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Harvey Weinstein hires NY defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman

By Karen Freifeld

By Karen Freifeld

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Harvey Weinstein has hired Manhattan criminal defense attorney Benjamin Brafman to represent him in New York, a spokeswoman for the Hollywood producer said on Wednesday, days after New York police said an unidentified woman had accused Weinstein of rape.

“We do not believe an indictment of Mr. Weinstein is imminent," the spokeswoman for Weinstein said in an emailed statement.

"A formal presentation will be made on Mr. Weinstein’s behalf in the appropriate course of the investigation, and we strongly believe we will demonstrate that no criminal charges are warranted."

The New York City Police Department said on Friday that it was investigating a seven-year-old case in which Weinstein was accused of rape and was gathering evidence.

More than 50 women have claimed Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them over the past three decades. Weinstein has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone. Reuters has been unable to independently confirm any of the allegations.

Asked to comment on Weinstein's statement, Joan Vollero, a spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., said, “We’re not commenting on the investigation or any timeline.”

Brafman told Reuters on Wednesday that he had been on Weinstein's defense team "for a while."

Brafman, 69, has defended many high-profiles cases, with clients including Michael Jackson, rapper Sean "Diddy" Combs and "pharma bro" Martin Shkreli.

In addition to the NYPD, police in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and London have said they were investigating allegations of sexual assault against Weinstein.

In 2011, Brafman defended Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister who was then head of the International Monetary Fund, when he was charged with sexually assaulting a hotel maid in midtown Manhattan.

Vance's office eventually dropped the charges, citing the maid's credibility.

Weinstein also will be represented on "any matters in New York" by Hollywood defense attorney Blair Berk, his spokeswoman said.

Berk has her own roster of celebrity clients, including rapper Kanye West, former Olympic champion and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, and actor Mel Gibson.

(Reporting By Karen Freifeld; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Anthony Lin)