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Federal Prosecutors Seek Additional 25 Years Behind Bars For Disgraced Singer R. Kelly

Prosecutors hope to keep R. Kelly behind bars for the rest of his life because "it's the only way to ensure" he cannot re-offend.

By Jax Miller
The R. Kelly Scandal, Explained

Federal prosecutors are hoping R. Kelly will serve 25 additional years in prison to prevent the possibility of re-offending.

The 56-year-old singer, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is expected to be sentenced on Feb. 23 after he was found guilty by a federal jury in Chicago in September on three charges each of child pornography and child enticement.

On Thursday, in response to the defense’s sentence recommendation for a 10 to 11-year sentence, federal prosecutors filed their sentence recommendation with the U.S District Court in Chicago, requesting Kelly be sentenced to 25 years, according to the Associated Press. The quarter-century term would be in addition to a 30-year sentence Kelly is currently serving after being convicted in New York on federal charges of sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, sex trafficking, and other related crimes in September 2021.

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“The only way to ensure Kelly does not re-offend is to impose a sentence that will keep him in prison for the rest of his life,” prosecutors stated in their recent 37-page request.

Prosecutors referred to Kelly as a “serial sexual predator” who “poses a serious danger to society,” according to the Associated Press. They also called Kelly’s actions “sadistic.”

R. Kelly

Should prosecutors get their way and Kelly serve 25 years – only after fulfilling his 30-year sentence -–the term would be above the sentencing guidelines.

Kelly would be about 100 years old before he could be eligible for release.

“A consecutive sentence is eminently reasonable given the egregiousness of Kelly’s conduct,” prosecutors stated. “Kelly’s sexual abuse of minors was intentional and prolific.”

Kelly’s defense attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, recommended her client serve 10 to 11 years concurrently – not consecutively – with Kelly’s New York sentence, according to ABC Chicago affiliate WLS-TV.

Bonjean noted in her filing last week that even without the additional 25 years requested by prosecutors, chances were slim that Kelly would still be alive after fulfilling his 30-year obligation, according to the Associated Press. She noted the average life expectancy for inmates was 64 years old.

“Kelly would have to defy all statistical odds to make it out of prison alive,” said Bonjean.

She also cited Kelly’s race, claiming that if he wasn’t Black, his sentence might not be so severe for crimes “white rock stars have gotten away with for decades,” according to WLS-TV. She cited other successful performers accused of abusing underage girls, including David Bowie, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

“None have been prosecuted, and none will die in prison,” Bonjean argued, according to the Associated Press.

Bonjean also referenced Kelly’s own “extraordinarily traumatic childhood” in her sentence recommendation, claiming the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a relative and a family friend, according to WLS-TV. She referred to Kelly as a “damaged man” who’d once sustained a gunshot wound to the arm and helplessly watched as one of his girlfriends drowned in a river.

On Thursday, Chicago Federal Judge Harry Leinenweber denied Kelly’s motions for an acquittal and a new trial on the federal charges, according to CBS News. His defense argued an anonymous star witness, known as "Jane," misled the federal jury by saying she was unsure whether she’d seek monetary damages.

“Simply because [witness] and her attorney considered the possibility of restitution does not mean she lied during her testimony,” Judge Leinenweber ruled. “[The witness’s] testimony was that she was undecided. Her testimony was not that she was not intending to pursue restitution.”

Last month, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced the state’s decision to drop aggravated sexual assault and aggravated sexual abuse charges against Kelly. Foxx said justice had already been served in light of his New York sentence and the Chicago sentence he has yet to receive.

R. Kelly has denied the sex abuse claims and remains at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago until sentencing.

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