R. Kelly, New Trial, Attorney

R. Kelly Attorney Asks Appeals Court To Grant New Trial Or Reverse Convictions

Jennifer Bonjean says prosecutors improperly used the RICO statute against the singer-songwriter.

On Monday, March 18, an attorney for convicted R&B singer-songwriter R. Kelly motioned for her client to be granted a new trial or reverse the 2021 convictions due to what she deemed improper use of the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) statute against him.

Jennifer Bonjean, who represents Kelly, was at the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan to try to persuade the panel of three judges that her client was imprisoned after having the wrong statute used to convict and jail him. She argued that the RICO statute, which was written to shut down organized crime, was used against Kelly. In her plea, Bonjean stated that the interpretation of the statute as it was used against Kelly meant that many legitimate organizations — even college fraternities — could be recognized as racketeering organizations under the same law.

Bonjean said prosecutors unfairly charged the 57-year-old singer with leading a RICO enterprise from 1994 to 2018 that consisted of people who promoted his music but also recruited women and girls to take part in illegal sexual activity as well as produce child pornography.

Bonjean refuted it. “This was not a collection of people who had a purpose to recruit girls for sexual abuse or child pornography,” she said. “Whether they turned a blind eye, whether some of them suspected that some of these girls were underage, that’s a whole different matter.”

She elaborated, “And once we get into that sort of territory, where we’re going to say that constitutes a RICO enterprise, well, we have a lot of organizations — we have a lot of frat houses — we have all types of organizations that are now going to become RICO enterprises.”

Kelly was sentenced on June 29, 2022, to 30 years in prison after being convicted in a Brooklyn, New York, federal court for racketeering and violating the Mann Act, a sex trafficking law that includes having sex with underage girls.

The judges have not ruled on the appeal yet.