R&B singer, R Kelly, has been sentenced to 30 years imprisonment after being found guilty of sex trafficking and racketeering involving women, girls and boys.
The jail sentence was handed down to Kelly in the trial that has lasted for several years.
Last September, a jury in New York City found Kelly guilty of sex trafficking and racketeering, on all nine counts against him.
On Wednesday, US district judge Ann Donnelly, imposed the sentence at the federal court in Brooklyn after hearing from several survivors who attested to how Kelly’s exploitation reverberated across their lives.
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At the trial, victims had described how Kelly, real name Robert Sylvester Kelly, subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage. Several said he would demand that they strictly obey rules such as needing his permission to eat or go to the bathroom, and writing “apology letters” that purported to absolve him of wrongdoing.
Ahead of sentencing on Wednesday, The Guardian reports that some of the victims made statements, including “Angela”, who said “with every addition of a new victim you grew in wickedness”. On this day of sentencing “we reclaim our names”, she said. “We are no longer the preyed-upon individuals we once were.”
In her victim statement, Lizette Martinez said: “Robert, you destroyed so many people’s lives.”
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Another, unnamed victim who directly addressed Kelly as he kept his hands folded and his eyes downcast, said: “You made me do things that broke my spirit. I literally wished I would die because of how low you made me feel. Do you remember that?”
Kelly’s case attracted attention in light of the #MeToo movement, during which powerful men have been held to account for sexual misconduct and sexual assault. Kelly follows Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and other prominent abusers in being sentenced to time behind bars, although Cosby was acquitted on appeal.
The singer, whose hits include Ignition and I Believe I Can Fly, was represented by Jennifer Bonjean, a lawyer who represented Cosby.