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Designer is facing more sex charges

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This was supposed to be a big week for Anand Jon.

The fashion designer, who earlier this year was on Newsweek magazine's list of people to watch in 2007, was about to unveil a new line during L.A. Fashion Week.


FOR THE RECORD:
Fashion designer: In California section stories on March 20 and April 5 about sexual assault charges filed against fashion designer Anand Jon, the television show for which he served as a judge was identified as "America's Top Model." The show's name is "America's Next Top Model."


Instead, the headlines are focused on his arrest in Beverly Hills for allegedly sexually assaulting seven women and girls who modeled for him over the last three years. On Monday, prosecutors charged Jon, 33, with 15 felony and five misdemeanors counts.

"He lured these girls to be models and once here sexually assaulted them," said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. "This is an ongoing investigation and we believe there may be numerous additional victims."

Authorities in New York have also opened an investigation into whether the designer assaulted women there, Robison said.

Jon's attorney, Ronald Richards, has said the designer did nothing wrong and that the alleged victims -- including a 15-year-old girl -- are models who made false allegations against his client because he refused to employ them to the extent they wanted.

Jon was scheduled to introduce his Atomize Collection during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Smashbox Studios. The new ready-to-wear line features the designer's jeans and was to be the next step in expanding his fashion business.

Jon was a well-known figure in the celebrity fashion world, designing clothes for Paris Hilton, Mary J. Blige and others. He was the subject of articles in magazines such as People and Star and was a judge on the show "America's Top Model."

He was planning to star in a reality TV show for VH1 about the fashion world co-starring friend and "Lost" actress Michelle Rodriguez.

But to some fashion insiders, Jon is notable more for his celebrity connections than for the quality of his designs.

"I can characterize his position as being a designer that no one in the fashion industry pays attention to," said New York fashion stylist and photographer Phyllis Leibowitz. "He has a knack for getting his photo taken, and partying with influential people."

Amid the tabloid clippings, there is an air of mystery around Jon.

He was born in India (where he continues to have something of a rock-star following) and was a fixture on the Miami social scene in the 1990s, where according to Newsweek he met designer Gianni Versace. In interviews, Jon credits Versace for getting him into the fashion business.

He was initially charged March 13 with seven counts, including forcible rape, lewd acts upon a child, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, sexual battery by restraint and attempted forcible oral copulation. Those charges involved three alleged victims, including a 15-year-old.

The new charges involve four other alleged victims, including a 17-year-old.

Beverly Hills Police Lt. Mitch McCann said that although most of the women were in their early 20s and teens when the alleged assaults took place, at least two were minors.

"We continue to receive phone calls from people who are potential victims," McCann said. "It's still an evolving story."

Some of the alleged assaults early this month occurred in Jon's Beverly Hills condominium.

Richards told The Times last week that because of his client's celebrity status and success, women sought to exploit their relationship with him.

Jon met at least one alleged victim online. This woman came to Jon's condo from the Northwest to meet with the designer and possibly work for him, Richards said.

This woman, like the others, ultimately left, dissatisfied that she had not received steady modeling work from Jon, the attorney said.

"In these cases, what is going on here is these girls fly in for model jobs after months of dialogue filled with flirtation. They have sexual interaction, and if he doesn't put them in the show ... then some time later they claim they had unwanted sex," Richards said.

In a motion filed with the court, Richards alleges one of the sexual assaults had surfaced in 2004 and that prosecutors at the time decided not to pursue the case. The woman didn't come forward until six months after the alleged incident, Richards wrote.

At the time of the incident, Jon was serving three years' summary probation for misdemeanor disorderly conduct. (His probation ended in November). Richards said that even though prosecutors knew of the 2004 allegation, they did not consider it a violation of Jon's probation.

Jon -- whose legal name is Anand Jon Alexander -- will appear in Los Angeles County Superior Court on April 4 for arraignment.

Shauna Stein, of On Sunset boutique, said that Jon had shown her images from his jean collection, and she was going to buy them for the store.

"But I never heard from him again, and then I heard he was in trouble," she said.

richard.winton@latimes.com

Times staff writer Andrew Blankstein contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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