R&B singer R. Kelly was slapped with a 30 year prison term, when he was sentenced for racketeering and sex trafficking in federal court on Wednesday.
The Grammy Award winning artist was convicted of one count of racketeering with 14 predicate acts, and eight violations of the Mann Act for transporting his victims across state lines for “illegal sexual activity,” upon the conclusion of a six week trial last year.
Kelly’s lawyers requested a sentence of 10 years or less for the 55-year-old “I Believe I Can Fly” singer, due to his “literacy deficiencies,” which they alleged allowed him to be “repeatedly defrauded and financially abused, often by the people he paid to protect him.”
Prosecutors countered with an ask of 25 years, for the way he used his “fame, money and popularity” to “prey upon children and young women for his own sexual gratification.”
“He continued his crimes and avoided punishment for them for almost 30 years and must now be held to account,” they wrote in a court filing.
Judge Ann M. Donnelly upped the ante by five years because of “the horrors” he subjected his victims to. “These crimes were calculated and carefully planned and regularly executed for almost 25 years,” she told Kelly during his sentencing. “You taught them that love is enslavement and violence.”
“Although sex was certainly a weapon that you used, this is not a case about sex. It’s a case about violence, cruelty and control,” she added.
Kelly was reportedly stoic as seven of his victims delivered impact statements in the Brooklyn court. “You made me do things that broke my spirit. I literally wished I would die because of how low you made me feel,” one female victim asked him. “Do you remember that?”
Another, who he forced to give him oral sex after he returned from a basketball game, told Kelly “No price is too high to pay for your happiness,” and that she hoped he would “go to jail for the rest of your life.”
Many of Kelly’s victims were minors at the time he sexually and physically abused them, and knowingly infected them with herpes without disclosing that he was infected with the incurable STD.
In addition to the 30 year sentence, he was also ordered to pay a $100,000 fine.