Religious leader Asaram filed an appeal in the Rajasthan High Court on Monday against his conviction in a rape case, PTI reported. A Jodhpur court in April convicted the 77-year-old and sentenced him to life imprisonment for raping a 16-year-old girl at his ashram in 2013.

The appeal said the trial court had ignored several facts in its verdict, and called it a “clear and disturbing illustration of trial by media”, Hindustan Times reported.

“The appellant was projected and condemned as a lecherous person and a debauch,” said the appeal. “He was depicted as a serial womaniser and a rapist continuously, covering a major period of trial. He was, therefore, assumed to be guilty person much before the trial reached its conclusion.”

The appeal claimed that the witnesses were not competent, but still their statements, amounting to character assassination, were recorded.

The High Court admitted similar petitions challenging the sentencing of two others in the case. Asaram’s aides Shilpi Gupta and Sharatchandra were sentenced to 20 years each in prison.