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‘He has shown no signs of rehabilitation’: Federal prosecutors seek heavy prison sentence for unrepentant R. Kelly in Illinois case

A photo shows R. Kelly leaving court.

R&B singer R. Kelly leaves the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on June 6, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images.)

Federal prosecutors have asked a judge in Illinois to sentence disgraced singer R. Kelly to 25 years behind bars for his convictions for child sexual abuse material and criminal sex abuse — effectively condemning him to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Kelly, 56, was convicted in September on child pornography and criminal sexual abuse charges. He is currently serving a 30-year sentence on federal sex trafficking and racketeering charges in New York.

Prosecutors say that Kelly is a “serial sexual predator who, over the course of many years, specifically targeted young girls and went to great lengths to conceal his abuse of [his] minor victims.”

The federal government argues that Kelly “refuses to accept responsibility for his crimes” even after being convicted by a jury.

“To the contrary, Kelly brazenly blames his victims and argues that his abuse of 14, 15, and 16 year-old girls was justified because some of his victims as minors ‘wanted to pursue a romantic and sexual connection’ with him and others remained in contact with him as adults,” the memo says, quoting directly from Kelly’s own sentencing memo, which requests a significantly lower sentence. “At the age of 56 years old, Kelly’s lack of remorse and failure to grasp the gravity of his criminal conduct against children demonstrates that he poses a serious danger to society.”

In her sentencing memorandum filed on Feb. 10, Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean did indeed say that Kelly’s minor victims were the pursuers and implied that her client is in fact the victim. She argued that although Kelly is required to serve a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence, he should receive the lower end of his sentencing guidelines range because the New York sentence will likely see him through the end of his days.

“A 30-year sentence of imprisonment for an African American man with diabetes is a life sentence statistically speaking,” Bonjean wrote in that memorandum.

Bonjean also argued that Kelly, who is Black, was targeted for prosecution because of his race.

“The federal government’s obsession with ensuring that Kelly dies in prison is particularly troubling where it seems to have no appetite for investigating or initiating prosecutions of numerous other famous (White) musicians with credible histories of sexually abusing underage women,” Bonjean wrote, citing several music stars — including Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, David Bowie, Ted Nugent, Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger, and Marilyn Manson — as examples.

Prosecutors argued that any sentenced handed down by U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber should be served consecutively — and not concurrently — with the New York sentence.

“Kelly committed horrific crimes against children,” the prosecution’s sentencing memo says (citations omitted). “He not only refuses to accept any responsibility for his conduct, but he repeatedly deflects any blame for his crimes, and instead advocates that he is being treated unfairly because, for example, ‘other artists and musicians’ should be prosecuted for these crimes. Plain and simple, Kelly does not comprehend that what he did was wrong. The Court should impose a consecutive sentence in order to protect the community from Kelly, as he has shown no signs of rehabilitation.”

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Also Thursday, Leinenweber denied Kelly’s request for a new trial. In that motion, Kelly’s attorney argued that a victim identified only as “Jane” at his trial, had lied about whether she intended to seek restitution.

Kelly’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 23.

Kelly was also facing state charges in Illinois, but prosecutors dropped that case last month in light of the sentences stemming from the federal convictions.

Read the government’s sentencing memo here.

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