R. Kelly Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison

R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison Wednesday following his conviction last year on federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York. The disgraced musician was convicted after multiple victims testified that he used his fame to sexually abuse them. 

Kelly's attorneys had asked the judge to sentence him to 10 or fewer years in prison, saying that the prosecution's sentencing request of 25-plus years behind bars was "tantamount to a life sentence" for the 55-year-old, as per CNN. Kelly did not speak or show emotion at his sentencing, commenting only, "Yes, your honor, that's my wish," after his attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, expressed his desire not to make a statement. 

Bonjean did speak to the court, saying before the sentencing was read that Kelly "rejects that he is this monster." She continued, "He accepts that he is a flawed individual, but he is not this one-dimensional monster that the government has portrayed and the media has portrayed." District Court Judge Ann Donnelly told Kelly that she did consider his traumatic childhood, during which his attorneys claimed he was sexually abused numerous times, when handing down his sentence. 

"You left in your wake a trail of broken lives," Donnelly said, adding of Kelly's own abuse, "It may explain, at least in part, what led to your behavior. It most surely is not an excuse." Prior to Kelly's sentencing, seven of his victims addressed the court with their impact statements. "It's been 23 years since we knew each other, and you've victimized a lot of girls since then," Jane Doe 2 said, adding later, "Now it's your turn to have your freedom taken from you."

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Kelly was convicted last September on nine criminal counts, including one charge of racketeering and eight counts of violations of the Mann Act, a sex trafficking law. Prosecutors accused Kelly of using his celebrity and a "network of people at his disposal to target girls, boys and young women for his own sexual gratification." Witnesses testified to being sexually and physically abused by Kelly, and to helping orchestrate his marriage in 1994 to late artist Aaliyah when she was just 15 years old, as the adult Kelly feared she was pregnant.