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Convicted NY designer: 'Truth will surface'

Sunday - 4/14/2013, 5:12pm  ET

In this Nov. 13, 2008 file photo, fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander appears at his sexual assault trial in Los Angeles. Alexander, already serving 59 years to life in California for molesting would-be models, was sentenced in New York, on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, to five years in a similar case in a courtroom full of his supporters who blew him kisses. Alexander was once a burgeoning fashion designer on the brink of fame and fortune, living a fast life of women, celebrities and travel, until allegations surfaced that he had raped aspiring models. The 38-year-old says from his jail cell that he believes new evidence will help overturn his conviction on charges he sexually assaulted women, and his sentence of 59 years to life. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

COLLEEN LONG
Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander has been portrayed as a predator and monster in coast-to-coast cases accusing him of raping aspiring models he lured to his apartment with the promise of fame.

But here's how Alexander sees himself: an accomplished artist featured on "America's Next Top Model" who once worked with the likes of Paris Hilton, a practitioner of yoga, an admitted philanderer -- but not a criminal.

"We were all searching for companionship. We were all searching for success," he said during a jailhouse interview this week with The Associated Press. "The expectations were different. We got so caught up in the whole hype."

The 38-year-old is lanky, with a wide grin, thick black hair stylishly cut and Buddy Holly glasses tucked into the front of his drab prison jumpsuit. He is relaxed and articulate as he explains why he believes he was a victim and says his conviction and sentence of 59 years to life will be overturned based on new evidence that he says exposes a conspiracy.

"I have 100 percent faith and confidence that I will be freed," Alexander said shortly after a court appearance in Manhattan, one of several jurisdictions where he's faced criminal charges.

Alexander was on the brink of fame and fortune, living a fast life of women, celebrities and travel, until allegations surfaced in 2007 that he was preying on wannabe models, some as young as 14, by offering them a window into the industry.

During this era, he said, he wasn't good at separating business from pleasure. He dated multiple women at once; most he met online. They traveled with him and stayed with him in his apartments in New York and Beverly Hills. Many of these women would later go on to accuse him of forcing them to perform lurid sex acts. Alexander willingly admits he was a lousy, selfish boyfriend who was taking advantage of his newfound fame.

"My culture created the Kama Sutra," the Kerala, India-born Alexander said, referring to an ancient Hindu text on sexual behavior. "Sex is not something that intimidates me."

But he said he didn't force women into anything. While he was working on a deal to take his brand public, he says, the conspiracy was growing slowly around him, made up of angry, bitter women who felt partially responsible for his success and wanted more than he was giving them.

"It was all about me and my brand. I spoiled a lot of relationships," he said. "Some of the things -- the speed of the lifestyle, how much I affected them emotionally -- I can understand how some of these people were hurt."

Los Angeles prosecutors have a different take. Alexander was convicted there in 2008 on more than a dozen counts, including rape and multiple counts of committing a lewd act on a child.

Evidence relied heavily on the testimony of his accusers, whose stories were strikingly similar: They said Alexander baited them online and would eventually take them to his squalid apartment, persuade them to disrobe and later assault them or touch them without consent. He kept a conquest list of his sex acts. Prosecutors played a homemade videotape in which Alexander asked a 17-year-old girl to strip and then assaulted her. The girl said on the tape that she was 18 but testified in court that Alexander told her to lie about her age.

Seven other women were called to tell jurors about alleged assaults in New York and Texas, where the designer was also indicted.

"I was 14. You took my adolescence, my trust, my dream and completely manipulated them for your sexual desires," one of the women said at his sentencing. The Associated Press does not generally name people who have said they were sexually abused.

"It sickens me that a grown man can do such a thing to a girl," said the girl, who was 17 when he was sentenced. "A girl who was naive and had the belief that all people were good. And you took that to your advantage."

Alexander was found not guilty of four felonies and jurors could not reach a verdict on three counts. He was sentenced to 59 years to life. A trial appeal was denied.

What they didn't have during trial were email exchanges between some of the women that Alexander and his defense say prove they were conspiring. Alexander says he now has messages that show they were recruiting women for the case. The messages discuss false promises, money and how he "pressured them," which isn't a crime, his defense said.

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