Last Updated on June 30, 2022
Disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison on Wednesday after being convicted on federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges. Prosecutors were asking for Kelly to be sentenced to at least 25 years behind bars while the singer’s defense asked for 10, saying 25 years or more is “tantamount to a life sentence.”
A jury convicted Kelly last September on nine counts, including one charge of racketeering and eight counts of violations of the Mann Act, a sex trafficking law. Prosecutors accused Kelly of leveraging his fame to establish a “network of people at his disposal to target girls, boys and young women for his own sexual gratification.”
The five-week trial in New York City featured testimony from a number of victims, including a number of background singers who worked with Kelly. The court also heard from people involved with orchestrating the disgraced R&B singer’s 1994 marriage to the late singer Aaliyah when she was just 15 years old, CNN reported.
“You left in your wake a trail of broken lives,” U.S. District Court Judge Ann Donnelly said during sentencing.
The judge said she was factoring Kelly’s upbringing into her sentencing. The former singer was sexually abused by family members while growing up, which his attorneys used in his defense. “It may explain, at least in part, what led to your behavior,” the judge said. “It most surely is not an excuse.”
Kelly did not testify during the trial. During sentencing, his attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, read a statement saying that that her client “rejects that he is this monster.”
“He accepts that he is a flawed individual,” Bonjean said, “but he is not this one-dimensional monster that the government has portrayed and the media has portrayed.”
Prior to sentencing, the court heard impact statements from a number of victims. “It’s been 23 years since we knew each other, and you’ve victimized a lot of girls since then,” a witness identified as Jane Doe 2 said while addressing Kelly. “Now it’s your turn to have your freedom taken from you.”
“No one can undo the harm that has been done to these victims,” attorney Gloria Allred, who represented three victims who testified, told reporters Wednesday outside court. “But at least it’s time for Mr. Kelly to be accountable.”
R. Kelly is being held at a federal detention facility in Brooklyn and is expected to be moved back to Chicago, where he faces another federal trial in August on child pornography and obstruction charges.