Thursday, October 30, 2008
High Drama at Indian Designer’s Trial in the US
High Drama at Indian Designer’s Trial in the US
Syed Ali Mujtaba
Well I do feel for people whom I interviewed in my journalistic career and my days of reckoning for such persons become much more profound when they are caught up in some unimaginable mire and hog the limelight for the wrong reasons. I am talking about ace Indian fashion designer Anand Jon who is jailed in the US on rape charges and his trail is getting huge media attention and referred by LA Weekly as "supercharged with sexual content."
Recently Anand Jon trial has had two strange moments, one involving web giant Google and other the Government of India. According to LA Weekly... Judge David Wesley was ready to issue an arrest warrant for Google's custodian of records, since the search-engine giant hadn't responded to defense requests to cough up email records related to Amanda C, who alleges that fashion designer sexually assaulted her. Later, Google did fax over the records and that’s eventually the warrant was quashed. The trial is all set to go to the jury after the closing arguments.
The supporters of Anand Jon leaked an email by Government of India that was sent out on October 18 reflecting upon an India citizen facing trail in the US . The e mail reads: “The Government of India have noted media reports of judicial proceedings which indicate instances where exculpatory evidence was either destroyed or withheld from the defendant. While in no way wishing to interfere with the judicial process, the Government of India is concerned at the lack of adequate information and opportunity to an Indian citizen to defend himself.”
Its reported that under instructions from the Government of India, the Consul General of India in San Francisco called on the Attorney General of the State of California, Mr. Edmund G. Brown, Jr., on 16 October 2008, to express the concern of the Government of India at the publicly reported omissions and commissions in the due judicial process and to request the Attorney General to ensure that Anand Jon, an Indian citizen, is given every opportunity to defend himself to the fullest extent provided under the US laws.
Anand burst into the US fashion bubble in 2000 after New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani selected him as one of the top 75 designers in the world and his hand-painted Medusa Jeans retailed for a whopping $720.
Anand Jon and his designer sister Sanjana Jon were in Chennai in 2002 on a personal visit. The celebrities actually are Keralite, who grew up in Chennai. Ananad went to city’s famous Padama Sehadri School but was drop out at high school level. He went to the US and became a big name in fashion designing.
At that time I was working with the Sun TV and I had invited Anand for the breakfast show. The designer accepted my request and flaunting his long hairs over his shoulders he was dot on time for the interview. He looked a jolly good fella who had become Yank. He was laughing and cutting jokes in garbled Tamil. Talking about his life and times in America , Anand gave a peek of dress sense of many bold and beautiful American celebrities. I had a good chat with him and his sister after the interview was over. During the pleasantries the celebrity gave me his black visiting card ‘Anand Jon’ that I still preserve in my card box.
I remember taking Anand and his sister Sanjana to the portico of Anna Ariwlyam where Sun TV was located and ushered them for the waiting car. In the moving lift, I had asked Anand the batch he was in at the Padama Sehadri School in Chennai. I could see a bit of embracement on this question at the designer’s face, but he overcame quickly giving me a winking smile. With all grace and aplomb he retorted; “Oh that was long time ago…you journalists dig out bones looking for meat."
When I read that Indian fashion designer Anand Jon was arrested in the US on rape charges and a cane of worms of his sexual exploits littered the newspapers, his last word that he told me sitting in the car –‘Chalo, C ya again’ ringed into my ears.
To recall for those who haven’t followed Anand Jon case, the celebrated Indian fashion designer was arrested in the US on 15 March, 2007. It was reported that Anand allegedly committed a variety of horrific acts on four separate victims between October 2004 and March 5, 2007. He was arrested after one of his accusers came forward and complained to the authorities and further investigation uncovered some other potential victims.
Anand camp maintains that the fashion designer is innocent. They expect that he will be exonerated by the court and all the accusations against him are false. Anand’s sister, Sanjana too believes that his brother was trapped. She reportedly have said, “Many people were jealous at Anand’s rapid rise and were waiting for a chance to pull him down.”
Anand graduated from the Parsons School of Design in 1998 in the US . He had a meteoric rise went on to become an ace fashion designer and many of his clients were rich and famous. He is said to have dressed celebrities such as Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Ivanka Trump, Elizabeth Jagger and Bruce Springsteen.
When I read the news that Anand Jon arrested on rape charges, my encounter with the celebrated designer started haunted me. Since then I am following his trial very avidly. It’s very hard for me to cast a judgment on personal life of anyone still harder to do so in case of Anand Jon whom I had met very briefly and that too very professionally.
I believe that a person is innocent till proven guilty and this applies to Anand Jon as well. As an Indian I hope and pray that he gets a fair trial in the US and justice is never denied to him. However, whatever may be the final judgment in this case, the memory of the fashion designer whom I had met and interviewed would continue to linger forever in my mind.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at email@example.com
Post Script from The Los Angeles Times:
Thirty-four-year-old fashion designer Anand Jon, once among the most prominent Indians on the New York fashion and social scenes, was convicted of rape and other crimes.
The jury of six men and six women deliberated for seven days before finding Anand Jon Alexander guilty of one count of rape and 15 counts of sexual assault and other charges.
The designer, who goes by the professional name of Anand Jon, sat silently in court wearing a light gray suit and yellow tie as the court clerk announced the jury's verdicts. Behind him, his sister Sanjana Jon sobbed as she sat with friends and family in the crowded downtown Los Angeles courtroom.
Prosecutors said Jon, 34, faces a sentence of life in prison when he is sentenced on Jan. 13. He will be eligible for parole after 67 years.
Speaking on behalf of Jon's defense team of four lawyers during the press conference, Leonard Levin declared that they were "obviously disappointed" with the jury's verdicts but vowed to file an appeal on Jon's behalf.
"This case is not over by a long shot," he said.