According to the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, R&B singer R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Wednesday following his conviction last year on federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges stemming from his attempts over a period of years to use his fame to ensnare victims he sexually abused.
The judge was urged by the prosecution to sentence 55-year-old Kelly to more than 25 years in prison, but Kelly’s defense attorneys argued for 10 years or less, claiming that the prosecution’s request was “tantamount to a life sentence.”
As US District Court Judge Ann Donnelly began pronouncing Kelly’s punishment, the victims who had been abused by him gathered in a circle and prayed. At the hearing in federal court in Brooklyn, Kelly, who was dressed in a tan prison uniform, dark-rimmed glasses, and a black mask, exhibited no emotion.
Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, was reprimanded by Donnelly for leaving a path of ruined lives in her wake.
Kelly’s counsel said that during his horrific youth, which Donnelly claimed she took into account while determining the sentence, he was subjected to recurrent sexual abuse by a family member and a landlord.
The judge remarked, “It may explain, at least in part, what led to your behavior.” It most definitely is not an explanation.
Former Kelly backup singer Jovante Cunningham praised the phrase.
After the hearing, Cunningham remarked, “I started this trip 30 years ago. “Up until this point, I had never genuinely had faith that the justice system would stand up for Black and brown girls. I’m standing here feeling quite proud of my legal system, happy of my fellow survivors, and delighted with the result.”
In September of last year, a jury found Kelly guilty on nine counts, including one for racketeering and eight for contravening the Mann Act, which prohibits sex trafficking. Kelly was charged with using his famous status and “network of people at his disposal to target kids, boys, and young women for his personal sexual enjoyment,” according to prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York.
Witnesses testified during the five-week federal trial in Brooklyn that Kelly had assaulted them physically and sexually.
The notorious R&B musician married the late singer Aaliyah in 1994 when she was only 15 years old and he was an adult after she thought she had gotten pregnant, according to witnesses testifying in court.
Prior to the sentence being read, Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, stated that her client “rejects that he is this monster” and that Kelly would not address the court due to the other criminal case he was involved in.
As Bonjean put it, “He accepts that he is a flawed person, but he is not this one-dimensional monster that the government and the media have painted.