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Prosecutors say R Kelly should be jailed for at least 25 years

By | Published on Thursday 9 June 2022

R Kelly

US prosecutors have called for R Kelly to be jailed for at least 25 years following last year’s guilty verdict in the first of the criminal cases pursued against the star in relation to allegations he abused numerous young people over a period of nearly three decades. In that case, in the New York courts, a jury ruled that Kelly had built up and run a criminal enterprise that allowed him to prolifically groom and abuse young people, often teenagers.

The US Department Of Justice yesterday submitted a letter to the court ahead of an upcoming sentencing hearing explaining why it believes Kelly’s sentence should be in excess of 25 years.

The letter first summarises the testimonies of many of Kelly’s victims that spoke during last year’s trial and then reviews what the law says about the specific crimes he committed, before setting out the maths that prosecutors have employed to conclude any sentence should be in excess of 25 years.

The letter actually notes that, by the DoJ’s interpretation of the relevant laws, Kelly could be sentenced to life imprisonment. However, it then states, “the government respectfully submits that a sentence in excess of 25 years is appropriate in light of all relevant factors”.

Those factors include “the nature and circumstances of the offence, the history and characteristics of the defendant, and the need for the sentence to reflect the seriousness of the offence, to promote respect for the law, to provide just punishment, to afford adequate deterrence and to protect the public”.

Elsewhere the letter says: “Relying on his inner circle and his fame and wealth as a successful R&B singer, the defendant engaged in a conscious, repeated pattern of enticement of minors, sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, among other crimes, that spanned a period of decades”.

“Through his actions”, it adds, “the defendant exhibited a callous disregard for the very real effects that his crimes had on his victims and has shown no remorse for any of his conduct. Indeed, the defendant’s decades of crime appear to have been fuelled 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”.

The racketeering and abuse crimes Kelly was found guilty of are clearly serious crimes, it stresses, but “the defendant’s conduct was more nefarious than the typical cases involving such crimes because he committed these crimes using his fame and stardom as both a shield, which prevented close scrutiny or condemnation of his actions, and a sword, which gave him access to wealth and a network of enablers to facilitate his crimes, and an adoring fanbase from which to cull his victims”.

“Put simply”, it goes on, “the defendant’s crimes were calculated, methodical, and part 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”.

In addition to the 25 year+ jail term, prosecutors also propose a fine of up to $250,000. They write: “The government also asks the court to impose a fine … the guidelines provide that ‘the court shall impose a fine in all cases, except where the defendant establishes that he is unable to pay and is not likely to become able to pay any fine’”.

“The defendant bears the burden of proving an inability to pay”, they go on. “In this case, the defendant cannot sustain this burden. The government respectfully submits that the sentence in this case should include a fine within the advisory guideline range of $50,000 to $250,000″.

While Kelly is currently appealing last year’s guilty ruling, his lawyers are also pushing for a shorter sentence should the appeal fail. His lawyer submitted a document last month that disputed the prosecution’s position that the crimes her client has been convicted of could justify a life sentence.

That position, she wrote, is “unsupported by the evidence and the law”. By her review of the relevant laws, that document then stated, “defendant argues that the range is 168-210 months”, so fourteen to seventeen and a half years. The defence is expected to submit additional arguments in support of the shorter sentence next week.

Kelly also faces other charges in relation to the allegations of abuse, with the case against him in his home town of Chicago due to reach court in August.