India-born celebrity fashion designer Anand Jon has been indicted by a US court to face 59 sexual assault charges involving at least 20 women, including would-be models.
A Los Angeles judge on Thursday unsealed a 59-count indictment against Anand Jon, 33, who was initially charged on March 13, Los Angeles Times reported. He is being held without bail. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
Jon faces charges that include rape, lewd acts upon a child, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, sexual battery by restraint and attempted forcible oral copulation. Prosecutors said two additional victims, bringing the total to 20, had come forward.
The victims are between the ages of 14 and 27, authorities said. Seven are from California, and the others are from eight other US states and two foreign countries, according to the indictment, which was unsealed by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Wesley.
The Los Angeles Times quoted Anthony Brooklier, Jon's lawyer, as saying the accusers had worked together to make the same accusation against his client. "This is made up of whole cloth, this entire case," he said. "We think there was collusion. We have e-mail between them."
Some of the alleged victims continued to dine and work with Jon after the initial accusations surfaced, he said, asking, "Why didn't they call police?"
The investigation against Jon, who was featured as one of Newsweek magazine's 'people to watch' in 2007 and who has designed clothes for Paris Hilton, Mary J Blige and other celebrities, was launched in March after a woman said Jon had sexually assaulted her at his Beverly Hills apartment.
More women came forward. Jon is under investigation in Dallas, Houston, New York and Massachusetts.
The Beverly Hills designer, whose full name is Anand Jon Alexander, graduated from the prestigious Parsons School of Design and launched his own label at the New York Fashion Week in 1999. His website claims he is the winner of various fashion awards, including a 2002 People's Choice "Best New Designer" prize.