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Update: R. Kelly Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for Sex Trafficking and Racketeering

Posted: July 11, 2022

On June 29, 2022, Robert Kelly, 55, more commonly known as R. Kelly, was sentenced to 30 years in prison following his 2021 convictions for sex trafficking and racketeering. Kelly was charged with violating the Mann Act, a federal law that criminalizes the transportation of “any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose.”  When determining Kelly’s sentence, the court heard impact statements from seven survivors of Kelly’s abuse.

U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly, who presided over the federal trial in Brooklyn, said in court that “few crimes more serious” than those committed by Mr. Kelly exist.  Judge Donnelly also stated that he manipulated girls and women, by teaching them that “love is enslavement and violence.”  Judge Donnelly continued, that “This case is not about sex. It’s about violence and cruelty and control.  [Kelly] had a system in place that lured young people into [his] orbit — and then [he] took over their lives.”  Judge Donnelly also stated that although Kelly’s childhood abuse may, in part explain his behavior, “It most surely is not an excuse.”

In October of 2021, we reported that Kelly was accused of abusing and exploiting women and girls long before this trial.  In fact, twenty-seven years passed between the first abuse allegations raised against Kelly and his guilty verdict.  During Kelly’s trial for sex trafficking charges in New York, prosecutors accused Kelly of using his fame to entice and manipulate young girls and women.

In a post-sentencing press conference, Acting Executive Associate Director of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Steve K. Francis, classified Kelly as a “prolific serial predator who utilized his status as a Grammy Award-winning household name with global recognition to inflict pain and anguish on so many victims.”

Breon S. Peace, the U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn stated, “I hope this sentencing serves as its own testimony that it doesn’t matter how power, rich, or famous your abuser may be or how small they may make you feel.  Justice only hears the truth.”

The CSE Institute commends the bravery of the survivors for testifying against their abuser, and for detailing the impact the abuse had on their lives.  After all, it is irrefutable that survivor voices will be the ones to promulgate change in the sex trafficking narrative.  As Acting Executive Associate Director of HSI Francis stated during the press conference, “these victims are the unsung heroes today.  Today is about them.  Today is their day.  Today is their victory.”

Kelly is currently being held at a federal detention facility in Brooklyn.  He is expected to be moved to Chicago, where he faces another federal trial in August of this year on child pornography and obstruction charges.

The CSE Institute will continue to provide updates in this matter as it proceeds.

All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or of Villanova University.

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