R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Wednesday following his sex crime trial in New York.
The I Believe I Can Fly hitmaker, real name Robert Sylvester Kelly, was found guilty last September of one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating an anti-sex trafficking law known as the Mann Act for leading a scheme to recruit women, as well as underage girls and boys, for sex.
In Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday, Judge Ann M. Donnelly handed the musician the jail term of 30 years. She stated that “the public has to be protected from behaviours like this”, according to The New York Times.
Judge Donnelly spent time outlining instances of abuse and violence documented during the trial, and addressed Kelly directly, saying: “These crimes were calculated and carefully planned and regularly executed for almost 25 years… You taught them that love is enslavement and violence.”
Federal prosecutors had urged the judge to impose a sentence “in excess of 25 years”, while his lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, called for a sentence of under 10 years before the hearing.
During the six-week trial, nine women and two men made allegations of sexual, physical and emotional abuse against the 55-year-old, with some testifying that they were minors when the encounters began. Several women gave victim impact statements before the sentence was handed down on Wednesday.
Sexual misconduct allegations against the Ignition (Remix) singer date back to the 1990s. He was previously indicted on child pornography charges in Chicago in 2002 but a jury found him not guilty after a trial in 2008.
The #MeToo movement, a BuzzFeed investigation into parents’ claims he was mistreating their daughters, and the 2019 documentary series Surviving R. Kelly sparked a renewed interest in the allegations.
In addition to the New York case, Kelly is due to stand trial on 1 August in Chicago on federal charges of child pornography and obstruction of justice. He is also facing charges of soliciting a minor and prostitution in Minnesota.
Before he was sentenced on Wednesday, Kelly declined to make a statement due to the other pending cases.