R. Kelly mugshot in 2019, courtesy of Wikipedia.

On Wednesday, June 29th, 2022, R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison following his charges of federal racketeering and the sexual abuse of women and children. The sentence shines a victorious light on the rampant issue of sexual abuse. The allegations, which have been circulating for decades now, destroyed many lives in his calculated ploy to capture his victims.

Prosecutors pushed for more than 25 years in prison, while Kelly’s defense attorneys pleaded for less than 10 years, stating additional years would be a life sentence. Many of the unnamed victims shared accounts of Kelly’s abuse. 

“You degraded me, humiliated me, and broke me. I wished I would die because of how you degraded me.”

“Now it’s your turn to have your freedom taken from you.”

Last September, the New York court found Kelly guilty on all 9 counts, eight counts of violation of the Mann Act, a sex trafficking law, and one charge of racketeering. While the defense attorney pleaded his innocent case due to the childhood abuse, the prosecutors stated that Kelly used his celebrity privileges to hide various crimes, entrapping victims for years in a cycle that he called “love.” With security guards, drivers, managers, and more, his network allowed him to create cruel, abusive sexual relationships with no consequence, until now.

The trial consisted of testimony from witnesses who stated they were sexually abused by Kelly, along with the testimonies from those who assisted with the marriage of Kelly and singer Aaliyah, when she was merely 15 years old. Meanwhile, Kelly was around the age of 27 when they married in 1994. Kelly had allegedly created a fake ID for Aaliyah due to her age. Additionally, the minister who testified stated he did not know it was fake, nor did he ultimately sign the non-disclosure agreement that Kelly arranged for him, but made a verbal agreement to remain private about the marriage. 

R. Kelly performs in the “Mr. Show Biz Presents: The Light It Up Tour” of 2006, image courtesy of Wikipedia

Kelly’s defense attorneys pleaded for less than 10 years in prison because of Kelly’s traumatic childhood and own experience with sexual abuse. Growing up, Kelly had a loving relationship with his mother, stating that her death was beyond devastating and the most tragic event of his life. However, trauma-filled infiltrated other cracks in his childhood. At a young age, he was repeatedly sexually abused by a landlord and older sister. 

However, the witnesses and judge found no justice in the defense attorney’s reasoning. U.S. District Court Judge Ann Donnelly stated, “It may explain, in part, what led to your behavior. It is most surely not an excuse.” 

Kelly still plead not guilty, as his defense attorneys state that he believes he was poorly characterized by the government and media, and “is not this one-dimensional monster.” Kelly and his team plan to appeal the sentence, as they feel he was overcharged. Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, is confident the court of appeals will see their side. 

Kelly did not speak after the sentencing, due to his additional pending charges. This August at the federal court in Chicago, Kelly will be tried for enticement of a minor, possession of child abuse images, and obstruction of justice. Kelly also has pending state trials in Illinois and Minnesota. Legal trouble may be just beginning for the convicted R&B singer.

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