R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years in prison for sex trafficking, extortion

R&B star R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Wednesday for using his superstar to subject young fans — some of whom were just children — to systematic sexual abuse.

The singer and songwriter, 55, was convicted last year of racketeering and sex trafficking in a trial that gave a voice to prosecutors who had once questioned whether their stories were being ignored because they were black women.

US District Judge Ann Donnelly imposed the sentence after hearing several survivors explain how Kelly’s exploitation reverberated through their lives.

“You made me do things that broke my mind. I literally wished I’d die because you felt so bad,” said one unnamed survivor, addressing Kelly, who kept his hands clasped and eyes downcast. “Do you remember that?”

Kelly did not speak at his sentencing, where he was also sentenced to pay a $100,000 fine.

Case about ‘violence, cruelty and control’, says judge

“While sex was certainly a weapon you used, this isn’t about sex. It’s about violence, cruelty and control,” the judge told Kelly.

The phrase caps off a slow-motion trap for Kelly, who was adored by legions of fans and sold millions of albums even after allegations of his abuse of young girls began circulating publicly in the 1990s.

Widespread outrage over Kelly’s sexual misconduct only came after the MeToo settlement, reaching a crescendo after the docuseries’ release Survivor R. Kelly.

In this courtroom sketch, R. Kelly and his attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, set out on Wednesday to attend his hearing in federal court in New York, where the former R&B superstar was sentenced to 30 years in prison after being convicted last fall. for sex trafficking and extortion. (Elizabeth Williams/The Associated Press)

Kelly manipulated millions of fans into believing he was someone other than the man the jury saw, another prosecutor said.

Victims “have tried to be heard and acknowledged,” she said. “We are no longer the beleaguered individuals we once were.”

A third woman, who sobbed as she spoke, said Kelly’s conviction restored her faith in the justice system.

“I once lost hope,” she told the court and prosecutors, “but you have restored my faith.”

The woman said Kelly victimized her after going to a concert when she was 17. She said she didn’t speak at the time because she was “scared, naive and didn’t know how to handle the situation”.

“Silence,” she said, “is a very lonely place.”

Lawyers wanted a milder sentence

Kelly’s lawyers had argued in court documents that he would face no more than 10 years in prison for having “endured a traumatic childhood of severe, prolonged sexual abuse, poverty and violence.”

As an adult with “literacy flaws,” the star was “repeatedly scammed and financially abused, often by the people he paid to protect him,” his lawyers said.

The multi-platinum-selling Grammy-winning singer is known for, among other things, the 1996 hit I believe I can fly and the cult hit Locked in the closet.

He was charged in 1997 by a woman who alleged sexual harassment and sexual harassment while she was a minor, and he was later confronted 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.

R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years in prison for sex trafficking, extortion
Singer R. Kelly turns to leave after appearing at a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on September 17, 2019 in Chicago. Kelly was convicted last fall by a New York City court on sex trafficking charges. (Antonio Perez/Getty Images)

The Brooklyn federal court jury convicted him after hearing how he used 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 have stated that Kelly subjected them to perverted and sadistic whims when they were minors.

Prosecutors claimed they were ordered to sign nondisclosure forms and subjected to threats and punishments such as violent beatings if they violated so-called “Rob’s rules”.

Some said they believed video footage of them having sex would be used against them if they revealed what was going on.

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

Aaliyah Marriage Arrangement

Evidence was also presented of a fraudulent marriage plan hatched to protect Kelly after he feared he impregnated R&B 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† She died in a plane crash in 2001 at the age of 22.

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.

Kelly’s lawyers also said it was wrong to argue that he should be given more time because he sexually assaulted one of his victims – dubbed “Jane” in court – after her parents entrusted him to help her with her music career. .

“The records show that Jane’s parents instructed Jane to lie to the defendant about her age and then encouraged her to seduce him,” the papers said.

The Associated Press does not name people who claim to have been sexually assaulted or abused unless they come forward publicly.

Kelly has been held 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.

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