R. Kelly is still fighting for his presumed innocence in federal appeals court, and on Monday (March 18), his lawyer criticized the framework that seeks justice for his crimes.

Furthermore, Jennifer Bonjean claimed that the prosecution stretched RICO provisions “to the point of absurdity,” misinterpreting numerous parts of this case as criminal gang behavior. Not only that, but she believes this might set a dangerous precedent for future groups and crimes that RICO may unjustly cover. During a hearing for the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Bonjean told a judge panel that his employees were just employees doing their jobs, not co-conspirators committing crimes as RICO states.

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Furthermore, she feels prosecutors were “preposterous” in using RICO laws to prosecute R. Kelly, a conviction and framework she wishes to overturn. “The government has extended the RICO statute to a set of circumstances that is so beyond what the framers intended, which was to get at organized crime,” Bonjean said. “Now, we’re talking about an organization with an alleged criminal, but not organized crime.” The singer’s 2021 conviction on nine RICO charges cited his organized and long-running scheme to amass and exploit women of all ages. In 2022, he was sentenced to 30 years in jail for these and other offenses.

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Regardless, at Monday’s hearing, Jennifer Bonjean testified that R. Kelly’s workers were unaware of these offenses. She contended that because the government could not prove otherwise, RICO laws and convictions should not apply in this case. “The defendant had a system in place that lured young people into his orbit and then took over their lives,” Assistant United States Attorney Kayla Crews Bensing countered. She presented evidence that the disgraced R&B star’s crew was aware of what was going on, including testimony that one of his associates approached a 16-year-old at a McDonald’s, gave her his phone number, and instructed her to call him. In addition, another employee claimed to have answered phones for the Chicago native’s “girlfriends,” some of whom he described as “mid-aged teenagers.”

“This is all evidence that the jury was entitled to infer that Kelly’s inner circle knew what was going on: that he was recruiting and maintaining underage women for sexual activity,” he said. While federal convictions have been reversed, Bonjean achieved this for Bill Cosby in 2021 for comparable crimes. Following Monday’s hearing, which included a lot of legal muddy water, the court will rule on this appeal in the coming months. “RICO is looking at organizations, which are then used to commit criminal acts,” Judge Denny Chin said. “It does not need to be a criminal organization. It could be a perfectly valid organization. However, if it engages in racketeering activities, it violates RICO.