American top RnB singer Robert Sylvester Kelly popularly known as R. Kelly looks like will be spending almost his entire remaining life behind bars. This is after he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
This ruling was given after court found him guilty of sex abuse charges against children and women. According to this same court, the Sign of a victory singer used his celebrity status to terrorise his victims.
It should be noted that back in September 2021, Kelly was convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking crimes. For many years, Kelly had faced allegations rotating around these crimes. While delivering the verdict, one of the judges said the singer had an ‘indifference to human suffering.’
Kelly who is widely considered as one of the greatest singers of time was dressed in prison khakis and dark glasses during the court. According to his lawyers, the singer will appeal this ruling.
A number of women took to the stand to testify against the singer. One woman named Angela described the singer as a Piped Piper who “grew in wickedness” with every new victim, while others who were not named testified he had broken their spirits.
“I literally wished I would die because of how you made me feel,” said one.
The US District Judge Ann Donnelly revealed that the celebrity had used sex as a weapon. He forced his victims to do unspeakable stuff and spread sexually transmitted diseases to some of them.
“You taught them that love is enslavement and violence,” she said.
This same court also heard that Kelly – known for hit songs like Burn It Up and Storm Is Over – used his influence to entice women and children into sexual abuse for over two decades.
The jurors at his six-week trial in Brooklyn heard how also he trafficked women between different US states, assisted by managers, security guards and other members of his entourage.
The court also heard how Kelly had illegally obtained paperwork to marry singer Aaliyah when she was 15 in 1994, seven years before the singer died in a plane crash.
The certificate, leaked at the time, listed Aaliyah’s age as 18. The marriage was annulled months later.
Jovante Cunningham, a former backup singer for Kelly, said she never believed this day would come.
“There wasn’t a day in my life up until this moment that I actually believed that the judicial system would come through for black and brown girls,” she told reporters.
“I stand here very proud of my judicial system, very proud of my fellow survivors and very pleased with the outcome.”
Federal prosecutors had recommended that Kelly be sentenced to more than 25 years in prison, given the seriousness of his crimes and “the need to protect the public from further crimes”.
But his lawyers called for a sentence of 10 years – the mandatory minimum for his conviction – or less.
They portrayed Kelly as growing up poor in a household rife with domestic violence and suffering sexual abuse from a young age.
They said he was “devastated” by the sentence and planned to appeal.
Lizzette Martinez, who met Kelly when she was 17, said that there were “so many things he could have done to stop himself.”
“He had all the resources; we don’t have resources like that. He could have gotten help,” she told BBC News.
She said he avoided justice for years due to the “power of celebrity”.
“I believe that he was just making so much money for so many powerful people that they protected him.”
Kelly has been in custody since he was indicted by federal prosecutors in New York and Chicago in July 2019.
His three years behind bars have been eventful, including a beating from a fellow inmate in 2020 and a bout with Covid-19 earlier this year.
The singer faces further legal action in August, when he goes on trial again, this time in Chicago on child sex images and obstruction charges.
He is also due to face sex abuse charges in courts in Illinois and Minnesota.