R. Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for using his R&B superstardom to subject young fans to systematic sexual abuse.
The singer and songwriter was convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking last year at a trial that gave voice to accusers who had once wondered if their stories were ignored because they were Black women. U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly imposed the sentence at a courthouse in Brooklyn.
The sentence caps a slow-motion fall for Kelly, who is 55. He remained adored by legions of fans even after allegations about his abuse of young girls began circulating publicly in the 1990s.
“You made me do things that broke my spirit. I literally wished I would die because of how low you made me feel,” said one unnamed survivor, directly addressing a Kelly who kept his hands folded and his eyes downcast. “Do you remember that?”
Kelly’s lawyers had argued he should get no more than 10 years in prison because he had a traumatic childhood “involving severe, prolonged childhood sexual abuse, poverty, and violence,” the Associated Press reported.
The hit maker is known for work including the 1996 hit “I Believe I Can Fly” and the cult classic “Trapped in the Closet,” a multi-part tale of sexual betrayal and intrigue.