R. Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after being found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking in September 2021, TMZ reports. Kelly declined to make a statement in court today (June 29) because of additional pending litigation, The New York Times reports. Judge Ann M. Donnelly, who sentenced Kelly, told the disgraced R&B singer, “These crimes were calculated and carefully planned and regularly executed for almost 25 years,” according to The Times. “You taught them that love is enslavement and violence.”
Kelly was found guilty of all the charges against him last year. The singer was first indicted in July 2019; the trial was delayed from its original start date multiple times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He pleaded not guilty in 2020. The trial included testimony from 45 witnesses across almost three weeks, with nine women and two men alleging sexual abuse, as well as physical and emotional abuse.
In impact statements made in court by survivors of Kelly’s abuse, a woman named Angela, who had testified during the trial, called Kelly a Pied Piper who lured children with his money and celebrity, The New York Times reports. “With every addition of a new victim, you grew in wickedness,” she said, adding, “you used your fame and power to groom and coach underage boys and girls for your own sexual gratification…. We are no longer the preyed-upon individuals we once were.”
A second woman, who introduced herself as Addie, said she did not speak up for decades after Kelly sexually assaulted her at an Aaliyah show in 1994. “It was a time of silence,” she said, according to The Times. “The last four years have been a rude awakening of how my silence has hurt others.”
Lizette Martinez, a third woman, who had appeared in Surviving R. Kelly, said Kelly had promised to mentor her but began abusing her about two months after they met. “I do not know how to put a price on all I’ve gone through,” she said. “I am now 45, a mother and I struggle with mental health.” She added, “Robert, you destroyed so many people’s lives.”
In a sentencing letter, federal prosecutors argued that Kelly had shown “a callous disregard” for his victims and was “fueled by narcissism,” The New York Times reports. “He committed these crimes using his fame and stardom as both a shield, which prevented close scrutiny or condemnation of his actions, and a sword, which gave him access to wealth and a network of enablers to facilitate his crimes, and an adoring fan base from which to cull his victims,” prosecutors wrote.
Jennifer Bonjean, Kelly’s lawyer, had argued for a sentence of less than 10 years. She also posited that Kelly’s own history of being sexually abused as a child made him more than a “one-dimensional villain.”
Kelly had been in custody since his arrest outside his home in Chicago on July 11, 2019. The arrest took place following renewed scrutiny due to the #MeToo movement, including the testimonials in Dream Hampton’s documentary series Surviving R. Kelly. Among many other things, the documentary covered his marriage to an underage Aaliyah and the 2002 child pornography charges that led to a trial. Kelly was acquitted of the charges in 2008.
The singer is still facing federal child pornography and obstruction charges in Illinois, where a trial will be scheduled now that the New York proceedings have ended. He is also awaiting trial on other state-level sexual misconduct charges in Minnesota and Illinois.
Before being arrested in 2019, Kelly appeared on CBS This Morning for a sit-down interview with Gayle King, where he infamously stood over her, shouted, and cried while denying any wrongdoing. Clary also spoke to King at the time, with Kelly present, and defended the singer. She later participated with prosecutors, left Kelly’s residence to reunite with her family, and said that her initial conversation with King led her to leave Kelly.
In March 2020, Kelly’s trial for his federal charges was delayed from late April until October after investigators seized more than 100 electronic devices as evidence. They had been tipped off by Clary.
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual assault, we encourage you to reach out for support:
RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline
1 800 656 HOPE (4673)
Crisis Text Lines
http://www.facebook.com/crisistextline (chat support)
SMS: Text “HERE” to 741-741
If you or someone you know have been affected by domestic abuse, we encourage you to reach out:
The National Domestic Violence Hotline