and my dad wasn’t there.”
Until Thursday, Bowden advertised the sale of four “experiences,” including a two-hour, $333 Shakti Invocation treatment.
The site said that he used “intuitive touch,” crystals and chocolate to “calm the nervous system and awaken and energize your inner Shakti.”
Shatki is a term from Hinduism that refers to creative power and the female principle of divine energy.
“It’s your time to feel safe, open and receptive to bliss,” his site said. “Indulge yourself, you deserve it.”
2. Celia Gellert Says Bowden Groped Her During a ‘Healing Session’
Gellert, a 31-year-old yoga instructor who practices reiki healing, told The Times she arranged for Bowden to give her a “healing session” at her home on January 21.
After being told to undress and being covered in coconut oil by Bowden, Gellert says “he touched me in really inappropriate places. I just froze.”
“I told him I didn’t feel well and he kept saying, ‘Trust me,’” she said. He “kissed the back of my neck,” she said, adding that he said, “Don’t worry if you are afraid.”
She told The Times that Bowden also rubbed his erect but clothed penis on her arm, jiggled her buttocks, and blew air on her genitalia.
“It was not healing, it was disgusting,” Gellert said.
The morning after she said she told Bowden she had “disturbing dreams” and he recommended another healer. She thanked him for the session calling the massage “gentle and authentic and loving” and calling him “soul family/angelic soul.”
Two days later, Gellert reached out again to tell Bowden she was uncomfortable with the experience.
“I do feel a little surprised to that you’re saying you feel uncomfortable with the process [because] you said multiple times during and after how beautiful and supportive it was,” Bowden wrote back.
She replied that although parts of the session were helpful, “I’m still left feeling uncomfortable and violated.”
Gellert confided in two friends about the experience afterward. Both friends said Gellert cried as she recalled the encounter.
She posted about the experience on Facebook three weeks later, warning others to “stay far away” from Bowden.
Gellert told The Times she came forward “not out of malice or ill intent,” but because “I’m just trying to raise awareness and create a change so that men can get the help that they need.”
3. Bowden’s Attorney Denies Allegations & Says Gellert Thanked Bowden Afterward
Alan Jackson, an attorney for Bowden, denied that any inappropriate touching happened during the session.
“My client vehemently denies that any inappropriate or nonconsensual touching occurred at any time,” Jackson told The Times.
Jackson also showed the Times the text message in which Gellert thanked him for the massage, though he did not comment on the subsequent messages in which she told Bowden she was left uncomfortable.
He also showed the Times the messages in which Gellert reached out to arrange the session and suggested it take place in her home, though she does not deny any of that.
4. Lisa Borders Resigned as Time’s Up CEO to Defend Her Son
Borders, 61, abruptly resigned from Time’s Up earlier this week just four months after becoming the group’s first CEO. Borders is the former president of the WNBA and a former senior executive at Coca-Cola.
She did not say why but cited a need to “to address family concerns that require my singular focus.”
The Times reports that the move came after “Borders suddenly found herself at odds with the core mission of Time’s Up because of a desire to stand by a man — her son — facing allegations of sexual misconduct.”
Within 24 hours of the allegations being posted on Facebook, Borders met with the group’s members and decided to step down.
5. Time’s Up Issues Statement After Borders Resigns
Time’s Up released a statement about Borders’ resignation Thursday.
“On Friday, Lisa Borders informed members of Time’s Up leadership that sexual assault allegations had been made against her son in a private forum,” the statement said. “Within 24 hours, Lisa made the decision to resign as president and CEO of Time’s Up and we agreed that it was the right decision for all parties involved. All of our actions were fully guided by our support for survivors.”
Lauren Aubrey, a friend who Gellert confided in after the encounter, told The Times that she found the situation ironic.
“It is so ironic to me that his mother is … was leading this organization that was supposed to be about protecting women,” Aubrey said, “and helping women find their voice.”