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Judge Refuses to Lower Bail for Rock Singer Rick James

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A San Fernando judge refused Tuesday to lower the $1-million bail of rock singer Rick James, held on charges of torturing a woman with a hot cocaine pipe and forcing her to have sex with his girlfriend.

James, 43, and girlfriend Tanya Ann Hijazi, 21, have been in jail since Friday, when they were arrested for allegedly tying up a 24-year-old woman and torturing her last month at James’ home in the Hollywood Hills above Studio City. The woman allegedly was forced to smoke crack cocaine and orally copulate Hijazi before she was allowed to leave and seek treatment for her burns.

Attorneys for the musician sought to discredit his alleged victim at the bail hearing Tuesday, characterizing her as a publicity-seeking drug addict.

Efforts by attorneys to secure lower bail amounts for James and Hijazi at a hearing Tuesday in San Fernando Municipal Court were rebuffed by Commissioner Richard Brand, who agreed with prosecutors that the seriousness of the alleged crimes warranted high bail. Hijazi remained jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail.

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“We have a case here of what I like to call celebrity bail,” attorney Robert M. Sheahen said, arguing that bail for the pair is unusually high because of James’ fame. The courtroom was packed with spectators who came to catch a glimpse of the Grammy award-winning James, sometimes called “the king of funk” and best known for his 1981 hit “Super Freak.”

In an attempt to discredit the claims against James, Sheahen attacked the character of the alleged victim, calling her a drug addict “unworthy of belief.” He said in court that the woman worked at a Beverly Hills massage parlor and added later that “we all know what happens at massage parlors.”

Deputy Dist. Atty. Myron L. Jenkins declined to comment on the background of the alleged victim.

The woman’s attorney, Joseph Shemaria, also declined to discuss Sheahen’s allegations, saying only: “They are trying to portray my client as some type of floozy in order to get a bail reduction.”

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Sheahen added that the woman also plans to sue James for damages, but Shemaria said no civil action will be filed until the criminal case against James is resolved.

Sheahen also expressed doubts about the woman’s claim that she was held against her will, saying that after she was released from the hospital she returned to James’ home, where she stayed for three more days. But Jenkins argued in court that battered women often return to their attackers out of fear, but that “does not in any way lessen the violence” of the incident.

James and Hijazi will be arraigned Friday.


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