Disgraced singer R. Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison following an ongoing court case where he was found guilty on nine charges of sexual abuse, trafficking, and racketeering.
The US singer-songwriter — real name Robert Sylvester Kelly — allegedly used his celebrity status to sexually abuse women and children, and was also found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking along with other offences.
Kelly was sentenced yesterday, June 29, after a continued trial which saw victims stand up to confront the R&B singer in court and recount their experiences with Kelly.
“You taught them that love is enslavement and violence,” said US District Judge Ann Donnelly who spoke on behalf of the victims. Donnelly also argued that the singer has “indifference to human suffering”.
Prosecutors on the case were originally looking for 25 years for Kelly, while the defendant’s lawyers asked that he receive no more than 10 years.
The 55-year-old singer was first found guilty of sex trafficking and racketeering accounts in September 2021. He faced trial where he pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, which included running a racketeering enterprise to cover up his crimes.
In a letter to the judge, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York argued:
“In light of the seriousness of the offences, the need for specific deterrence and the need to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant, the government respectfully submits that a sentence in excess of 25 years is warranted.
“He continued his crimes and avoided punishment for them for almost 30 years and must now be held to account.”
The Attorney’s Office also said that Kelly abused his power and status as a celebrity, and relied on “his fame, money and popularity as an R&B recording star… to both carry and conceal his crimes.”
Lawyers working on behalf of Kelly projected that the singer should receive a lighter punishment since he had grown up in a “chaotic home”, and had experienced sexual abuse as a child.
Victims spoke in court about their experiences and relationships with Kelly, including one woman named Angela in court, who told Kelly: “I literally wished I would die because of how you made me feel”.
Others spoke to the court on how their experiences have affected them in everyday life, with one victim stating: “What you did has left a permanent stain of my life I’ll never be able to wash away. Now it’s your turn, to have your freedom taken from you.”
Kelly faces further legal action in August when he goes on trial again for child sexual images and obstruction charges. The singer faces trial in Chicago.
AFEM sponsor a confidential support service for anyone affected by sexual harassment within the electronic music industry provided by Health Assured expert counselling. Call 0800 030 5182, (Outside the UK: +44 800 030 5182).
Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Editorial Assistant, follow her on Twitter