Prosecutors and R. Kelly’s defense team agree on one thing- the singer is heading to prison for a long time.
However, they are fighting over just how much time R. Kelly will have to spend in prison after being convicted of sexual exploitation of a child, racketeering, bribery, and sex trafficking in September of 2021.
The singer was scheduled to be sentenced at the beginning of May for abusing five young girls dating back to 1994 when an associate named Demetrius Smith bribed a government worker so he could marry late singer Aaliyah.
Prosecutors believe R. Kelly should be locked up for life for these crimes. However, his defense team believes the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer deserves a much lighter sentence under Federal guidelines.
R. Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean is asking a judge to sentence the singer to anywhere between 14 years and 17.5 years in prison and specifically denied the allegations related to Aaliyah.
“The government’s evidence failed to show that Defendant knew that Demetrius Smith paid money to influence a public aid officer to produce an identification card for Aaliyah. The record is also devoid of any evidence that Defendant used Aaliyah in connection with the bribery. Of course, the bribery committed by Smith produced a fraudulent public aid card for Aaliyah. But it does not follow that Defendant used Aaliyah in the bribery,” Bonjean said.
The singer also claimed a 16-year-old named Jerhonda duped him into believing she was older and that he was the real victim.
“Jerhonda, a sophisticated 16-year-old, took great pains to get close to Defendant, including by misrepresenting her age. Defendant did nothing to seek out Jerhonda,” Bonjean said.
“Jerhonda admits that she falsely told R. Kelly that she was 19 years of age when they engaged in sexual conduct. It is true that Jerhonda claims that she promptly confessed her real age of 16 to R. Kelly immediately after their first sexual encounter; however, even if this is true, Jerhonda’s testimony does not reveal that R. Kelly used any influence, undue or otherwise, to engage in sexual activity with her,” Bonjean argued.
R. Kelly’s lawyer also continued to deny he infected one of his Jane Doe victims with Herpes, which resulted in him being convicted of fraud during the sensational trial.
“Because there is no evidence that Jane was infected with Herpes when she traveled to California with R. Kelly between April 28, 2015, and May 1, 2015, the government cannot show that any harm resulted from his failure to disclose his herpes diagnosis. Indeed, Jane testified that she did not contract Herpes from R. Kelly during this trip. Thus, the government’s fraud theory is patently ridiculous,” the singer’s lawyer asserted.
If R. Kelly does avoid a life sentence and is hit with the maximum prison term the defense is asking for (17.5 years), he would not be freed until he was over 72 years old.
R. Kelly is still facing two more trials.
In August, he will face a jury in Cook County, Illinois, where he is charged with possession of child pornography and obstruction of justice.
The singer also has a trial pending in Minnesota for allegedly engaging in prostitution with a minor.