R. Kelly, a Grammy-winning R&B artist, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for child sx crimes on Thursday (February 23), after a jury ascertained that he had produced three videos of himself sxually abusing his 14-year-old goddaughter.
R. Kelly, 56, whose legal name is Robert Sylvester Kelly is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence after a New York jury found him guilty of racketeering and s*x trafficking in 2021.
During the 90-minute court hearing on Thursday, Judge Harry Leinenweber of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago ruled that all but one year of the prison sentence (19 out of 20) would be served concurrently with a previous 30-year sentence that Mr. Kelly received after a jury in Brooklyn convicted him of racketeering and s*x trafficking charges. One year would be served consecutively, or after that sentence is complete.
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.”
“No matter what I do Mr. Kelly is not going out the door in the next 10 years, in the next 20 years,” Leinenweber said.
Federal prosecutors argued that Mr. Kelly, 56, deserved an additional 25 years in prison on top of his previous sentence, citing the singer’s “lack of remorse” as one of the reasons he would be a danger to society if released.
“The only way to ensure he will not reoffend is to impose a sentence that will keep him in prison for the rest of his life,” Jeannice Williams Appenteng, one of the prosecutors, said in court on Thursday.
Jennifer Bonjean, Mr. Kelly’s lawyer, argued that her client was “likely to die in prison either way,” but if he did not, he would not pose a threat in old age. She has filed appeals in both Brooklyn and Chicago.
“One of the things we should bear in mind, he is 56 years old and as Ms. Bonjean points out, he has a life expectancy of not a helluva lot more.”
Kelly appeared in court Thursday wearing an orange jumpsuit, black glasses and a brace on his left leg.
He nodded several times to his family and supporters who filled the courtroom. At the end of the hearing, one supporter stood up and yelled “I’m here for you” to Kelly, which prompted more people to yell “We love you” and “We’ve got you.”