Flesh, metal and fabric.
These words were once scribbled by designer Anand Jon Alexander to describe the world of fashion. Jon, as he was known in the world of couture, plummeted from being a celebrity designer in 1999 to being convicted for 59 years for serial rape, sexual battery and assault in 2008.While his appeal against his sentence in Los Angeles has been rejected twice, Jon faces a fresh trial on similar charges in New York, beginning this month.
Jon's mother Sashi Abraham is hoping for a different outcome in the second trial. Jon's family has alleged that the first trial was vitiated with racial undertones. “They called him sand nigger, curry smelling,” recalled Ms Abraham, who was in Chennai last week.
“We had around 180 witnesses in the first case. Our defence team never called anyone of them. They didn’t even argue properly in the court,” recollected Ms. Abraham. “The Lead Attorney in the case at the end of the trial said, 'Court and members of the jury, I want you to find my client Anand Jon guilty. Oops! Not guilty'. "
The designer's family has sought the intervention of Indian government in the case many times. “I am totally disappointed with the Indian government’s response. I have run from pillar to post to convince the officials and ministers here. They don’t care. See what the Italian government is doing for their marines. I am really hurt,” said Ms Abraham referring to the 2012 arrest and trial of two Italian marines for shooting two Indian fishermen off Kerala.
However, T.P. Sreenivasan, former Deputy Chief of Mission in the Embassy of India, Washington, said government intervention was not a possibility. “In the American system, it’s very difficult. You cannot draw parallels here as the Italian marines are still on trial,” he pointed out. Although allegations of racism in the American judicial system are very common, the former diplomat said in this case, it was not a factor. “He was a successful fashion designer who was always surrounded by women. The issue is about consensual or forced sex. And once you are named a law-breaker, there are not many loopholes in the American judicial system.”
“In America, lawyers rule the world. Anand Jon was a gifted, humble young man. He was successful in his profession also. So, commercial rivalry could be one of the reasons. I never expected him to be in this condition,” Mr. Sreenivasan said.
But Ms Abraham is hopeful. In the new trial, Jon will face charges of sexual offences allegedly committed when he was in New York. Ms Abraham said her family derived strength from Jon. “He firmly believes that the Almighty is preparing him for something really great. He is very confident even while facing this ordeal. ... I want to see my son walking out with freedom and dignity. To have a son like him, I must be that lucky.”