Kelly's lawyer had requested 10 years of prison time which is the mandatory minimum in a conviction like this case.
Trigger Warning: The story mentions sexual abuse which readers may find distressing.
R&B singer R Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years of prison on all nine counts including one charge of racketeering and eight counts of violations of the Mann Act, a sex trafficking law. He was convicted last year in September on these same counts.
District Court Judge Ann Donnelly from the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York read out the sentence for the convicted singer. "You left in your wake a trail of broken lives," Donnelly told Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, CNN reported. While Kelly’s lawyers had requested a 10-year sentence, prosecutors stood their ground saying that he shouldn’t get any less than 25 years in prison. Kelly’s legal team led by Jennifer Bonjean is ready to fight this appeal.
ICYMI: R. Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison. https://t.co/0Pb7XZu0Ul— TMZ (@TMZ) June 30, 2022
His lawyers in presenting the case cited that he was sexually and domestically abused as a child by a family member and a landlord and that the sexual abuse he endured as a child may have contributed to his “hypersexuality”.
Judge Donnelly considered this argument and stated, “It may explain, at least in part, what led to your behavior. It most surely is not an excuse.” With this, she had shown rallying support for the victims of Kelly’s crimes, many ecstatic that the court has retained its idea of justice. Jovante Cunningham, a former backup singer for Kelly said, “There wasn't a day in my life up until this moment that I actually believed that the judicial system would come through for black and brown girls,” she told reporters. “I stand here very proud of my judicial system, very proud of my fellow survivors and very pleased with the outcome.”
R&B singer R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years in prison following his conviction on federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges. https://t.co/fFXKhZUfsA— CNN (@CNN) June 29, 2022
Accusers said that his celebrity status gave him the confidence to commit these crimes. Lizzette Martinez, who met Kelly when she was 17, said that there were “so many things he could have done to stop himself. He had all the resources; we don't have resources like that. He could have gotten help,” she told BBC News. “It's been 23 years since we knew each other, and you've victimized a lot of girls since then,” Jane Doe 2 said, addressing Kelly. She later added: “Now it's your turn to have your freedom taken from you.” This was one of the impact statements made by the numerous victims who testified.
Amongst all of this, I Believe I Can Fly singer didn’t look up at the victims for a single moment. Managing to scrape through a few witnesses, Kelly wasn’t able to set a tone against the large number of witnesses who did take the stand against him, according to TMZ.
"Money, power and fame will not buy you immunity in the US".— Sky News (@SkyNews) June 29, 2022
Steve Francis, from Homeland Security Investigations, says R Kelly 'inflicted pain and anguish on so many victims' and 'no amount of money or fame is enough to evade justice'.https://t.co/rL0V8IqFpV
📺 Sky 501 pic.twitter.com/0GQOKjQe3b
Gerald Griggs, an attorney for several of the victims, also said in a statement that his clients are satisfied with the verdict. "It's been a long journey for many of the accusers and their family members," Griggs says. "My clients have been fighting since 2017, and some others have been fighting for 20 years. Today, the voices of Black women were heard loud and clear. This is a process to achieve justice, and they are eagerly awaiting sentencing – as well as his three other trials. Today, justice was served for Robert Sylvester Kelly."
He has another trial in August, in federal court, on child pornography and obstruction of justice charges, along with various state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.