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Singer R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years over sex crimes

Kelly’s conviction was widely seen as a milestone for the #MeToo movement.

R Kelly in court in 2019.
R Kelly in court in 2019.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

Updated Jun 29th 2022, 8:22 PM

DISGRACED R&B SINGER R. Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for leading a decades-long effort to recruit and trap teenagers and women for sex.

Judge Ann Donnelly handed down the term in the Brooklyn federal court nearly a year after the 55-year-old Kelly was convicted by a New York jury.

The former 90s superstar was branded a “predator” who used his fame and fortune to “prey on the young, the vulnerable, and the voiceless for his own sexual gratification” following his conviction.

“His actions were brazen, manipulative, controlling and coercive. He has shown no remorse or respect for the law,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.

“A lengthy sentence of imprisonment will serve to deter others — including those with wealth, fame and the outsized power such status brings — from engaging in similar crimes,” they added.

He was convicted on multiple counts of racketeering, with the charges relating to bribery and forced labour, by a jury in September last year.

Kelly’s conviction was widely seen as a milestone for the #MeToo movement: it was the first major sex abuse trial where the majority of accusers were black women.

Kelly, 55, was also found in violation of an anti-sex trafficking law known as the Mann Act.

The singer, who denied all charges, was found guilty on all nine counts against him following a six-week trial in Brooklyn, New York.

His conviction carries a minimum sentence of 10 years, but he may receive a sentence of up to life imprisonment for his crimes.

Federal prosecutors have asked for a sentence “in excess of 25 years” though the singer’s own lawyers have asked he receive under 10.

Several victims of his abuses are expected to give victim impact statements to the court, and Kelly himself may even make statements, having declined to take the stand during the trial.

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The singer, real name Robert Sylvester Kelly, has been detained at the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn since the verdict.

Jury selection in Kelly’s separate, long-delayed federal trial in Chicago is meanwhile scheduled to begin 15 August.

In that case, Kelly and two of his former associates are alleged to have rigged the singer’s 2008 pornography trial and hid years of sexual abuse of minors.

The musician who once dominated R&B also faces prosecution in two other state jurisdictions.

With additional reporting from AFP

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