Los Angeles County prosecutors Wednesday dropped half the criminal counts in the sexual assault case against fashion designer Anand Jon.
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.
Jon's attorney, Leonard Levine, said Wednesday that he was "very pleased" by the latest developments.
"The defense welcomes this acknowledgment by the prosecution that fully half of the charges involving half of the alleged victims could never be proven," Levine said, "and by the time the trial has concluded, the remaining charges will either be dismissed or [Anand Jon] will be found not guilty."
He also disputed the prosecution's contention that the dismissed charges could be reinstated.
Levine said he intended to call some of the alleged victims, whose claims would not be pursued as part of the prosecution's case, to the witness stand.
"These charges can never be resubmitted during this trial, and the defense would strenuously oppose any refiling of these charges in the future after [Anand Jon] has been totally acquitted of the remaining charges," Levine said.
Jon, 34, is a well-known figure in the celebrity fashion world who has designed clothes for Paris Hilton, singer Mary J. Blige and others. He was involved in the show "America's Next Top Model" and was planning to star in a reality TV show for VH1 about the fashion world.
The charges include forcible rape, lewd acts upon a child, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, sexual battery by restraint and attempted forcible oral copulation.
The alleged incidents occurred from August 2000 to March 5, 2007, prosecutors said. Many of the alleged assaults were said to have occurred in Jon's Beverly Hills condominium.
Jon also is the subject of sex crimes investigations in New York and Massachusetts.