Disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Wednesday for running a criminal operation that lured women and children so he could sexually abuse them.
“You used your fame and power to groom and coach underage boys and girls for your own sexual gratification,” said one of Kelly’s victims, Angela, in court Wednesday, according to the New York Times. She added that victims were reclaiming their names.
“We are no longer the preyed-upon individuals we once were.”
Lizzette Martinez, 45, also said in court that Kelly began abusing her after promising to help her singing career.
“I do not know how to put a price on all I’ve gone through,” she said. “Robert, you destroyed so many people’s lives.”
One of the victim’s fathers asked Kelly to look at him, but he wouldn’t.
“I do want to ask you, Mr. Kelly, to look at me, man to man, father to father. Put yourself in my shoes. I’ve certainly put myself in your shoes,” the father said.
“These crimes were calculated and carefully planned and regularly executed for almost 25 years,” she said. “You taught them that love is enslavement and violence.”
Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean, however, told Donnelly the singer “rejects that he’s this monster,” according to the Times. She said he’s a “musical genius” who has been generous in the past.
Kelly, 55, was found guilty of one count of racketeering and eight counts of sex trafficking in September. During the six-week trial, the jury heard details about how Kelly spent two decades trafficking women and girls across state lines to sexually abuse them and enlisted the help of managers and security guards in his inner circle to do it.
Several of Kelly’s victims also testified and said they were heavily controlled, restricted from using the bathroom and eating, and forced to call Kelly “Daddy,” as VICE News previously reported.
One of the complainants—who said Kelly sexually abused her while she was underage—said she saw Kelly performing oral sex on Aaliyah when the singer was 13 or 14. Kelly married Aaliyah in 1994 when she was 15 years old—he was 27. At the time, he believed she may have been pregnant. Federal prosecutors accused Kelly of bribing an Illinois official to create a fake ID for Aaliyah when he married her; their marriage license stated that she was 18. Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.
Another woman testified Kelly made her have sex with someone he called Nephew for breaking one of his rules, the Times reported. She said Kelly filmed the encounter and made her have sex with the person several more times, sometimes joining in.
Kelly, however, denied abusing anyone. After his conviction, his defense team argued he shouldn’t face more than 10 years in prison and provided evidence that Kelly was sexually abused as a child by his older sister and his landlord, according to recently unsealed court documents.
While allegations about Kelly’s sex crimes date back to the 1990s, the six-part Lifetime docu-series Surviving R. Kelly, which aired in January 2019, reportedly prompted new law enforcement investigations. He was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in February 2019, a little over a month after the series came out.
In addition to accounts from women who said Kelly had sexually assaulted them, the series featured families who said Kelly was holding their daughters captive.
Kelly is facing separate child porn charges in Illinois and two charges tied to engaging in prostitution with a minor in Minnesota.
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