Designer Convicted of Sexual Assault Seeks New Trial - NBC Southern California

Designer Convicted of Sexual Assault Seeks New Trial



    Be the Toast of the Breeders’ Cup
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    March 8, 2006: Designer Anand Jon attends Reebok's Now Playing news conference and launch party at Marquee in New York City. (Photo by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)

    LOS ANGELES -- Attorneys for fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander, who was convicted of sexually assaulting aspiring models, are seeking a new trial because prosecutors stopped a juror who apparently tried to meet with Alexander's sister before a verdict was reached, it was disclosed Friday.


    Although all motions concerning the proposed meeting are under seal, the story came out in bits and pieces today inside the downtown courtroom of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David S. Wesley, who said he will hear evidence to determine whether the juror's -- and prosecutors' -- actions warrant a mistrial.


    "At this point, nobody is immune from being called to the stand and explain what happened," Wesley said.


    According to comments made by Wesley and Alexander's defense attorneys, during deliberations, a male juror contacted a defense investigator to set up a meeting with Alexander's sister at a Starbucks coffee shop.


    A defense investigator put a recording device on Alexander's sister and sent her to the Starbucks, but the juror was "intercepted" by District Attorney investigators before the meeting could take place.


    It was unclear how prosecutors learned of the proposed meeting.


    Deputy District Attorney Mara Mcllvain had no comment and a spokesperson for the District Attorney's Office said there would be no comment since the matter is under seal.


    Defense attorney Ronald Richards, who was retained by Alexander for post-conviction matters, said he will request that Wesley subpoena all e-mails and messages within the District Attorney's Office regarding the decision to stop the juror before the meeting.


    "This was a highly unusual series of events," Richards said outside court. "During deliberations, there were these contacts. The D.A.'s office thwarted the defense's ability to get to the truth. We don't know how high up (in the prosecutor's office) it goes."


    Defense lawyers Friday also asked that the judge allow them to interview the juror. Wesley told his clerk to reach the juror and ask whether he wanted to be contacted by one of Alexander's attorneys, and to inform the panelist that he has the right to have an attorney present if he agrees to be interviewed.


    Despite the flap, Wesley set a date to sentence Alexander on April 1, but it is likely the day will be taken up by the motions under seal, the judge indicated.


    Alexander, 35, who worked with such celebrities as Paris Hilton, Michelle Rodriguez and Mary J. Blige, and appeared on "America's Next Top Model" in 2003, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.


    He was among 20 people profiled by Newsweek as up-and-coming players in various industries.


    Alexander was convicted in November of 16 sex-related counts involving seven females ages 14 to 21, including seven counts of lewd acts on a child and possession of child pornography.


    Prosecutors initially filed charges involving a total of 20 alleged victims, who claimed he got them drunk, made them watch porn movies and forced them to perform various sex acts.


    He remains under indictment for similar sexual assault allegations in New York and Texas. Several civil suits filed against him by his alleged victims are also pending.