R&B superstar, R. Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, was sentenced on Wednesday, 29th June 2022, to 30 years in prison, months after he was convicted on all nine counts against him in a high-profile sex trafficking case.
U.S. District Judge, Ann Donnelly, handed down the sentence in Brooklyn, New York, after several of Kelly’s victims angrily addressed him at the hearing.
In deciding the sentence, Donnelly said she considered Kelly’s own traumatic childhood, during which his attorneys said he was repeatedly sexually abused by a family member and a landlord.
“It may explain, at least in part, what led to your behavior,” the judge said. “It most surely is not an excuse.”
Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Kelly, 55, to more than 25 years behind bars, while his defense attorneys asked for 10 or fewer, saying prosecutors’ request was “tantamount to a life sentence.”
Prior to sentencing, the court heard impact statements from seven of Kelly’s victims.
Survivors of Kelly’s abuse held hands and prayed as US District Court Judge Ann Donnelly began reading his sentence.
A jury convicted Kelly last September on nine counts, including one charge of racketeering and eight counts of violations of the Mann Act, a sex trafficking law. Prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York accused Kelly of using his status as a celebrity and a “network of people at his disposal to target girls, boys and young women for his own sexual gratification.”
Kelly, was also convicted in September, 2021 of racketeering and violating the Mann Act, the law that bans transporting people across state lines “for any immoral purpose.”
The five-week federal trial in Brooklyn included testimony from witnesses who said they were sexually and physically abused by Kelly. The court also heard from people involved with orchestrating the R&B singer’s 1994 marriage to the late singer Aaliyah when she was just 15 years old and he was an adult after she believed she’d gotten pregnant.
Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, said he would not address the court, pointing to the other criminal case faced by Kelly, but said before the sentence was read that her client “rejects that he is this monster.”
“He accepts that he is a flawed individual,” Bonjean said, “but he is not this one-dimensional monster that the government has portrayed and the media has portrayed.”
Defense attorneys and prosecutors argued Wednesday in court over whether Kelly even could pay a fine. The defense said he is “pretty close to indigent” and could not. Prosecutors disagreed, saying money from the sale of some of his music rights and millions of dollars in royalties held by Sony could cover any fine.
Kelly, 55, was convicted in September of racketeering and violating the Mann Act, the law that bans transporting people across state lines “for any immoral purpose.”
Prosecutors alleged that he and his entourage led a criminal enterprise that recruited and groomed victims for sex, arranging for them to travel to concerts and events across the U.S.
Kelly was also accused of confining victims in hotel rooms or his recording studio, managing when they could eat and use the bathroom and forcing them to follow various “rules,” including demanding that they call him “Daddy.”
Attorneys for the singer tried to portray his accusers as “groupies” who sought to exploit his fame and take advantage of the #MeToo movement.
Jane Doe No. 1, who cried as she addressed the court, said she spent years believing Kelly would never face justice.
Kelly’s attorneys argued in a separate memo that a sentence of more than 10 years would be “greater than necessary.”
“He has contributed to society with music and his generosity, and he has people who love and support him,” defense attorney Jennifer Bonjean said in court Wednesday.
During the trial, which centered on the allegations of six people, prosecutors said Kelly was a serial sexual predator who abused young women, as well as underage girls and boys, for more than two decades.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges and did not take the stand in his own defense.
After this sentencing, Kelly is scheduled to stand trial in August in Chicago on federal child pornography and obstruction of justice charges
Story : Hilda Katu