We’re going to go out on a limb and say that R. Kelly no longer believes he can fly. As Deadline reported at the time, in September the former R&B superstar was found guilty on all nine counts of which he was accused in the federal government’s sex trafficking and racketeering case against him. Today, Kelly’s sentence was delivered, and it looks like even Joe Exotic will be breathing free air before R. Kelly is.
According to Deadline, today R. Kelly was facing a possible lifetime sentence in prison for his crimes. The federal prosecutors reportedly asked Judge Ann M. Donnelly to hand down a sentence of at least 25 years in prison. Instead, Judge Donnelly sentenced Kelly to 30 years, which — as Deadline notes — could very well amount to a life sentence since Kelly is 55 years old. When delivering the sentence, Judge Donnelly said Kelly’s crimes were “carefully planned” and said he showed “indifference to human suffering.”
R. Kelly was convicted in September of four counts of coercion and enticement, three counts of transportation across state lines for illegal sexual activity, one count of transportation of a minor, and one count of racketeering. This was Kelly’s first criminal case in thirteen years — since he was acquitted of child pornography charges — but won’t be his last. According to NPR, Kelly still has to face charges in a second federal case and a separate case in Minnesota. The other charges leveled against him include child pornography and obstruction of justice.
According to the charges against R. Kelly, for decades the singer has used his celebrity and his worldwide tours to help him lead a group that coerced girls and women for sex. Victims testified Kelly would often film them while forcing them to gratify themselves sexually. The singer controlled who they were allowed to speak to, where they were allowed to go, and also forced them to make recordings and write letters in which the victims assured anyone watching or reading they were in good health and acting of their own free will.
Allegations have been aimed at R. Kelly for years and in January 2019, the docuseries Surviving R. Kelly premiered on Lifetime, once again stoking interest in those allegations. A couple of months later, Kelly granted an interview with CBS’ Gayle King, during which he referred to himself as being “assassinated” and “buried alive” by false accusations. The interview became infamous for Kelly eventually ranting at the camera and ignoring King entirely. At one point he stands up, still yelling at the camera over King’s head. You can watch that interview below.
Reports about R. Kelly’s alleged sexual misconduct began to emerge in the mid-nineties when Tiffany Hawkins claimed that the singer had sex with her when she was underage and encouraged her to bring her underage friends to their encounters so she could engage in group sex with them. A civil case followed and was settled out of court. Most famously, the same day R. Kelly sang at the opening of the 2002 Winter Olympics, a tape began to circulate which allegedly showed Kelly having sex with an underage girl as well as urinating on her. In spite of all he’s accused of, the alleged urination has become one of the things Kelly is best known for, with everyone from Dave Chappelle to Macklemore referencing it in their work.