LOS ANGELES – An up-and-coming fashion designer who has worked with A-list celebrities was convicted Thursday of sexually assaulting seven girls and women, some of them aspiring models lured to Los Angeles with promises of jobs and stays at luxury hotels.
After nearly two weeks of deliberation, a jury found Anand Jon Alexander, once featured on "America's Next Top Model," guilty of 14 felonies, including forcible rape, and two misdemeanors. Authorities said his victims ranged in age from 14 to 21.
The 34-year-old designer faces a mandatory life sentence because the jury found he had committed multiple forceful acts against multiple victims. He must serve 67 years before he is eligible for parole, meaning he will probably spend the rest of his life in prison.
Several people in the courtroom gasped as the verdicts were read, but Alexander showed no emotion. The 34-year-old designer wore a light gray suit and yellow tie, his black hair pulled back in a ponytail. He nodded grimly toward supporters before he was led away by sheriff's deputies.
He is under indictment in New York on similar charges involving nine women and is under investigation by authorities in Texas and Massachusetts.
"The ones that we know of are probably the tip of the iceberg of what truly exists," prosecutor Frances Young said outside court after the verdicts were read.
Alexander's attorneys maintained he was innocent, saying that there was a lack of physical evidence and that the women lied in court and sought revenge. Defense attorney Larry Levine said he would appeal.
"This case is not over by a long shot," Levine told reporters outside court. "For now, we are disappointed."
Levine said several victims were not credible because they remained in contact with Alexander after the alleged assaults, calling him on many occasions on his cell phone. Prosecutors said it was Alexander who kept in contact with the victims.
He was convicted of forcible rape, multiple counts of committing a lewd act on a child, attempted forcible oral copulation, and attempted sexual assault.
He was found not guilty of four felonies, including sexual penetration by a foreign object, oral copulation of a person under 18, and unlawful sexual intercourse. Jurors could not reach a verdict on three counts, and Superior Court Judge David Wesley declared a mistrial on those charges.
Outside the courtroom, several of Alexander's friends and relatives huddled together, some weeping openly. They declined to be interviewed.
Defense attorney Anthony Brooklier said jurors were swayed by the sheer number of charges and didn't judge each allegation on its merits.
"They were a bunch of weak cases. ... The cumulative effect was probably very prejudicial," Brooklier said.
The prosecutor, smiling broadly, said she was relieved by the verdicts and credited the victims with having the courage to come forward and testify.
"Mr. Alexander is a 34-year-old man who masquerades as a fashion designer," Young said. "Similar to the way pedophiles surround themselves with children, he chose a career where be could be surrounded by young, very naive, very impressionable girls ... and victimized them."
Sentencing is set for January.
Before his arrest last year, Alexander was featured on "Top Model" and touted by Newsweek as a person to watch. His Web site lists dozens of celebrity A-listers as clients, including Paris Hilton, described as a fan of Alexander's hand-printed jeans, which sell for more than $700. He has also worked with singer Mary J. Blige.
Beverly Hills police began investigating Alexander in March 2007 when a woman reported she had been sexually assaulted in his apartment.
Born in India, Alexander graduated from the Parsons School of Design in New York and launched a fashion line in 1999.