May 20, 2024

R. Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after being found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking in September 2021, TMZ reports. Kelly declined to make a statement in court today (June 29) because of additional pending litigation, The New York Times reports. Judge Ann M. Donnelly, who sentenced Kelly, told the disgraced R&B singer, “These crimes were calculated and carefully planned and regularly executed for almost 25 years,” according to The Times. “You taught them that love is enslavement and violence.”

Kelly was found guilty of all the charges against him last year. The singer was first indicted in July 2019; the trial was delayed from its original start date multiple times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He pleaded not guilty in 2020. The trial included testimony from 45 witnesses across almost three weeks, with nine women and two men alleging sexual abuse, as well as physical and emotional abuse.

In impact statements made in court by survivors of Kelly’s abuse, a woman named Angela, who had testified during the trial, called Kelly a Pied Piper who lured children with his money and celebrity, The New York Times reports. “With every addition of a new victim, you grew in wickedness,” she said, adding, “you used your fame and power to groom and coach underage boys and girls for your own sexual gratification…. We are no longer the preyed-upon individuals we once were.”

A second woman, who introduced herself as Addie, said she did not speak up for decades after Kelly sexually assaulted her at an Aaliyah show in 1994. “It was a time of silence,” she said, according to The Times. “The last four years have been a rude awakening of how my silence has hurt others.”

Lizette Martinez, a third woman, who had appeared in Surviving R. Kelly, said Kelly had promised to mentor her but began abusing her about two months after they met. “I do not know how to put a price on all I’ve gone through,” she said. “I am now 45, a mother and I struggle with mental health.” She added, “Robert, you destroyed so many people’s lives.”

In a sentencing letter, federal prosecutors argued that Kelly had shown “a callous disregard” for his victims and was “fueled by narcissism,” The New York Times reports. “He committed these crimes using his fame and stardom as both a shield, which prevented close scrutiny or condemnation of his actions, and a sword, which gave him access to wealth and a network of enablers to facilitate his crimes, and an adoring fan base from which to cull his victims,” prosecutors wrote.

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