R. Kelly, the Grammy-winning singer, and apex of ’90s pop stardom was sentenced to 30 years in jail on Wednesday for decades of sexual abuse of girls, boys, and women.
After spending hours in Brooklyn federal court hearing testimonials from seven victims, US District Judge Ann Donnelly delivered the harsh sentence without the “I believe I can fly” singer’s reaction.
One woman, Angela, remarked, “You rose in depravity with the acquisition of a new victim. “You trained and coached minor boys and girls for your personal sexual enjoyment using your celebrity and authority,” the accuser said.
In nine counts, including racketeering and breaking the Mann Act, which forbids the interstate transportation of women and minors for “immoral purposes,” Kelly, 55, was found guilty.
In its request for a sentence of more than 25 years, the prosecution painted him as a decades-long serial predator who took advantage of his notoriety to take advantage of his victims.
In fact, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York stated in a memo to the judge that “[Kelly’s] decades of crime appear to have been fuelled by narcissism and a belief that his musical talent absolved him of any need to confirm his conduct – no matter how predatory, harmful, humiliating or abusive to others – to the structures of the law.”
The infamous R&B singer’s lawyers requested a light sentence of 10 years or less, arguing that he had experienced sexual abuse as a child and as an adult. The accused R&B star’s full name is Robert Kelly.
Jerhonda Pace, who said she started a relationship with the artist while she was underage, was one of the many witnesses at the trial. She testified in court that once, when he was upset with her, he slapped her and forced her to engage in oral sex with him.
Another witness claimed Kelly married Aaliyah in 1994 in violation of the law out of fear that she was pregnant and in the hope that their union would prevent her from testifying against him and protect him from prosecution for having sex with a child.
Aaliyah, who died in a 2001 plane crash, used a forged ID that Kelly’s entourage allegedly obtained by bribing a public official, according to testimony.
Lawyer Jennifer Bonjean, who recently represented disgraced actor and comedian Bill Cosby, told the judge Kelly was sexually abused by a family member and a former landlord and that should be considered “a mitigating factor” in the sentencing.