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R. Kelly, once a darling of the R&B charts, has been sentenced to three decades behind bars for sex trafficking and racketeering.
U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly sentenced the disgraced singer to 30 years in prison on Wednesday after a sentencing hearing that lasted nearly three hours.
"These crimes were calculated and carefully planned and regularly executed for almost 25 years," Donnelly told Kelly. "You taught them that love is enslavement and violence."
Kelly, 55, had been found guilty by a federal jury in Brooklyn in September of sexual exploitation of a child, bribery, kidnapping, racketeering and sex trafficking.
Kelly seemingly had no reaction. Several of his victims who were present in the courtroom held hands as the verdict was read, Fox News reports.
Prosecutors had asked that Kelly be sentenced to at least 25 years.
Throughout Kelly’s trial, they argued that Kelly sexually abused numerous young women and men, some of whom were underage, over a nearly two-decade period. Furthermore, they said he'd led an enterprise of managers, bodyguards and other employees who recruited the victims for him while giving them false hope that he’d help them with their entertainment careers. For years, Kelly was repeatedly accused of holding multiple women against their will — and treating many like he owned them — at his home for his own sexual gratification.
Kelly’s defense had hoped for a sentence closer to 10 years. They had tried to argue that R. Kelly deserved less time because he was allegedly sexually abused as a child, including by his own sister and male landlord, Reuters reports.
The New York Times noted that there were but a few fans and few reporters outside of the courthouse on Wednesday. It’s a contrast from his trial, when a small group of fans regularly showed up to express their support of the "Ignition" singer.
During the sentencing hearing, multiple survivors testified about what they had gone through. The first, a woman who went by Angela, spoke directly to Kelly, stating, “With every addition of a new victim, you grew in wickedness. You used your fame and power to groom and coach underage boys and girls for your own sexual gratification.”
She stated that his sentencing was the day, “we reclaim our names."
"We are no longer the preyed-upon individuals we once were,” she said, the New York Times reported.
“I never knew that going to that concert in September of 1994 was going to change me forever,” another woman named Addie said.
The singer also faces separate state sex crimes trials in Illinois and Minnesota, and has pleaded not guilty in those cases. Kelly was previously accused of child pornography in Chicago in 2002; he was ultimately acquitted in 2008.
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