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Fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander sentenced to 59 years to life for sexual assaults

He asks the judge for a new trial, alleging misconduct by a juror and prosecutors, but is denied. The designer faces similar charges in Texas and New York.

September 01, 2009|Victoria Kim

Celebrity fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander was sentenced to 59 years to life in prison Monday afternoon for sexually assaulting seven young women and girls he enticed with the promise of modeling jobs.

Alexander, acting as his own attorney, presented a lengthy argument asking for a new trial because of juror and prosecutorial misconduct. He also alleged inadequate defense by his former attorneys. Judge David Wesley denied the request.

Alexander stared ahead blankly as Wesley handed down the sentence. His victims, who were seated in the jury box during sentencing, wept.

Alexander, who was a guest designer on the reality television show "America's Next Top Model," was convicted last November of 16 charges of rape, sexual assault and other crimes. Wesley handed down the maximum sentence to Alexander for all but two of those counts, saying he showed no remorse for his actions and posed a danger to other young women.

Alexander's use of violence and cruelty in his assaults and his manipulation of young, vulnerable women also added to the seriousness of his crime, Wesley said.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Frances Young said the sentence was appropriate given the "aggravated nature of the crimes and the horrible torment on a number of victims."

Before his arrest in 2007, Alexander -- who uses the professional name Anand Jon -- was lauded as an up-and-coming star in the fashion world, designing clothes for celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Mary J. Blige. He was named a person to watch by Newsweek magazine just two months before his arrest.

A grand jury initially indicted Alexander on 59 counts. By the time of the trial, prosecutors had dropped more than half of them. Jurors acquitted Alexander of four counts and deadlocked on three others.

Alexander, 35, faces similar charges in New York and Texas. Should he be convicted in other states, whatever sentence he receives would be added to the time for his California sentence, prosecutors said.

Before sentencing, Alexander argued that he had not received a fair trial because a juror inappropriately contacted his sister during trial, prosecutors withheld evidence and his attorneys, whom he fired in July, were ineffective in presenting his case.

"You have not convinced me that there's a conspiracy, all right?" Wesley said when Alexander continued arguing after his motion had been denied. "There's nothing before me right now that substantiates that."

Deputy Dist. Atty. Mara McIlvain said after the sentencing that all evidence was handed over to Alexander's defense in a timely manner.

In July, Wesley ruled that a juror committed misconduct by contacting the defendant's sister before the verdict, but he determined that the misconduct had not affected the jury's verdict. Both the juror and Alexander's sister, Sanjana, were cited for contempt of court by the judge, who said they violated a court order by speaking to each other. They are due to appear in court for hearings this month.

Several of Alexander's victims spoke before the sentencing, each choking up with emotion. Prosecutors had argued during the trial that Alexander lured girls as young as 14 to his apartment in Beverly Hills, often through the Internet, and used them to act out his sexual fantasies.

"I was 14. You took my adolescence, my trust, my dream and completely manipulated them for your sexual desires," one of the victims said, reading from a statement.

The victims said they continue suffering from depression and paranoia, and that their trust in others has been completely shattered by what they went through. Their families were also tormented by what their daughters went through, they said in statements.

In trial, defense attorneys focused on what they said were inconsistencies in the victims' testimony and behavior to argue that they were lying in an attempt to destroy the designer's career or hoping to profit financially.

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victoria.kim@latimes.com

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