R. Kelly receives 20-year sentence for federal child pornography and incitement charges
A federal judge sentenced singer R. Kelly to 20 years in prison on Thursday for his convictions for child pornography and incitement to sex with minors, but said he would serve most of his sentence concurrently with A 30-year sentence handed down last year on racketeering charges.
U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber also ordered Kelly to serve a year in prison following his New York conviction.
The central issue of sentencing in Kelly’s hometown of Chicago was whether Leinenweber would order the 56-year-old to serve his sentence simultaneously or only after completing New York’s term for racketeering and sex trafficking convictions. in 2021. The latter would have been equivalent to a life sentence.
Prosecutors had acknowledged that a long sentence served only after conviction in New York could have erased any chance that Kelly would ever walk out of prison alive. That’s what they demanded, arguing that his crimes against children and his lack of remorse justified him.
With Thursday’s sentence, however, Kelly will serve no more than 31 years. This means that the 56-year-old Grammy winner will be eligible for release around the age of 80, giving him hope that he will one day walk out of prison alive.
Leinenweber said at the start of the hearing that he did not accept the government’s claim that Kelly used fear to woo underage girls for sex.
“The whole (government) theory of grooming was kind of the opposite of the fear of bodily harm,” the judge told the court. “It was the fear of lost love, of lost affections (of Kelly). … It just doesn’t strike me as amounting to fear of bodily harm.”
A calm Kelly spoke briefly at the start of the hearing, when the judge asked her if he had reviewed key presentation materials for any inaccuracies.
“Your Honor, I’ve spoken to my attorney about this,” Kelly said. “I’m just relying on my attorney for that.”
Chicago jurors convicted Kelly last year on six of 13 counts: three counts of producing child pornography and three of inciting minors for sexual purposes.
Kelly rose from poverty in Chicago to become one of the biggest R&B stars in the world. Known for his hit ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ and sex-infused songs such as ‘Bump n’ Grind’, he sold millions of albums even after allegations of his girl abuse began circulating publicly in the 1990s.
In filings, prosecutors described Kelly as a “serial sexual predator” who used his fame and wealth to train, sexually abuse, and then kick out star-struck fans.
In filings, Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, said he had suffered enough, including financially. She said his value once approached $1 billion, but he “is now destitute.”
In court on Thursday, Bonjean said Kelly would be lucky to survive his 30-year sentence in New York on his own and argued that Kelly’s silence should not be viewed as a lack of remorse.
She said that although she advised Kelly not to speak out because he continues to appeal his convictions and may face further legal action, “he would love to, he would love to.”