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Harvey Weinstein to Appeal Latest Rape Conviction

Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to an additional 16 years in prison on Thursday, but his lawyers will continue to fight for the disgraced producer to live a life outside of jail, pledging to appeal his Los Angeles conviction.

Weinstein’s defense, led by Mark Werksman and Alan Jackson, is finalizing their notice for appeal and is expected to file as soon as late Friday or mid-next week, Variety has learned.

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Werksman and Jackson did not immediately respond for comment, but at Weinstein’s sentencing, they told the judge that they planned to appeal. When contacted by Variety regarding the appeal, Weinstein’s spokesperson, Juda Engelmayer, provided a statement claiming that Weinstein had an unfair trial.

“This whole process has been alarming and awful for our society,” Engelmayer said. “The media coverage has been driven by a seemingly popular appeal, which I believe has led to biased legal and judicial processes by people more concerned about their political and professional lives, or their own extreme ideologies, than truly being arbiters of justice. Harvey Weinstein was the symbol, and truth or facts didn’t matter. He is universally reviled, so it was determined that fairness shouldn’t matter…That’s what this societal shift has caused: Just get him at any cost, no matter how, laws and due process be damned. That’s a scary and slippery slope for us all.”

With 16 years in Los Angeles tacked on to his 23-year sentence in New York, Weinstein, who is 70 years old, will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars. In addition to appealing his Los Angeles conviction, his defense team on the east coast is also appealing his New York conviction. The New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, has agreed to hear Weinstein’s case.

Weinstein’s team already requested a new trial, which the judge denied on Thursday before she sentenced him. The nature of the appeal will echo the contents of the motion for a new trial, a person familiar with the legal proceedings tells Variety.

The motion, which was filed earlier this year, focused intently on Jane Doe #1, the woman whose testimony led the jury to convict Weinstein on three charges of rape and sexual assault. Friday morning after Weinstein’s sentencing, Jane Doe #1 came forward to publicly reveal her identity for the first time as Evgeniya Chernyshova: a 43-year-old Russian model and mother of three, who now lives in Los Angeles, runs a floral design business and is certified as a doula.

Weinstein’s attorneys have argued that Chernyshova completely fabricated her allegations against Weinstein and that he was never in her hotel room that night. The defense also alleged that Chernyshova lied on the stand when she denied having a sexual relationship with the organizer of the L.A. Italia Film Festival, which they say would have been relevant information, since she testified that the rape occurred the weekend of the festival in 2013. The defense has said they have text messages that would impeach her credibility, and that the jury would not have convicted if the defense had been allowed to introduce those messages between her and the festival organizer.

“The jury got sucked into the lies of Jane Doe #1,” Jackson said Thursday in court at the sentencing. “They would never have voted to convict if they knew the truth.” Jackson said the purpose of introducing the text messages into evidence was not for “promiscuity,” but to establish her whereabouts the night she testified she was raped. “You can’t believe her because she was somewhere else,” Jackson said, adding that there were a “cascade of errors that deprived Mr. Weinstein from a fair trial.”

Weinstein also pleaded with the judge, saying in court, “I did not rape this woman. I did not see this woman. She perjured herself… This is a made-up story. With all due respect, Jane Doe #1 is an actress and can turn on the tears.”

Judge Lisa B. Lench said that she considered the text messages and did not believe them to be relevant evidence for the jury. “I just happen to have a position that is different from yours, Mr. Jackson,” she told Weinstein’s attorney when denying their request for a new trial. “I don’t find it helpful the jurors were asked about potential evidence.”

After the verdict, Jane Doe #1 filed a civil suit against Weinstein seeking compensation for rape. The defense argued that she waited until after the trial to strategically shield her motive. “She sued him for money,” Jackson said at the sentencing, arguing that the lawsuit constitutes “new evidence” that impeaches her credibility, and told the judge the defense was “disallowed” from asking about her “financial motive.”

“You can speculate her motivation,” the judge said. “It happened after the trial.”

The jury found Weinstein guilty, but in a split verdict he was also acquitted on one charge and the jury could not come to an unanimous agreement on the three remaining charges. He was convicted on the three counts relating to Jane Doe #1 — so, it’s feasible to see where Weinstein’s defense team was hopeful in strategizing for a new trial, given that the jury did not find Weinstein guilty of the other women’s charges. The jury, however, leaned toward a conviction on all counts on which they were deadlocked.

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