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(Credit: Alamy)

Music

R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years in prison

@TylerGolsen

Former R&B superstar R. Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for racketeering and sex trafficking. The sentencing comes a year after Kelly was initially found guilty of the crimes.

Kelly’s sentencing provides the final chapter on over three decades of abuse allegations against the singer. Back in 1997, Kelly was sued by a woman who claimed that the ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ singer subjected her to sexual battery and sexual harassment while she was a minor. Kelly had been suspected of being attracted to underage girls since marrying fellow R&B superstar Aaliyah when she was only 15 years old.

Kelly settled the 1997 lawsuit but later faced charges of possession of child pornography in 2002. Kelly was acquitted of those charges in 2008, but allegations against him continued to rise after the increased prevalence of the #MeToo movement and the release of the Lifetime documentary series Surviving R. Kelly in 2019.

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York formally charged and indicted Kelly in 2021. The original trial was held throughout the summer and fall of that year, with eleven witnesses accusing Kelly of either sexual and/or physical abuse. After two days of deliberation, the court returned a guilty verdict for all nine counts.

Officially, Kelly is charged with one count of racketeering and eight violations against the Mann Act. The racketeering count is in reference to an incident where Kelly bribed a state employee to create a fake identification card so that he could marry a 15-year-old after believing she had become pregnant. All the other counts are related to child sex abuse.

In the days prior to the official sentencing, Kelly’s lawyers attempted to reduce the potential jail time by claiming that Kelly had a number of mitigating factors that eventually led to his crimes, including himself suffering from childhood physical and sexual abuse. His lawyers attempted to get Kelly’s sentence reduced to the mandatory minimum of ten years, but those attempts were unsuccessful.