R Kelly receives additional prison sentence for child crimes

Disgraced singer given 20-year sentence to be served concurrently with 30-year sentence received last year

R Kelly was sentenced to an additional 20 years in prison - to be served simultaneously with a 30-year sentencing - for child sex crimes. AP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

A federal judge on Thursday handed singer R Kelly a 20-year prison sentence for convictions over child pornography and the enticement of minors for sex.

But US District Judge Harry Leinenweber said he would serve nearly all of the sentence concurrently with a 30-year term imposed last year on racketeering convictions.

Mr Leinenweber ordered that Kelly, 56, serve one year in prison after his New York sentence.

There was much speculation in Kelly’s home town of Chicago whether the new sentence would be concurrent, or added to the New York term for 2021 racketeering and sex trafficking convictions.

Prosecutors acknowledged that a sequential term would mean Kelly would have little hope of ever getting out alive. But they said his crimes against children and lack of remorse justified it.

Kelly rose from poverty in Chicago to become one of the world’s biggest R&B stars.

Known for his smash hit I Believe I Can Fly and songs such as Bump n’ Grind, he sold millions of albums even after allegations about his abuse of girls began circulating publicly in the 1990s.

With Thursday's sentence, though, he will serve no more than 31 years. That means he will be eligible for release at about the age of 80, providing him some hope of one day leaving prison alive.

Mr Leinenweber said at the outset of the hearing that he did not accept the government’s contention that Kelly used fear to woo underage girls for sex.

“The (government’s) whole theory of grooming, was sort of the opposite of fear of bodily harm,” the judge told the court.

“It was the fear of lost love, lost affections [from Kelly] … It just doesn’t seem to me that it rises to the fear of bodily harm.”

Kelly calmly spoke briefly at the start of the hearing, when the judge asked him if he had reviewed key pre-sentencing documents for any inaccuracies.

“Your honour, I have gone over it with my attorney,” Kelly said. “I’m just relying on my attorney for that.”

Two of Kelly's accusers asked the judge to punish him harshly.

In a statement read aloud in court, a woman who testified under the pseudonym “Jane” said she had lost her early aspirations to become a singer and her hopes for fulfilling relationships.

“I have lost my dreams to Robert Kelly,” she said. “I will never get back what I lost to Robert Kelly … I have been permanently scarred by Robert.”

Judge Ann Donnelly sentences R Kelly for federal sex trafficking convictions at the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, 2022. Reuters

Jurors in Chicago convicted Kelly last year on six of 13 counts: three counts of producing child porn and three of enticement of minors for sex.

Updated: February 23, 2023, 8:10 PM