The ruling was delivered by US District Judge Ann Donnelly who remarked, “these crimes were calculated and carefully planned and regularly executed for almost 25 years. You taught them that love is enslavement and violence.” The judge noted that Kelly, who is currently has other court cases pending against him in other states, declined to make a statement addressing the numerous survivors of the disgraced R&B singer's abuse that gave impact statements at the hearing.
In one statement, a survivor named Angela, who previously testified that she was sexually assaulted by Kelly as a teen during the trial, described Kelly as a "Pied Piper" that drew children in with the promise of money and fame. “With every addition of a new victim, you grew in wickedness," she said. "You used your fame and power to groom and coach underage boys and girls for your own sexual gratification."
Another survivor addressed Kelly directly, saying “You made me do things that broke my spirit. I literally wished I would die because of how low you made me feel. Do you remember that?” According to the Associated Press, Kelly simply “kept his hands folded and his eyes downcast,” throughout the statement.
Lizette Martinez, who famously appeared in the docuseries that brought renewed scrutiny to the case, Surviving R.Kelly, recounted how Kelly brought her in with promise to mentor her but started abusing her two months later. “I do not know how to put a price on all I’ve gone through,” she said. “I am now 45, a mother and I struggle with mental health. Robert, you destroyed so many people’s lives.”
Federal prosecutors had previously argued that Kelly at bare minimum receive a sentence of 25 years, citing the singer's "callous disregard for the devastation his crimes had on his victims and has shown no remorse for his conduct" in a statement on the ruling. Lawyers for Kelly had pushed for the mandatory minimum, pointing to the sexual abuse he endured during childhood as evidence that he was more than a “one-dimensional villain.”
"With today’s sentence he has finally and appropriately been held accountable for his decades of abuse, exploitation and degradation of teenagers and other vulnerable young people," US Attorney Breon Peace wrote. "We hope that today’s sentence brings some measure of comfort and closure to the victims, including those who bravely testified at trial, and serves as long-overdue recognition that their voices deserve to be heard and their lives matter.”
Kelly still faces similar cases in Illinois and Minnesota involving federal child pornography, obstruction and state-level sexual misconduct charges. He has pled "not guilty" to all of them.
Photo via Getty/ Scott Olson
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