Lisa Borders, the CEO of Time’s Up, abruptly resigned her post this week after her son was accused of sexual assault, the organization told TheWrap on Thursday.
Borders, who had been in the job just over three months, resigned this week citing “family concerns that require my singular focus.”
But TheWrap has learned that Borders agreed to resign after her son Dijon Bowden Jr., a healer based in Los Angeles, was accused of sexual misconduct in a session with a woman who went to the police. Her responses in defending her son made her position untenable, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation.
The individual told TheWrap that “Lisa wanted to take action to defend her son and in doing so was in conflict with her role leading an organization deeply rooted in supporting survivors.”
In a statement, Time’s Up told TheWrap:
“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. 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.
We respect the rights of all survivors to own their own stories. We strongly encourage anyone who has experienced sexual harassment, assault or related retaliation in the workplace or in trying to advance their careers to contact the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund for assistance.
We remain committed to our mission to create, safe and dignified for women of all kinds.“
Bowden, 36, has a lifestyle and healing business where he offers services ranging from photography and inspirational podcasting to sessions where he pleasures women.
On a recent podcast he described one such session: “I’ve been doing Shakti invocation sessions. I provide an experience for women to feel safe and open… Part of me stepping back from sexuality was to master my own sexual energy. When I show up in those sessions I’m not being guided by my own desire. I’m being guided by serving the opening of this woman… Normally when I do it, I’m providing this experience for the woman, she’s having a good time.”
But a woman who apparently went through one such session, Reiki instructor Celia Gellert, said in a private Facebook group and in this Pintaram post that she had been sexually assaulted by Bowden, writing: “I just reported my sexual assault- rape- however you’d like to classify it today. I’m feeling powerful, fearLESS and ready to speak my authentic truth. Sexual assault is a nice umbrella term that’s not as abrasive as the word rape. It makes people squeamish. My actions today not only stand up for my rights as a human being, but for my mother, and all the women I know who have been sexually assaulted, and for all women all over the world today.”
In the Facebook group she warned women to stay away from Bowden, according to the L.A. Times.
She told the L.A. Times that she felt “violated” when Bowden, “touched her genitalia, kissed her neck and brushed his erect but clothed penis against her body during the session.”
Gellert filed a police report, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation. She runs a women’s empowerment group in Santa Monica.
— Celia Gellert (@CeliaGuru) January 25, 2019
Bowden was a photographer in San Francisco who moved to Los Angeles in recent years where he has grown a business around healing and a philosophy of openness.
His mother Lisa Borders was hired by Time’s Up with great fanfare in October from the WNBA, where she was president since 2016. Before that Borders has been a vice president at Coca-Cola and the vice mayor of Atlanta. She was chosen after a broad search for a leader for the organization and was hand-picked by founders Shonda Rhimes, Katie McGrath and Rebecca Goldman.
The abrupt resignation is a distinct embarrassment to the group, which did not initially disclose the sexual misconduct tie to Borders. Borders could not immediately be reached for comment. An attorney for Bowden Alan Jackson did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but told the L.A. Times: “My client vehemently denies that any inappropriate or nonconsensual touching occurred at any time.”
A video on YouTube advertises an event this weekend on the beach where Bowden invites participants to do yoga and try mushrooms:
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.