CW: This article contains mentions of graphic sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised.
R. Kelly was sentenced to 20 years in prison today in a Chicago courtroom after being charged with crimes against minors.
The disgraced R&B singer narrowly avoided a lengthier sentence. Prosecutors asked Judge Harry Leinenweber to sentence Kelly to an additional 25 years which he is not to begin until he finished his existing 30-year sentence. The singer, who is 56, would have remained in prison for the rest of his life.
“He has a life expectancy of not a hell of a lot more,” Judge Leinenweber said. “He is 56 years of age.”
Kelly was subsequently sentenced to 20 years and must serve all but one of those years simultaneously with his other sentence for racketeering and producing child pornography. He is expected to file an appeal and did not make a statement prior to his sentencing per the advice of his lawyer Jennifer Bonjean.
John Lausch, U.S. Attorney in Chicago, echoed disappointment that Kelly did not receive a longer sentence, but did appreciate that it was still a good amount of time. “Twenty years is a significant sentence, and we are happy that that was imposed in this case," he said.
One of Kelly's victims, known simply as "Jane," gave an emotional victim statement to the court as read by attorney Christopher Brown. "I have lost my dignity due to Robert Kelly," it read. "I have lost my dreams due to Robert Kelly. I have lost my teenage years to Robert Kelly." Jane was identified as being the victim in the infamous video of Kelly urinating on her.
The news comes the same day as Harvey Weinstein's 16-year sentence. The film producer was found guilty of forcible rape among other charges and is currently serving 23 years in prison. With the new sentence, the disgraced figure is essentially going to be in prison for the rest of his life.
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual assault, contact RAINN via chat or phone at 800-656-4673 for support and resources.
Photo courtesy of E. Jason Wambsgans-Pool/Getty Images