LOS ANGELES – Without explanation, prosecutors in Los Angeles dropped more than half of the sexual assault charges against Indian-born fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander just before jury selection began for his trial.
The district attorney's office said Wednesday it was striking 30 of the 59 charges but reserved the option of pursuing them later. The charges involved 10 women and girls.
The remaining 29 charges range from forcible rape to committing lewd acts on a child. The 10 alleged victims were 14 to 21 years old.
Nearly 100 prospective jurors began the selection process by filling out questionnaires. Attorneys were expected to begin questioning potential jurors on Sept. 4.
Alexander, 34, who has dressed starlets such as Paris Hilton, is accused of meeting women on the Internet and assaulting them when they visited California about modeling opportunities between 2001 and 2007.
He has pleaded not guilty and could face life in prison if convicted.
A call to his criminal attorney, Anthony Brooklier, was not immediately returned.
The decision to strike some charges was praised by an attorney defending Alexander in a lawsuit that claims he sexually assaulted a Beverly Hills woman, one of the alleged victims dropped from the criminal case on Wednesday.
"We believe that the justice system will prevail and that our client will be found innocent," Arthur Khachatourians said. "This case has no weight, it's a web of lies."
Alexander came under investigation last year when a woman claimed she had been sexually assaulted at his apartment. He was jailed in June 2007 and has remained behind bars.
Alexander also is under indictment in New York on similar charges involving nine women and is under investigation by authorities in Texas and Massachusetts.
Alexander graduated from the Parsons School of Design in New York and launched a fashion line in 1999. He was considered an up-and-coming designer and was named a person to watch by Newsweek.