Designer Anand Jon faces new rape charges

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LOS ANGELES, Oct 4 (Reuters) California officials today unsealed new rape charges against celebrity fashion designer Anand Jon , bringing the number of women he is accused of raping or sexually assaulting to 20.

Jon, 33, who once appeared on television show ''America's Next Top Model,'' is accused of luring women back to Los Angeles to work as models and then attacking them. He has been charged with 59 counts of raping or sexually assaulting women between the ages of 14 and 27.

In June, the celebrity designer faced 46 counts involving 18 women. The new charges came after a September grand jury hearing that involved 23 witnesses, the Los Angeles County District Attorney said in a statement.

Jon is being held in a Los Angeles jail, and the District Attorney's office said it will ask for a bail amount of 5.1 million dollars at an arraignment scheduled for October 25.

Defense attorney Anthony Brooklier said he believed the alleged victims had collaborated against Jon.

''We think that there was collusion,'' Brooklier said. ''We think this is made up whole-cloth, the entire case.'' Jon also is under investigation in Dallas and Houston, Texas, as well as New York and Massachusetts.

California prosecutors claim the Indian-born designer is a serial rapist, and charges against him include forcible rape, sexual battery, sexual penetration by a foreign object and sodomy by use of force, among numerous others.

Prosecutors say the attacks occurred between November 2002 and March 2007.

Jon has dressed celebrities like Paris Hilton and Janet Jackson and had planned to launch of new line of jeans.

REUTERS SBA AS0233

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