Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Home30-YearSinger R. Kelly seeks appeals court relief from 30-year prison term

Singer R. Kelly seeks appeals court relief from 30-year prison term

Singer R. Kelly seeks appeals court relief from his 30-year prison term.

NEW YORKR. Kelly’s lawyer told an appeals court Monday that all kinds of lawful organizations, including college fraternities, could be deemed racketeering organizations under a law used to convict the R&B superstar of sexually assaulting young fans, including children, for decades.

Attorney Jennifer Bonjean attempted to persuade three justices on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan that prosecutors used a racketeering provision designed to combat organized crime to target the singer.

She argued that it was unfair that prosecutors charged Kelly, 57, with leading a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization enterprise from 1994 to 2018, which included individuals who promoted his music and recruited women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity and produce child pornography.

“This was not a collection of people who had a purpose to recruit girls for sexual abuse or child pornography,” Bonjean went on to say. “Whether they turned a blind eye, or whether some of them suspected that some of these girls were underage, is a completely different story.

“And once we get into that sort of territory, where we’re going to say that constitutes a RICO enterprise, well, we have a lot of organizations — we have a lot of frat houses — we have all types of organizations that are now going to become RICO enterprises,” she said in support of the Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling songwriter.

The judges did not rule right away, but they had plenty of questions for Bonjean and the prosecutor who defended the government’s handling of the case, which resulted in a 30-year prison sentence in June 2022.

Assistant US Attorney Kayla Bensing stated that Kelly’s network of aides and employees were part of the singer’s “system in place that lured young people into his orbit” before he “took over their lives.”

At trial, numerous women testified that they were forced to sign nondisclosure agreements and faced threats and penalties such as severe spankings if they violated what one described as “Rob’s rules.”

Some judges questioned whether the staff were aware of Kelly’s illicit activities with teenage females.

“Is there any indication that the workers who organized these events knew they were underage? questioned Circuit Judge Denny Chin.

The prosecutor answered by giving multiple pieces of evidence, including one in which a lady testified that she informed a member of Kelly’s entourage that she was 16 when he questioned her age. Others were aware that some of the girls were under the age of 18, as they booked flights for them and required the girls to furnish their birth dates, she claimed.

“So this is all evidence that the jury was entitled to conclude that Kelly’s inner circle was aware of what was happening. “That he was recruiting and maintaining underage women for sexual activity,” Bensing claimed.

“Members of the enterprise heard Kelly beat his girlfriends, they knew that Kelly was isolating his victims and they helped him do it, including by enforcing his punishments such as watching over them while they were confined to a bus for prolonged periods of time,” the report stated.

Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, is best known for his work on the 1996 smash “I Believe I Can Fly” and the cult classic “Trapped in the Closet,” a multipart story of sexual treachery and intrigue.

He was revered by thousands of admirers and sold millions of CDs, even after allegations of sexual assault against young girls surfaced in the 1990s. He was acquitted of child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008, but a second trial in 2022 resulted in his conviction for manufacturing child pornography and luring minors for sex.

Widespread outcry over Kelly’s sexual misbehavior did not surface until the #MeToo movement, which peaked with the release of the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly.”



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