R Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for using his R&B superstardom to subject young fans to systematic sexual abuse.
US District Judge Ann Donnelly delivered the sentence at a courthouse in Brooklyn. The sentence marked a slow decline for the singer-songwriter, 55. She was still adored by legions of fans in the 1990s after allegations of mistreatment of young girls were publicly circulated.
A Brooklyn federal court jury last found 55-year-old Kelly guilty of racketeering and other counts in a trial that was seen as a signature moment in the #MeToo movement.
Outrage over Kelly’s sexual misconduct with young women and children was fueled by the widely watched documentary “Surviving Are Kelly”, which gave voice to the accusers, who wondered whether their stories had previously been ignored. because they were black women.
Born as Robert Sylvester Kelly, Kelly has led millions of fans to believe he was someone other than the man seen by the jury, an accuser told the court on Wednesday.
Victims “demand to be heard and acknowledged,” she said. “We are no longer the victims of the hunting we once were.”
Another woman cried and snorted, saying that Kelly’s sentence had renewed her faith in the legal system.
“I lost hope at once,” he said, addressing the court and prosecutors, “but you have restored my faith.”
The woman said Kelly hunted her at the age of 17 after going to a concert.
“I was scared, naive and didn’t know how to handle the situation,” she said, so she didn’t speak at the time.
“Silence,” she said, “is a very secluded place.”
Kelly folded her hands and rolled her eyes as she listened. “She’s strong, and we’re going to get over it,” defense attorney Jennifer Bonzen said on her way to court.
Donnelly determined that federal guidelines allow for sentences of up to life in prison. Kelly’s lawyers sought 10 years or less.
He argued in court papers that he should get some degree of break because he experienced “severe, traumatic childhoods involving prolonged childhood sexual abuse, poverty and violence.”
As an adult with a “lack of literacy,” Starr was “repeatedly deceived and financially abused, often by people paid to protect her,” his lawyers said.
The hitmaker is best known for works including the 1996 hit “I Believe I Can Fly” and the cult classic “Trapped in the Closet”, a multifaceted tale of sexual betrayal and intrigue.
Allegations of Kelly abusing young girls began to circulate publicly in the 1990s. He was sued in 1997 by a woman who accused him of sexual battery and sexual assault when he was a minor, and he later faced criminal child pornography charges related to a different girl in Chicago. A jury there acquitted him in 2008 and he settled the case.
All the while, Kelly continued to sell millions of albums.