NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – R&B star R. Kelly faces the possibility of a quarter-century or more in jail when he is sentenced in a federal sex trafficking case in New York on Wednesday.
A jury found Kelly, 55, guilty of racketeering and other charges last year during a trial that was seen as a hallmark of the #MeToo movement.
Anger over Kelly’s sexual misconduct with young women and children was fueled in part by the widely watched documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly,” which gave voice to accusers who wondered if their stories had previously been ignored because they were Black women.
READ MORE: R. Kelly’s Chicago trial on federal sex charges sets Aug. 1
U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly is going to hand down the sentence at a federal court in Brooklyn after hearing statements from victims and possibly Kelly herself.
“He is strong, and we are going to get through this,” said attorney Jennifer Bonjean on her way to court. Whatever his sentence, Kelly hopes his conviction on appeal will be overturned, she said.
Prosecutors are seeking a minimum term of 25 years, while the defense says a sentence of 10 years or less is all he deserves.
Kelly’s attorneys argued in court documents he should get a breather in part because he “experienced a traumatic childhood that involved serious, prolonged sexual abuse, poverty and childhood violence.”
They added: “His victimization continued into adulthood where the defendant, due to his literacy deficiencies, was repeatedly deceived and financially abused, often by the people he paid to protect him.”
The Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling hit maker is known for work, including the 1996 hit “I Believe I Can Fly” and the cult classic “Trapped in the Closet,” a multiple story of sexual betrayal and intrigue.
Allegations that Kelly abused young girls began circulating in public in the 1990s. He was sued in 1997 by a woman who claimed to have been sexually harassed and sexually harassed while she was a minor, and he later stood trial on criminal child pornography charges related to another girl in Chicago. A jury there acquitted him in 2008, and he settled the lawsuit.
All the while, Kelly continued to sell millions of albums.
The Brooklyn federal court jury found him guilty after hearing about how he used his entourage of drivers and assistants to meet girls and keep them obedient, an operation prosecutors said it amounted to a criminal undertaking.
Several accusers testified that Kelly subjected them to perverted and sadistic whims when they were minors.
Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, used his “fame, money and popularity” to systematically “prey on children and young women for his own sexual gratification,” prosecutors wrote in their own filing earlier this month.
Prosecutors alleged they were ordered to sign non-disclosure forms and were subject to threats and penalties such as violent beatings if they violated what one referred to as “Rob’s rules.”
READ MORE: R&B superstar R. Kelly convicted in sex trafficking trial
Some said they believe the videotapes he shot of those having sex will be used against them if they uncover what happened.
According to testimony, Kelly gave several accusers herpes without revealing that he had an SOS, forced a teenage boy to join him for sex with a naked girl who appeared under a boxing ring in his garage, and a shameful video shot of one victim showing her. smearing feces on her face as punishment for violating his rules.
Evidence has also been provided about a fraudulent marriage scheme hatched to protect Kelly after he feared he fertilized the R&B phenomenon Aaliyah in 1994 when she was just 15 years old. Witnesses said they were married in matching jogging suits with a license that falsely mentioned her age as 18; he was then 27.
Aaliyah collaborated with Kelly, who wrote and produced her 1994 debut album, “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number”. She died in 2001 at the age of 22 in a plane crash.
An earlier defense memorandum outlined prosecutors’ arguments for a higher sentence being overturned by falsely claiming Kelly had participated in the payment of bribes to a government official to facilitate the illegal marriage.
Kelly’s lawyers also said it was wrong to claim he should be given more time because he sexually abused one of his victims – referred to in court as “Jane” – after her parents innocently entrusted him with her music career. to help.
“The record shows that Jane’s parents told Jane to lie to the defendant about her age and then encouraged her to seduce him,” the newspapers said.
Kelly has been jailed since 2019 without bail. He is still facing charges of child pornography and obstruction of justice in Chicago, where a trial is scheduled to begin on August 15.
Associated Press journalist Ted Shaffrey contributed.