R. Kelly Receives 20-Year Sentence in Federal Sex Crimes Case
Grammy Award-winning R&B singer R. Kelly has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his child pornography and enticement of minors for sex convictions in Chicago. The ruling on Thursday goes against prosecutors’ requests for a 25-year sentence, served after he completes his 30-year term for racketeering and sex trafficking charges in New York.
The Chicago sentence will be served concurrently with the New York one, except for one year, which will be consecutive, meaning Kelly could be eligible for release before he turns 80. The defense wanted a sentence of around 10 years, served concurrently, while prosecutors argued that Kelly’s crimes against children and lack of remorse justified the stiffer sentence.
Going into the sentencing in Kelly’s hometown of Chicago, the central question was whether the judge would order him to serve a sentence simultaneously with or only after he completes the New York term. If the latter had been the case, it would have been tantamount to a life sentence.
However, Judge Harry Leinenweber decided on a concurrent sentence, stating that he did not accept the government’s contention that Kelly used fear to woo underage girls for sex. Two of Kelly’s accusers asked the judge to punish him harshly, with one woman testified under the pseudonym “Jane,” stating that she had lost her dreams and had been permanently scarred by Kelly. Another accuser, who used the pseudonym “Nia,” attended the hearing and addressed Kelly directly in court, saying he would no longer be able to harm children.
Kelly’s current legal woes culminate years of allegations of sexual abuse of girls that began circulating publicly in the 1990s, despite the artist’s continued commercial success. Prosecutors described Kelly as “a serial sexual predator” who used his fame and wealth to reel in, sexually abuse, and discard star-struck fans.
U.S. R. Kelly Receives 20-Year Sentence in Federal Sex Crimes CaseAssistant Attorney Jeannice Appenteng urged the judge to set a longer sentence and keep Kelly in prison “for the rest of his life.” She said that Kelly’s abuse of children was all the worse because he “memorialized” his abuse by filming victims.
In presentencing filings, Kelly’s lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, accused prosecutors of offering an “embellished narrative” to get the judge to join what she called the government’s “bloodthirsty campaign to make Kelly a symbol of the #MeToo movement.”
In court, Bonjean said Kelly would be lucky to survive his 30-year New York sentence alone and argued that Kelly’s silence should not be viewed as a lack of remorse. She said that while she advised Kelly not to speak because he continues to appeal his convictions and could face other legal action, “he would like to very much.”