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On Wednesday, a New York federal court sentenced R. Kelly to 30 years in prison for operating a sex trafficking ring that victimized young women and girls.
The New York Times reported that Judge Ann M. Donnelly handed down the sentence after Kelly’s lawyer begged for leniency, claiming the singer was a child sex assault victim who is known for his generosity in addition to being “widely accepted as a musical genius.”
In September 2021, Kelly was found guilty of running a decades-old sex trafficking ring that targeted women, men, girls, and boys. A total of 45 witnesses testified during the six-week trial — including five women who recounted how Kelly imprisoned them and sexually abused them when they were underage.
During the trial, the court heard how a 27-year-old Kelly illegally married 15-year-old singer Aaliyah in Illinois in 1994. U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez claimed Kelly married Aaliyah to avoid being prosecuted for impregnating her. A former live-in girlfriend testified that Kelly also married the teen so she could get an abortion without requiring her parents’ consent — as the procedure could be done with a spouse’s approval. Aaliyah’s parents reportedly had the union annulled.
On the state level, Kelly is still facing 21 sex-related criminal charges in Cook County, Illinois. Last August, authorities in Minnesota charged Kelly with two counts of prostitution with a person younger than 18 in connection with an alleged 2001 incident. He also faces 13 federal counts in Illinois for various charges, including child pornography and obstruction of justice.
Kelly’s federal trial in Illinois begins in August.
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[Featured image: R. Kelly/Chicago Police Department]