R. Kelly gets 30 years in prison for sex trafficking

Kelly was charged in 1997 by a woman who claimed to have sexually harassed and sexually harassed while she was a minor, and he was later faced with criminal child pornography related to another girl in Chicago. A jury acquitted him there in 2008 and he settled the trial.

All the while, Kelly continued to sell millions of albums.

Jovante Cunningham, who says Kelly abused her, pauses to reflect on his 30-year sentence as he speaks to the media out of court.Credit:AP/John Minchillo

The Brooklyn federal court convicted him after learning that he was using his entourage of managers and assistants to meet and keep girls obedient, an operation that prosecutors say amounted to a criminal enterprise.

Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, used his “fame, money and popularity” to systematically “rob children and young women for his own sexual satisfaction,” prosecutors wrote in a lawsuit earlier this month.

Several prosecutors testified that they were at the mercy of Kelly’s perverted and sadistic whims when they were minors — ordered to sign nondisclosure forms and subject to threats and punishments such as violent beatings if they violated so-called “Rob’s rules.”

Some said they believed the videotapes he had made of them having sex would be used against them if they revealed what was going on.

In this courtroom sketch, R. Kelly and his attorney Jennifer Bonjean appear, left, during his New York sentencing hearing.

In this courtroom sketch, R. Kelly and his attorney Jennifer Bonjean appear, left, during his New York sentencing hearing.Credit:AP/Elizabeth Williams

According to testimony, Kelly gave several accusers herpes without revealing he had an STD, forced a teenage boy to have sex with him with a naked girl who came out from under a boxing ring in his garage, and made an embarrassing video showing a victim seeing was feces on her face as punishment for breaking his rules.

Kelly did not testify at his trial, but his lawyers at the time depicted his accusers as girlfriends and groupies who were not forced to do anything against their will and stayed with him because they enjoyed the benefits of his lifestyle.

On Wednesday, Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, said he was “stunned” by the verdict and saddened by what he had heard in court.

‘He’s human. He feels what other people feel,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean he can take responsibility the way the government would want him and other people would like to see him. Because he doesn’t agree with the characterizations that have been made about him.”

R. Kelly and the late R&B singer and actress Aaliyah.  At the age of 27, R. Kelly secretly married the then 15-year-old.  The marriage was annulled because of her age.

R. Kelly and the late R&B singer and actress Aaliyah. At the age of 27, R. Kelly secretly married the then 15-year-old. The marriage was annulled because of her age.Credit:AP

Evidence presented at trial also pointed to a fraudulent marriage plan hatched to protect Kelly after fearing he impregnated singer Aaliyah in 1994, when she was just 15. † he was 27 at the time.

Aaliyah worked with Kelly, who wrote and produced her 1994 debut album, Age is nothing but a number. Their marriage was later annulled. Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001 at the age of 22.

A supporter of R. Kelly cries out of court after the conviction.

A supporter of R. Kelly cries out of court after the conviction.Credit:AP/John Minchillo

An earlier defense memo suggested the plaintiffs’ arguments for a higher sentence were overshot by falsely alleging that Kelly participated in paying a bribe to a government official to facilitate the illegal marriage.

Lizzette Martinez was a 17-year-old aspiring singer when she met Kelly at a Florida mall. She was promised mentorship, but quickly became “a sex slave,” she said out of court after the conviction.

When asked if Kelly’s 30-year sentence was enough punishment, she paused before answering.

“Personally I don’t think it’s enough,” she said, “but I’m happy with it.”

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Kelly has been behind bars without bail since 2019. He continues to face child pornography and obstruction of justice in Chicago, which is due to start a trial on August 15.

AP

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