The case against fashion designer Anand Jon (Alexander) in New York ended with the sentencing phase at the New York County Court before Judge Cassandra M Mullen.
As per the plea deal agreed up on earlier between the prosecution and Jon’s attorneys, the judge sentenced Jon to five years in jail for one count of committing a forcible oral sexual act on an aspiring model. He was also sentenced as a level-3 sex offender, the highest level in the class, and sentenced him to five years of supervised release.
The court dismissed the other counts charged against him which included charges of rape and criminal assault on minors. He will have to register in the sex offender registry.
Jon is serving 59 years as per the sentencing in California in similar charges. The New York prison time of five years amounts to time served in California, which means no additional years will be added to Jon’s California sentence.
Assistant District Attorney Maxine Rosenthal told the judge that the deal was accepted to spare the victims from having to testify at multiple proceedings and in consideration of Jon’s lengthy sentence in California.
She said Jon is facing similar charges in Dallas and Houston in Texas. “Moreover, he is serving 59 years in California and will be incarcerated there for the rest of his life,” she said.
She also pointed out that the higher courts in California had affirmed the sentencing of 59 years.
Jon questioned the use of the word ‘victims’ to refer to the women who accused him of criminal sexual acts. Attorney Kimberly Summers, who appeared for Jon too questioned the use of the term ‘victims’ as there was only one victim as per the pea deal. “The case involved dismissal of 48 of the 49 counts (the district attorney had previously on its own dismissed 8 of the 12 complainants) and that the plea involved one victim, not plural, so it was inappropriate for the prosecutor to continually refer in statements as if there were multiple victims. Mr Alexander certainly maintains his innocence on all dismissed complaints,” she told rediff.com later.
She also told the court that there were no underage girls involved as the prosecution claimed and Jon had no illegal or inappropriate contact with them.
Pointing these facts, Summers questioned the need for proclaiming Jon a level-3 sex offender, a serious classification.
But Rosenthal noted that Jon was involved in a misdemeanor charge way back in 2003, before the current charges came up in 2004-2005.
The judge did not allow Jon to tell his reasons for accepting the plea deal noting that it was not needed at this stage.
The court room was packed with supporters of Jon, who came from faraway places braving bitter cold. Unlike his days as a fashion designer when he spotted long hair, Jon came with cropped hair, walking and speaking with more confidence. He thanked the people for coming in support of him.
The defence team was not happy at the way the district attorney’s office handled the case treating it as if it was a ‘battle.’ The DA’s office was reluctant to handover documents and records too to the defence, which hindered their ability to argue for their client, sources close to them said.
When attorney Angelyn Gates, who will appear for Jon in California, requested the copies of records and evidences from the district attorney to use in California, it was objected by Rosenthal saying that they had given it earlier too. Finally, she agreed to handover some of the documents.
The defence team noted that they were “disappointed that the outcome involved a plea to any charges but happy that we were finally able to obtain documents we have been fighting for since his California conviction and extremely hopeful that California cases will now be overturned and he will be free soon."
Jon might be moved to Texas to face charges there or to California, in a week, according to Rosenthal. The district attorney’s office did not issue any statement, but they noted that unlike the news reports, Jon pleaded guilty to Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree. They also indicated that Jon had already been indicted in Dallas and Houston.
Meanwhile, attorney Gates told rediff.com that she will file a writ of habeas corpus in California for the release of Jon. She will point out the jury misconduct and judicial error during the 2007 trail to overturn the judgment.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Wesley, who sentenced Jon to 59 years, too agreed to look into the new evidences she would present, Gates said.
‘In a case that initially alleged 49 counts of everything from unlawful restraint, to rape, to “drugging,” to criminal threats, for Jon to have settled his case for one single conviction involving a seemingly insignificant oral copulation count (an adult female receiving oral sex from Anand Jon) for “time-served” is quite incredible,” Gates said in a statement.
‘In court, the DA has had to admit that there was no physical evidence, no DNA, and no eye witnesses to corroborate these complaints, which were made 4 to 5 years after the alleged incidents. The defence exposed the fact that complainants continued to communicate and have relationships with Jon for months, even years, after their claimed assault, and only made allegations in 2006, just as Jon’s multi-million dollar Wall Street funding occurred.
The New York district attorney’s office claimed that this “coincidence” was just a ‘fancy conspiracy theory.’ Likewise, the Los Angeles district attorney’s office told the LA jury that these women had no motives of money or publicity and had no connections to each other.
However, the defence has pointed out that evidence shows that the DA’s representation was inaccurate, to say the least, as many of these women had collectively solicited civil attorneys and sold media stories in collusion with disgruntled business associates of Jon,’ Gates noted.
Jon’s mother Shashi Abraham and sister Sanjana said they are happy that the case is finally over in New York. “The fight is still going on. But we have no doubts about his innocence and it gives us the strength to continue the fight,” Shashi Abraham said.
“Six years have passed since he is put in jail. Yet we take all decisions in consultation with him. Ever since he was sixteen he was taking the decisions as the man in the family. He was taking care of us and we are in a difficult situation now financially,” she said.
“Such incidents will make one either break or grow strong. In the case of Jon, he is much stronger to face this ordeal and he too has no doubts about his eventual freedom,” she said.
Both are now living in Delhi and come to the US occasionally. Sanjana is involved in fashion world and charity work especially for the inmates of Tihar jail. She said she had seen innocent people behind bars and she could easily feel their pain as they are also going through the same situation.
She is also helping the children of the inmates. “The decision in New York has a great impact as more people have come forward to support Anand now. We know bhagwan sees everything and ultimately truth will prevail. We pray that no family ever goes through such a situation,” she said.
The community has come forward to help Jon and the family and organised meetings and fundraisers to help fund the legal fees. A fundraiser organised by hotelier Sant Chhatwal in New York was attended by a cross section of the society.
Photograph: Anand Jon's supporters in front of the New York County Court with his mother Sashi Abraham and sister Sanjana