In retrospect, Anand Jon’s lawyers have a great deal of explaining as to why they put on such a limited defense of a man accused of raping and otherwise assaulting a parade of underaged or nearly underaged models. One wonders if they drank the Anand Jon Kool-Aid.
From the start, Jon has suffered from a case of self-delusion. He has given the impression of being completely convinced of his own innocence. He has never accepted a shred of responsibility for what he quite obviously did: take advantage of naïve and inexperienced young women who sought a quick path to the big time, often (not always) encouraged by greedy parents who should have known better.
Jon’s mother, Shashi Abraham and sister Sanjana Jon have reinforced this delusion. They practically use Christ-like terms to describe him, and analogies like the Dreyfus Affair to describe his prosecution and trial. Jon, too, seemed to believe that he was a martyr to some higher purpose, sent to suffer in solitary confinement in one of the worst ratholes in the American prison system, the L.A. County Jail, on the path to some greater destiny.
That destiny turns out to be prison for life. It didn’t have to be this way.
In the beginning of the case, the Los Angeles district attorney was willing to discuss some kind of plea bargain, recognizing that there were significant holes in the prosecution’s case. Jon wouldn’t hear of it, and he separated from his first lawyer partly for this reason. Although he admitted that he’d had sex with some of the accusers, he would not consider admitting to having had sex with them against their will.
So Jon found new lawyers, Leonard Levine, Anthony Brooklier and Donald Marks. From a practical point of view, the minimalist path taken by this team is a puzzling one. They presumed, it seems, that if they could shred the credibility of one witness, they could taint the others. I too believed this could be an Achilles heel of the prosecution.
But it turned out that the jury, which threw the book at Jon, drew a distinction between those accusers who appeared to be lying, and others who were credible. The jury threw out the claims of Britney O. and her outrageous story of waking up to Jon sitting on her face, and still believed the others. Holly Gavel, a character witness, who accused Jon of rape but mumbled “I don’t know” countless times under cross-examination when asked to explain holes in her testimony, did not undermine the claims of the others.
In retrospect, the prosecution’s decision to drop 11 plaintiffs on the eve of trial – the gap-ridden testimony of Lori B; Jennifer S; Jennifer C; Katie W; Ashley H; Chloe N; and Avery G. among others, as I noted in my Los Angeles magazine article – was fateful. With the weakest stories weeded out the more credible plaintiffs stood out. This was a worry among the defense team ahead of trial, but this cncern was not visible in the defense strategy.
I was surprised that no one called Marla Maples to talk about Jon’s many kindnesses to her; or to talk about his charity work in India. That kind of thing. Or other models who I’d interviewed who said they never saw a thing.
And the jury undoubtedly needed Jon himself not merely to deny that he’d raped the girls, but to admit that he seduced and bedded them cavalierly, that he was remorseful for having done so, but that that hadn’t amounted to assault or rape.
That, I think, would have been his only chance.
Jon will spend the rest of his days, it appears, in jail. I cannot think this is a fully just punishment. I have seen too many other heinous crimes get off lightly; and the girls and their parents did not exactly demonstrate responsible, or even logical, behavior in many instances.
But it is a lesson in hubris, and a harsh one. Jon believed in his own myth – the myth of his celebrity, of his talent, of his fame and, ultimately, of his own martyrdom.