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US fashion designer gets 59 years to life sentence

FASHION designer Anand Jon Alexander was sentenced yesterday to 59 years to life in prison for sexually assaulting aspiring models he lured to Los Angeles.

Alexander, 35, showed no reaction as Superior Court Judge David Wesley said Alexander should be incarcerated as long as possible for preying upon young girls and women. Alexander was convicted in November of 14 counts including forcible rape. He was found not guilty of four felonies, and jurors could not reach a verdict on three counts.

"Mr. Alexander has showed no remorse for his actions," the judge said.

The sentencing capped a tumultuous, exhausting post-verdict saga that included allegations of juror tampering by his sister, Sanjana, juror misconduct and Alexander's decision to represent himself. Alexander also lost a bid for a new trial earlier Monday, claiming there was a conspiracy among law enforcement to convict him.

The most striking image came as a bevy of beautiful women who said Alexander sexually assaulted them filled a jury box. The 13 women cried as Wesley recounted some of the crimes and they held hands as the sentence was read. One had mascara running down her face; another shook her head in disgust at Alexander.

Three of the women spoke, each telling a packed courtroom how Alexander had robbed them of their innocence and their formative years.

"I was 14. You took my adolescence, my trust, my dream and completely manipulated them for your sexual desires," said one of the women. The Associated Press, as a matter of policy, does not identify victims of alleged sexual abuse.

"It sickens me that a grown man can do such a thing to a girl," the now 17-year-old girl said. "A girl who was naive and had the belief that all people were good. And you took that to your advantage."

Prosecutors said Alexander often found women online, baited them with promises of glamorous photo shoots and other modeling work, only to fondle or rape them at his Beverly Hills apartment.

"I have a constant reminder of the day that I, the biggest daddy's girl in the world, had to tell my dad that I had been raped by this person," said another woman, now 21. Alexander was convicted of raping her in March 2007.

"Now every day I have to cope with my family having to relive all of this and it absolutely kills me," she said.

Alexander, wearing a dark suit with his long black hair tied in a ponytail, put on a pair of black-rimmed glasses but otherwise showed no emotion. It was a stark contrast to earlier in the day when he argued a motion for a new trial, even breaking down into tears at one point.

"If you are going to put me away, do it for the right reasons," Alexander implored the judge. "Judge, this is my life here."

Wesley has already turned down a previous motion for a new trial after it was discovered that juror Alvin Dymally had contacted Alexander's sister Sanjana. Wesley found both in contempt of court after determining Dymally appeared to want a romantic relationship with her when he spoke to her by phone twice during the trial and offered his help.

Dymally also gave her a note in a courthouse cafeteria, asking her to call him. She did but refused to meet with him alone.

The judge held her in contempt for contacting the juror and failing to report the misconduct. A hearing will be held in September.

In denying the first motion for a new trial, Wesley said there wasn't any proof the phone conversations swayed the verdict.

Alexander on Monday called Dymally a "poisoned apple" and a "renegade, runaway juror" who possibly wrecked his chances for freedom. He also criticized investigators, saying they had done a poor job and hadn't turned over all the evidence over to him.

Wesley disagreed, saying Alexander had failed to convince him there was new evidence to help his cause.

At one point in the case, Alexander called his mother to the stand. Shashi Abraham testified Dymally approached her outside the courtroom during trial and assured her that Alexander would be set free.

"He said, 'You don't have to worry. We know your son is innocent. He will be with you very soon,'" Abraham said.

Prosecutors admitted there will likely be a number of issues raised on appeal. They added Alexander's case is an example of what can happen when young women look for opportunity on the Internet.

"The lesson is that often young women or young girls may have dreams they hope to follow," said Deputy District Attorney Mara McIlvain. "But I think the Internet is one of those horrible places now where they come across people they don't know or understand."

The designer has been featured on the television show "America's Next Top Model" and worked with such celebrities as Paris Hilton and Mary J. Blige. His Web site lists dozens of celebrity A-listers as clients, including Hilton, who is described as a fan of Alexander's hand-printed jeans, which sold for more than $700.

Beverly Hills police began investigating Alexander in March 2007 when a woman reported she had been sexually assaulted in his apartment.

During the trial, prosecutors relied heavily on the testimony from women who made the accusations against Alexander. Defense attorneys argued many of women were lying about what happened to them and sought revenge against Alexander when they didn't get modeling jobs. Alexander has maintained his innocence.

Alexander also faces similar charges in New York and Texas, prosecutors said.

Born in India, Alexander graduated from the Parsons School of Design in New York and launched a fashion line in 1999.


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