A federal judge handed former R&B superstar R. Kelly a 30-year prison sentence on Wednesday for the entertainer's 2021 convictions on federal racketeering and other charges connected to sex trafficking. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
June 29 (UPI) -- A judge handed former R&B superstar R. Kelly a 30-year prison sentence on Wednesday for the entertainer's 2021 convictions on federal racketeering and other charges connected to sex trafficking.
"R. Kelly used his fame, fortune and enablers to prey on the young, the vulnerable and the voiceless for his own sexual gratification, while many turned a blind eye," U.S. Breon Attorney Peace said in a statement following sentencing.
"With today's sentence he has finally and appropriately been held accountable for his decades of abuse, exploitation and degradation of teenagers and other vulnerable young people. We hope that today's sentence brings some measure of comfort and closure to the victims, including those who bravely testified at trial, and serves as long-overdue recognition that their voices deserve to be heard and their lives matter."
Seven women read victim impact statements inside the Brooklyn courtroom.
"You degraded me, humiliated me and broke my spirit. I wished I would die because of how you degraded me," said one women, identified as Jane Doe No. 2.
Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, did not speak during the sentencing. His lawyers cited upcoming legal proceedings as the reason why. The 55-year-old Kelly faces a separate federal trial in August in Illinois. He also faces child pornography and obstruction of justice charges in Minnesota.
Kelly's attorneys had argued there was no reason for his sentence to extend beyond the maximum sentencing guidelines of 17 years.
Prosecutors had asked District Court Judge Ann Donnelly for a prison term of no less than 25 years, after successfully arguing Kelly "preyed upon children and young women for his own sexual gratification" for nearly three decades with the help of people under his control.
"This case is not about sex," Donnelly told the court in a lengthy address before issuing the sentence. "It is about violence, cruelty and control."
"You took advantage of their (victims') hopes and dreams, holding teenagers in your house trapped. You were at the top of your organization and you raped and beat them, separated them from their families and forced them to do unspeakable things."
Kelly, who has been held at a federal detention facility in Brooklyn, is expected to be moved to Chicago ahead of his next trial, scheduled for Aug.15 and has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last September, a Brooklyn jury convicted the recording artist on nine counts -- one count of racketeering, which included 12 underlying acts of sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery and sex trafficking, and eight counts of violating the Mann Act sex trafficking law.
Since his conviction, Kelly replaced his legal team with Jennifer Bonjean and her firm, the attorney who helped comedian Bill Cosby get his criminal sexual assault conviction overturned in Pennsylvania.