Embarrassed R&B star R. Kelly was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in prison.
He was sentenced in New York by State Judge Ann Donnelly, who spoke long before the sentencing. On one occasion, he quoted a statement concerning the victim of a woman known in court as Stephanie, who told Kelly, “There is no price too high for someone else to pay for your happiness.”
“This case is not sexual,” the judge said. “It’s about violence, cruelty and control.”
Donnelly admitted the points made in self-defense, including that Kelly endured a very difficult childhood, with sexual abuse at the hands of her sister and host. However, he added, “He is a man of great advantage – a world-famous celebrity, an indescribable money.”
Kelly declined to speak to him in court. His lawyer cited pending cases: the second state trial in Illinois, scheduled for August 15, and various criminal charges in Minnesota. The charges include child pornography and a violation of justice.
Last year, Kelly was found guilty of child sexual offenses, fraud, bribery and trafficking in sex. The judge found that the government had proved Kelly wrong to be the mastermind behind the criminal conspiracy to collect and force girls, boys and women.
During the week-long trial, many victims created a pattern where they could see Kelly on the show or in public, and Kelly’s friend gave them a phone number to call. From there they would be caught in the trap of sexual and psychological abuse. Kelly forced her victims to perform sexual acts to their satisfaction (which she often photographed). He set stricter rules for where his victims were to be allowed to go and who they were to talk to. He also forced them to write books or videocassettes, saying that they did everything themselves.
The accusers talked about how he had hurt them
Before the judge announced Kelly’s sentence, the seven women also spoke on their behalf and about the abuse they were experiencing. Kelly never looked at her accusers.
A woman identified in court as Angela said, “We will be able to live again.”
He said, “I am the image of all the women, the boy, the child, the man who once tormented you with your sad, inexplicable deeds, and so I leave you with you, Robert Sylvester Kelly.”
Another woman, known in court as Jane Doe 2, described enduring depression and the stress associated with Kelly’s abuse. He paused at her words for attention as Kelly whispered to her lawyer. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t want to interrupt his conversation.”
The man identified as Charles, the father of another woman, said in a low voice, “There are a lot of people who love you and hate us.” He noted that Kelly had not shown any remorse. Charles pleaded with Kelly to confess her sins and ask God for forgiveness.
Defendant Kelly’s lawyer promises to appeal
“She’s obviously upset,” Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean said in court. “Thirty years in prison is like a life sentence for him, but at the same time we knew the government was asking for 25 years. We were ready for what the judge could set and now we are determined to fight this decision.”
The victims were heard
Following the sentencing, U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said the case stated that “the words of most black and black women and children … are heard and believed, and [for them,] justice has finally been achieved.”
The sentence comes after decades of allegations against the multi-platinum artist. In 2008, she was arraigned in her hometown of Chicago for child pornography. He was acquitted of all charges.
From there, Kelly continued her luxurious lifestyle, singing around the world and selling places.
In 2019, Surviving R. Kelly’s television documentaries revived interest in allegations of sexual harassment against Kelly and emphasized activists who had repeatedly demanded Kelly be removed from the air and on stage.
Jovante Cunningham, a former plaintiff from Surviving R. Kelly, said after the sentencing, “There has never been a day in my life, until now, when I believed the justice system would come from blacks and blacks. Girls. He did this for 30 years, and 30 years he got it. “