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Federal prosecutors have said embattled R&B star R. Kelly should spend at least 25 years in prison for sexually abusing women and girls.
The recommendation comes after a New York jury found the ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ singer guilty of racketeering, including bribery and sexual exploitation of a child, and other counts of indictment during a sex trafficking trial last year.
Kelly, 55, is expected to be sentenced on June 29. Prosecutors allege Kelly was running what amounted to a criminal enterprise because his entourage of managers and assistants would help him meet girls and keep them obedient.
Kelly used his “fame, money and popularity” to systematically “prey on children and young women for his own sexual gratification,” prosecutors wrote in a filing.
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Kelly’s attorneys argued he only deserved a maximum of about 17 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.
Several accusers testified at trial that Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic tantrums when they were underage.
Kelly is also accused of marrying R&B singer Aaliyah in 1994 when she was just 15. Witnesses said in court that Kelly married her using a license that falsely stated her age as 18 after fears he had gotten her pregnant. Kelly was 27 at the time. Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash in 2001 aged 22.
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Kelly’s defense team said prosecutors’ arguments for a harsher sentence were overstated by falsely claiming that Kelly participated in bribing “a public aid officer to produce an identity card.” ‘identity’ that allowed the fictional marriage to continue.
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Kelly’s lawyers also said it was wrong to claim he should get more time because he sexually abused one of his victims – referred to in court as ‘Jane’ – after that his parents innocently entrusted him with helping him in his musical career.
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“The record shows that Jane’s parents ordered Jane to lie to the defendant about her age and then encouraged her to seduce him,” the papers say.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.