R. Kelly, once known as a pioneer of R&B, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison. The disgraced singer, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, was convicted in September for racketeering and sex trafficking in violation of the Mann Act. Finally, on Wednesday, he was handed his sentence by U.S. District Court Judge Donnelly after hearing multiple testimonies from his victims.
R. Kelly’s Cruelty
In a scathing justification of her sentencing handout, Judge Donnelly says “This case is not about sex. It’s about violence and cruelty and control… You had a system in place that lured young people into your orbit — and then you took over their lives.” Survivors of his abuse recounted their trauma, humiliation, and silence at the hands of R. Kelly as he sat in the court room. Many of these victims were minors when Kelly first made advances on them.
The Mann Act
R. Kelly was convicted in September of all nine counts of racketeering and violations of the Mann Act. The Mann Act is designed to protect from the trafficking of people for “immoral purposes.” Multiple victims have testified about their experiences, both at his sentencing hearing and at his trial. Their courage to speak up is not unnoticed, though his defense tried to paint them as fans taking advantage of the #MeToo movement.
Justice for Survivors
After R. Kelly’s sentencing, U.S. Attorney Breon Peace called it a “victory for [the survivors], for justice and for future survivors of sexual assault. Victims of sexual violence must be heard, perpetrators must be held accountable , and our women and children must be protected… justice only hears the truth.” Consequently, Kelly’s 30-year-sentence is greater than the recommended 25 years, by the prosecution.
R. Kelly Faces More Charges
The disgusting acts of R. Kelly are on trial again in August. This time, the disgraced singer faces trial in Chicago for child pornography and obstruction of justice charges. If found guilty, it’s likely Kelly may receive another decades-long sentence. Jennifer Bonjean, his defense lawyer, plans to appeal his sentence. In a statement, she says, “He has regrets and he is sad… He disagrees with the characterizations that have been made about him.”
Though Kelly and his defense still deny many of the accusations against him, the public stands with his victims. Their testimony is brave, of course, as well as damning. Once known as an R&B great, R. Kelly has soiled his legacy. Today marks a huge victory for all those who survived his reign of terror, including those who did not testify or press charges. It is also a win for other sexual abuse survivors, their families, the music industry, and the general public as a whole.