(CMR) Disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison following his conviction for nine federal charges, including sex crimes and human trafficking. He was sentenced in the federal courthouse Wednesday in Brooklyn, bringing a close to one of the US Attorney's Office's highest-profile criminal prosecutions in years.
According to CNN, prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Kelly, 55, to more than 25 years behind bars, while his defense attorneys asked for 10 or fewer, saying prosecutors' request was “tantamount to a life sentence.”
Survivors of Kelly's abuse reportedly held hands and prayed as US District Court Judge Ann Donnelly began reading his sentence. Kelly reportedly showed no emotion during the sentencing.
In deciding the sentence, Donnelly said she considered Kelly's traumatic childhood, during which his attorneys said he was repeatedly sexually abused by a family member and a landlord.
“It may explain, at least in part, what led to your behavior. It most surely is not an excuse,” the judge said.
A jury convicted Kelly last September on nine counts, including one charge of racketeering and eight counts of violations of the Mann Act, a sex trafficking law. Prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York accused Kelly of using his status as a celebrity and a “network of people at his disposal to target girls, boys and young women for his own sexual gratification.”
Kelly's attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, said he would not address the court, pointing to the other criminal case faced by Kelly, but said before the sentence was read that her client “rejects that he is this monster.”
“He accepts that he is a flawed individual, but he is not this one-dimensional monster that the government has portrayed and the media has portrayed,” his lawyer said.
“No one can undo the harm that has been done to these victims, But at least it's time for Mr. Kelly to be accountable,” attorney Gloria Allred, who represented three victims, told reporters Wednesday.
CNN reported that the defense attorneys and prosecutors argued Wednesday in court over whether Kelly even could pay a fine. The defense said he is “pretty close to indigent” and could not. Prosecutors disagreed, saying money from the sale of some of his music rights and millions of dollars in royalties held by Sony could cover any fine.
Kelly is being held at a federal detention facility in Brooklyn and, once sentenced, was expected to be moved back to Chicago, where he faced another federal trial on child pornography and obstruction charges in August.