US singer R. Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for using his celebrity status to sexually abuse children and women.
Born Robert Sylvester Kelly, the 55-year-old R&B artiste was accused of using his money, fame, and network of business managers, security guards, assistants, lawyers, and others to facilitate the abuse of women and minors for nearly three decades.
Convicted last September in New York of racketeering and sex trafficking crimes, he had faced years of allegations and the judge on Wednesday said he had an “indifference to human suffering”.
Lawyers for the singer say he will appeal.
Ahead of his sentencing, a handful of women took the stand to confront Kelly.
The trial, which started last year, was one of the most high-profile cases within the music industry to spring from the #MeToo Movement. It is also one of the most prominent cases in which the victims were mostly Black women.
A jury in the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, found Kelly, 55, guilty of one count of racketeering and eight violations of the Mann Act, a law created to curb sex trafficking across state lines.
Kelly’s racketeering conviction included 14 underlying acts. For example, witnesses testified that the ’90s hitmaker fraudulently married R&B singer Aaliyah, who was 15 and believed to be pregnant at the time, by bribing a government official to give her a fake ID that claimed she was an adult. Kelly did this to protect himself legally while he sexually abused Aaliyah, starting when she was 12 or 13 years old, according to prosecutors. She died in a plane crash at 22 years old.
Also convicted of travelling across state lines for illegal sexual activity, coercion and enticement, and transportation of a minor, witnesses testified that Kelly and his team would use the performer’s celebrity to lure and make travel arrangements for his victims, many of them minors hoping for their big break in the music business, only for them to be sexually abused by Kelly.