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R. Kelly sentenced to one additional year in prison in Illinois sex abuse case

The singer, who is already serving 30 years in prison, was convicted last year on six counts of sexual exploitation and enticement of a minor.

Disgraced musician R. Kelly was sentenced to one additional year in prison by an Illinois federal judge Thursday, nearly five months after he was convicted of sexual exploitation and enticement of a minor. 

The sentence is to be served after the 30 years Kelly, 56, is serving after being found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking by a New York jury in 2021.

Kelly, whose legal name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, was convicted last year on six counts of sexual exploitation and enticement of a minor in a case stemming from the complaints of women who said he lured them into sex acts while they were underage.

Federal prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber for the Northern District of Illinois to sentence Kelly to 25 years in prison, saying last week that the musician was “sadistic” and “a serial sexual predator” who “poses a serious danger to society.” Kelly’s attorney Jennifer Bonjean requested a sentence of around 10 years to be served alongside the New York sentence.

Leinenweber’s full sentence also includes 19 years to be served concurrent with the New York sentence.

The judge said he believed “sentencing should be sufficient but not greater than necessary,” adding that “everybody agrees that the nature of this offense is horrible, horrific.” 

“No matter what I do Mr. Kelly is not going out the door in the next 10 years, in the next 20 years,” Leinenweber said. “One of the things we should bear in mind, he is 56 years old and as Ms. Bonjean points out, he has a life expectancy of not a helluva lot more.”

In court filings before Thursday’s hearing, prosecutors argued that a sentence that kept the musician imprisoned for life was “the only way to ensure Kelly does not reoffend.”

But Bonjean said he was already serving what was effectively a life sentence.

“Kelly would have to defy all statistical odds to make it out of prison alive,” she said in a court filing last week.

Kelly appeared in court Thursday wearing an orange jumpsuit, black glasses and a brace on his left leg. He declined, on the advice of his attorney, to give a statement in court.

But he nodded several times in the direction of his family and supporters who filled the courtroom. At the end of the hearing, one supporter stood up and yelled “I’m here for you” to Kelly, which prompted more people to yell “We love you” and “We’ve got you.”

He waved and nodded at them before he was taken away.

Kelly had faced 13 counts, including charges of sexual exploitation of a minor, receipt of child pornography, enticement of a minor to engage in unlawful sexual conduct, conspiring to obstruct justice and conspiring to receive child pornography in the Illinois trial. He was acquitted on seven counts, including all of the charges related to conspiracy.

The singer was tried alongside two co-defendants, his former business manager Derrel McDavid and his associate Milton “June” Brown, who were both found not guilty on all charges.

Prosecutors centered their case around a star witness, identified by the pseudonym Jane in court, who identified herself as the person in a 26-minute videotape sent anonymously to the Chicago Sun-Times in 2002 that allegedly showed Kelly performing sex acts with an underage girl.

In emotional testimony, Jane, now 38, said the singer began having sex with her when she was 15 and he was in his 30s and continued to do so “hundreds” of times before she turned 18. 

Several other alleged victims also testified that the singer groomed and manipulated them into sexual relationships, some which were recorded, while they were underage.

Before the sentence was handed down, Christopher Brown, an attorney for Jane, read her victim impact statement aloud in court.

“I have lost my dignity due to Robert Kelly,” the statement said. “I have lost my dreams due to R. Kelly, I have lost my teenage years due to Robert Kelly.”

She asked that Kelly be “put in jail for the rest of his natural born life.”

“The emotional pain stayed in me until the day I testified against you in court,” she said through tears. “No longer will you be able to harm other children. No longer will you be able to go to the mall and pick up a child for the night.”

Pauline, the third woman to deliver a victim impact statement, said she needed years of therapy after Kelly’s abuse.

“I have had dark thoughts of suicide. I have had dark thoughts about no one loving me,” Pauline, whose name is also a pseudonym, said. “I’ve lived with this secret for years. I have lost so much due to this.”

Last month, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx dropped 10 state charges of sex abuse against the singer saying that “justice has been served” with the two federal convictions. She added that her office’s “limited resources and court time” were the ultimate factors, noting that it found the accusations to be credible.

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