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The lawyer for R. Kelly pleaded for the overturning of his sexual abuse conviction, claiming that prosecutors misused racketeering laws.

On Monday (March 18), the attorney for disgraced singer R. Kelly was in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which convened in Manhattan, NY, to appeal his convictions for running a decades-long scheme to recruit women and underage girls whom he sexually abused under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO law.

Attorney Jennifer Bonjean argued before the three-judge panel that the application used by federal prosecutors to gain those convictions was “preposterous.”

“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 to the judges. “Now, we’re talking about an organization with an alleged criminal, but not organized crime.” Bonjean also argued that it framed Kelly and those he worked with in an improper light related to the charges, which also included the production of child pornography. “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.”

Assistant United States Attorney Kayla Crews Bensing argued on behalf of the government and refuted Bonjean’s claims.

“The defendant had a system in place that lured young people into his orbit and then took over their lives,” she told the panel of judges, pointing to evidence that those who worked with Kelly knew of his intent and actions. “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,” Bensing stated.

Bonjean also encountered pushback from the judges. “RICO is looking at organizations, that are then used to commit criminal acts,” Judge Denny Chin said regarding Bonjean’s argument on RICO. “It doesn’t have to be a criminal organization. It could be a completely legitimate organization. But if it engages in racketeering activity, it violates RICO.”

The panel is expected to rule on the appeal this week. While Bonjean has successfully gained an appeal in a similar case with Bill Cosby, the odds of the 57-year-old singer’s convictions being overturned are highly unlikely.

Photo: E. JASON WAMBSGANS / Getty

R. Kelly’s Lawyer Appeals Use Of RICO In Conviction  was originally published on hiphopwired.com