Mixed reactions from his victims after ‘Sexual predator’ R. Kelly’s was given a 30-year prison sentence
Robert Sylvester Kelly better known by his stage name R. Kelly, was sent away for three decades on Wednesday ‘for sexually abusing women and underage girls and boys over the course of decades’
R Kelly, 55, was found guilty of all NINE counts of racketeering and sex trafficking in September
The six-week long trial at Brooklyn Federal Courthouse in NY, featured graphic testimony from 50 witnesses
Victims were mostly women and girls, but included at lest one male victim, who while not listed as a complainant, testified against Kelly
Prosecutors accused the singer of running a Chicago-based criminal enterprise that he used to ‘target, groom and exploit girls, boys and women’ for unwanted sex and mental torment
Witnesses cataloged Kelly subjecting them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage Prosecutors say Kelly orchestrated a sex crimes ring for nearly three decades
Prosecutors argued that Kelly’s accusers were ‘indoctrinated’ into his world, groomed for sex and kept in line ‘coercive means of control’ including isolation and cruel disciplinarily measures
He was also accused of knowingly giving herpes to some of his victims,
Defense argued however, that his accusers lied in their testimonies and that Kelly was a ‘sex symbol’ and ‘playboy’ who was being attacked by scorned exes and money-hungry fans
Before sentencing defense pleading for leniency, asked Judge Ann Donnelly to view Kelly being “functionally illiterate” and having a traumatic, impoverished childhood as mitigating factors
Grammy-winning singer Robert Sylvester Kelly better known by his stage name R. Kelly, an icon of ’90s pop stardom, was handed a 30 years in prison Wednesday for sexually abusing women and underage girls and boys over the course of decades.
The fallen “I Believe I Can Fly” singer did not react as US District Judge Ann Donnelly issued the stiff sentence after hearing to statements from seven victims during an hours-long proceeding in Brooklyn federal court.
“With every addition of a new victim, you grew in wickedness,” said Jovante Cunningham, who also testified at Kelly’s trial, speaking in a steady voice and staring directly at him.
“You used your fame and power to groom and coach underage boys and girls for your own sexual gratification,” she told Kelly.
Another victim told him, “You made me do things that broke my spirit. I literally wished I would die because of how low you made me feel.
“Do you remember that?” she asked while turning to Kelly, who did not look up.
Kelly, 55, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, was convicted on nine charges, including racketeering and violating the Mann Act, which bars interstate transportation of women and girls for “immoral purposes.”
“I personally don’t think it’s enough, but I’m pleased with it,” Lizzette Martinez, who said she was turned into a “sex slave” after meeting the singer at a Florida mall when she was 17.
Martinez said she was “a girl full of life” who dreamed of becoming a singer when she was roped into the disgraced R&B star’s orbit and turned into a “sex slave.”
Kelly, who wore tan prison garb, dark-rimmed glasses and a mask, declined to make a statement during the hearing because of pending lawsuits.
Prosecutors who portrayed Kelly as a serial predator over several decades who used his fame to exploit his victims, asked for a sentence of more than 25 years.
“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,” said Breon Peace, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
“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,” Peace said after the sentencing.
As she handed down what is effectively a life sentence for Kelly, US District Judge Ann Donnelly told him, “These victims were disposable to you and you taught them that love is enslavement and violence and humiliation.”
“This case is not about sex. It’s about violence and cruelty and control,” Donnelly said.
“These crimes were calculated and carefully planned and regularly executed for almost 25 years.”
Singer Robert Kelly, has faced multiple lawsuits and charges related to child pornography and sexual misconduct since 1997 – even as he ascended to the heights of stardom with his hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” selling millions of records and winning three Grammy Awards.
Disturbing testimony during the trial outlined how Kelly gave several accusers herpes after he didn’t tell anyone he had an STD. He also shot incriminating videos, including one that showed a victim smearing feces on her face as punishment for breaking his rules.
A victim referred to as Jane Doe #2 described how the singer would push her to perform oral sex on him, and briefly paused her statement when Kelly started to speak with his attorneys.
In victim impact statement before the sentencing Wednesday Jovante Cunningham, a back-up dancer who testified under the name “Angela,” at Kelly’s trial last fall, said Kelly “took pleasure in humiliating me” as she told him in court, “You are shameless, you are disgusting and you are self-serving.”
”Today we reclaim our names. We are no longer the preyed-upon individuals we once were,” she said, prompting Kelly to briefly glance up at her.
Another victim, going by Jane Doe No. 2, told Kelly: “Robert, you destroyed so many people’s lives.”
She described how Kelly would return from basketball games with his friends before forcing her to perform oral sex on him.
Midway through Doe No. 2 reading her statement, the defendant decided to chat with his attorneys as she was speaking, prompting her to pause, raise her hand and say, “I’m sorry. I don’t want to interrupt his conversation.”
“Now it’s your turn to have your freedom taken from you,” she then continued.
“I hope you go to jail for the rest of your life.”
Among the numerous witnesses during the trial was accuser Jerhonda Pace, who said she began a relationship with the singer while she was underage. Once, while he was angry with her, he hit her and pushed her to perform oral sex on him, she told the court.
Another witness testified Kelly illegally married singer Aaliyah, a minor, in 1994 because he was afraid she was pregnant and he believed their nuptials would block her from testifying against him and shield him from prosecution for having sex with a minor. Aaliyah, who died in a 2001 plane crash, used a forged ID that Kelly’s entourage allegedly obtained by bribing a public official, according to testimony.
During the trial, a witness also recounted how she walked in on ‘Robert and Aaliyah in a sexual situation.’
According to the testimony, Kelly was kneeling before the teenage singer and his head was between her legs. The witness said she then abruptly shut the door and never spoke to Kelly about what she allegedly witnessed.
Aaliyah was about 13 years old at the time of the alleged encounter. The singer was killed in a plane crash in 2001 when she was 22 years old.
Attorneys for the disgraced R&B star asked for a lenient sentence of 10 years or less, claiming he had been raised in an abusive household and was himself the victim of sexual abuse.
Kelly’s defense attorney Jennifer Bonjean, who is remembered for representing disgraced actor and comedian Bill Cosby, told the judge that Kelly was sexually abused by a family member and a former landlord and that should be considered “a mitigating factor” in the sentencing.
Bonjean told the judge that her client is also “functionally illiterate” and had a traumatic, impoverished childhood that includes being shot by a stray .22 bullet and witnessing the death of a childhood friend, who was shoved into a river and drown.
“[Kelly] has been portrayed by the government and the media as a one-dimensional villain, undeserving of any measure of humanity or dignity,” Bonjean wrote.
“This Court is charged with considering [Kelly’s] history and characteristics reveal that he is not an evil monster but a complex [unquestionably flawed] human-being who faced overwhelming challenges in childhood that shaped his adult life.”
She said he plans to appeal, telling reporters after Wednesday’s hearing that, “he has regrets. He is sad.”
Kelly’s fiancée, Joycelyn Savage, was among those who submitted letters of support for the Grammy winner.
Savage declared she was not a victim of the singer and called the couple’s relationship “amazing.”
“The Robert I know is very sweet, gentle, and kind. At the end of the day, he has always made sure that I’m taken care of, and any other women he was with as well,” Savage wrote in her letter to the judge.
“Robert and I are deeply in love and it breaks my heart that the government has created a narrative that I’m a victim.”
In their sentencing memo to the judge, prosecutors wrote that Kelly seemed to believe he was above the law.
“Indeed, [Kelly’s] decades of crime appear to have been fueled by narcissism and a belief that his musical talent absolved him of any need to confirm his conduct – no matter how predatory, harmful, humiliating or abusive to others – to the structures of the law,” they wrote.
Kelly didn’t testify during the trial, but famously broke into hysterics during an unhinged 2019 interview with CBS News’ Gayle King. The interview came in the wake of the damning series “Surviving R. Kelly,” which documented a slew of the allegations against him and he proclaimed his innocence and denied accusations he effectively held a woman captive in a cult.
“How stupid would it be for R. Kelly, with all I’ve been through, in my way, way past to hold somebody,” he railed.
“Guys, use your common sense, forget the blogs, forget how you feel about me, hate me if you want, love me if you want, but just use your common sense, how stupid would it be?”
Kelly is still facing charges in Minnesota of engaging in prostitution with a minor, as well as federal charges in Illinois of pornography and obstruction.
His federal trial in Chicago is set to begin Aug. 15.