R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison Wednesday after being convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking.
U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly imposed the sentence on Kelly and ordered him to pay a $100,000 fine after a nearly three-hour hearing. Kelly did not address the court.
The victims held hands while the sentence was read and Kelly had no apparent reaction.
“Although sex was certainly a weapon that you used, this is not a case about sex. It’s a case about violence, cruelty and control,” Judge Donnelly told him during the sentencing.
R. Kelly appeared in court Wednesday for his sentencing hearing. (Amr Alfiky)
Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean said they look forward to the appeal.
“30 years is like life for him,” she said. She also emphasized he is “not a predator.”
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace called the sentence a “significant outcome” for Kelly’s victims.
Kelly “preyed upon children and young women..for decades,” according to Peace. He would “force victims, including minors” to be in “porno films” which the singer “produced and directed.”
“The sentence shows that the witnesses reclaim control over their lives,” he added. “This is a victory for them. It doesn’t matter how powerful..justice only hears the truth”
Seven of Kelly’s victims gave impact statements during the sentencing hearing.
“You made me do things that broke my spirit. I literally wished I would die because of how low you made me feel,” one woman told the Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling singer. “Do you remember that?”
Another woman, sobbing and sniffling as she spoke, said Kelly’s conviction restored her faith in the legal system.
“I once lost hope,” she said, addressing the court and prosecutors, “but you restored my faith.”
The woman said Kelly victimized her after she went to a concert when she was 17.
“I was afraid, naive and didn’t know to handle the situation,” she said, so she didn’t speak up at the time.
“Silence,” she said, “is a very lonely place.”
The “I Believe I Can Fly” singer was convicted on one count of racketeering. The racketeering including 14 underlying acts of sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery, and sex trafficking charges.
R. Kelly was also convicted on eight violations of the Mann Act. The legislation makes it illegal to transport people across state lines for “immoral purposes.”
The trial lasted six weeks.
Prosecutors argued that Kelly had used his “fame, money and popularity” to recruit women and teenagers for “his own sexual gratification.” (AP, File)
Prosecutors had argued that Kelly should receive at least 25 years in prison for his conviction.
Kelly used his “fame, money and popularity” to systematically “prey upon children and young women for his own sexual gratification,” prosecutors wrote in the filing.
“He continued his crimes and avoided punishment for them for almost 30 years and must now be held to account,” prosecutors wrote.
R. Kelly was convicted on nine charges in his racketeering, sex trafficking trial. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool)
Kelly’s lawyers had argued he should get no more than 10 years in prison because he had a traumatic childhood “involving severe, prolonged childhood sexual abuse, poverty, and violence.”
As an adult with “literacy deficiencies,” the star was “repeatedly defrauded and financially abused, often by the people he paid to protect him,” his lawyers said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.