Rapper R.Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison. The New York Prosecutor's Office attributed to him last September the crimes of organized crime, coercion and sexual trafficking of women and girls for more than two decades, but the sentence was still pending. The jury found that Kelly had acted as a predator taking advantage of his fame to abuse women, children and underage girls, and to destroy the lives of people who worked for him.
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The trial lasted six weeks in which the Prosecutor's Office questioned several women who accuse the artist of sexual abuse and 45 witnesses, some of whom detailed a continuous pattern of coercion and abuse. The report accuses him of being a violent and controlling person. The part of the accusation requested for him a sentence of 55 years, which has finally been reduced due to pressure from the singer's defense. He has also been fined $100,000.
During the entire process, he hovered over the previous trial of R. Kelly in Chicago, in 2008, from which he went unpunished. Prosecutors that time investigated a videotape that showed him having sex with a 14-year-old girl and urinating on her. R. Kelly was acquitted of all charges because the victim refused to testify.
R. Kelly has had to face his victims one last time this Wednesday, although he again refused to testify. According to the chronicles, on this occasion he was wearing a tan prison uniform, rimmed glasses and a black mask. “R. Kelly is the worst sexual predator I have seen in my long professional career. To begin with, she used her power and celebrity status to recruit vulnerable minors for the purpose of sexually abusing them,” Gloria Allred, an attorney for three of the victims, said last September.
The women described how he sexually assaulted them backstage minutes after concerts. Other testimonies revealed continued abuse against their partners, who he beat, forced to call him "daddy", controlled how they dressed, when they could use the bathroom or eat, how they should interact with other men or if they could leave the rooms. rooms of the residences or hotels in which he held them. In addition, he had a whole network of employees who helped him catch the girls and intimidate them.
the twilight of the star
Robert Sylvester Kelly is 55 years old and one of the most influential singers and producers in the R&B genre. He grew up in Chicago, in the rough neighborhood of Bronzeville, and at thirteen he began to stand out in high school singing classes playing Stevie Wonder. After founding the group Public Announcement, in 1993 R. Kelly launched his solo career.
Soon after came the Grammy nominations, mentions in Rolling Stone magazine and number one on Billboard. But the biggest breakthrough was with the song I Believe I Can Fly in 1996, which was part of the soundtrack of the movie Space Jam. The latter earned him three Grammy Awards, the applause of the industry and 38 million records sold. During her career, R. Kelly has collaborated with Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z and the Notorious Big, and has composed songs for Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and numerous R&B artists.
The first suspicions jumped in 2019, when Kelly was accused of sexual abuse by four women, three of them minors, but the scandals dated back almost two decades earlier. In his role as producer he sponsored the singer Aaliyah. Together they released in 1994 the first album of what would later become an R&B star, Age Ain't Nothing But a Number. She was 15 years old and he was 27, and that same year they secretly married.
What his second wife and the mother of his three children, Andrea Lee, recounted was even worse. She had to ask his permission before eating any food and he constantly locked her in a small room in the house without having contact with the outside. A year after marrying Lee and launching the famous Space Jam theme, one of the young aspiring singers she had under her orbit denounced him for rape and sexual abuse.
Tiffany Hawkins accused him of organizing orgies with several under 15s like her. The lawsuit was settled by a check, but years later she participated in the Netflix documentary and said that she did it because no one believed her. That same year, in 1989, Kelly won three Grammy Awards for I Believe I Can Fly.
Possession of child pornography and trafficking ring
In 2002, a video surfaced in which Kelly had sex with two underage girls. One of them came to urinate on her. While the police investigated the events, the singer presented the opening ceremony of the winter Olympics that year. In 2003 he was arrested for possession of child pornography, but a judge noted that the police did not have a warrant and dropped the charges. Finally, the trial was carried out with more evidence in 2008, but the victims did not come to testify and the court found Kelly not guilty since they could not identify them.
While the scandals for possession of child pornography were taking place, his wife Andrea accused him of mistreatment and even requested a restraining order. In 2006, R. Kelly's brother leaked to the press that the singer offered him $50,000 and a record deal if he said he was the star of the sex tape. Kelly and Andrea filed for divorce in 2009.
In 2017, journalist Jim DeRogatis posted on BuzzFeed an article in which the families of three young men accused Kelly of keeping their daughters as sex slaves. The singer would have created a kind of "cult" in which he held and abused women between 17 and 21 years old.
On February 22, 2019, the artist was arrested on ten counts of aggravated sexual abuse, but the lawsuit was delayed due to the pandemic. In the trial held in September that was resolved this Wednesday, friends and relatives of the victims have declared; eight of its former employees; the person who officiated his marriage to Aaliyah; a doctor who treated him for herpes for more than a decade; and several investigators at the Chicago trial in 2008. A woman identified as Kate testified that she settled for $200,000 in 2001 after R. Kelly purposely gave her herpes.
Kelly is being held at a federal detention center in Brooklyn and, once sentenced, is expected to be transferred back to Chicago, where he faces another trial on obstruction and child pornography charges in August.