Celebrity Indian-American fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander was today sentenced to a minimum of 59 years in prison by a court for preying upon seven young aspiring models as young as 14 and sexually assaulting them.
Rejecting Jon's motions for a fresh trial, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Wesley announced the judgement, saying there were no new grounds for granting such a motion.
35-year-old Jon, who was acting as his own attorney, showed no reaction as the Judge said he should be incarcerated as long as possible for preying upon young girls and women.
Jon stared ahead blankly as Judge Wesley handed down the hefty sentence and his victims wept in the jury box.
He was convicted in November of 16 counts including including rape, sexual battery and performing lewd acts on a child. Jon was found not guilty of four felonies, and jurors could not reach a verdict on three counts.
"Jon has showed no remorse for his actions," Wesley said. Jon also faces similar charges in New York and Texas where he has been indicted.
Judge Wesley said Jon must serve 14 years in state prison -- before he begins to serve a 45-year-to-life sentence. He was denied bail while he prepares his appeal. Soon thereafter Jon was immediately remanded to the custody of the state Department of Corrections.
The designer has been featured on the television show "America's Next Top Model" and worked with such celebrities as Paris Hilton and Mary J Blige.
Earlier, Jon used most part of his defence to attack juror Alvin Dymally, who had reached out to his sister Sanjana, in an apparent attempt to woo her or to offer his assistance in influencing jury deliberations in his favour.
Jon called Dymally a "poisoned apple" and a "renegade, runaway juror" who possibly wrecked his chances for freedom. During his defence, at one point, he even expressed frustration over the lawyers who defended his case earlier.
Kerala-born Jon presented a lengthy argument saying he should get a new trial because of juror and prosecutorial misconduct, and inadequate defence by his former attorneys.
At one point in the case, Jon called his mother Shashi Abraham to the stand. Appearing as a witness, she told the court how Dymally had made casual; passing contact with her during the trial at one point reassuring her that Jon was innocent and he would be set free.
"Under Young's cross-examination, Abraham said she did not alert authorities early on about the contact because she was afraid," reported Steven Mikulan on LA Weekly Blog, who was present inside the court proceedings.
Mikulan wrote Jon's speeches, except for one detour into tears, were delivered in a loud, clear voice.
"I'm not perfect, but I'm not guilty," Jon, who was dressed in a dark suite with his long black hair tied in a ponytail, was quoted as saying.
A bevy of beautiful women who said Jon sexually assaulted them filled the jury box. Some of them cried as the sentence was read by the Judge.
"I was 14. You took my adolescence, my trust, my dream and completely manipulated them for your sexual desires," one of the women was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times.
"It sickens me that a grown man can do such a thing to a girl," the now 17-year-old girl said. "A girl who was naive and had the belief that all people were good. And you took that to your advantage."
Prosecutors said the crimes started in 2001 when Jon set up a fashion design business through which he lured would-be models to Los Angeles. The police got involved in March 2007 after a woman said she was sexually assaulted at his Beverly Hills apartment.
Jon graduated from the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York and launched a fashion line in 1999. He was selected by Newsweek magazine as one of the world's most successful South Asians in 2004.
'He has Been Victimised'
Reacting with dismay to the 59-year sentence handed over to Anand Jon by a US court for sexually assaulting aspiring models, his sister and their family lawyer today said the fashion designer has been "victimised" and facts have been overlooked in the case.
The designer's mother said, "He is not capable of doing anything like this. This was beyond my belief that Anand has been taken in and arrested on charges of molestation".
Defending Anand, his sister Sanjana said, "The fact that Anand is an Indian citizen and that he is being victimised is completely overlooked. So there is nobody questioning anything that we are facing there".
"Every piece of evidence that is medical shows that nothing ever happened. There is no medical evidence that showed that anything ever happened," she told TV channels.
Their family's lawyer Majid Memon said, "It is very sad that this young boy, a celebrity from India, has to be left like this and being now convicted and sentenced to suffer for the whole of his life."
Memon said all the girls alleging rape or molestation don't have a "scratch on their body to suggest that there was any resistance or any violence by the accused. Moreover, the complaints have been lodged weeks and even months after the incidents. So definitely this is a very dubious kind of a charge and unfortunately Anand was left alone and there was hardly any help.
"The two women - his mother and sister- were helplessly struggling to get justice and I am sure that they would now move for an appeal," he added.
Designer Anand Jon Sentenced to 59 Years in Jail
AP Photo/Mark Boster, Pool
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