A New York City man sporting a tattoo on the back of his hand that reads “I am not guilty” was sentenced to 7 years in prison for groping a woman at a subway station.
Giorgi Shevardenidze, 27, stood before a judge Tuesday and swore he was innocent, but was still found guilty of inappropriately touching a 22-year-old woman on the staircase of a Brooklyn subway station in July 2012, reports the Daily News.
“I beg you to please, help me,” Shevardenidze told the judge. “I’m not guilty. I didn’t attack her at all.”
The married man, who works as a long-distance truck driver, continued to ride the Q-train for eight stops after noticing the victim during his morning commute. She says he followed her when she exited the train and then grabbed her around the neck and mouth from behind and choked and groped her, reports the New York Post.
Shevardenidze was charged with aggravated sexual assault, obstruction of breathing and harassment. He got the tattoo last month before he was questioned in court – a move that his attorney said was surprising and concerning. But two of the jurors claimed his tattoo did not affect their verdict and that “there was enormous sympathy for the victim.”
In a last-ditch effort to prove his innocence, the man swore the woman who had testified against him had tried to fool the jury by removing her makeup and changing from a dress to pants before entering the courtroom.
“She changed her clothing for one purpose – to mislead the jury,” he said. “And she did it very well.”
The victim was not in court at the time of his sentencing, nor did she submit an impact statement. Shevardenidze continues to insist the incident occurred because of a "drunken stumble" and that he never inappropriately touched the woman.
The maximum amount of time he could have served in prison for his crimes was 15 years.