Published On: Thu, Feb 23rd, 2023

R. Kelly sentenced to one additional year in prison in Illinois sex abuse case

CHICAGO — Disgraced musician R. Kelly was sentenced to one additional year in prison by an Illinois federal judge Thursday, nearly five months after he was convicted of sexual exploitation and enticement of a minor. 

The sentence is to be served after the 30 years Kelly, 56, is serving after being found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking by a New York jury in 2021.

Kelly, whose legal name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, was convicted last year on six counts of sexual exploitation and enticement of a minor in a case stemming from the complaints of women who said he lured them into sex acts while they were underage.

Federal prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber for the Northern District of Illinois to sentence Kelly to 25 years in prison, saying last week that the musician was “sadistic” and “a serial sexual predator” who “poses a serious danger to society.” Kelly’s attorney requested a sentence of around 10 years to be served alongside the New York sentence.

Leinenweber’s full sentence includes 19 years to be served concurrent with the New York sentence.

The judge said he believed “sentencing should be sufficient but not greater than necessary,” adding that “everybody agrees that the nature of this offense is horrible, horrific.” 

In court filings before Thursday’s hearing, prosecutors had said that a sentence that kept Kelly imprisoned for life was “the only way to ensure Kelly does not reoffend.”

But his attorney Jennifer Bonjean, said he was already serving what was effectively a life sentence.

“Kelly would have to defy all statistical odds to make it out of prison alive,” Bonjean said in a court filing last week.

Kelly had faced 13 counts, including charges of sexual exploitation of a minor, receipt of child pornography, enticement of a minor to engage in unlawful sexual conduct, conspiring to obstruct justice and conspiring to receive child pornography in the Illinois trial. He was acquitted on seven counts, including all of the charges related to conspiracy.

The singer was tried alongside two co-defendants, his former business manager Derrel McDavid and his associate Milton “June” Brown, who were both found not guilty on all charges.

Prosecutors centered their case around a star witness, identified by the pseudonym Jane in court, who identified herself as the person in a 26-minute videotape sent anonymously to the Chicago Sun-Times in 2002 that allegedly showed Kelly performing sex acts with an underage girl.

In emotional testimony, Jane, now 38, said the singer began having sex with her when she was 15 and he was in his 30s and continued to do so “hundreds” of times before she turned 18. 

Several other alleged victims also testified that the singer groomed and manipulated them into sexual relationships, some which were recorded, while they were underage.

Before the sentence was handed down, an attorney for Jane read her victim impact statement aloud in court.

“I have lost my dignity due to Robert Kelly,” the statement said. “I have lost my dreams due to R. Kelly, I have lost my teenage years due to Robert Kelly.”

She asked that Kelly be “put in jail for the rest of his natural born life.”

Last month, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx dropped 10 state charges of sex abuse against the singer saying that “justice has been served” with the two federal convictions. She added that her office’s “limited resources and court time” were the ultimate factors, noting that it found the accusations to be credible.

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