R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years in prison in sex abuse case
NEW YORK - R&B star R. Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison in a federal sex abuse case in New York.
U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly handed down the ruling after allowing impact statements to be delivered by his victims.
The hearing started with Donnelly reading the sentencing guidelines and then working through disputes between prosecutors and defense lawyers.
A brief break was taken before several victims addressed the court with their lawyer, Gloria Allred.
"You made me do things that broke my spirit. I literally wished I would die because of how low you made me feel," said one unnamed survivor, directly addressing a Kelly who kept his hands folded and his eyes downcast. "Do you remember that?"
After the seven women gave their statements, the court went into recess until 2:30 p.m.
After the break, R. Kelly's lawyer, Jennifer Bonjen, said that emotions should not be considered in determining the sentence.
Kelly did not address the court during the sentencing.
The New York Times reported that Donnelly said that her sentence is one "I would have imposed regardless of the guidelines."
A jury found Kelly, 55, guilty of racketeering and other counts last year at a trial that was seen as a signature moment in the #MeToo movement.
Outrage over Kelly's sexual misconduct with young women and children was fueled in part by the widely watched docuseries "Surviving R. Kelly," which gave voice to accusers who wondered if their stories were previously ignored because they were Black women.
Prosecutors were seeking a minimum 25-year term, while the defense says a sentence of 10 years or less is all he deserves.
Kelly’s lawyers argued in court papers he should get a break in part because he "experienced a traumatic childhood involving severe, prolonged childhood sexual abuse, poverty, and violence."
They added: "His victimization continued into adulthood where, because of his literacy deficiencies, the defendant has been repeatedly defrauded and financially abused, often by the people he paid to protect him."
The jury convicted the "I Believe I Can Fly" hitmaker after hearing about how he used his entourage of managers and aides to meet girls and keep them obedient, an operation prosecutors said amounted to a criminal enterprise.
Jennifer Bonjean represents R. Kelly
R. Kelly contracted COVID-19 at MDC Brooklyn after his conviction. In a letter to the judge, his lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, said that Kelly can not currently "meaningfully participate in his post-trial defense" because he is not allowed to participate in video visits while he has the virus.
RELATED: R. Kelly declines to testify at trial; closings begin
Several accusers testified that Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage.
Who is R Kelly and what did he do?
Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, used his "fame, money and popularity" to systematically "prey upon children and young women for his own sexual gratification," prosecutors wrote in their own filing earlier this month.
The accusers alleged they were ordered to sign nondisclosure forms and were subjected to threats and punishments such as violent spankings if they broke what one referred to as "Rob’s rules."
Some said they believed the videotapes he shot of them having sex would be used against them if they exposed what was happening.
There was testimony Kelly gave several accusers herpes without disclosing he had an STD, coerced a teenage boy to join him for sex with a naked girl who emerged from underneath a boxing ring in his garage, and shot a shaming video of one victim showing her smearing feces on her face as punishment for breaking his rules.
During the trial, several accusers took the witness stand and testified that Kelly physically, sexually, and psychologically dominated them. They said he sexually assaulted them, made them call him "Daddy," told them how they could dress, restricted whom they could speak with, and controlled when they could use the bathroom.
RELATED: Porsha Williams says she was a victim of R. Kelly 'I felt danger'
Evidence also was presented about a fraudulent marriage scheme hatched to protect Kelly after he feared he had impregnated R&B phenom Aaliyah in 1994 when she was just 15. Witnesses said they were married in matching jogging suits using a license falsely listing her age as 18; he was 27 at the time.
RELATED: R. Kelly and Aaliyah: A look at an illegitimate marriage
Aaliyah worked with Kelly, who wrote and produced her 1994 debut album, "Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number." She died in a plane crash in 2001 at age 22.
RELATED: Former employee: R. Kelly lived in 'Twilight Zone' he controlled
Kelly’s lawyers also said it was wrong to assert he should get more time because he sexually abused one of his victims — referred to in court as "Jane" — after her parents innocently entrusted him to help her with her musical career.
"The record shows that Jane’s parents directed Jane to lie to the defendant about her age and then encouraged her to seduce him," the papers say.
How long has R Kelly been in jail?
Kelly has been jailed without bail since 2019. He's still facing child pornography and obstruction of justice charges in Chicago, where a trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 15.
R. Kelly is a longtime collaborator of The Isley Brothers. Ronald Isley once served three years in federal prison for tax evasion.
With The Associated Press.