It feels like the end of a two-decade-long race to the bottom for R. Kelly. The singer was convicted of serious sexual abuse allegations in September 2021 after being cleared of child pornography charges in 2008, according to The New York Times. A jury found the “Ignition” crooner guilty of one count of racketeering and eight violations of the Mann Act, a law aimed at combating sex trafficking, according to The Washington Post. This comes after 25 years of allegations by women and underage girls. “Nobody deserves what they experienced at their hands, or the threats and harassment they faced for telling the truth about what happened to them,” said Acting US Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis Brooklyn, the media following the verdict, according to the NYT.
In her closing speech before the deliberation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Geddes described Kelly as using his fame and musical empire “to target, nurture and exploit girls, boys and women,” per CNN. Immediately after his conviction, Kelly was placed on suicide watch. Prosecutors believed, per TMZ, that Kelly deserved “over 25 years” in prison for the nature and scale of his crimes.
Now in June, we finally have the definitive answer as to the singer’s fate.
R. Kelly faced his accusers before being sentenced to a stern sentencing
R. Kelly has gone from songbird to prison bird. The singer was sentenced to 30 years in prison on June 29 for sexually abusing multiple women and underage girls, according to the New York Post. US District Judge Ann Donnelly returned the verdict in federal court in Brooklyn after a hearing at which several survivors spoke at length. Among those who read victim impact statements before sentencing was a woman named Angela, who told Kelly in court, according to The New York Times, “You used your fame and power to target underage boys and girls for your own sexual gratification to maintain and train. We are no longer the hunted individuals we once were.”
The US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, which was pushing for more than 25 years in prison, had argued to Donnelly that Kelly’s “decades of crime were apparently fueled by narcissism and a belief that his musical talent acquitted him every.” Needing to validate his behavior…in the structures of the law,” and also called the singer’s behavior “predatory” and “humiliating.”
Meanwhile, Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, had asked Donnelly to consider only his convicted charges and not base the conviction “on inflamed emotions,” per the NYT. She noted Kelly’s history of goodwill with his fans, calling him “widely accepted as a musical genius.”
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).