R Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison by a federal court. The singer, 55, was handed the term in New York for masterminding a scheme to entice and sexually exploit young aspiring singers and underage children.
Former ’90s superstar Kelly was branded “the pied piper of R and B” at the US District Court in the city as he was faced with several of his victims who detailed his “deplorable and inexplicable” abuse during victim impact sentences ahead of his sentencing on Wednesday.
Kelly’s sentencing follows his conviction last year by a jury on multiple counts of racketeering, relating to bribery and forced labour.
The musician, real name Robert Sylvester Kelly, was also found to have violated anti-sex trafficking law, the Mann Act.
Sentencing, Judge Ann Donnelly said Kelly had used his “minions” to “lure young fans into your orbit”.
The singer, who denied all charges, was found guilty on all nine counts against him after a six-week trial in Brooklyn.
Dressed in a grey prison-issue uniform, Kelly did not appear to react as his sentence was passed.
Seven women gave victim statements before the sentence, who detailed Kelly’s “God-like complex” and said he used his “fame and power” to entice his prey.
A woman with the pseudonym Angela told him: “The pied piper of R and B, both in music and in technique and in approach.
“Success and love... you presented these glittering gems as if they were gold. With every addition of a new victim you grew in wickedness, cockiness, diminishing any form of humanity or self-awareness, which soon became the breeding ground for your God-like complex.
“You were doing, saying and encouraging despicable things that no one should be doing. We reclaim our names from beneath the shadows of your afflicted trauma.”
There was an uncomfortable moment when a woman known only as Jane Doe No 2 stopped her statement as Kelly was talking with his lawyer, telling him she “did not want to interrupt (Kelly’s) conversation”.
She added: “You are an abuser, you are shameless, you are disgusting.”
Kelly, known for hits including ‘Bump N’ Grind’ and ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ has been detained at the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn since his conviction.
Prosecutors had been seeking 25 years behind bars for Kelly in order to “protect the public” from the musician, while his defense asked for 10 or less.
They argued anything beyond 10 years in jail for his offences would be indefensible and claimed the prosecution’s desire to see the singer locked up for 25 years was “tantamount to a life sentence”.