For a brief period, right after Anand Jon Alexander was first charged with rape and sexual assault, I wondered if there was anything to his protests of innocence, delivered passionately second-hand through his sister. Yes, the charges were gut-wrenchingly repugnant, but every man deserves a chance to defend himself. Besides, this whole episode took place in L.A. – where the police is famously overworked and given to leaks and general bumblings when it’s not notoriously handing out taps on the wrist to celebs who err. Could it be that he was innocent?
The subsequent revision of the charges (to 59 counts in California alone) and warrants issued by the states of New York, Massachusetts and Texas – and the defense team’s incredible theory of a vast Scorned Models’ Revenge Conspiracy scuttled that idea before it took root. What followed next blew my mind – either his legal team was on crack or else we have before us a prime example of the reason why so many women are still reluctant to report sexual assault. Here are some of the charges they leveled against the women who testified against Jon, either in public or in the press:
- They’re disgruntled models who were out to punish Jon because he refused to hire them.
- They’re trying to piggyback on this case to fame and fortune.
- The convoluted American legal system is blowing up each little incident into something bigger. (“Sexual battery is attempted kiss.”)
- They’re part of a larger conspiracy unleashed by mysterious forces jealous that Jon’s company had closed a funding deal and was about to go big.
I suppose “Liar Liar Pants on Fire” is an integral part of any rape trial because the accused is challenging the accuser’s version of events, but is it always this ham-handed? The more theories they set forward, the more the women appeared credible in comparison. Not helping matters was Sanjana Jon, Anand’s sister.
She’s devoted to her brother – I’ll say that. She organized events in his honor, went on every TV program that would have her, gave every interview she could, wept at press conferences, pleaded for the government of India to step in, and showed up for his trial. And it was when she was sitting in court that the whole thing took a turn for the farcical.
You see, on the jury was a guy named Alvin Dymally who was apparently of the “I want to make fraaandship with you” persuasion. He slipped her little notes, told her mother not to worry coz he was going to make things right, and arranged to meet her at a Starbucks. A whole bunch of stuff happened (read the links, it’s quite something) and he was ultimately allowed to stay on the jury – which found Jon guilty, by the way – but not before Sanjana was ordered to the stand.
The defense thought they were about to file for a mistrial, only see all their hopes go up in smoke as Sanjana went on to admit complicity all sorts of things, including an infamous flyer bearing the legend “Prostitutes for the Prosecution” over lingerie shots of the victims, some of them underage. The hearing ended with a stern warning to her friend and houseguest who allegedly printed them out, her husband pleading the Fifth and, a little while later, Jon firing his team of lawyers so he could represent himself.
He cried, he argued, he brought in his mother… and the judge gave him 59 to life in prison.
They’re going to make a movie of this any minute.
Jon’s best hope at this point as a non-citizen is deportation, an option that won’t be on the table (if it ever is) until he’s made his rounds of the Texas and New York courts. Additionally, Dymally has done enough to muck things up to the extent where the conviction is sure to go on appeal. Or maybe the Indian govt. will be able to impress Barack Obama by offering a photo-op with Rahul Gandhi or APJ Abdul Kalam and he’ll personally intervene to send Jon home.