Kyle Conti may not get the last word on the sexual harassment complaints filed against him. But he apparently wanted the first.
Last week, before a meeting with a government agency to discuss the allegations filed by two of his former female employees, the owner of Charlotte Yoga posted a selfie of himself in which he shared some early morning thoughts. Conti was clad only in a towel, and this is what he wrote: "When your integrity is questioned & you get the opportunity today to look your accuser in the eyes you wake up at 4 am so excited for that moment ..."
Two more selfies followed. In those, Conti had exchanged the towel for a dark suit and blue dress shirt, and he appeared to be soliciting feedback on how he should finish off his fashion look for the upcoming sit-down with his accusers.
In one photo, he's wearing a red-checked tie. In the other, the tie is missing and his shirt is open at the neck. He poses the question: "Tie? Or no tie?"
His final Instagram photo shows the law firm of attorney John Brickley, who is defending Conti against the women's complaints. "Let's do this," it reads.
Several hours later, Conti sat down with his accusers at the Charlotte office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. During a break in the meeting, Charlotte attorney Meg Maloney, who is representing the former employees, said one of the women forwarded Conti's photos.
After viewing them, Maloney said, she and her clients immediately walked out.
"It was too disturbing to continue after that. I needed two bourbons that night," she told the Observer the next day. "I just find this unbelievably offensive. ... The amount of disrespect he showed these women after what he did to them."
The documents in the EEOC complaints filed by the former Charlotte Yoga employees say Conti created a "sexually hostile environment" for female staff members and students alike. The two women say they were fired within a week of each other after they confronted Conti about his actions, and a third quit outright, the documents say. The Observer does not identify women who say they have been victims of sexual harassment or assault.
Conti, according to the allegations, frequently made lurid public comments about his customers and employees while bragging that he'd slept with many of them. The accusers also say Conti made a habit of inappropriately touching attractive women who took his classes.
"Kyle Conti acts as if he can do whatever he wants as the owner of Charlotte Yoga studios without any consequences," the former instructor wrote in her complaint.
In response to an Observer email, Brickey said Conti "vehemently denies the allegations." When asked specifically about his client's Instagram postings, Brickey did not respond.
A day later, the photos no longer appeared on Conti's Instagram page. This is normal for photos included in Instagram Stories, which automatically get deleted from the social media platform after 24 hours.
The former instructor says she became a sexual target of her boss in a December class that Conti taught. To keep Conti from touching her, she said in her complaint, the instructor put a card on her yoga mat ahead of time saying, "No assists, please."
According to her complaint, Conti bent over and read her message when she was in a "downward dog," a well-known yoga pose in which the hands and feet stay flat on the floor while the back and legs remain straight, forming an upside-down "V."
"He placed his feet on my hands so I was unable to move," she wrote. "He pressed his entire pelvis against my back aggressively and said, 'I love being able to put all my weight into you' while groping my hips and glutes with his hands and fingers."
The instructor wrote that she was fired in late December 2016 after a lawyer she hired notified Conti that "I did not want him to touch me, require me to be alone with him, or make any further sexual comments or gestures in my presence."
In a separate complaint, the former operations manager said she feared being alone with her boss "due to his constant barrage of sexual comments and hostile and aggressive manner."
She wrote that on one occasion, Conti spoke openly about wanting to have sex with an underage employee "once she became legal. "
When he taught yoga classes, "he gave 'assists' with more physical contact than necessary to attractive young women (pressing his full body into them) but not to men," the former manager wrote.
She, too, alleges that she was fired after objecting to Conti's behavior.
Charlotte Yoga, with locations in South End and on Woodlawn Road, is considered to be among Charlotte's most popular yoga studios. A 2015 listing of the top teachers in the city included Conti and three of his instructors.
The allegations obtained by the Observer date back to 2015. An EEOC complaint is often a procedural stepping stone to a lawsuit alleging workplace discrimination.
"If a lawsuit is filed, we will respond accordingly," Brickley said. "But we are not going to engage in any debates through the media."
Maloney would not comment on her clients' future plans.
But she said Conti was "evasive, inaccurate and arrogant" during the EEOC meeting, and his photos left her clients "upset and feeling disrespected." On a side note, she said, he was not wearing a tie.
"He needs to know that we are taking this seriously even if he's not," she said.