R Kelly given 20-year prison sentence for child pornography and underage sex

R Kelly leaves the Leighton Criminal Court building in Chicago on June 6, 2019 (Photo: Amr Alfiky)

R Kelly was sentenced to 20 years in prison for child pornography and enticement of youngsters for sex, although he will be eligible for release around the age of 80, according to a court.

Last year, the 56-year-old Grammy Award winner was found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking and sentenced to 30 years.

Before Kelly's sentencing in his hometown of Chicago, the critical question was whether US District Judge Harry Leinenweber would order him to serve a sentence concurrently with the New York term or only after he completed the New York term. It would have been equivalent to spending his life in prison.

Following the sentence handed down on Thursday, Kelly will serve no more than 31 years. So, he will be eligible for release at approximately 80, giving him some prospect of escaping prison.

In a sense, it was a victory for the defence. In prehearing filings, Jennifer Bonjean, Kelly's attorney, accused prosecutors of giving an "embellished narrative" to convince the court to join the government's "bloodthirsty campaign to make Kelly a symbol of the #MeToo movement."

Before sentencing, prosecutors conceded that a lengthy period spent only after the New York sentence could have rendered Kelly's release from jail impossible. They said his crimes against minors and lack of remorse warranted this punishment.

Two of Kelly's accusers also requested severe punishment from the judge.

In a statement read aloud in court, "Jane" claimed that she had abandoned her early ambitions to become a singer and her dreams of satisfying relationships.

"Robert Kelly has stolen my dreams," the statement read. "I will never recover what Robert Kelly caused me to lose. "Robert has left me permanently scarred."

Key witness statements

The woman was a crucial witness for the prosecution during Kelly's trial; four of his convictions can be traced back to her testimony.

Jane's statement said, "When a paedophile takes your virginity at age 14, your life is never your own."

Another accuser, under the alias "Nia," attended the hearing and immediately addressed Kelly in court. Nia asserted vehemently as her voice trembled that Kelly would continuously point out her alleged flaws while abusing her.

She stated, "Now you are here... because something is wrong with you." You will no longer be allowed to hurt children.

Last year, jurors in Chicago convicted Kelly on six of thirteen counts, including three counts of making child porn and three counts of enticing children for sexual activity.

Kelly rose from poverty in Chicago to become one of the most popular R&B artists in the world. Even after reports of his abuse of females began to circulate publicly in the 1990s, he sold millions of albums thanks to his big hit "I Believe I Can Fly" and sex-infused songs such as "Bump n' Grind."

In pre-sentencing documents, prosecutors referred to Kelly as a "serial sexual predator" who exploited his celebrity and money to lure, sexually abuse, and discard star-struck admirers.

Bonjean stated in court on Thursday that Kelly will be fortunate to survive his 30-year New York sentence alone. She said that giving him a concurrent 25-year sentence on top of that was excessive and symbolic. "Why? Since he is R. Kelly."

However, she suggested that Kelly's silence should not be interpreted as a lack of regret.

Although she told Kelly not to talk because he is appealing his convictions and could face more legal action, "He would very much like to."

Publish : 2023-02-24 10:55:00

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