Indian fashionista Anand Jon was sentenced to 59 years in prison by a California court on Monday for sexually assaulting seven young women and girls even as his family in India railed against the US criminal justice system, accusing it of racial bias.
Los Angeles Superior Court judge David Wesley rejected a desperate plea by Jon — who had fired his attorney and represented himself — for a new trial as he handed down the sentence. Jon’s lack of remorse, his use of violence and cruelty in his assaults and his manipulation of young, vulnerable women also added to the seriousness of his crime, Wesley observed, while handing down the massive sentence for rape, sexual battery, and lewd acts on a child.
Several young women who were victims of Jon’s depredations were seated in the jury box holding hands when the sentencing was read out and broke down and cried, according to local reports. Jon, shown dressed in photographs in a black suit with his hair tied in a pony tail, heard the sentence stone-faced although he too had broken down earlier before the judge as he pleaded for a fresh trial.” If you are going to put me away, do it for the right reasons,” he had implored. “Judge, this is my life here.” But Wesley was unimpressed with Jon’s arguments of juror misconduct, even though, Jon’s family pointed out, there was lack of medical evidence and much of the prosecution case depended on the testimony of the alleged victims, who, they said, were trying to exploit the system for fame and money.
The young women, three of whom spoke at the sentencing, had a different story to tell. “I was 14. You took my adolescence, my trust, my dream and completely manipulated them for your sexual desires,” said one, who is now 17. “It sickens me that a grown man can do such a thing to a girl. A girl who was naive and had the belief that all people were good. And you took that to your advantage.” Another young model described herself as “the biggest daddy’s girl in the world,” as she related the pain of having to tell her father she was raped. “Now every day I have to cope with my family having to relive all of this and it absolutely kills me,” she said.
But in India, Jon’s sister Sanjana and their mother Shashi insisted he had been a victim of a racial bias in a society jealous of the success of a brown-skinned man in the fashion world. They repeatedly invoked his Indian nationality and citizenship as reasons why the Indian government should intervene.” When Anand was being arrested in Beverly Hills, the cops of BHPD were calling him ‘you f-ing sand nigger’ over and over again, saying ‘how dare you come to our country and touch our white women’,” she told Times Now, adding, “Being brown in the US I did not know could be so bad. Till 9/11 it was different but after that, yes, it is a crime to be brown and you are guilty by color.”
None of these seemed to be issues when Jon, who is now 35, was being hailed soon after 9/11 as the hottest rising star in the fashion world who designed clothes for tawdry celebrities such as Paris Hilton and was featured in Newsweek as someone to watch. That was around the time, the prosecution charged, Jon took advantage of his growing profile to entice young women over the internet with promises of modelling assignments and jobs.
It is not unusual for American celebrities, black or white, to be sent to the slammer. Martha Stewart, Courtney Love, Robert Downey Jar are some of the more recent examples of celebrities who did time in the clink on what some would regard as minor charges. Steward, high priestess of the high life, spent five months in jail after she was convicted of lying to investigators about a stock sale.
But Jon is in far more serious trouble. A grand jury initially indicted him on 59 counts. By the time of the trial, prosecutors had dropped more than half of them. Jurors acquitted him of four counts and deadlocked on three others. He was eventually was found guilty of 14 counts of sexual assault including forcible rape between 2002 2006.Jon faces similar charges in New York and Texas and he is convicted in those cases, the sentence will be added to the time he received in California.