The R&B singer will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars over his decades-long pattern of sexual abuse.
R. Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for his decades-long pattern of sexual abuse. The judge’s sentencing was handed down in Brooklyn on Wednesday, months after the disgraced R&B star was convicted of nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking in September.
The sentence all but ensures the 55-year-old musician, who for years has been accused of organizing a sex cult involving minors, will be behind bars for the majority of his life. Federal prosecutors had recommended a sentence of more than 25 years, claiming that if given the opportunity, he would continue to abuse young people.
The news marks an official and long-delayed downfall for Kelly, who has dodged the law and any legitimate consequences over abusive behavior that has been an open secret in the entertainment industry for decades. Most notably, Kelly married the late R&B singer Aaliyah in 1994 when she only 15 years old, and he was found not guilty over an infamous video that allegedly showed him having sex with and urinating on a 14-year-old girl. The trial, whose charges came after the 2019 docuseries Surviving R. Kelly further publicized Kelly’s crimes, provided a detailed look at what prosecutors called an organized “enterprise” that Kelly operated in, trafficking and abusing people that often included underage minors.
“He committed these crimes using his fame and stardom as both a shield, which prevented close scrutiny or condemnation of his actions, 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,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing letter.
New York Times reported that Kelly’s defense lawyer is expected to appeal the decision.
Before the sentence was read, several survivors read victim impact statements detailing the traumatic impact that Kelly inflicted upon them.
One woman identified as Addie, who was 17 when Kelly raped her after a show, just days after the singer had married Aaliyah, asked for a life sentence in her statement. "I hope Robert Kelly cannot sleep at night, knowing this is what he's done,” she said.
"What you did has left a permanent stain of my life I'll never be able to wash away,” said another woman, identified as Stephanie, who was 17 when Kelly first started abusing her. “Now it's your turn, to have your freedom taken from you."