R. Kelly
**FILE** R. Kelly performs at Little Caesars Arena on Feb. 21, 2018, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images)

He famously sang, “I can believe I can fly,” and many of his devoted fans believed him.

But on Wednesday, a federal judge clipped the wings of music superstar R. Kelly, sentencing him to 30 years in prison for racketeering and sex trafficking charges that stemmed from years of assaulting numerous young girls in several states.

Many of those young girls were fans whom the singer betrayed.

Some were featured in two damning documentaries, the 2019 “Surviving R. Kelly” and the 2020 “The Reckoning,” which exposed his crimes.

“You left in your wake a trail of broken lives,” Judge Ann Donnelly told Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly.

The judge conceded that the abuse Kelly suffered as a child may have contributed to his crimes.

“It may explain, at least in part, what led to your behavior,” Donnelly said. “It most surely is not an excuse.”

Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, said her client accepts that “he is a flawed individual.”

“But he is not this one-dimensional monster that the government has portrayed, and the media has portrayed,” Bonjean said.

Several accusers vociferously disagreed.

“It’s been 23 years since we knew each other, and you’ve victimized a lot of girls since then,” one said in court. The victim has chosen to go by Jane Doe instead of her real name.

“Now it’s your turn to have your freedom taken from you,” she said.

In September, a federal jury returned nine guilty verdicts against the singer, including the most severe racketeering charge and eight counts of Mann Act violations, defined as taking minors across state lines to commit a crime.

The trial included testimony from individuals involved in helping Kelly cover up his marriage to then-15-year-old singer and protégé Aaliyah in 1994, when Kelly was 27.

In 2008, he was acquitted of all charges in a child pornography case in which he was accused of recording sexual acts between himself and an underage girl.

Kelly steadfastly denied all charges and allegations against him, and his career had gone largely unscathed until the #MeToo movement and a subsequent 2019 TV docuseries, “Surviving R. Kelly,” which interviewed numerous accusers who detailed abuse suffered at the hands of Kelly.

The ensuing backlash ultimately resulted in new criminal charges against the singer, including the federal case in New York.

Following sentencing, authorities planned to move Kelly from New York to Chicago, where he’s facing another federal trial later this summer on charges of child pornography and criminal obstruction.

“We were prepared for it,” Bonjean said of the sentence. “We are now prepared to fight this appeal.”

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.