Chicago-born singer R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Wednesday after being convicted of sex trafficking in New York, and backlash is pouring in from both those who support the artist and those who were victimized of his crimes.
Jamie Nesbitt Golden, who was a student at Kenwood Academy in the 1990s and appeared in the 2019 documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly’, said the news of the singer’s conviction was “bittersweet”.
“Things that were happening at school were kind of the worst-kept secret,” she said. “It’s bittersweet, I think, because it took so long to happen.”
Nesbitt-Golden says she remembers Kelly coming to school, ostensibly to visit teachers, but then leaving school with female students.
“It wasn’t until 2000, when Jim DeRogatis of the Sun-Times kind of exposed Kelly’s story and his relationships with underage girls, that we started to see some kind of movement,” said Nesbitt, who is now a reporter for Block Club. Chicago, said.
DeRogatis reported for years on Kelly’s behavior, which eventually became a book called “Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly.”
“Every system in this city has failed dozens and dozens of young women of color,” he said. “The many R. Kelly victims I interviewed over 20 years said, ‘No one believed me. I was a young black girl.
Kelly’s brother Carey says despite the conviction he still loves his brother, saying they had a difficult upbringing which included sexual abuse as children.
“The situation that happened to us when we were kids, that was never done,” he said. “We just hope and we just pray for him that he stays strong.”
The singer still faces child pornography and obstruction of justice charges in Chicago, with a trial set to begin in August.