Thirty-four-year-old fashion designer Anand Jon, once among the most prominent Indians on the New York fashion and social scenes, was convicted of rape and other crimes today. From The Los Angeles Times:
"This jury today has sent a message that our communities will not tolerate serial rapists and child molesters like Anand Jon," deputy Dist. Atty. Frances Young said in a statement she read after the hearing. "They will be held accountable and the victims will get justice."
Prosecutors said Jon, 34, faces a sentence of life in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 13. He will be eligible for parole after 67 years.
More from Michel Potts, who's been covering the trial for India-West:
Speaking on behalf of Jon’s defense team of four lawyers during the press conference, Leonard Levin declared that they were “obviously disappointed” with the jury’s verdicts but vowed to file an appeal on Jon’s behalf.
“This case is not over by a long shot,” he said.
Levin earlier told India-West that the appeal will be based on the contention that “there were numerous pre-trial rulings, evidentiary rulings and so forth that are too numerous to go into at this time. It has to do with the evidence that was admitted and the evidence that was kept out.”
Asked how Jon is holding up after having been found guilty on so many counts, “he intends to continue fighting,” Donald Marks told India-West. “He realizes that on many of these counts, the testimony at best was not credible, inconsistent, and I think there was substantial impeachment of all the witnesses…We believe we have a very potent new trial motion, and we look forward to that as well as the appeal.”
When the first guilty verdict was pronounced on the very first charge read, the life went out of Jon’s supporters and attorneys, as though each knew what was coming – a near shutout of convictions involving a tight string of felonies and misdemeanors ranging from lewd acts upon a child to forcible rape. By the end of the clerk’s reading, some 15 minutes later, the damage to Jon’s life was evident: 16 guilty verdicts, four acquittals and three counts on which the jury had deadlocked. Jon now faces life in prison with parole possible only after 67 years, according to Young, who, in a later press conference, branded Jon as “a 34-year-old pedophile masquerading as a fashion designer.”
Jon was born in Kerala and eventually made his way to the US, capitalizing on the vogue for all things Indian and spiritual, and aligning with celebrity-clients like Paris Hilton. It wasn't unusual to see him at clubs in New York (before he moved out west), flanked by two or more young, very skinny models. Although he didn't, to my knowledge, make it that big in the fashion world, he occupied a very specific niche in the Indian-American imagination: the desi as buzz machine, known less for his actual product than for his image and associations.
We'll post updates on the verdict, and responses, as they come in.
- Gotham Chopra, son of Deepak, had an interesting blog post on Intent Blog, a couple months ago, in which he criticized the South Asian community for not pushing for a quicker trial for Anand Jon. But he also recounts how he severed connections with Jon a few years ago, and alludes to the "overtly young" girls in the designer's midst. "Anand Jon is rotting in Hell"
- Women's Wear Daily coverage of the verdict: "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.”
- KTLA TV: "Prosecutors claimed Alexander used the promise of modeling jobs to lure girls and young women to his squalid-looking apartment in Beverly Hills, where he acted out sadistic fantasies."
SupportAnandJon.org is the site run by Jon's family. His sister, who has been speaking to the press is available at sanjanajon[at]gmail.com
Earlier on SAJAforum: