Fallen R&B star R. Kelly could spend the rest of his life in prison when he is sentenced on Wednesday for sexually abusing multiple women, girls and boys.
Kelly, 55, is due in federal court in Brooklyn after being found guilty in September of nine counts, including racketeering and violating the Mann Act, which prohibits transportation across state lines of women and girls for an “immoral purpose”.
The hearing is due to start at 10.30am and several women, including some who testified at Kelly’s trial last year, are expected to speak in court.
Prosecutors have asked Judge Ann Donnelly for a sentence of more than 25 years for the ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ singer, whose full name is Robert Kelly – saying in a sentencing note that Kelly was relying on fame and money to “both bear and conceal his crimes.
“He pursued his crimes and avoided punishment for them for nearly 30 years and must now be held accountable,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said in a 31-page sentencing memo.
Prosecutors sought to portray Kelly during the trial as a predator with a decades-long pattern of abuse who showed no remorse for what he had done.
“Indeed, the defendant’s decades of crime appear to have been fueled by narcissism and the belief that his musical talent absolved him of any need to confirm his conduct – however predatory, harmful, humiliating or abusive of others – towards the structures of the law,” the memo reads.
Jennifer Bonjean, a lawyer who also represented disgraced actor and comedian Bill Cosby, asked for a sentence of less than 14 years.
The defense team tried to portray the accusers who testified as scorned fans and said Kelly should not be given more time for abusing a victim in court called ‘Jane’ whose parents pushed him to help 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,” Kelly’s attorneys said in a memo.
Some 45 witnesses were called during the trial, with tearful testimony from victim Jerhonda Pace, who described a confrontation with an enraged Kelly, who she said punched her and forced her to give him a fellatio.
A witness testified to meeting Kelly performing oral sex on singer Aaliyah when she would have been only 13 or 14 years old.
Witnesses have described the scheme for Kelly to illegally marry Aaliyah in 1994, when she was just 15 and he was 27, to prevent her from testifying against him. A former member of Kelly’s entourage testified that he bribed an official to give Aaliyah a false idea that she was 18 so the marriage could go ahead.
Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001 aged 22.
Kelly also faces charges in Minnesota and federal charges of pornography and obstruction in Illinois.
The Grammy winner did not testify in his own defense during his trial in New York, but rose to fame during a 2019 CBS News interview with Gayle King and denied any wrongdoing. The interview came in the wake of the “Surviving R. Kelly” series, which documented a slew of allegations against him.
He may choose to make a statement during his sentencing on Wednesday.
With post wires