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LOS ANGELES — Fashion designer Anand Jon was convicted Thursday of rape and other sexual assault charges involving young, would-be models.
A jury of six women and six men deliberated over seven days before convicting Jon on one count of rape and 15 sex-related charges, including possession of child pornography. He was acquitted on four counts and a mistrial was declared on the other three.
This story first appeared in the November 14, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Jon, 34, faces a maximum term of life in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 13 by Superior Court Judge David Wesley. He is being held without bail.
The prosecution described Jon as a “serial rapist,” who used fashion to lure would-be models to his Beverly Hills apartment between 2001 and 2007, where he carried out the attacks and then kept a “brag list” chronicling the details.
Deputy district attorney Frances Young, who conceded in court that some of the young women were reckless, said Jon “was a pedophile masquerading as a fashion designer.”
Jon bowed his head as the verdicts were read and his sister, Sanjana Jon, wept in a courtroom filed with friends and relatives.
Defense lawyer Leonard Levine said he would appeal the jurors’ decision, contending that some grand jury testimony was not made available to the defense team. “This isn’t over by a long shot,” he said.
Jon, whose full name is Anand Jon Alexander, faces similar charges in Texas and New York.
Although Jon wasn’t a pivotal figure in the fashion industry, some viewed him as a rising talent, even as others said his work was more flash and self-promotion than substance. He had appeared as a guest designer on the reality TV show “America’s Next Top Model.”
A key part of the defense strategy during the two-month trial rested on the argument that the nine accusers, aged 14 to 21, hoped to use Jon’s status for their own gain and then turned on him when they didn’t succeed.
Some of the women didn’t have sex with the defendant or, if they did, it was consensual, Levine said, adding some of the accusers stayed in touch with Jon — and even lived in his apartment — after prosecutors said they were attacked.
Jon was arrested in March 2007 after a woman told police in Beverly Hills that she had been raped the day before. A grand jury indicted Jon on 59 counts, but prosecutors dropped more than half of them before the trial started on Sept. 12 and two more were dropped during the trial. The defense said that was an indication of the flimsiness of the case.