R. Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison, according to Variety. The R&B star was found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking in New York in September of 2021. Kelly was accused of recruiting women and teen girls (and at least one boy) in a sex-trafficking ring throughout the ’90s and 2000s, using his status, money, and connections to violate anti-sex trafficking laws and cover up his crimes. Federal prosecutors had previously recommended a sentence “in excess of 25 years,” believing him to be a continued danger to the public.
The earliest examples of Kelly’s crimes date as far back as 1994, when he illegally married the underaged Aaliyah, allegedly bribing public officials for phony documents saying she was of age. Meanwhile, he went on trial for child pornography in the early 2000s after a videotape emerged depicting Kelly urinating on a young teen girl. When the victim refused to testify, Kelly was acquitted but apparently never reformed, continuing his illegal activities throughout the following decade and a half.
His crimes were once again exposed by the Lifetime documentary series Surviving R. Kelly, in which many of his victims came forward to detail his abuse. With the uptick in campaigns such as “Mute R. Kelly,” his resources for dodging the authorities became scarce; he was arrested and charged with sex trafficking in July 2019. In addition to the federal case brought against him in New York, he faces a separate criminal trial in his home state, Illinois, where he is charged with ten counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse including more child porn charges. That trial is set to begin in August; Kelly has secured Bill Cosby’s former legal team ahead of the trial and is expected to appeal his New York case with the same team.