A Los Angeles County judge upheld the sexual assault conviction of Beverly Hills fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander on Monday, ruling that a juror's contact with the defendant's sister before the verdicts did not prevent a fair trial.
Attorneys for the Indian-born designer argued that the conviction should be thrown out, alleging that the juror sought sex or money from the defendant's sister toward the end of last year's trial and voted to convict her brother when she refused to meet him alone.
Superior Court Judge David S. Wesley ruled that the juror, Alvin Dymally, committed misconduct by approaching Sanjana Alexander twice in the courthouse and speaking to her on two occasions when she phoned him. Wesley also said he believed the juror lied when he denied under oath ever speaking to Sanjana Alexander before the verdicts.
But the judge found that Dymally's actions did not affect the jury's guilty verdicts. He ruled that there was no evidence to support the extortion claim.
Wesley said a recording that Sanjana Alexander secretly made of one of the phone calls showed that Dymally, 46, flirted with her and was interested in meeting after the trial. Wesley said Sanjana Alexander and the juror knew they were violating a court order when they spoke to each other. The judge cited them for contempt of court and ordered them to return for hearings in September.
Outside the downtown Los Angeles courtroom Monday, Sanjana Alexander confronted Dymally, a Los Angeles building inspector.
"It's our lives you're playing with," she told him. "You know the truth." The juror left in silence.
Sanjana Alexander, a fashion designer who was dressed in white with a pair of Prada sunglasses, tearfully told reporters that she had tried to do the right thing.
"It's a travesty of justice," she said. "I believed in the justice system. I did not go meet up alone with him. If I had, this today wouldn't be happening."
Alexander, 35, who goes by the professional name Anand Jon, was found guilty in November of raping one woman and sexually assaulting six other girls and young women. The conviction carries a mandatory life prison sentence.
After court on Monday, his defense lawyers vowed to appeal Wesley's decision.
The juror's "conduct was outrageous, and it deprived the defendant of a fair trial," said attorney Leonard B. Levine.
The controversy began following the guilty verdicts. Sanjana Alexander told her brother's attorneys that a juror twice asked her to call him during the trial.
She said the first time she phoned, Dymally reassured her, "We know he is innocent, so don't worry." The second time, she said, he told her: "We need to meet with you alone." She said she refused.
During a recent court hearing, Dymally denied talking to her during the trial but invoked his right against self-incrimination when defense attorneys produced Sanjana Alexander's phone recording. According to a transcript filed by prosecutors, the recording shows that the juror complimented Sanjana several times, telling her, "I think that you're really sexy" and suggesting that they meet afterward.
"Definitely, we will," Sanjana Alexander replied.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Frances Young argued that the recording contradicted assertions that Sanjana Alexander rejected the juror's overtures.