Disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly was today sentenced to 30 years in prison following his conviction last year on federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges.
The charges stem from his efforts over years to use his fame to ensnare victims he sexually abused.
Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence 55 year old Kelly to more than 25 years behind bars, while his defense attorneys asked for 10 years or less, saying prosecutors’ request was “tantamount to a life sentence.”
Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, wore a tan prison uniform, dark-rimmed glasses and a black mask at Wednesday’s hearing, which survivors in the case also attended. The court heard impact statements from seven of Kelly’s victims, including Jane Doe 2, who testified at trial. Newly unsealed court documents also revealed graphic details about Kelly’s own childhood abuse that his attorneys hoped would convince a judge to give him a more lenient 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 from the Eastern District of New York accused Kelly of using his status as a celebrity and a “network of people at his disposal to target girls, boys and young women for his own sexual gratification.”
The five-week federal trial in Brooklyn included testimony from witnesses who said they were sexually and physically abused by 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 and he was an adult after she believed she’d gotten pregnant.
“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.”
Kelly was being held at a federal detention facility in Brooklyn and, now he’s been sentenced, is expected to be moved back to Chicago, where he faces another federal trial in August on child pornography and obstruction charges.