Jury selection is about to begin for the upcoming Anand Jon trial. As we earlier noted, the fashion designer was charged last year with sexual assault by a number of models, but now, Los Angeles county prosecutors have dropped half the charges. From the LA Times:
The decision to strike the counts, involving 10 of the 20 alleged victims, was made just as jury selection was set to get underway in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Prosecutors with the county district attorney's office said they still had "a very strong case" against Jon, who faces the possibility of 122 years to life in state prison if convicted of all counts.
"These are the victims that prosecutors are electing to proceed with at this time," said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, adding that lawyers for the other alleged victims could move to reinstate the charges during trial.
The developments in California could affect what happens in New York, where Jon has also been charged. From Newsday:
Prosecutors have said Jon forced numerous women who ranged in age from 14 to 21 to have sex with him in exchange for the chance to be photographed in his designs, appear with him on the red carpet or wear his clothes on the runway.
William Petrillo of Garden City, Jon's New York attorney, said the prosecutor's choice to dismiss some charges confirms what he has been saying all along: that many of the cases against his client are weak.
He said he hopes yesterday's development will raise doubts for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau about the strength of his own case. The charges that were dismissed in California involve four of the same women who accused Jon in New York, Petrillo said.
Jon's family has mounted an aggressive publicity campaign to raise doubts about the accusations, and it's been quite effective in the Indian press, including the suggestion that "racial discrimination" underlies the charges. But the tabloids have been enjoying this: the New York Post called him a "sniveling crybaby" for complaining about the conditions in his jail cell.
Perhaps the most thorough examination of this case and its merits is by (former NYT reporter) Sharon Waxman in Los Angeles magazine, who speaks to Jon as well as his associates and some accusers. From "Designer Sex: The Anand Jon Case", which was written before the latest developments:
Sex was presumed, Lindsay says. It was part of advancing her career. She says she resisted, and he said, “Hollywood is very sexual, and you had to be a free-loving and open spirit. You couldn’t be stuck up as I was. And I was being a brat, and taking advantage of his generosity.” With Katie, he was brusque: After sex, she says, he told her she was a nobody, and if she didn’t stay with him, he would send her back to the farm in Alabama. “He said that I’d never be anybody if I didn’t follow his rules.”
Still other testimony seems to raise questions about how strongly some of the young women resisted and whether they are lying.
Katie, for instance, followed Jon to California, where she was one of several girls who paid him rent from their work in retail stores, grocery markets, and clothing shops. Why would Katie pay a man who had raped her $800 a month so she could live with him? “There were other girls there,” she says, “so I didn’t think I would be messed with.” For two weeks after the move, she says, Jon had “forced sex” with her as many as four times. She did not report it for more than a year, until after Jon was arrested in March 2007, when a lingerie model named Jessie from Lake Stevens, Washington, went to the police and became the first to accuse him of rape.
Why didn’t so many of the girls go to the police immediately?
“I honestly wasn’t brave enough…,” says Jennifer M., the girl from the San Fernando Valley.
Here's what Waxman has to say about the news from last week:
What is the DA thinking? A spokeswoman for the D.A. refused to comment, citing a gag order by the judge. But a source in the prosecution office said that a decision was simply made “to streamline” the process, and get Jon “on the solids.”
Sounds like hogwash. The defendants that will be dropped tomorrow include some of the most unbelievable testimony that I read in the eight volumes of grand jury questioning. Notably dismissed is Katie W., the innocent young farm girl from outside Montgomery, Alabama who accused Jon of raping her in New York, but then followed him to Los Angeles where, she said, he raped her again. My story in Los Angeles magazine recounted a video of Katie W. found among Jon's effects, in which she cavorts for him naked, with no sense of shame or regret.
The others alleged victims to be dismissed were also noted in my story in this month’s Los Angeles magazine as problematic witnesses: Lindsay B., Lori B., Ashley H, Avery G.
Journalists wishing to contact Jon's sister, Sanjana Jon, can do so at sanjanajon[at]gmail.com.
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