Prosecutors drop 30 rape charges against Anand Jon

August 28th, 2008 - 10:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 28 (IANS) Los Angeles prosecutors have dropped 30 of 59 sexual abuse charges against Indian-born celebrity fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander, as jury selection got under way for his trial in California.But even as the prosecutors decided to strike counts involving 10 of the 20 alleged victims Wednesday, they said they still had “a very strong case” against Jon, who faces the possibility of 122 years in prison if convicted of all remaining 29 counts.

“These are the victims that prosecutors are electing to proceed with at this time,” said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, according to the Los Angeles Times. Lawyers for the other alleged victims could move to reinstate the charges during trial, she added.

Jon’s attorney, Leonard Levine, said Wednesday that he was “very pleased” by the latest developments. He also disputed the prosecution’s contention that the dismissed charges could be reinstated.

“The defence welcomes this acknowledgment by the prosecution that fully half of the charges involving half of the alleged victims could never be proven,” Levine was quoted as saying. “And by the time the trial has concluded, the remaining charges will either be dismissed or (Anand Jon) will be found not guilty.”

Levine said he intended to call some of the alleged victims, whose claims would not be pursued as part of the prosecution’s case, to the witness stand.

“These charges can never be resubmitted during this trial, and the defence would strenuously oppose any refilling of these charges in the future after (Anand Jon) has been totally acquitted of the remaining charges,” Levine said.

Jon, 34, is a well-known figure in the celebrity fashion world who is said to have designed clothes for Paris Hilton, singer Mary J. Blige and others. He was involved in the show “America’s Next Top Model” and was planning to star in a reality TV show for VH1 about the fashion world.

The charges include forcible rape, lewd acts upon a child, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, sexual battery by restraint and attempted forcible oral copulation.

The alleged incidents occurred from August 2000 to March 5, 2007, prosecutors said. Many of the alleged assaults were said to have occurred in Jon’s Beverly Hills condominium. Jon also is the subject of sex crimes investigations in New York and Massachusetts.

Jon was free on a $1.3 million bail until June, when a California judge increased the bail amount by $500,000 after Texas issued its own indictment against the fashion designer.

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