R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years in prison on federal sex trafficking charge

R. Kelly was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in prison on federal sex trafficking charges during a New York court hearing before U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly. He was also sentenced to five years of supervised release and a $100,000 fine.

Prosecutors have recommended that the Chicago R&B star receive at least 25 years in prisonwhile the defense argued for a sentence of 10 years or less.

Kelly, 55 years old found guilty of racketeering and other charges last year

At a press conference after the sentencing, Breon Peace, the US attorney for New York’s Eastern District, thanked women for coming, saying they were “heard and believed” and that “justice was finally being achieved.”

“R. Kelly is a predator and as a result of our prosecution, he will be serving a long prison term for his crimes,” he said.

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Jennifer Bonjean, a lawyer for Kelly, said he was “clearly heartbroken” by the conviction, but noted that it “came as no big surprise.” She added that his team plans to appeal.

The women’s attorney, Gloria Allred, called Kelly a “skilled sexual predator” and applauded the “brave” women who came forward.

“Together, they were able to fight his power by becoming empowered young women themselves,” she said during a news conference outside the courthouse on Wednesday.

“It has been a long road to justice, but they have all been very brave and sacrificed an enormous amount of time to work together and testify,” she added later.

A woman who identified herself as Lizzette Martinez said she was 17 years old at the time of her alleged abuse. She is now 45.

“I never thought I would be here to see him held responsible for the horrible things he did to children,” she said. “I don’t know what else to say other than I’m grateful.”

Another woman, who identified herself as Jovante, said she was 14 when she “met” Kelly.

“There wasn’t a day in my life, up to this point, when I believed this justice system would come through for Black and Brown girls,” she said, adding that she is “satisfied” and “overwhelmed” by the sentencing.

The misconduct of the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer received a new round of criticism after a 2019 docuseries titled “Surviving R. Kelly,” in which prosecutors spoke candidly about their experiences with him. Some claimed they were ordered to sign non-disclosure forms, and were subjected to threats and violence.

During Wednesday’s court proceedings, the victims took the stand, some through tears, saying Kelly was hunting and abusing them and misleading his fans. Kelly, who made no eye contact with the victims as they made their comments, looked straight ahead or down with his hands on the defense table.

One victim, identified in court as Stephanie, said Kelly had decades of ruthless freedom, and said she hopes he goes to jail for the rest of his life. “You made me do things that broke my mind…I literally wished I’d die because of how you made me feel.”

A victim identified as Angela said Kelly “manipulated” millions into believing his perception of himself, taking away his victims’ voices. “Today I and so many of your victims took it back,” she said. “Today we have tried to be heard… we are no longer preyed upon by individuals.”

Allegations that Kelly abused young girls began circulating in the 1990s. He was charged in 1997 by a woman who claimed to have sexually assaulted and harassed while she was a minor, and later faced criminal charges for child pornography related to another girl. A jury in Chicago acquitted him in 2008 and Kelly settled the lawsuit.

Evidence has also surfaced over the years regarding the late R&B singer Aaliyah. Witnesses said they were married in matching jogging suits with a forged driver’s license that stated she was 18, not 15. Kelly was 27 at the time. Aaliyah, whose music Kelly produced, died in a plane crash in 2001.

Kelly, who did not testify at the trial, has denied doing anything.

He has been held without bail since 2019. He continues to face child pornography and obstruction of justice in Chicago. That The trial starts in August.

Sophie Reardon contributed reporting.

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