By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Whatever the variations in narrative, however, the women claim that almost immediately, Jon began kissing and fondling them — prior to grabbing their heads and forcing their mouths onto his exposed penis. Soon after the forced oral copulation, some women were raped, while others were sodomized. Britny O, a minor from Arroyo Grande, California, testified that she passed out after imbibing some of her host’s vodka, only to be revived by a sharp odor — that of Jon’s anus as he sat on her face.
“You have a tight pussy,” Jon suavely complimented her.
To television viewers raised on Law and Order, it may seem strange that both prosecutors in a rape trial are women.
“Women gravitate to the sexual-crimes unit,” says attorney Roger Diamond, who has represented many sexual-assault defendants, including Max Factor heir Andrew Luster. “Two women deputy D.A.s can create the impression that the prosecution is overzealous. It can backfire.”
On the other hand, Jon has chosen an all-male cast of lawyers: Leonard Levine, Eric Chase, Donald Marks and Anthony Brooklier. There is no female attorney in the group who could vigorously attack witnesses without seeming to revictimize them. After all, we’re long past the Jerry Geisler era of Hollywood rape lawyering, a time when, to win acquittal for celebrity clients, it was sufficient to portray rape victims as gold-digging nymphs. Still, Levine’s successful past defense cases have included USC quarterback Mark Sanchez and actor Jeffrey Jones, while Marks has represented Heidi Fleiss and Disney Internet executive Patrick J. Naughton.
None of Jon’s four attorneys has resorted to overt bullying or blame-the-victim tactics, and all have instead approached witnesses rather gently at first. Nevertheless, they show no reluctance, as a cross-examination progresses, to turn up the heat — sharply questioning the young women’s motives for responding to Jon’s invitations, as well as trying to recast Jon’s kissy-gropy tics as normal, everyday behavior in the highly physical world of fashion.
In his opening remarks, Levine, an avuncular man given to unpredictable facial grimaces, cast the women as ambitious Lolitas who, frustrated by stalled careers, “jumped on the bandwagon” to “tear down a celebrity.”
Jon’s lawyers have a lot of material they can use as ammunition. The three words “I don’t remember” have echoed throughout the testimony of prosecution witnesses like haiku fragments. One witness, Courtney S, explained she couldn’t recall simple details from 2005 because, “It’s hard for me to remember — it was three years ago.”
More pointedly, some of the women professed to have been shocked by Jon’s candor about discussing their bodies, only to have his lawyers show the women’s sexy photos from their MySpace pages. Several background witnesses in their 20s seemed so prim as to be incapable of even uttering the names of parts of the human anatomy. Kristin S of North Carolina could not bring herself to pronounce the word “penis,” while New Jersey’s Tara S floundered when describing her alleged assault to Young.
“He put his penis in my . . .” Tara trailed off, helplessly.
“Where pee or poop comes out?” Young asked.
“The latter,” Tara answered. “I had no idea people did that. I was in so much pain.”
Then, according to Tara, Jon stuck his penis in her mouth and ejaculated.
As though this case contains too much poison to be contained by a mere trial, suspicion and innuendo have worsened the tense relationship between prosecution witnesses and Jon’s half-dozen supporters, who make no secret of their belief that Judge Wesley is unfair to the defense. There was a brief witness-intimidation scare after a defense investigator’s assistant telephoned background witness Kristin S’s sister, setting off a panic among the sisters’ parents — and an angry order from Judge Wesley barring defense attorneys from sharing prosecution-witness phone numbers with Jon or members of his family.
Said Judge Wesley, “I’ve never had to conduct a hearing like this in 37 years.”
This uproar had been preceded by an incident involving Kristin S and the drivers of a mysterious white car.
“We have been followed by two females with dark skin and big silver earrings,” Kristin declared in her North Carolina drawl at a previous hearing. She told the courtroom’s rapt listeners how she lured the car into following her down a narrow street, then pulled a U-turn and came face to face with her pursuers.
“They seemed Indian,” she pronounced, though she didn’t stay long enough to engage the women. “I realized they could have had a gun, so I took off.”
In yet another twist, revealed during the same hearing, Kristin reported that she and background witness Holly G felt threatened one day after trial when they spotted some of Anand Jon’s supporters in the courthouse parking lot. The latter group included Jon’s sister, Sanjana, whom Kristin described as grimacing, gesturing and uttering inaudible unpleasantries. Under questioning by Jon’s attorneys, it emerged that the casus belliprobably stemmed from a misunderstanding: When the smiling Kristin and Holly G emerged from the courthouse, they appeared to be laughing at Jon’s group — right after a slip-and-fall accident suffered by one of his supporters.