R. Kelly was sentenced on Wednesday to 30 years in prison, following the multiplatinum R&B singer’s conviction for exploiting his stardom and wealth over decades to lure women and underage girls into his orbit for sex.
The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in Brooklyn federal court.
Kelly, 55, was convicted last September following a 5-1/2 week trial that amplified accusations that had dogged the singer of the Grammy-winning hit “I Believe I Can Fly” since the early 2000s.
He is among the most prominent people convicted of sexual misbehavior during the #MeToo movement against such conduct by prominent men.
Earlier on Wednesday, several women who testified against Kelly during the trial spoke about how he had promised to mentor them and help them attain stardom, only to subject them to degrading sexual treatment and physical harm. Many said the abuse led to mental health problems that persist.
“As a teenager, I didn’t know how to say no to R. Kelly when he asked me to perform oral sex on him,” said a woman identified as Jane Doe No. 2.
She then paused, looked at Kelly, and asked, “Do you remember that?”
Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, has repeatedly denied sexual abuse accusations.
He wore a black face mask and beige prison clothing to Wednesday’s hearing.
Kelly was convicted on nine criminal charges, including one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which bars transporting people across state lines for prostitution.
Prosecutors had urged a prison sentence of more than 25 years, saying Kelly had demonstrated a “callous disregard” for his victims and shown no remorse.
Defense lawyers said Kelly deserved no more than 10 years, the mandatory minimum, arguing that his history as an abused child may have led to his adult “hypersexuality,” and that he no longer posed a threat.
Kelly has been in jail since July 2019.
He will likely be transported soon to a jail in Chicago, where he faces an August trial in federal court on child pornography and obstruction charges. He also faces various state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.
Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters