R. Kelly of the United States has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for using his celebrity to sexually abuse children and women.
The R&B singer, 55, was convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking in New York last September.
He had faced allegations for years, and the judge said on Wednesday that he had an “indifference to human suffering.”
The singer’s lawyers say he will appeal. His real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly.
A few women took the stand before Kelly’s sentencing to confront him.
A woman only identified as Angela called the singer a Pied Piper who “grew in wickedness” with each new victim, while others who did not want to be named said he broke their spirits.
“I literally wished I would die because of how you made me feel,” said one.
Dressed in prison khakis and dark glasses, Kelly declined to make a statement of his own and did not react as the verdict was handed down.
The celebrity, according to US District Judge Ann Donnelly, used sex as a weapon, forcing his victims to do unspeakable things and infecting some with sexually transmitted diseases.
“You taught them that love is enslavement and violence,” she complained.
The court heard how Kelly, best known for hit songs such as I Believe I Can Fly and Ignition, used his celebrity to entice women and children into sexual abuse over a two-decade period.
Jurors heard how he trafficked women between different US states with the help of managers, security guards, and other members of his entourage during his six-week trial in Brooklyn.
Kelly also illegally obtained paperwork to marry singer Aaliyah when she was 15 in 1994, seven years before the singer died in a plane crash, according to the court.
Aaliyah’s age was listed as 18 on the certificate, which was leaked at the time. Months later, the marriage was declared null and void.
Jovante Cunningham, Kelly’s former backup singer, said she never imagined this day would come.
“There was never a day in my life that I didn’t believe the judicial system would come through for black and brown girls,” she told reporters.
“I stand here very proud of my judicial system, very proud of my fellow survivors and very pleased with the outcome.”
Given the gravity of his crimes and the “need to protect the public from further crimes,” federal prosecutors recommended that Kelly be sentenced to more than 25 years in prison.
However, his lawyers requested a sentence of 10 years or less, the mandatory minimum for his conviction.
They portrayed Kelly as growing up poor in a home full of domestic violence and sexual abuse from a young age.
He was “devastated” by the sentence, they said, and he intended to appeal.
Lizzette Martinez, who met Kelly when she was 17, said “he could have done so many things to stop himself.”
“He had all of the resources; we don’t have those. He could have gotten assistance “she told the BBC news.
She claimed he evaded justice for years because of the “power of celebrity.”
“I believe he was simply making so much money for so many powerful people that he was shielded.”
Kelly has been detained since federal prosecutors in New York and Chicago indicted him in July 2019.
His three years in prison have been eventful, including a beating at the hands of another inmate in 2020 and a fight with Covid-19 earlier this year.
The singer is scheduled to go on trial again in August, this time in Chicago, on child sex image and obstruction charges.
He is also scheduled to appear in court in Illinois and Minnesota on sex abuse charges.