UPDATE: The following was an abbreviated preview of a longer piece that would appear online Nov. 6, under the same headline.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
“I want more. I want harder evidence. I want that tampon.” So said deputy district attorney Frances Young during her closing rebuttal that finally brought the criminal trial against fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander to a close, two months after it began. The sanitary device in question belonged to a menstruating Jessie B, who claimed Jon ripped it out of her before raping her. It was never recovered by the police, leaving defense attorneys to wonder aloud what tales it would have told.
Young’s closing began promisingly enough on Halloween, with the prosecutor, dressed in black, rising angrily from her chair to brand the defense’s closing argument – delivered by no fewer than three attorneys – as little more than a misogynistic fantasy imagined by four male lawyers. (A fifth, female, defense attorney, Elizabeth Roos, attends court but never participated in witness examinations.) According to Young, Jon’s defense relied upon a traditional blame-the-rape-victim tactic of suggesting the teenagers and young women who visited the designer’s Manhattan and Beverly Hills studios essentially deserved the sexual assaults they accuse Jon of committing.
The problem for the prosecution is that there seems to be much blame – or, at least, many questions -- to spread upon Jon’s nine accusers. As the trial progressed, the defense, relying on an apparent gold mine of evidence dug out by its investigators, advanced several recurring themes about the women Jon is accused of raping, buggering, fingering or illegally videotaping. The first is that several sent him emails containing flirtatious comments and suggestive photographs of themselves – some showing the girls completely naked or semi-nude. Second, it became clear that a number of the alleged victims did not flee Jon’s New York and L.A. lairs after they were supposedly assaulted on his flattened air mattress, and that some remained in friendly contact with him long after the traumatic events in question.
With the end of Young’s rebuttal the case now goes before the jury. Despite the doubts raised about the victims by Jon’s defense, his lawyers have not rolled this trial up. They spent much time demolishing Holly G, whose hapless testimony (she said she once flew 200,000 miles from New York to L.A., and her claim to have had a dead cell phone battery following her alleged rape was contradicted by her phone bill). The problem for the defense is that Jon is not charged with raping Holly, who was only summoned as a background witness. Now it’s up to the jury to decide on the charges that could land Jon in prison for the rest of his life.