Indian-born fashion designer Anand Jon has been convicted of sexually assaulting seven women. He faces a life term.
He was found guilty of 16 out of 23 counts of sexual abuse, including forcible rape of 7 women and girls aged 14 to 21. He was also convicted of possessing child pornography by a jury at the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Jon is scheduled to be sentenced on January 13, 2009. Because the case involves special circumstances against multiple victims, the penalty is a mandatory life sentence, therefore Jon will only be eligible for parole in 67 years.
Jon is also facing charges in New York and is under investigation for similar charges in Texas and Massachusetts.
A six men and six women jury jury took almost two weeks to arrive at a conclusion. The delay and the division among jurors came to public attention also, creating an impression that Jon might get out of jail or at least escape with a lesser punishment. But it was not to be.
Only he was acquitted of four counts. There was no unanimity about the remaining three counts among the jurors. Judge David Wesley declared a mistrial on those charges.
Jon was born in South India, and came to the US to study at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and later at Parsons. He sold collections at stores including Bergdorf Goodman in New York City, Wilkes Bashford in San Francisco, and Luisa Via Roma in Florence, Italy. His clothes had been modeled by and designed for celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Rosario Dawson, Lawrence Fishburn, Gina Torres, Oprah Winfrey, and Janet Jackson. His style was primarily known for its specific detail and Indian influence.
Jon had been a judge for the TV show, America's Next Top Model
. He also worked with celebrities like Paris Hilton. He was profiled on the TV show "America's Next Top Model" in 2003 and selected by Newsweek magazine as one of the world's most successful South Asians in 2004.
He allegedly lured his victims to Los Angeles to model for him and then attacked them.
In March 2007 a woman lodged a complaint with the police that she had been sexually assaulted by Anand Jon at his Beverly Hills apartment. A semen-stained comforter, a tampon and a camera, were some of the items listed on a Beverly Hills Police Department search warrant when officers raided his pad.
Later that year Jon was charged with a list of offenses more often associated with spring break at Lake Havasu than evenings on staid North Palm Drive: forcible rape, lewd acts upon a child, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, sexual battery by restraint and attempted forcible oral copulation, wrote a US blogger.
The prosecution initially charged him with assault of 20 women with 59 counts. But later some of the charges were dropped.
The defense argued that these women were out to take revenge on Jon. They also produced evidences that these women interacted with Jon for long after the alleged assaults.
But the jury did not go with the defense and convicted Jon.
Defense Attorney Leonard Levine has vowed to appeal the verdict.