Disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly was sentenced to 20 years in prison in a Chicago federal courtroom Thursday following his conviction last year on charges of child pornography and enticement of a minor, his second such lengthy sentencing in the past year. Kelly, 56, is already serving a 30-year prison term for his 2021 conviction on racketeering and sex trafficking charges in a New York federal court. US District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber said in court Thursday that 19 years of the 20-year prison sentence would be served concurrently, or at the same time as his other sentence.
One year would be served consecutively, or after that sentence is complete, he said. Kelly was convicted in September on three counts of production of child pornography and three counts of enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity. A motion for a new trial was denied last week. Prior to the sentence, attorney Christopher Brown read from a statement given by one of Kelly’s victims, identified as “Jane.” “I have lost my dignity due to Robert Kelly. I have lost my dreams due to Robert Kelly.
I have lost my teenage years to Robert Kelly,” he read. She wrote that Kelly was “abusive and dominating” and made her suicidal. “I will forever be the girl that R Kelly peed on,” Jane said through the attorney, referencing the infamous sex tape video shown during his trial which showed Kelly urinating on a victim. The sentencing hearing is the culmination of nearly three decades of allegations Kelly had sexually abused underage girls, accusations first laid out in the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2002, Kelly was indicted on child pornography charges for allegedly videotaping himself having sex with an unidentified underage girl, but he was acquitted in 2008.
Through the allegations, Kelly was one of the most successful R&B artists of the 1990s and 2000s, known for hit songs “Bump N’ Grind,” “Ignition (Remix)” and “I Believe I Can Fly,” which won him three Grammy Awards. He has been nominated for 26 Grammy Awards in all, including as recently as 2015. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, Kelly faced further allegations of wrongdoing in a 2017 BuzzFeed article and in the January 2019 Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly.” A month later, he was indicted in Cook County, Illinois, on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and two federal indictments followed in July 2019.
Prosecutors had asked for a 25-year sentence to be served once his other 30-year prison sentence is complete. “Robert Kelly is a serial sexual predator who, over the course of many years, specifically targeted young girls and went to great lengths to conceal his abuse of Jane and other minor victims,” prosecutors said in a filing. “To this day, and even following the jury verdict against him, Kelly refuses to accept responsibility for his crimes.” The defense said in its filing Kelly is already serving a “de facto life sentence” and asked for any sentence be served at the same time as his 30-year sentence in the New York case. “In the unlikely event that Kelly was to survive his 30-year sentence, there is no reason to believe he would reoffend as a geriatric in his mid-80s,” his attorneys wrote. “The overwhelming majority of Kelly’s criminal conduct was committed a quarter century ago.” The advisory sentencing guidelines offer a range of 14 to 17.5 years in prison, according to the prosecution’s calculations, or 11.25 to 14 years in prison, according to the defense’s calculations. The question of whether the two sentences will be served consecutively or concurrently was up to the court’s discretion.