R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Wednesday (June 29), according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, following his conviction last year on federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges, which are stemming from his efforts over years to use his fame to ensnare victims he sexually abused. The disgraced R&B singer could theoretically spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence the 55-year-old Grammy-Award winning singer to more than 25 years, while his defense attorneys asked for 10 or fewer, saying prosecutors’ request was “tantamount to a life sentence.”
Kells was convicted on 9 counts of various racketeering and sex trafficking charges during September 2021’s trial. Eleven accusers (nine women and two men) gave their testimony of being victims of Kelly’s massive abuse.
“You made me do things that broke my spirit,” one alleged victim said in court. “I literally wished I would die because of how low you made me feel. Do you remember that?”
“He committed these crimes using his fame and stardom as both a shield, which prevented close scrutiny or condemnation of his actions,” federal prosecutors added. “And a sword, which gave him access to wealth and a network of enablers to facilitate his crimes, and an adoring fan base from which to cull his victims.”
“You were a person who had great advantages — worldwide fame and celebrity and untold money,” she said. “You took advantage of their hopes and dreams, holding teenagers in your house trapped. You were at the top of your organization, and you raped and beat them, separated them from their families and forced them to do unspeakable things,” Donnelly told Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly.
In deciding the sentence, Donnelly said she considered the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer’s own traumatic childhood, during which his attorneys said he was repeatedly sexually abused by a family member and a landlord.
“It may explain, at least in part, what led to your behavior,” the judge said. “It most surely is not an excuse.”