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Sexual Assault, Torture Charges Filed Against Musician Rick James, Girlfriend

August 6, 1991

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Funk rock musician Rick James and his girlfriend denied a woman’s claims that they imprisoned, tortured and sexually assaulted her at James’ home.

James, 43, and Tanya Anne Hijazi, 21, were charged Monday with assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated mayhem, torture and forcible oral copulation.

James was being held on $1 million bail and girlfriend Tanya Ann Hijazi, 21, was jailed on $500,000 bail. Their arraignment was set for today.

″They intend to enter a plea of not guilty,″ said their attorney, Leonard Levine.

James, the 1980s ″King of Funk″ who blended rock and funk music, is best known for his 1981 hit ″Super Freak.″ The song’s distinctive bass line was used in rapper M.C. Hammer’s 1990 hit, ″U Can’t Touch This,″ which earned them a Grammy in February for best rhythm and blues song of 1990.

Prosecutors also filed against James an additional assault with a deadly weapon charge, along with making terrorist threats and furnishing cocaine.

If convicted, the couple face a maximum sentence of life in prison, said Deputy District Attorney Myron Jenkins.

They were arrested Friday after a 24-year-old woman told police the couple held her hostage July 16-17, sexually abusing her with a cocaine pipe and heated butcher knife and forcing her to perform sex acts.

Police said that throughout the incident, James and Hijazi smoked crack cocaine and forced the woman to smoke it, too. The woman filed a complaint while she was being treated at a hospital, said Detective Jim Wegman.

The woman, a native of Georgia, came to Southern California to pursue a movie career, said her attorney, Joseph Shemaria.

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