R&BR star Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison in a sex trafficking case

The singer-songwriter was convicted of extortion and sex trafficking last year in a trial that gave voice to defendants who once wondered if their stories were being ignored because they were black women.

US District Judge Ann Donnelly delivered the verdict in a Brooklyn District Court. The verdict marks a slow downfall for Kelly, 55. He remained beloved by legions of fans even after allegations of his mistreatment of young girls began to circulate publicly in the 1990s.

Through tears and anger, R Kelly’s accusers told the court on Wednesday that he exploited and cheated his fans, while the fallen R&B star awaited sentencing for his federal sex-trafficking conviction.

“You made me do things that broke my soul. I literally wish I could die because of how vulnerable I felt,” one woman told the Grammy-winning singer and multi-platinum sales. She said she was forever traumatized by her teenage experiences with him.

“do you remember that?” She asked.

A jury in federal court in Brooklyn last fall found Kelly, 55, guilty of racketeering and other charges in a trial that was seen as a defining moment in the #MeToo movement.

Outrage over Kelly’s sexual misconduct with young women and children was fueled in part by the widely watched docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly,” which gave voice to defendants who questioned whether their stories had previously been ignored because they were black women.

Another defendant told the court that Kelly manipulated millions of fans into thinking he was someone other than the man the jury saw.

She said the victims “sought to be heard and acknowledged”. “We are no longer the individuals we once were prey.”

A third woman, crying and sniffing as she spoke, said Kelly’s conviction had renewed her confidence in the legal system.

“I once lost hope, but you restored my faith,” she said, addressing the court and prosecutors.

The woman said Kelly was her victim after she went to prom when she was 17.

“I was scared and naive and didn’t know how to handle the situation,” she said, so she didn’t speak at the time.

“Silence is a very lonely place,” she said.

Kelly kept his hands folded and his eyes frowned as he listened. It is not yet clear whether he will speak when the verdict is pronounced.

“He’s strong, and we’re going to get through this,” defense attorney Jennifer Bunjian said on her way to court. Whatever his sentence, she said, Kelly hopes his conviction will be overturned on appeal.

US District Judge Ann Donnelly decided that federal guidelines allow up to life imprisonment. Kelly’s attorneys requested 10 years or less.

They argued in court papers that he should get a break in part because he “experienced a traumatic childhood involving severe and long-term sexual abuse of children, poverty, and violence.”

His lawyers said that as an adult with “literacy deficiencies,” the star “was repeatedly defrauded and financially abused, often by the people he paid to protect him.”

The playmaker is best known for his work including the 1996 song “I Think I Can Fly” and the cult classic “Trapped in the Closet,” a multi-part tale of sexual infidelity and intrigue.

Allegations that Kelly abused young girls began to circulate publicly in the 1990s. He was prosecuted in 1997 by a woman who alleged that she had been sexually assaulted and molested as a minor, and later faced criminal child pornography charges involving a different girl in Chicago. A jury there acquitted him in 2008, and he settled the lawsuit.

All the while, Kelly went on to sell millions of albums.

A jury in Brooklyn federal court indicted him after hearing that he used his entourage of directors and assistants to meet girls and keep them obedient, a process prosecutors said amounted to a criminal act.

Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, used his “fame, money and popularity” to systematically “abuse children and young women for his sexual gratification,” prosecutors wrote in a lawsuit earlier this month.

Several defendants testified that Kelly subjugated them to depraved and sadistic whims when they were underage.

The defendants alleged that they were ordered to sign nondisclosure forms and were subjected to threats and punishments such as violent beatings on the buttocks if they violated what one referred to as the “Rob Rules”.

Some said they believed that videos he filmed of them having sex would be used against them if they revealed what was happening.

According to the testimony, Kelly presented multiple herpes accusers without disclosing that he had an STD, forced a teenage boy to join him in having sex with a naked girl who came out from under a boxing ring in his garage, and filmed a disgraceful video that showed one victim getting smeared. excrement on her face as punishment for breaking his rules.

Kelly has denied any wrongdoing. He did not testify at his trial, but his attorneys at the time portrayed his accusers as girlfriends and groupers who were not forced to do anything against their will and who remained with him because they enjoyed the benefits of his lifestyle.

Evidence has also been provided about a fraudulent marriage scheme set up to protect Kelly after he was feared to have carried the R&B phenomenon high in 1994 when she was just 15 years old. He was 27 years old at the time.

Aaliyah worked with Kelly, who wrote and produced her 1994 debut album, Age Not a Thing but a Number. She died in a plane crash in 2001 at the age of 22.

An earlier defense memorandum suggested that the prosecution’s arguments about the higher ruling were overridden by the false claim that Kelly participated in the payment of a bribe to a government official in order to facilitate an illegal marriage.

The Associated Press does not name people who say they have been sexually assaulted or assaulted, unless they have come forward in public. The women who spoke in judging Kelly were identified only by first names or nicknames.

Kelly has been jailed without bail since 2019. He still faces child pornography and obstruction of justice charges in Chicago, where a trial is set to begin August 15.

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