American star R. Kelly was risking big. A US court sentenced him to 30 years in prison for being convicted of sex crimes.
Fallen American R&B star R. Kelly is convicted of years of running a ‘system’ of sexual exploitation of young people , including teenage girls. He was sentenced on Wednesday to 30 years in prison.
This heavy sentence against the 55-year-old singer was pronounced by the federal court in Brooklyn, where his trial nine months ago had lifted the veil on sexual crimes within the black community in the United States.
According to journalists present at the hearing, the singer known worldwide for his hit “I Believe I Can Fly” did not say a word when the verdict was announced. In their last indictment, the federal prosecutors demanded at least 25 years of criminal imprisonment because of the “danger” that R. Kelly would represent for his victims and for public opinion.
“A Criminal, Predatory”
The US prosecutor’s office found him to be “reckless, manipulative, controlling and coercive, showing no sign of remorse or respect for the law”. During the six weeks of trial the singer had been portrayed by the prosecution as a “criminal, predator”.
Nine women and two men had accused him of having sexually abused them, describing rape, forced drug taking, situations of imprisonment or even child pornography. The man, who said he was raped when he was eight years old, was found guilty at the end of September 2021 of all the charges: extortion, sexual exploitation of a minor, kidnapping, trafficking, corruption and forced labor, over a period ranging from 1994 to 2018.
A turning point for the #MeToo movement
R. Kelly has always denied the facts. Throughout his trial, the former African-American R&B star had remained silent, and had shown no particular emotion at the statement of his guilt, contenting himself with lowering his head and closing his eyes. . Already in detention and awaiting another federal trial in Chicago in August, Robert Kelly, his real name, hoped through his lawyers for a maximum sentence in New York of 17 years in prison.
This lawsuit was considered a major step in the #MeToo movement : it was the first time that the majority of plaintiffs were black women and they accused a black artist. The trial brought to light the “system” of R. Kelly to attract very young women and sexually assault them, with the complicity of those around him, as in a kind of mafia enterprise, according to the prosecution.
Many victims had recounted their meeting with their idol during concerts after which they were slipped a small piece of paper with the singer’s contact details. Six women were the main accusers, some of whom claimed to have been drugged to be raped, kidnapped, forced to have abortions and infected with sexually transmitted diseases.