R&B artist R Kelly, famous for his songs such as “I Believe I Can Fly”, was sentenced 30 years in prison on Wednesday, after being convicted on nine accounts of racketeering and violations of the Man Act, a sex trafficking law, last September. He will face another federal trial in Chicago for producing child pornography.
The singer, 55, faced a minimum sentence of 10 years, with a maximum of life in prison. The prosecutors requested at least 25 years due to "the seriousness of the offenses, the need for specific deterrence and the need to protect the public from further crimes."
Kelly, who is regarded as one of the artists who defined R&B during the 90s and 2000s, has been involved in several allegations of sexual abuse, especially against minors, since the start of his career. However, he was able to avoid punishment until now.
How long has R Kelly been in prison?
The artist has been incarcerated since the jury found him guilty of nine criminal counts on September 27, 2021. During the trial, eleven witnesses, nine women and two men, testified about Kelly's pattern of sexual abuse and violence. Several of them were minors when they suffered the abuse.
Kelly has been the object of accusations of abuse since the 90s, when he married the late singer Aaliyah, when she was only 15 using a fake ID. According to a timeline of his accusations made by the BBC, he then was sued for “emotional distress” in 1996 and in 2001, he faced another sue by an intern who claimed he induced her in a “sexual relationship” when she was 17.
In 2002, he was charged with 21 counts of producing child pornography. However, it took six years for the case to come to trial, and the jury concluded they could not prove that the girl on the tape was a minor and Kelly was found not guilty on all counts.
Since 2017, accusations of a “cult” began after a BuzzFeed and the extent of his crimes was chronicled reporter Jim DeRogatis' book Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly and Lifetime's Surviving R. Kelly documentary series.
His illegal relationship with Aaliyah: How old was he when they married?
Kelly, then 27, married 15-year-old singer Aaliyah at a secret ceremony in Chicago. During the Brroklyn, a former tour manager testified that he bribed a government worker in 1994 to obtain a fake ID for Aaliyah so the could marry. The marriage was annulled in February 1995.
Aaliyah, who died in a plane crash in 2001 at 21 years old, never clarified the nature of their relationship. "When people ask me, I tell them, 'Hey, don't believe all that mess,'" she told one interviewer. "We're close and people took it the wrong way," she said during an interview according to BBC.
Meanwhile, Kelly told GQ in 2016 interview that he will never talk about their marriage: "I will never have that conversation with anyone. Out of respect for Aaliyah, and her mother and father who have asked me not to personally."
However, during the last pre-trial hearing, US District Judge Ann M Donnelly asked one of the singer's lawyers whether they denied the star had sexual relations with Aaliyah while she was underage. According to the Associated Press, his lawyer Thomas A Farinella "let out a deep sigh and responded, 'No.'"