Feds ask New York judge to sentence R. Kelly to more than 25 years in prison

Kelly is due to be sentenced in Brooklyn on June 29 and faces a potential life sentence. His attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, has asked the judge there to give him a sentence of less than 14 years behind bars.

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R. Kelly walks out of the Daley Center after an appearance in child support court, Wednesday morning, March 13, 2019.

R. Kelly walks out of the Daley Center after an appearance in child support court, Wednesday morning, March 13, 2019.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file photo

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday asked a federal judge to sentence R&B superstar R. Kelly to more than 25 years in prison in his racketeering case in New York, writing that he “preyed upon children and young women for his own sexual gratification.”

The feds wrote in a 31-page court memo that Kelly’s “decades of crime appear to have been fueled by narcissism and a belief that his musical talent absolved him of any need to conform his conduct — no matter how predatory, harmful, humiliating or abusive to others — to the strictures of the law.”

Kelly, who grew up on Chicago’s South Side and reportedly performed on L platforms for spare change before rocketing to fame, is due to be sentenced in Brooklyn on June 29 and faces a potential life sentence. His attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, has asked the judge there to give him a sentence of less than 14 years behind bars.

A jury of seven men and five women found Kelly, 55, guilty last year at the end of a trial in which several accusers testified in lurid detail, alleging that Kelly sexually abused them and subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage.

The case involved Kelly’s much-publicized 1994 marriage, when he was 27, to the late singer Aaliyah Haughton, who was 15 at the time. That marriage would later be annulled. Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.

In Wednesday’s memo, prosecutors wrote that “Aaliyah was only 12 at the time [Kelly’s] sexual abuse of her began and 15 when he secretly and fraudulently married her in an effort to protect himself from the consequences of that abuse.”

They wrote that Kelly’s “actions were brazen, manipulative, controlling and coercive. He has shown no remorse or respect for the law.”

“Put simply, [Kelly’s] crimes were calculated, methodical, and part [of] a long-standing pattern of using his platform as a larger-than-life musical persona and his deep network to gain access to teenagers, many of whom were particularly vulnerable, and then to exploit them for his personal gain and sexual gratification,” prosecutors wrote.

Kelly is being held in a detention center in Brooklyn, records show.

The singer’s trial there followed decades of abuse allegations against Kelly, which led to an earlier 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County that famously ended in an acquittal. Then came the rise of the #MeToo movement in 2017, followed by the release in January 2019 of the Lifetime documentary series, “Surviving R. Kelly.” It leveled further sexual abuse allegations against the star.

Within months, Kelly found himself facing fresh criminal charges in multiple jurisdictions, including a pair of federal indictments made public in Brooklyn and Chicago.

Bonjean asked U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly earlier this year to overturn the verdict or give Kelly a new trial, arguing that prosecutors, “invigorated by an influential social movement determined to punish centuries of male misbehavior through symbolic prosecutions,” stretched the boundaries of federal law that was “not designed to punish sexual misconduct like that alleged” against Kelly.

The Chicago case still looms, with an Aug. 1 trial date less than two months away.

The indictment waiting for Kelly here alleges child pornography and obstruction of justice, claiming that Kelly illegally thwarted his 2008 Cook County trial. It alleges Kelly worked with two employees at the time — Derrel McDavid and Milton “June” Brown — to beat the case. Prosecutors say that Kelly, McDavid and others intimidated the alleged victim in the central videotape, persuading her and her father to lie to police and a grand jury.

Contributing: AP

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