R. Kelly is sentenced to 30 years in prison after his conviction for sex trafficking and decades of child sexual assault.

In September 2021, R&B artist R. Kelly, otherwise known as Robert Sylvestor Kelly, was convicted of nine counts of racketeering and violating the Mann Act, the law banning transporting people across state lines “for any immoral purpose.” Mann Act charges are almost exclusively used to go after predators who transport underage people for the purpose of abuse.

The sentencing hearings for R. Kelly began on May 4th. Multiple victims were asked to give impact statements. They did not hold back.

“I wished I would die because of how you degraded me,” said one victim, who has gone by Jane Doe No. 2 in court proceedings. She testified about an incident when Kelly forced her to perform oral sex on him in a car full of his friends.

“Do you remember that?” she asked him. He had no answer.

Federal prosecutors sought a 25-year sentence. U.S. District Court Judge Ann Donnelly decided that was not enough, and sentenced him to 30 years in federal prison.

“You were a person who had great advantages — worldwide fame and celebrity and untold money,” Donnelly said. “You took advantage of their hopes and dreams, holding teenagers in your house trapped. You were at the top of your organization and you raped and beat them, separated them from their families and forced them to do unspeakable things.”

R. Kelly pleaded not guilty to all charges and never took the stand in his own defense. His counsel tried unsuccessfully to paint him as a victim of opportunists using the #metoo movement for leverage and fame. But the seven individuals who testified against him in trial are believed to be just a small representation of the many more young women and underage girls and boys he victimized for over twenty years.

R. Kelly is also scheduled to stand trial in August for further federal charges, these relating to child pornography and obstruction of justice.

Photo: Stefano Chiacchiarini ’74 / Shutterstock