R&B star R. Kelly appeals racketeering conviction that led to 30-year-prison sentence

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Monday, March 18, 2024
Singer R. Kelly's attorney appeals to overturn 30-year sex crime sentence
Judges will now consider the appeal and issue a written decision at a later date.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- R&B star R. Kelly appealed a racketeering conviction that sent him to prison for 30 years, arguing federal prosecutors in Brooklyn failed to prove Kelly's sexual depravity was part of a criminal enterprise.

"This was an organization that the government failed to prove had any criminal purpose," defense attorney Jennifer Bonjean said during oral arguments Monday before a three-judge panel of the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Denny Chin questioned the argument.

"Didn't the government prove that one of the purposes of this enterprise was to recruit girls so that Kelly could have illegal sexual activity?" Chin asked.

Bonjean responded that while Kelly's entourage sought out women to invite backstage they did not seek out minors.

"There was no evidence presented any of those individuals did so believing or knowing that someone was underage," she said. "There was no evidence that anyone went out there saying 'may I find out what your age is, are you underage, come back, we want to serve you up to Mr. Kelly.' That just did not happen."

Federal prosecutors argued Kelly had a system in place that lured young people into his orbit and his people knew they were too young.

"Kelly's inner circle knew what was going on, that he was recruiting and maintaining underage women for sexual activity," assistant United States attorney Kayla Bensing said.

Bensing also argued the inner circle helped hold women against their will.

"The enterprise was tightly tied to the facilitation of the forced labor predicate acts in this case," Bensing said. "Members of the inner circle heard Kelly beating his girlfriends. They knew that Kelly was isolating his victims and they helped him do it."

RELATED | R. Kelly sentenced to 20 years in Chicago sex crimes, 19 years served along with previous sentence

Singer R. Kelly received a 20 year prison sentence in his federal Chicago sex crimes case, with nineteen years of the sentence being served along with his New York sentence.


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