This article contains discussions about sexual assault and child abuse.
After decades of abuse allegations, R. Kelly’s past has finally caught up with him. The “I Believe I Can Fly” singer has long faced public repercussions for his sexual abuse, but has avoided legal repercussions. According to AP News, Kelly’s first victim came forward in 1997 (though it’s worth noting that three years earlier he married 15-year-old singer Aaliyah, who was 12 years his junior). Although victims continued to come forward, it would be decades before the public began to take a stand and side with his accusers.
In 2018, BBC News reported that Spotify was removing the artist from platform-generated playlists, in support of the #MuteRKelly movement. Though CNN noted that they later reversed the decision, other platforms and people began waking up to the singer’s dark history. Lifetime released the first season of its documentary, Surviving R. Kelly, in 2019, which highlighted the voices of victims and renewed public activism. In September 2021, the rapper was finally found guilty on many gruesome charges, including sex trafficking, sexual exploitation of a child, and racketeering, according to NPR. On June 29, R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Now, a long prison sentence isn’t all R. Kelly has to worry about.
The judge ordered R. Kelly’s monitoring and treatment upon his release
The decision to sentence R. Kelly to 30 years in prison was a major victory for both the victims and the prosecution team, who had been asking for a minimum of 25 years. The rapper’s defense team had hoped for fewer than ten. Their reasoning was based on the fact that for a 55-year-old man, a 30-year sentence would make it likely he wouldn’t live to see life outside of prison, according to CNN.
While it’s true that Kelly would be very old by the time he was released, the court is making sure he doesn’t have an opportunity to repeat his underage sex crimes. According to TMZ, once released from prison, Kelly would have to undergo treatment for a sexual disorder and avoid general contact with anyone under the age of 18. Also, he would be placed under custody for five years, meaning true freedom would not come until the ripe old age of 90, when he would serve his full sentence.
Importantly, the New York Times notes that Kelly will face an additional federal trial in August on charges of manufacturing child pornography and other sexual abuse. This decision could undoubtedly have further ramifications for the rapper and seal his fate of spending the rest of his life behind bars.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, help is available to help. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact the RAINN National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
If you or someone you know may have been a victim of child abuse, please call or contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453). Live Chat Services.