Prosecutors argued that if Kelly had the chance to abuse more young people, he would do so.
R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Wednesday, marking the first time the R&B singer has officially faced consequences for sexually abusing dozens of young people over the course of decades.
Kelly was found guilty in Brooklyn federal court in September on one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, a federal law addressing sex trafficking. Eleven of the many survivors of Kelly’s abuse testified during the trial, often through tears, about the sexual, emotional, physical, and verbal abuse he inflicted upon them. Many were teenagers when the abuse began, and for some, it went on for years.
In a sentencing memorandum released earlier this month, federal prosecutors recommended that Kelly be sentenced to more than 25 years in prison, saying he has “shown no remorse or respect for the law” and “poses a serious danger to the public.”
“Given the breadth of the defendant’s conduct and its continuity over a period of decades, the government has little doubt that if afforded an opportunity to offend again, the defendant would do so,” the memorandum states.
Judge Ann M. Donnelly said the sentence would act as a “deterrent” to Kelly and others. She said that Kelly took advantage of the “hopes and dreams” of young women, many of whom looked to him as their musical mentor.
“You had a system in place that lured young people into your orbit, and then you took over their lives,” the judge said before delivering the sentence. “You taught them that love is enslavement and violence.”
Kelly has an extensive history of abuse dating back to at least the early 1990s. In 1994, the 27-year-old Kelly married the R&B singer Aaliyah, who was just 15 at the time. He was indicted on child pornography charges in 2008 over a video that allegedly showed him having sex with and urinating on a 14-year-old girl, but he was found not guilty after the girl and her family did not testify.
Kelly did not appear to react at any point as several women read out powerful victim impact statements in court prior to his sentencing, recounting, through tears, how his horrific sexual abuse forever impacted their lives.
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