NEW YORK — R&B star R. Kelly faces the possibility of a quarter century or more in prison when he is convicted Wednesday in a federal sex trafficking case in New York.
A jury found Kelly, 55, guilty of racketeering and other counts last year in a trial that has been seen as a landmark moment for the #MeToo movement.
Outrage over Kelly’s sexual misconduct with young women and children has been fueled in part by the widely-watched docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly,” which gave voice to accusers who questioned whether their stories had been ignored before because they were black women.
U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly is set to impose the sentence in federal court in Brooklyn after hearing statements from victims and possibly Kelly himself.
Prosecutors are asking for a minimum sentence of 25 years, while the defense says a sentence of 10 years or less is all he deserves.
Kelly’s attorneys argued in court papers that he should get a break in part because he “lived a traumatic childhood involving severe and prolonged childhood sexual abuse, poverty and violence.”
They added: “His victimization continued into adulthood where, due to his lack of literacy, the defendant was repeatedly the victim of fraud and financial abuse, often by the people he paid to protect him.”
The jury convicted the ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ hitman after hearing how he used his entourage of managers and assistants to meet girls and keep them obedient, an operation that prosecutors say amounted to a criminal enterprise.
Several accusers testified that Kelly subjected them to perverted and sadistic tantrums when they were underage.
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. -this.
The accusers alleged that they were ordered to sign non-disclosure forms and were subjected to threats and punishments such as violent spankings if they broke what were called the “rules of Rob”.
Some said they believed the videotapes he shot of them having sex would be used against them if they revealed what was happening.
There have been testimonies Kelly gave to multiple herpes accusers without revealing he had an STD, coerced a teenage boy into joining him for sex with a naked girl who emerged from under a boxing ring in her garage, and shot a victim-shaming video showing her smearing feces on her face as punishment for breaking her rules.
Evidence was also presented regarding a fraudulent marriage scheme designed to protect Kelly after he feared he had impregnated R&B phenomenon Aaliyah in 1994 when she was only 15 years old. Witnesses said they got married in matching tracksuits using a license that incorrectly stated she was 18; he was 27 at the time.
Aaliyah worked with Kelly, who wrote and produced her 1994 debut album, ‘Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number’. She died in a plane crash in 2001 at the age of 22.
An earlier defense memo hinted at prosecutors’ case for a harsher sentence by falsely claiming that Kelly participated in paying a bribe to a government official to facilitate the illegal marriage.
Kelly’s lawyers also said it was wrong to claim he should get more time because he sexually abused one of his victims – referred to in court as ‘Jane’ – after that his parents innocently entrusted him with helping him in his musical career.
“The record shows that Jane’s parents ordered Jane to lie to the defendant about her age and then encouraged her to seduce him,” the papers say.
Kelly has been jailed without bail since 2019. He still faces child pornography and obstruction of justice charges in Chicago, where a trial is due to begin Aug. 15.