Prime News Ghana

R. Kelly sentenced to 20 years for child sex crimes

By primenewsghana
facebook sharing button Share
twitter sharing button Tweet
email sharing button Email
sharethis sharing button Share

A judge sentenced R. Kelly, the once high-flying R&B star-turned-convicted sex offender, to 20 years in prison Thursday on another set of sex crimes, including several child pornography charges.

But 19 of those years will be served concurrently with his existing prison time, meaning only one year gets added to the end of his previous 30-year sentence.

Kelly, 56, was found guilty in September on three counts of child pornography and three counts of child enticement but was acquitted of a fourth pornography count, as well as a conspiracy to obstruct justice charge accusing him of fixing his state child pornography trial in 2008.

He is already serving 30 years for his 2021 racketeering and sex trafficking convictions in New York. U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber ordered that Kelly serve one year in prison following the racketeering sentence, imposed last year in New York.

READ ALSO: R. Kelly: The history of his crimes and allegations against him

Prosecutors in a sentencing memo last week recommended Kelly serve 25 additional years and that he serve it consecutively to the New York federal case sentence, meaning the former music star would essentially spend the rest of his life behind bars. With Thursday’s sentence, though, Kelly will serve no more than 31 years. That means he will be eligible for release at around age 80, providing him some hope of one day leaving prison alive.

Prosecutors acknowledged a 25-year sentence would be higher than sentencing guidelines suggest, but argued Kelly’s "desire to sexually abuse children is insatiable" and such a sentence was required "to protect the community from" him.

Kelly’s lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, asked for a sentence of around 10 years – on the low end of the guideline range.

She also requested in a series of pre-sentence filings that, whatever prison sentence Leinenweber imposed, he allow Kelly to serve it at the same time as the New York sentence.

Bonjean said a new consecutive sentence would be a "second life sentence."

What happened at the sentencing?

Leinenweber said at the outset of the hearing that he did not accept the government’s contention that Kelly used fear to woo underage girls for sex.

“The (government’s) whole theory of grooming, was sort of the opposite of fear of bodily harm,” the judge told the court. “It was the fear of lost love, lost affections (from Kelly). … It just doesn’t seem to me that it rises to the fear of bodily harm.”

Prosecutors say Kelly’s crimes against children and his lack of remorse justify the stiffer sentence.

A calm Kelly spoke briefly at the start of the hearing, when the judge asked him if he had reviewed key pre-sentencing documents for any inaccuracies.

“Your honor, I have gone over it with my attorney,” Kelly said. “I’m just relying on my attorney for that.”

Two of Kelly’s accusers asked the judge to punish him harshly.

In a statement read aloud in court, a woman who testified under the pseudonym "Jane" said she lost her early aspirations to become a singer herself and her hopes for fulfilling relationships.

"I have lost my dreams to Robert Kelly," the statement said. "I will never get back what I lost to Robert Kelly. … I have been permanently scarred by Robert."

The woman was a key witness for prosecutors during Kelly’s trial; four of his convictions are tied to her.

"When your virginity is taken by a pedophile at 14 … your life is never your own," Jane’s statement read.

Another accuser, who used the pseudonym "Nia," attended the hearing and addressed Kelly directly in court. Speaking forcefully as her voice quivered, Nia said Kelly would repeatedly pick at her supposed faults while he abused her.

"Now you are here … because there is something wrong with you," she said. "No longer will you be able to harm children."

R. Kelly found guilty on 6 counts in Chicago trial

In addition to the pornography and obstruction of justice charges that were tossed out, Kelly was also found not guilty on all three counts of conspiring to receive child pornography and for two further enticement charges.

His two co-defendants, associates Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown, were found not guilty on all charges. Jurors acquitted McDavid, a longtime Kelly business manager, who was accused of conspiring with Kelly to rig the 2008 trial. Brown, a Kelly associate for years, was acquitted of receiving child pornography.

The verdict followed a four-week trial and jurors deliberated for 11 hours over two days. Kelly faced 13 charges, filed in 2019, including producing child pornography, enticing a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

In Chicago, a conviction of just one count of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, while receipt of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum of five years.

Prosecutors rested their case on Aug. 30 after presenting two weeks of testimony, including from four Kelly accusers, in their effort to prove the singer enticed underage girls for sex, produced child pornography and successfully rigged his 2008 state trial.

A fifth accuser, who prosecutors had said would testify, never did. They didn't explain why.

The key witness of the prosecutors' case, a 37-year-old woman who used the pseudonym "Jane," testified early that Kelly sexually abused her hundreds of times starting in 1998 when she was 14 and Kelly was around 30.

R. Kelly previously sentenced in New York, still facing another trial

The decision comes after a federal judge in New York sentenced Kelly to 30 years in prison in June for racketeering and sex trafficking.

After six weeks of graphic testimony from dozens of accusers and witnesses, a jury deliberated two days before finding Kelly guilty on all nine counts of sex trafficking and racketeering. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison on June 29, 2022.

Before beginning his New York sentence, he had to face this second trial, in the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. He's been in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago where he has spent most of his time since his arrest in 2019.

The legal challenges for Kelly are not yet over. Though a state judge recently dismissed sex-abuse charges in another case in Chicago, he still has a trial pending in Minnesota.

Source: USA Today