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Federal prosecutors say embattled R&B star R. Kelly should spend at least 25 years in jail for sexually abusing women and girls.
The recommendation comes after a New York City jury found the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer guilty of racketeering, including acts of bribery and sexual exploitation of a child, and other counts at a sex-trafficking trial last year.
Kelly, 55, is set to be sentenced on June 29. Prosecutors allege Kelly was operating what amounted to a criminal enterprise because his entourage of managers and aides would help him meet girls and keep them obedient.
Kelly used his “fame, money and popularity” to systematically “prey upon children and young women for his own sexual gratification,” prosecutors wrote in a filing.
Kelly’s lawyers have argued that he deserves only a maximum of about 17 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.
Several accusers testified at trial that Kelly had subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage.
Kelly is also accused of marrying R&B singer Aaliyah in 1994 when she was just 15. Witnesses testified in court that Kelly married her using a license falsely listing her age as 18 after he feared he had gotten her pregnant. Kelly was 27 at the time. Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash in 2001 at age 22.
Kelly’s defense team says prosecutors‘ arguments for a higher sentence overreached by falsely claiming Kelly participated in the bribery of “a public aid officer to produce an identification card” that allowed the sham marriage to go forward.
Kelly’s lawyers also said it was wrong to assert he should get more time because he sexually abused one of his victims — referred to in court as “Jane” — after her parents innocently entrusted him to help her with her musical career.
“The record shows that Jane’s parents directed 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.