Fashion Designer Anand Jon Convicted of 16 Counts of Sexual Abuse

LOS ANGELES -- Fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander, who was once featured on the television show "America's Next Top Model," was convicted Thursday of 16 counts of sexually abusing teenage girls and young women, most of them aspiring models.

The conviction included seven counts of committing lewd acts upon a child. Alexander, who is known professionally as Anand Jon, was acquitted of four other charges. The six-man, six-woman jury could not reach verdicts on three other counts.

Alexander, 34, will be sentenced Jan. 13 by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Wesley. Prosecutors did not immediately decide whether to retry him on the three counts on which the jury deadlocked.

In addition to the lewd acts on a child counts, Alexander was also convicted of charges including sexual battery, possession of child pornography, using a minor for sex acts, forcible rape and sexual penetration using a foreign object.

Beverly Hills police began investigating Alexander in March 2007, when a woman reported she had been sexually assaulted by the designer in his apartment.

Before his arrest in June 2007, Alexander was featured on the television show "America's Next Top Model." According to his Web site, he has won numerous fashion honors, including a 2002 People's Choice award for "Best New Designer" and was named the 2002-03 Fashion Week of the Americas "International New Star."

The charges against him involved alleged assaults between 2001 and 2007 against victims, most of them aspiring models, ranging in age from 14 to 21.

During closing arguments last month, Deputy District Attorney Frances Young urged the panel to remember the testimony of the nine alleged victims, who "did nothing wrong."

"These girls trusted the man seated at that table, and he took advantage of them," the prosecutor said. "He humiliated, degraded and took what he wanted from them. He was a predator who took advantage of the weak people around him.

"He has no criminal sexual borders. If he didn't use force, he laced their drinks," she said. "... None of these girls invited what happened to them."

But one of Alexander's attorneys, Leonard Levine, charged that shoddy police work and lying, revenge-seeking females were behind the prosecution of his client.

"If the girls said it, it must be so -- that's what they want you to believe," Levine said. "Every bit of circumstantial evidence in this case points to one thing -- it didn't happen."

During their closing arguments, defense attorneys insisted that each of the teens or young women "invited what happened" or that nothing had happened to them at all, then made up stories of the attacks so they could make money from suing Alexander after his criminal trial.

"How many times did you hear 'I don't recall' from them during the trial?" Levine asked. "I stopped counting at 300. These women lied. They lied, they exaggerated and nobody cared -- but you should care."

Jurors began deliberating Nov. 3, and the talks have been contentious. Last Thursday, the jury foreman sent a note to Wesley claiming that Juror No. 12 had made his conclusions at the end of each witnesses' testimony, could not understand reasonable doubt and would not follow evidence or the law.

During a hearing Monday, the judge polled the jury and determined that 10 jurors agreed that No. 12 had made his decision before deliberations even began. The jurors also said No. 12 relied entirely on his notes and would not review the evidence with them.

"He's not discussing the case, and that's what's frustrating," the jury foreman told the judge.

But after hearing from jurors, including No. 12, Wesley determined there was no evidence of juror misconduct.

"He's listening to them -- he just doesn't agree with them," Wesley told prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Juror No. 12 told the court that the other jurors were "highly emotional," and that was what was causing friction in the jury room.

"Due to the high emotions to my verdict, my fellow jurors are extremely angry at me and it's extremely uncomfortable now. I feel that I'm being pressured to give a verdict that I do not want to give," he told the judge outside the presence of the other jurors.

Alexander is being held without bail in Los Angeles County Jail due to a pending nine-count indictment in New York and ongoing investigations in Dallas and elsewhere.

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