US singer R. Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for using his celebrity status to sexually abuse women and children.
The Grammy winner, 55, was convicted last September in New York of racketeering and sex trafficking crimes at a trial that was seen as a signature moment in the #MeToo movement.
Despite having faced allegations of sexual misconduct for more than three decades, R. Kelly did not begin to face criminal penalties for his actions until September.
The hitmaker is known for work including the 1996 hit “I Believe I Can Fly” and the cult classic “Trapped in the Closet,”.
Allegations about Kelly abusing young girls began circulating publicly in the 1990s. He was sued in 1997 by a woman who alleged sexual battery and sexual harassment while she was a minor.
The singer later faced criminal child pornography charges related to a different girl in Chicago. A jury there acquitted him in 2008, and he settled the lawsuit. All the while, Kelly continued to sell millions of albums.
Victims Speak Out
Through tears and anger, R. Kelly’s accusers told the court Wednesday he had preyed on them and misled his fans.
“You made me do things that broke my spirit. I literally wished I would die because of how low you made me feel,” one woman told the singer. She said she was forever traumatized by her teenage experience with him.
“Do you remember that?” she asked.
Kelly’s sexual misconduct was fueled in part by the widely watched docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly,” which gave voice to victims who wondered whether their stories were previously ignored because they were Black women.
Kelly manipulated millions of fans into believing he was someone other than the man the jury saw, another witness told the court.