Friday, April 06, 2007

Beverly Hills: Indian designer faces new rape charges

Greg Risling:

A celebrity fashion designer accused of sexually assaulting as many as a dozen women and girls pleaded not guilty Wednesday, hours after prosecutors filed 13 new charges.

The latest charges against Anand Jon Alexander include 12 felonies and one misdemeanor. The most serious are forcible rape and sodomy by use of force.

In all, the designer is charged with 32 felonies and misdemeanors, ranging from rape and sexual battery to committing a lewd act on a child and contributing to the delinquency of a minor by giving her liquor, authorities said.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Elden S. Fox dismissed a misdemeanor count of sexual battery.

Alexander pleaded not guilty to all charges in the court. A prosecution request to increase his $1.3 million bail was denied, and Alexander, who had already posted bond, was allowed to remain free.

Prosecutor Mara McIlvain called Alexander a "sexual predator" and told Fox their investigation was continuing and there may be at least another six or seven cases.

Alexander will be able to resume work, but Fox ordered a guardian - Alexander's mother - to be present if any women under age 30 are at her son's job.

The designer's older sister Sanjana Abraham said Alexander plans to return to work and believes he has done nothing wrong. "As far as I'm concerned, my brother is innocent," she said. "These are only allegations."

Alexander, 33, launched his fashion line in 1999 after graduating from the Parsons School of Design in New York. He has dressed celebrities including Paris Hilton, Michelle Rodriguez and Mary J. Blige.

The Indian-born designer was arrested March 6 at his Beverly Hills apartment for investigation of sexually assaulting seven women and girls. Since then, five more women, ranging in age from 14 to 23, have come forward claiming they were sexually assaulted, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.

He was arrested after a woman alleged that he raped her.

The new charges cover a period between November 2002 and March 2007, she said.

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