When "Emily" first saw Anand Jon in October 2005, he was walking through the terminal at DFW Airport like a rock god: long mane of black hair, sultry eyes, billowing white shirt and attitude to burn.
Blond, blue-eyed, with the kind of fresh beauty that cannot be faked with makeup, the teenager wore a short skirt and high heels as the New York fashion designer had instructed. Her name and those of other alleged victims have been changed.
"Heeeyyy," the designer said, kissing her cheeks after Emily introduced herself. "You are even more gorgeous in person."
Emily, who graduated from high school in a Dallas suburb, was 17 and a college freshman. She'd been corresponding online with the Indian designer since the summer, after being contacted by one of his representatives, who found her page on models.com.
"I like your look," said "Mary C" from something called psiclops.com. "Maybe I can recommend you to some of our clients."
Emily had wanted to be a model even in elementary school. So Emily went to Psiclops, which appeared to be a modeling agency. After filling in her contact information, she received an instant message from Anand Jon, who identified himself as a top fashion designer.
"What makes you unique?" he asked.
As Emily answered by IM, she noticed the designer's questions got more personal.
"Who are you again?" Emily asked.
"Look me up, babe."
On his Web site Emily saw photos of a long-haired Indian man posing shirtless; a click away were runway shots of models wearing exotic designs. She searched his name and found hundreds of pictures of Anand Jon posing with film and fashion celebrities such as Paula Abdul, Michelle Rodriguez, Paris Hilton and Lydia Hearst.
And it wasn't just pictures. The designer had been featured on Oprah and as a judge for America's Next Top Model and had been proclaimed one of the top Asian movers and shakers by Newsweek magazine.
Anand Jon's clothing in Indian-influenced fabrics with elaborate beading and gold embroidery had been praised in magazines all over the world and was sold at exclusive stores. Now he was starting a line of jeans that would retail for hundreds of dollars. Anand Jon marketed himself as the hottest thing in fashion.
A few days later, Anand Jon contacted Emily by phone to let her know there was a casting for models in Dallas the next weekend. He was going to be there and thought she had the look that would be right for his jeans.
"I launched Paris Hilton's career," Anand Jon said. "You could be the next 'It Girl.'"
Emily called her parents. Neither of them supported Emily's desire to be a model and tried to talk her out of it. But they researched Anand Jon on the Internet and came away impressed.
After meeting Anand Jon at the airport, Emily and her father dropped him at the Magnolia Hotel downtown. The next morning, her father picked up the designer, and they met Emily and her mother for breakfast.
Anand Jon arrived with a five-inch binder stuffed with press clippings. The designer was warm, charming and much in demand, reading and sending text messages on his Sidekick phone throughout breakfast.
He assured them he would protect Emily. "I believe a woman's body is a temple," Anand Jon said. "I would never hurt a girl in any way. My grandmother, mother and sister are the most important people in my life."
By the end of breakfast, Emily's parents felt at ease. They didn't know that while her father was putting their name on the hostess list, the designer had given Emily a kiss on the mouth. So when Anand Jon said he wanted Emily to go back with him to the hotel for a fitting, they agreed.
Her parents returned to the hotel later that evening and found Emily eating cookies and milk with Anand Jon in the lobby. Emily seemed poised and calm.
It would be more than a year later—after she had gone to New York to work for Anand Jon and had toured India with his sister and Miss Universe—that a sobbing Emily would finally tell her parents what had happened that day.
In the suite, she claimed, Anand had her try on clothes, then attempted to kiss her. Emily resisted his physical advances. Anand got upset, insisting that she was too cold and reserved.
"I flew all the way down here to see you and you treat me like this?" the designer said. To be successful in the fashion business, he insisted, she needed to be more experimental and passionate, like his good friend Paris Hilton.
He returned to talking about the fashion industry: how she should dress, walk, talk and live when she became an "It Girl." Later the designer poured the teenager a glass of wine.
Then he was talking about sex, how it was sacred, once included in religious ceremonies. Before each show, to feel more spiritual, Anand said, he would get a blow job. Then, she would later tell the Beverly Hills police, he pulled her onto the bed, kissing her and pawing under her clothes while he unzipped his pants. She'd had only a glass or two of wine, but it felt like six or seven. She tried to push him away but didn't have the strength. She repeated, "I'm not having sex with you" over and over.
"But it feels so good," he kept saying. She felt unable to fight him off. When he stuck his penis inside her, Emily was horrified. He wasn't wearing a condom.
"Please don't come inside of me," Emily said.
"I won't," Anand said. "I have very good control." He took his penis out and started masturbating. "I only do this for girls I like," Anand said as he ejaculated on her face.
Emily struggled to get a glass of wine to rinse the semen from her mouth then laid back limp on the bed.
The designer made a phone call on his cell while he fondled her. When he hung up, Anand climbed on her back and forced his penis inside of her, pressing Emily's face and body into the mattress. This time, he ejaculated inside of her.
Emily cleaned herself up.
To this day, she doesn't understand why she didn't run from the hotel room screaming for the police. She blamed herself and was ashamed to tell her parents that her "big break" was everything they feared. Anand Jon talked like they were in a relationship, like he loved her, like she was one in a million. When the designer invited Emily to come to New York for a big fashion event, the teenager stuffed down her fear and went, hoping to salvage something positive from the terrible encounter.
Instead, she was plunged deeper into the bizarre world of Anand Jon. She agreed to tell her story to warn other girls and encourage anyone who'd been abused to come forward.
Emily would eventually discover there were many other girls just like her, some as young as 14, who now allege that the designer scouted their portfolios on the Internet, had someone contact them about modeling work, then met them in Dallas, Houston, Austin, Miami, Beverly Hills or New York to seduce them. If that failed, Anand Jon tried to force them into sex, several of the young women say. Some also claim he drugged them.
The designer courted them with the help of his friends, family, photographers and business associates who looked the other way as Anand Jon surrounded himself with young women he cowed into silence.
Then, with amazing speed, everything crumbled. After an underage girl Anand Jon allegedly seduced went to the Beverly Hills police, the designer was arrested on March 6. Detectives seized his computers and other evidence. He had left a digital trail, having contacted girls by e-mail, IM, text messages and phone calls. According to one investigator, the number of victims could top 100 or more.
After Anand Jon's release on $1.3 million bail, more girls came forward. The 33-year-old designer—whose full name is Anand Jon Alexander—now faces 32 charges of sexual assault involving 12 girls; that includes three underage girls who were 14, 15 and 17, respectively, at the time of his alleged sexual contact with them.
Anand Jon has pleaded not guilty and has turned over his passport. His attorney Ronald Richards has told reporters that the sex was consensual, that he forced no one. He has accused the models of banding together to make up stories to get back at the designer because they didn't become famous.
Richards has offered the Mahatma Gandhi defense, saying that Anand Jon is so frail at 5-foot-4 and 130 pounds he would be unable to force himself on anyone. "Any girl would kick his butt," Richards told The New York Times. Anand Jon, however, has posted bare-chested photos of himself showing off his gym-buffed pecs.
Neither Anand Jon nor Richards returned repeated phone calls and e-mails requesting comment; neither did Anand's sister Sanjana. One business associate claims he confronted the designer after several models told him the designer was demanding blow jobs. Anand Jon ignored him.
After his arrest, models who knew Anand Jon flooded the Internet with stories of their encounters with him. In interviews with the Dallas Observer, about a dozen models, interns and assistants struggled to explain why they didn't report him to the police or their parents, or why many returned even after he'd coerced them into sex. Those are questions that Anand Jon's defense attorney will use against the models.
But is it all that hard to understand? Most of the models were young, sexually inexperienced and in a transition period of their life, such as trying to decide what to study in college or leaving home for the first time. Some were trying to make breaks with parents, to show that they could take care of themselves.
They describe being manipulated by a powerful, intelligent man who knew exactly how to play on their ambitions and insecurities about their bodies. He exploited their empathy and used it to entrap them. They, in turn, felt helpless in warding off his advances. Child abuse prosecutors call this "accommodation syndrome."
In return for his tutelage, some girls worked months for him for free. Several even plunged into life-threatening anorexia at his insistence they lose weight. Anand Jon set himself up as their savior and instead destroyed their self-esteem. Shame kept them from reporting him.
Emily's mother describes her daughter as a straight-A student, healthy and wholesome, believing that most people are trustworthy. "He raped her right off the bat," she says. "When you've been violated like that—I think her reality was just shattered."
Anand Jon didn't just manipulate young girls. An adult business associate describes being conned out of money by Anand, strung along by his promises and manipulated by his threats.
"How did he get away with it?" says another business associate. "I saw the way he treated people. It was just ugly. That speaks more to the culture, the desperation to become the next hot thing. You want to believe."
And Anand Jon had a great spiel, she says. "When you can wave pictures of yourself with Paris Hilton, that's money. That's cachet. Hey, this guy's in Newsweek. He's a good con man."
To what extent was Anand Jon a successful con? The young women and former business associates who spoke with the Observer paint a picture of a man who managed to pose as a designer but spent most of his time wooing girls.
Who had flunkies rip the labels out of clothes produced by others and sew in "Anand Jon" labels.
Who had unpaid helpers working for him—and paying his rent for the privilege.
Who convinced spouses and offspring of famous people to appear in his fashion shows as a way to get ink.
Who manipulated photo ops with celebrities into "relationships" that didn't exist.
Who surrounded himself at public events with an entourage of young models under strict instructions to speak to no one, not even each other.
Who leveraged each mention in the press, each endorsement, each charity appearance, into a fashion empire.
But it's an empire as thin as the nipple-revealing silk blouse a model wore on the catwalk in the 2001 fashion show that blasted Anand Jon into the fashion ionosphere.
The elevator that carried Dallas photographer Jesse McLean to the Giorgio Armani showroom was packed, and by the time it reached the ninth floor and emptied, New York City fire marshals had deemed the luxurious space filled to capacity. No one else would be allowed in for the Anand Jon fashion show. This news sent several of the event's organizers into frenzies. Donald Trump's limo had just arrived!
McLean, co-owner of Girlco Modeling Agency in Dallas with his wife, Brenda, had met the designer only a few weeks earlier, soon after September 11, 2001. One of his models told him that the designer's big fashion show had to be canceled because of the terrorist attacks, but Armani had graciously offered the use of his New York studio. Lots of top models and celebrities would be there. McLean jumped at the chance to shoot the event.
Strutting down the catwalk wearing beaded and gold-embroidered Anand Jon couture clothing were Nicky and Paris Hilton, Amanda and Lydia Hearst, a princess and a half-dozen top models. Drew Barrymore's mother and Mick Jagger's daughter walked the show. McLean was impressed not only by the glamorous turnout but the elaborate clothing and high-caliber clientele.
Anand Jon told McLean he'd met Armani when he was attending the Art Institute of Florida and that the Italian designer had taken him under his wing. The media pit had photographers and writers from at least 100 media outlets, McLean says. "There were people literally sitting on the floor. It was spectacular."
After the fashion event, Anand Jon began portraying himself as Armani's protégé. (An Armani spokesman in New York says this isn't true.) McLean didn't know that the designer had blast-e-mailed the media after 9/11, saying he and his "team" were safe as a publicity stunt.
McLean remembers the timing of that show and its impact. "Everything had been so sad," he says. "Everyone wanted to feel right, to feel good. Anand discussed this with me. He said you have so many designers who had venture capitalists behind them. [After 9/11] they lost a lot of money, and designers dropped like flies. If you were one of the few left standing and you were in this showroom, you were doing something right in a big way."
Anand Jon was interested in more than fashion. In addition to his New York studio, Anand Jon had a studio in Beverly Hills where he was working with a famous Indian director on a film about a bad-boy fashion designer. Starring him. He had a reality TV show on the fashion business in the works. Starring him and Michelle Rodriguez of the TV show Lost. And there were his numerous charities: tsunami relief, endangered tigers, childhood cancer. Anand Jon wasn't just building a brand. He was building an international empire.
McLean began working with the designer, who started visiting Dallas quarterly to cast models for shows in Texas. Jesse would fly to New York to shoot Polaroids at casting calls or work at Anand Jon events.
"Whenever I would go up there it would be a large event, and it would enable me to make some contacts," McLean says. Some of his girls had an opportunity to go as well. "A lot of them had never been to New York City. It gave them a chance to be part of the New York scene."
Though neither he nor the models were ever compensated financially—and paid their own expenses—McLean hoped that the relationship would bring more fashion events to Dallas and pay off in the future. "It was a big goal, but I thought it was attainable," McLean says. "I can tell you I never thought it might not be what it seemed."
Anand Jon always had a new project going: MTV Asia; a book on the 100 most beautiful women in history; a denim line; purses with Lydia Hearst. He talked to Jesse about "branding" the name Girlco.
"There was a lot of bait to me, as someone trying to grow a business in the right way," McLean says. "I would do a lot of work for him in the hope that if things started to happen, you won't forget the amount of grunt work I was doing."
And it was exciting. Anand's studio, where the designer also slept when he was in New York, buzzed with life. Sanjana Jon, Anand's sister, and her boyfriend, who had a marketing company, were always around and had their own projects. Celebrities dashed in and out. One day McLean arrived at Anand's studio in New York and P Diddy's mother was there, kidding with the designer like an old friend. Models would appear for a casting call, and their portfolios included covers they had shot for top fashion magazines.
One year later, after February Fashion Week in New York, McLean tagged along with Anand Jon on an after-party trawl in the Hamptons. Anand's entourage would get into exclusive events, get photos shot with the hosts and any celebrities who were present and then hustle off for the next bash until sunup. McLean thought the party-crashing excursion was odd but rationalized that Anand was doing guerilla marketing: showing up at events with hot girls wearing his clothes, using the press and Internet to build buzz.
Brenda McLean was skeptical. "I was trying to figure out what he was doing in Dallas with a small agency," she says. Girlco represents only two dozen models at any given time; most have little professional runway experience. "He never really answered that question." But he did tip Brenda off to some model Web sites such as modelmayhem.com where he posted to get attention. Anand Jon had more than 1,500 female "friends" on his MySpace page.
Dallas was his way station between New York and Los Angeles, with occasional trips to Houston where a large group of expatriate Indians lived; many were his clients. On one trip, Jesse took six or seven girls to Houston for a big show when Anand received an award from an Indian cultural organization.
The McLeans eventually realized that the relationship was one-way. Anand would pop into town, and Jesse would pick him up at DFW. The designer rarely carried cash. He'd often spend the night at the studio instead of a hotel.
Each time, Anand would bring a huge suitcase containing elaborate beaded pieces that sold for $3,000 to $4,000. Often four or five girls that the McLeans didn't know from other cities would come to Dallas for a casting at Girlco. Anand would explain that the girls had contacted him.
When models tried on Anand's clothes, Brenda hovered in the background. "The clothes were very see-through and open-front where you can't wear a bra," she says. "I'm very motherly with the girls I'm responsible for." Though she didn't see the designer touching the girls' bare skin, there was a lot of nubile flesh on display.
Only once did Brenda suspect that something improper was going on. At Anand's request, Jesse had contacted "Brianna," who flew to Dallas for an event in Houston.
Anand slept on a sofa bed at the studio that night. Brianna and another out-of-town girl slept in a bed in another part of the studio, so Brenda had an older model stay there as well.
"I know he slept with [Brianna] that night, because my model called me and said she had to leave because she didn't like what was going on," Brenda says. (Brianna claims Anand Jon groped her against her will but stopped short of intercourse because the other girl was in the room.) The next morning, as they got ready to drive to Houston, Brianna was upset. She told Jesse that one of her best friends had been in a car accident and was near death.
Jesse called Brianna's mother to say he thought it best to put her on a plane home so she could be with her friend. The mother informed him that none of Brianna's friends was near death. Jesse thought it was simply "girl drama," endemic in the modeling business. Brianna composed herself, and the group drove to Houston.
That night, Anand Jon called Brianna up to his hotel room to talk about "her career." But in the middle of the conversation, Brianna claims, Anand unbuttoned his pants and forced her mouth down on his penis. "He knew I was a virgin," Brianna says. "This was the first time I'd ever had to do that."
Anand told Brianna that she needed to have a better expression on her face, "like you are enjoying it." Then he announced, "I'm going to come in your mouth. You aren't going to like the taste."
Afterward, Brianna stumbled to the bathroom, where she rinsed and rinsed with mouthwash. When she returned to the room, Anand said, "Well, I guess we're done."
Brenda McLean finally understood Anand Jon's game after he asked the McLeans to put together a "meet the designer" event for local fashion students.
"He wanted to make an appearance from behind a curtain and all this smoke would go up," Brenda says. "He said, 'I'm a dog-and-pony show. Let's just make some money.'"
The light went on in her head, she says. Anand Jon wasn't in the business of selling fashion. He was selling himself.
Brenda realized that each time Anand came to Dallas, he brought the same garments. A graphic artist who had moved from Dallas to work with Anand came back with the news that most of the clothing the designer presented as his was purchased in India by Anand's sister.
The attention of the press and the power he wielded over eager models had created a monster. Jesse says that Anand and Sanjana, who had started her own line of clothing, verbally abused models and interns, who stuffed envelopes, sewed in labels and schlepped clothes all over the city for them—usually on foot, always with no pay. They'd reduce girls to tears with vicious criticism. Their failure to pay invoices for New York models had gotten them blacklisted on one model Web site.
By late 2004, Jesse was exhausted. "I'm doing all this shooting, setting up flights and it was insane," he says. No money-making projects ever materialized.
Brenda finally had enough. After the "meet the designer" event, Anand had the nerve to ask the McLeans for a share of the bar sales. His assistant also had been extracting contact info from their models. Then Anand presented Brenda with a contract giving him ownership in Girlco Modeling, which he had started including on the Anand Jon Web site as if it were his agency.
She declined to sign the contract. Not long afterward, the mother of a Texas Girlco model called Jesse to say her daughter was taking a year off from college to move to Los Angeles to work with Anand; she planned to live at his studio, sharing the rent with two other girls. Jesse told the mother she should have nothing to do with such an arrangement.
The next day Anand called McLean to say there was a misunderstanding. The girls would be living at the apartment of his assistant, not in his studio. But the assistant denied any such arrangement. "I pretty much ended a dialogue with him," Jesse says. "I wanted to disassociate myself from him and where he was going."
According to Anand Jon's official biography, he was born and raised in the Kerala region of India. His rags-to-riches story began when Anand came to the United States at 17. He studied first at the Florida Institute of Art in Fort Lauderdale and then graduated from the Parsons School of Design.
In reality, Anand Jon and sister Sanjana grew up in a well-to-do family. His mother owned a chain of beauty parlors called My Fair Lady. Anand did graduate from Parsons, but many other details are shrouded in mystery. For example, he often tells models he's in his early 20s and Sanjana is his younger sister. But official records give his age as 33 and his sister's as 39.
After his arrest, stories about Anand Jon's past circulated on the Internet, including the allegation that he had to flee his home country after messing with a girl from a higher-caste family. There's no way to confirm that. But an Indian freelance writer named Manu Joseph wrote in The Times of India about his brief exposure to Anand at a Jesuit college for boys in June 1991, when girls were admitted for the first time.
The eight girls were a distraction, Joseph writes, "but what would make the entire college stand still was...the lonely walk of a boy with long hair. He had a pretty face and his head was held high. His jeans were almost always torn around the knees...He wore chains around his wrist and many rings...When he did not walk alone he was surrounded by beautiful girls...They twittered around him. No one knew where he found them. They were not from the college."
Joseph described Anand Jon as the son of a privileged home who spent lots of time in the company of women, straightening his hair at his mother's salon or sticking close to a grandmother who enjoyed his "audacious" ways. He drew accomplished sketches and "even more astonishing nudes."
Anand Jon disappeared from the school after a few months. No one knew why. Joseph recounts the school's "most enduring image" of the young man "sprawled across the bonnet of a car surrounded by hormonal girls in the uniform of a famous school. The car was not only standing in a no-parking zone but also in the most auspicious spot in the college. In front of the Principal's office."
By the turn of the millennium, Anand Jon had traded his school clothes for tight leather pants, a black wife-beater and a string of Indian pearls. When Emily first encountered Anand Jon, she didn't realize she was auditioning not as the face of his jeans line but as a member of his ever-present entourage of beautiful teenage girls.
After their first meeting, the designer kept in constant touch with Emily through IM and cell phone, a pattern he repeated with other girls. Where was she going? What was she wearing? When was she going to be back? He told her to lose five pounds, so she went on a diet and started jogging. Within days, she claims, Anand Jon was exerting control in just about every area of her life.
After their first sexual encounter, Anand told Emily he was coming back to Dallas in late October, when she would celebrate her 18th birthday. But at the last minute, he insisted she fly to New York for a major fashion charity event, where she would meet photographers and agents.
That weekend, Emily stayed with a relative who was a student at a New York university. But she rarely saw him. Instead, Emily worked for Anand, dashing around the streets of New York. "I didn't tell anybody we were in a relationship," Emily says. "I was just very weirded out. I didn't know what to feel." They were alone in a Hummer limo when Anand pulled her on his lap, moved her underwear aside and started massaging her anus. She told him to stop; the driver could see. Anand didn't stop until he climaxed.
That first night in New York Anand and a small group went to a nightclub. Emily reminded Anand she was only 17. "It will be OK," Anand said. "I'm a celebrity." The designer said something to the bouncer, and they sailed into the club ahead of a long line. An alcoholic drink was thrust into her hand.
That weekend, Emily felt that no matter what she did, it was wrong. If she listened as Anand talked to other people, he stopped his conversation to confront her with how rude she was. If she turned away and didn't listen at all, Anand berated her for ignoring him.
When Emily told the designer he'd hurt her feelings, Anand Jon sneered, she says. "I don't think you know who I am," Anand said. "I am up there," gesturing over his head. "When you get to my level of importance you are allowed to have feelings, but not while you are trying to get there." His spirituality embraced all religions, he told her, and he was so advanced there were few others on his level. He didn't have to worry about being polite to those less evolved. That would take time away from using his God-given talents to help the world.
Emily and a handful of other models would accompany Anand shopping or to parties. Their instructions: to follow behind him a few paces. Don't talk to anyone, not even each other. Nobody cared what they thought, only what they looked like. "You are not here to make friends," Anand told Emily. "You are here for your career."
When photographers appeared, he'd snap his fingers, and they were to cluster around Anand like adoring fans. They were his harem—even expected to massage his hands or neck on demand. At one point, when a massage therapist arrived to work on Anand's feet, he demanded that Emily watch so she could learn the correct technique.
On the second night she was in New York, Anand took Emily and several other girls to a VIP party for Fendi. Anand bought her several drinks, and by the time they ended up back at his hotel, she was bombed.
"I was feeling really weird, like I was super, super drunk," Emily says. "I couldn't control my movements very well." Anand had to help her walk.
"He led me up to his room and laid me down on my stomach," Emily says, her eyes filling with tears. "It was like I couldn't move. He removed my skirt and he..." She gulps. "He sodomized me. I couldn't feel anything."
"Gooood girrrrrl," Anand said after he finished.
Then the designer got her off the bed and led her downstairs, she says. Though she could barely walk and it was after midnight, Anand put her in a cab and paid the driver to take her to her relative's apartment.
The cab driver had to get out of his vehicle to shake Emily awake and help her as she stumbled out of the cab. The next morning Emily claims she was still dizzy and wobbly and couldn't walk.
That same morning Emily was picked up by a driver and taken to another hotel where Anand was using a suite to get ready for the charity event. She didn't tell her relative what had happened. She felt like she was on autopilot, unable to make decisions.
A small group of girls—models and interns—were told to take labels out of T-shirts silk-screened with a logo Anand Jon had designed for the charity and replace them with the designer's tags.
Emily felt under Anand's critical gaze all day. Out of the blue, he would order her to do something and then berate the way she did it, reducing her to tears. "You are too much a child," Anand told her. "I don't need this drama. I'm sending you home."
That made her feel worse; Emily had been pretending that everything was going to work out, and now she was nothing more than a pathetic loser. Worse, her mother, who was concerned about Emily's well-being, was flying to New York and was staying with a friend. But by the time Emily arrived at the friend's house for the cutting of her birthday cake, her mother and the rest of the family were in bed. Emily choked down a piece of cake, then crawled into the shower to cry.
The next day was her 18th birthday. As she dressed, Emily was bitchy to her bewildered mom and left the apartment when Anand text-messaged her to come back to the hotel. When she arrived, Anand demanded that she give him a hug. "It was like he forgave me for what I had done the evening before," she says bitterly.
That evening, Anand and a handful of models dressed up for the black-tie charity event. Before they arrived, Anand gave Emily his phones and other paraphernalia to carry, told her to stick close and "don't tell anyone I'm your boyfriend." Anand's conception of this gala was bizarre. He dressed as Dracula and the models were his "fallen angels," all wearing white wings and black silky lingerie. He arranged for a young director to show the crowd his student film about a 16-year-old girl who sells her virginity on eBay. The charity was named for a 4-year-old girl who died of brain cancer.
After the benefit the group party-hopped and returned to the hotel suite. Emily says Anand had given her a lot to drink. As the group hung out, Anand pulled Emily into the bedroom. She claims he unzipped his pants and pushed her face-down onto his penis. She saw a piece of toilet paper stuck to it and he smelled like he hadn't washed in days. As Anand forced his penis deep into her throat, Emily started gagging and crying.
"I like it when you gag," she says Anand told her. Afterward, he told her to sleep in the bed with him.
That ended Emily's 18th birthday.
She couldn't believe she was taking such crap from Anand and returning for more. Later Emily would realize that all her life she hated conflict. She was always the "good girl," a pleaser who had a hard time being confrontational, a character trait she recognized in some of the other models. Emily's initial awe of Anand Jon had turned to subservience, and she didn't understand why. She had even started a pattern of starving herself and throwing up if she ate something fattening, something she'd never done before.
The next day, sexy photos of Emily appeared on wireimage.com. "You could probably be a model for Victoria's Secret," Anand told her.
The November trip to India was an opportunity Anand presented to Emily—like a reward for being a "gooood girrrrl." Sanjana, Anand's sister, was taking along Miss Universe 2005, Natalie Glebova of Canada, as well as Miss Afghanistan, and a coterie of models on an all-expenses-paid trip to the subcontinent to promote AIDS awareness. Though Anand wasn't going, he insisted that Emily go as one of the models.
The cruel irony: Anand allegedly was forcing Emily into unprotected sex.
The pace in India was grueling, and the girls say Sanjana made them miserable by screaming and refusing to let them leave their hotels. Emily wouldn't fight back, but Jessie Nizewitz, a model who had wrestled in high school, refused to put up with her abuse.
"Sanjana will scream and bug her eyes at you and snap her fingers at you like you are a 5-year-old," Nizewitz says. "I don't care how wealthy or famous you are, you can't talk to people like that in New York or someone is going to hurt you. Most models think they are going to make it big and if they tolerate things long enough they'll get there. I'm not compromising and taking shit from some Indian princess."
In India, Emily couldn't receive Anand's constant stream of text messages and phone calls. There, Emily had an epiphany: She hated Anand and never wanted to see him again.
When she returned to New York, Emily planned to spend the night with Nizewitz before catching a plane to Dallas. As soon as she landed, Anand started calling, demanding that she come to Long Island to his sister's house. She didn't want to go, but Anand was so forceful Emily finally asked Nizewitz to drive her to Rosalyn Heights.
When they arrived, Anand insisted on taking Emily on a "tour" of the house, leaving Nizewitz with another model and her mother. As soon as Anand got Emily into another room, he shut the door and pushed her to her knees, thrusting his crotch in her face. Furious, she jumped up. Anand got huffy.
"You are treating me like a toy," Anand yelled. "I send you to India and you stay with this Jessie girl, and I had you set up for an important meeting with an agency and you missed it!" Emily says she kept trying to leave, but Anand kept up the verbal abuse. She could hear Nizewitz in another room screaming, "Let's go!"
Emily claims she tried to pull away but Anand grabbed her, turned her around, pushed her over, pulled up her skirt and raped her from behind. Emily scrambled from the room, trying not to cry. Anand followed, demanding that Nizewitz return home to get Emily's luggage so she could spend the night with him.
"Are you on drugs?" Nizewitz asked. "No way."
Emily said nothing to Nizewitz on the way home. "I was so ashamed of myself for being around him so long and letting him do these things to me," Emily says. "That was the last time he raped me."
Emily returned to Texas and announced to her family that she was no longer interested in pursuing a career in modeling. But she had one last brush with the designer, who was trying to interest her father in a business deal. They flew to Miami for an Anand Jon event that was being filmed; Emily wanted to stay home but couldn't tell her father why she didn't want to make the trip. Anand Jon bitched her out in front of the other models, but his criticism rolled off her back.
When Anand didn't get the response he wanted, he tried the old charm. "Maybe you can come for my spring fashion show, and we can rekindle this relationship," Anand said. Emily played along but stopped responding to his text messages when she got back to Texas. His spell was broken.
But its after-effects remained. She couldn't tell her roommates that her dream-come-true experiences in New York and India were nightmares.
"I didn't want to feel as tricked and used as I did," Emily says. Soon after the break she spiraled into depression. Terrified that she might have AIDS, Emily donated plasma several times, knowing that an HIV test was given before each donation. The tests were negative, but the terror remained.
Then she met "Peter," a law student. After a few months of dating, she told him what had happened. He told Emily that the FBI had an anonymous tip line. On July 10, 2006, Emily filed a report and received a call from a female agent, who urged her to file a complaint with Dallas and New York authorities. And she pushed Emily to tell her parents.
"Please remember you didn't do anything wrong," the FBI agent said. "You are a victim."
That day, Emily sat down with one of her older brothers and spilled her guts. In September, Emily finally told her parents what had happened. They were calm but devastated. "I drove him to the hotel where he raped my daughter," her father told The New York Times in April.
Emily flew to New York to file a report with the section working on Internet Crimes Against Children. Emily says she was told by a NYPD detective that unless she had physical evidence, like blood or semen, they could not prosecute Anand Jon.
Emily didn't know that Brianna, another young woman who had first met Anand Jon in Dallas, had tried to file a case with the same detective a year earlier after the designer lured her to New York for Fashion Week in February and then allegedly forced her to give him oral sex.
Brianna claims that Sanjana found out she was 17 and started shrieking at her brother: "She's a minor. What the hell were you thinking? What about our careers?"
The next day, Brianna claims, Anand forced her into sex again.
It wasn't until after a trip to Los Angeles in May 2004 that Brianna went to police. She'd rationalized everything that had happened in New York and convinced herself that she would be stronger. But within minutes of seeing Anand Jon again, she claims she was forced to give him a blow job.
Then Brianna returned one day to find him recording a video in his bedroom with several girls; Mandy, she says, was only 15 years old. "I walked in, and Anand's under the sheets and had all these girls around him," Brianna says. "Mandy was brushing his hair."
Maybe Brianna couldn't be strong for herself, but she could be strong for Mandy. She walked out and found the 15-year-old's father sitting in the living room. The father went to every event at which his daughter modeled. She told the man what was going on.
"I've been abused by Anand Jon," Brianna told him. "Here's my number. Get her out of here." The man ran into the room and pulled his daughter out.
That incident gave Brianna the willpower to leave as well. After a screaming match in the lobby of a Beverly Hills hotel—where she claims Anand Jon grabbed her arm and yelled that she'd never work in the modeling business again—Brianna escaped with the help of two family members.
Soon after that, Brianna got up her courage and called the police in New York. The detective asked why she kept going back. He declined to open a case. No blood or semen. Authorities in Los Angeles, however, were willing to pursue a case.
A few weeks later, Emily met Anand Jon.
In early March of this year, right before the launch of his ready-to-wear collection during L.A.'s Fashion Week, Anand Jon was arrested in Beverly Hills after a girl from Seattle called police to claim he'd sexually assaulted her in December.
The designer was charged initially with seven counts—including forcible rape, lewd acts upon a child, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, sexual battery by restraint and attempted forcible oral copulation—on three victims.
More counts were added later, including sexual penetration by a foreign object, sexual exploitation of a child and sexual battery. Anand Jon now faces 32 charges involving 12 victims age 14 to 23 in Los Angeles alone.
An assistant says that the designer had grown even more paranoid in recent months, urging her to contact girls he worried were going to snitch. She didn't know until he was arrested that Anand Jon had been charged with committing a lewd act on a child in 2003, according to the Los Angeles Times. The paper reported that he had pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct. He was ordered to undergo almost a year of sex therapy as a part of his three-year probated sentence. Another condition: that he have no contact with any person under age 18 without the presence of a "responsible" adult.
His probation had ended in November 2005. The current charges are for incidents that occurred between October 2004 and March 2007.
According to sources still in contact with him, Anand Jon now lives in New York. Jane Robison, who handles press relations for the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, told The New York Times that Anand fits "the pattern of a sexual predator." Robison says that if he works with models, they must be over 18; he must have other adults besides Sanjana and her boyfriend present with them at all times, and the models must sign consent forms affirming that they have not been alone with him. Those forms must be presented to a judge on June 12, the date of a preliminary hearing.
"I know we are getting calls from models and their families from around the country," Robison says.
Anand Jon Alexander is now under investigation in Dallas after Emily and several other models contacted police. Additional charges might be filed in Texas. "Sydney," who lives in the Hill Country, talked to Emily after learning what had happened to her.
Sydney agreed to talk to the Observer while Emily listened.
Sydney's encounter with Anand Jon took place in Texas on July 23, 2006, after he contacted her through MySpace. She was 16 when the designer met her at a hotel. Within 30 minutes, she claims, Anand Jon had flattered and cajoled and bullied Sydney down to her thong underwear. "The air turns to ice," Sydney says. "You can't breathe, you can't move. It's just the most disgusting feeling in the pit of your stomach."
Sydney says the designer straddled her, pushed her face into a pillow and raped her without a condom. When he finished, she claims, Anand Jon said, "Goooood girrrrrrl."
Hearing that, Emily burst into tears.
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