R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years in prison for racketeering and sex trafficking

·3 min read
R Kelly to be sentenced to prison for racketeering and sex trafficking - Antonio Perez /Pool Chicago Tribune
R Kelly to be sentenced to prison for racketeering and sex trafficking - Antonio Perez /Pool Chicago Tribune

R. Kelly, the disgraced R&B singer, has been jailed for 30 years for racketeering and sex trafficking.

A judge handed down the sentence in the Brooklyn federal court in New York nearly a year after Kelly, 55, was found guilty by a jury.

The singer and songwriter kept his hands folded and his eyes downcast as several victims told the court how Kelly's exploitation ruined their lives.

Addressing Kelly directly, one said: "You made me do things that broke my spirit.

"I literally wished I would die because of how low you made me feel. Do you remember that?"

Kelly - Reuters
Kelly - Reuters

Kelly was adored by fans and sold millions of albums, even after allegations about his abuse of young girls began circulating publicly in the 1990s.

The three-time Grammy winner sold over 75 million records globally, making him one of the most commercially successful R&B musicians ever, with hits including "I Believe I Can Fly".

There was widespread outrage over his sexual misconduct after the release of the docuseries "Surviving R. Kelly".

Sentencing him, Judge Ann Donnelly said there were parts of the victims' evidence that she would "never forget".

She said: "You taught them that love is enslavement and violence.

"It is fair to say, Mr Kelly, that you are a person that had some great advantage, you had worldwide fame and celebrity, untold money.

"Using your status and celebrity, you had a system of people that you used to lure young fans into your orbit. Having your minions troll for young people at the mall, handing out your phone number, for the opportunity to meet R Kelly.

"You fancied yourself a genius that can do 'whatever I want because of what I give to the world'."

The court heard victim impact statements from seven women, who were not named.

A woman using the pseudonym Angela told Kelly: "With every addition of a new victim you grew in wickedness, cockiness, diminishing any form of humanity or self-awareness, which soon became the breeding ground for your God-like complex.

Another said: "You are an abuser, you are shameless, you are disgusting."

Kelly - Getty
Kelly - Getty

Kelly, dressed in a grey prison uniform, did not react as the sentence was passed.

His lawyers had argued he should get no more than 10 years in prison because he had a traumatic childhood.

They said that involved "severe, prolonged childhood sexual abuse, poverty, and violence."

As an adult with "literacy deficiencies," the star was "repeatedly defrauded and financially abused, often by the people he paid to protect him," his lawyers claimed.

Prosecutors said Kelly, who was born Robert Sylvester Kelly, used his "fame, money and popularity" to systematically "prey upon children and young women for his own sexual gratification."

His lawyers attempted to portray his accusers as girlfriends and groupies who were not forced to do anything against their will.

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