R&B singer R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years behind bars on Wednesday for leading a decades-long effort to recruit and trap teenagers and women for sex.
The sentence, stiffer than the 25 years in prison that prosecutors had sought, caps a long downfall for the 55-year-old former superstar.
“I’m grateful that Robert Sylvester Kelly is away and will stay away and will not be able to harm anyone else,” victim Lizzette Martinez told reporters outside the Brooklyn Federal Court.
In September, the “I Believe I Can Fly” artist was found guilty on all nine charges he faced, including the most serious of racketeering.
“The public has to be protected from behaviors like this,” Judge Ann Donnelly said, handing down the term.
Breon Peace, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York hailed the sentence as a “significant outcome” for the 11 victims who testified about the “horrific and sadistic abuse they endured.”
Kelly’s lawyers called for a lighter sentence with a maximum of approximately 17 years.
Attorney Jennifer Bonjean told the judge that her client was the product of a “chaotic” upbringing that included being sexually abused as a child.
Kelly, a three-time Grammy Award-winner, chose not to speak at the hearing due to pending litigation.
The sentence comes just over a month before jury selection is due to start in Kelly’s separate, long-delayed federal trial in Chicago on August 15.
The sentence generated much interest online. Here are some tweets we managed to capture.
R. Kelly’s music was extremely easy to let go off & I’m saying this as someone that grew up listening to his music like most of the black community
Knowing that man was singing about underage girls the whole time is definitely not something I care to vibe to whatsoever
— Corie (@kingslayer253) June 29, 2022
When they sentence R Kelly, they should also sentence the parents of the victims who knew their daughters were chasing a man just because he was a rich and famous singer.
— Dr Boyce Watkins (@drboycewatkins1) June 29, 2022