Jury convicts rock star Rick James of assault and drug charges

SAN FERNANDO, Calif. -- A Los Angeles County jury convicted rock star Rick James of drug and assault charges Friday for beating a woman unconscious at an exclusive Hollywood hotel.

The Superior Court jury found the Grammy-winning king of funk guilty of one count each of assault, false imprisonment and sale of a controlled substance for the attack on Mary Sauger last November.


The jury of 10 men and two women hung on eight counts of torture, assault and false imprisonment, most of which involved Frances Alley, a woman who prosecutors said James tied to a chair in July 1991 and tortured with a hot cocaine pipe, a knife and cigarette lighters at his Hollywood Hills home.

A court clerk said the jury hung 11-1 for guilty and acquitted James of three assault and torture charges.

James, 45, who was free on $50,000 bail was remanded into custody after Deputy District Attorney Andrew Flier said James should be jailed because he is a danger to the community.

'A person like that thinks he can get away with anything,' Flier said outside of court.

Judge Michael Hoof scheduled sentencing Oct. 8. James faces a maximum of 10 years in prison. If he had been convicted of all 14 counts, he could have faces three life sentences.


James's girlfriend, Tanya Hajazi, 23, who also was charged in the attacks, has already pleaded guilty to one count of assault. She will be sentenced to four years in prison Sept. 21.

During his 3 -week trial, James admitted he had been addicted to rock cocaine for 25 years, but denied attacking the women.

James testified his mother's death in 1991 depressed him so much that he became a recluse in his own bedroom, burying his grief in drugs.

The Buffalo, N.Y., native is best known for the song 'Super Freak' that was on the charts in 1981. He testified the song changed his life. He said it drew many women to him who were similar to one described in the lyrics as 'a very kinky girl... the type you don't bring home to mother.'

That same year his album 'Street Songs: sold 1 million copies. He won a Grammy for best rhythm and blues record in 1991 for 'U Can't Touch This.'

James's attorney, Mark J. Werksman, argued that James was a drug addict with a 'different lifestyle than the rest of us,' but said smoking cocaine and having sex with two women at a time was not proof that James hurt the women.


Deputy District Attorney Andrew Flier said the state was only interested in what James did behind closed doors because it involved criminal activity.

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