- Former pop star R. Kelly (“I Believe I Can Fly”) was sentenced to 30 years in prison in an abuse trial.
- A jury found the musician guilty of all nine charges, including sexual exploitation of minors, kidnapping and bribery, last year after a trial that lasted several weeks.
Kelly has long denied the allegations. Before the judge in New York announced the verdict, seven of Kelly’s victims told their stories one by one, most of them in tears. A few women looked at him and addressed him directly as they did, but Kelly either stared straight ahead at the notes on the table in front of him or spoke softly to his attorney.
I’m not here for the money and certainly not for Hollywood. I am here because I seek justice.
One woman said the musician had a “God complex”, “manipulated millions of people” and committed “pathetic and inexplicable” acts. Another said, “I’m not here for money and certainly not for Hollywood.” “I am here because I seek justice.” The women recounted the sexual, physical and mental abuse they experienced at the hands of Kelly – in part when they were minors.
“Robert, you’ve ruined a lot of people.”
“Robert, you’ve ruined a lot of people,” said a woman. Another woman accused the singer, saying, “You are abusive, rude, disgusting, and you are right.”
You are abusive, you are rude, you are gross and self-righteous.
Prosecutors had previously called for more than 25 years in prison and a fine of between $50,000 and $250,000 for the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer, who has been in prison since his arrest in the summer of 2019. She added that such a punishment is appropriate, among other things. Because of the seriousness of his crimes, Kelly remains a danger. The musician’s lawyers demanded a much lower sentence.
This process—following cases like those of film producer Harvey Weinstein and comedian Bill Cosby—is another much-observed legal reassessment of the MeToo era. Representatives of the MeToo movement had already celebrated Kelly’s conviction.
50 million albums sold
With over 50 million albums sold, and numerous Grammy and other awards, R. Kelly was one of the most successful musicians of the late 20th century. But eventually when the sensational “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary summed up the allegations in 2019, the singer became more and more lonely. The stars distanced themselves from him, as well as radio stations, streaming services and then his music label RCA, which belongs to Sony Music.
With the announcement of the ruling in New York, the legal disputes over Kelly did not end: there are also charges against the musician in the US states of Illinois and Minnesota. A trial is scheduled to begin in Chicago in mid-August.
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