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R&B singer R Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after being found guilty of multiple counts of racketeering and sex trafficking.
The 55-year-old was found guilty in September 2021 of masterminding a scheme to entice and sexually exploit young women and underage children.
Over the course of the six-week trial, a New York jury heard how the 'I Believe I Can Fly' singer used his fame and fortune to “prey on the young, the vulnerable, and the voiceless for his own sexual gratification” over the past two decades, assisted by his managers, security team, and entourage.
Kelly, real name Robert Sylvester Kelly, was convicted on multiple counts of racketeering, with the charges relating to bribery and forced labour, and was also found in violation of an anti-sex trafficking law known as the Mann Act.
Despite denying all charges, R. Kelly was found guilty on all nine counts.
The singer has been detained at the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn since the verdict.
His conviction carried a minimum sentence of ten years, with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
While federal prosecutors called for a sentence 'in excess of 25 years, R. Kelly's lawyers had campaigned for the singer to receive no more than the minimum sentence as he is 'not currently a risk to the public'.
Following Wednesday's sentencing, several victims of the singer's abuse gave a statement at the trial, with the first victim, named as Jane Doe 1 saying to Kelly: “With every addition of a new victim, you grew in wickedness.
“You used your fame and power to groom and coach underage boys and girls for your own sexual gratification.
"We reclaim our names. We are no longer the preyed-upon individuals we once were.
"I pray that God reaches your soul."
The second victim to speak out during the trial, Jane Doe 2 said: "Writing this impact statement was hard.
“I never knew that going to that concert in September of 1994 was going to change me forever,” she explained, referring to a concert for Aaliyah, a singer who was also a victim of Kelly. Jane met Kelly there, where he sexually assaulted her.
“The last four years have been a rude awakening of how my silence has hurt others,” she said of her decision to remain silent on the matter for many years.
The third woman to speak during the trial was Jane Doe 3, who said: "January 1995 eventually changed me forever,” she explained about the moment that she met Kelly in a mall at age 17.
As an aspiring singer, Kelly vowed to be her mentor, but started to abuse her around two months after they met.
“I was left in shock, confused and in tears,” she said.
“I do not know how to put a price on all I’ve gone through. I am now 45, a mother and I struggle with mental health.”
“Robert, you destroyed so many people’s lives,” Jane said.
The next woman said to the court: "I felt special, because someone who was special to the world was interested in me.
“I hope you go to jail for the rest of your life.”
Another woman urged the singer: “I hope you forgive yourself. I forgive myself."
Meanwhile, her father took to the stand to say: “I didn’t come here to bash Mr. Kelly. I do want to ask you, Mr. Kelly, to look at me, man to man, father to father."
He continued: "Put yourself in my shoes. I’ve certainly put myself in your shoes.”
R. Kelly has faced consistent allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct throughout his career.
In 1994, the singer, aged 27 at the time, married 15-year-old Aaliyah at a secret ceremony in Chicago, though the marriage was later annulled after the teenager was found to have lied about her age on the marriage certificate.
He went on to face further accusations of having sexual relations with underage women in 1996, 2001 and 2002. In 2002, he was charged with 21 counts of making child sexual abuse videos involving various sexual acts, but was acquitted on all counts following trial in 2008.
In 2017, a Buzzfeed article brought fresh allegations to light, claiming that Kelly had trapped six women in a sex 'cult' having taken advantage of them after they approached him for help with their musical careers.The singer was accused of controlling the victim's lives, including what they ate and wore, when they sleep, and kept records of their sexual activity.
The article prompted more alleged victims to come forward.
In January 2019, a six-part documentary titled Surviving R Kelly, detailing the allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct against the singer, aired on US TV network Lifetime and, later, Netflix.
He was arrested the following July and charged with sex trafficking offences including child abuse images and obstruction of justice.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact The Survivor’s Trust for free on 08088 010 818, or through their website thesurvivorstrust.org
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