A Los Angeles court on Saturday opened trial against Indian-born fashion designer Anand Jon, accused of sexually assaulting aspiring models, with prosecutors alleging that he was a "serial rapist".
Deputy District Attorney Frances Young told a six-woman jury in her opening statement that the fashion designer allegedly exploited his position in the glamour industry to lure young aspiring fashion models to his Beverly Hills condominium, where he humiliated them through "painful sexual acts".
Jon, who has been in jail since his arrest in June 2007, is charged with 25 counts, ranging from forcible rape to committing lewd acts on a child.
The 34-year-old Indian-born designer was originally indicted on 59 counts in September last year. But more than half of the charges were dropped last week.
He has denied the allegations. If convicted, Jon faces the possibility of 122 years of life imprisonment.
Prosecutors played a homemade videotape, which they claimed showed him asking a 17-year-old to strip before sexually abusing her, the Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday.
They also told jurors about eight other alleged victims, one of them as young as 14. "They said he kept a 'brag list' in which he detailed his encounters and sometimes the ages of his 'conquests'," the paper said.
On Friday, Superior Court Judge David S Wesley granted a prosecution request to dismiss four more counts. Defence attorney Leonard Levine said the dismissal showed the weakness of the evidence against Jon.
"It says volumes about the rest of the case," he said outside the courtroom. "It's totally falling apart."
inside court, Levine described Jon as the victim of false accusations and overzealous investigators. He said the women had consensual sex and some of the underage girls, including the girl shown in the video, told Jon they were 18.
In his opening statement, Levine said that the only humiliation in the case was that the women never became models and were angry at Jon because he made them do various chores while they visited him.
Levine said alleged victims were lured and drawn to his celebrity status.
"Everyone wanted to be with Anand," Levine said. "For weeks, for months, for years, everyone said they were fine.. until they were given a chance to tear the celebrity down."