R. Kelly Sentenced to 20 Years in Latest Sex Crimes Case – Scoring Minor Victory

R. Kelly appears in court in Chicago on March 22, 2019. (Credit: Shutterstock)

A federal judge in Chicago sentenced R. Kelly to 20 years in prison on Thursday for child pornography and enticement of minors. The sentencing comes in addition to the Grammy-winning singer’s previous 30-year sentence on federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges in Brooklyn, New York.

But the good news for Kelly is that U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber ruled the R&B performer can serve all but one year of this latest sentence simultaneously with his 30-year term.

Going into Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Leinenweber could have ordered Kelly to serve 20 years after he completes the 30 years, guaranteeing the 56-year-old star would die in jail.

“He is 56 years of age, and he will not complete his sentence from New York” until he’s nearly 80, Leinenweber said.

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R. Kelly’s lawyers had asked for a 10-year sentence to be served at the same time as his New York sentence. But prosecutors argued for a 25-year sentence that would begin after his 30-year New York sentence is complete.

Thursday’s hearing came after the “Ignition” singer was found guilty in September 2022, on three of counts of child pornography and three counts of enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity.

Prior to the conviction, the prolific singer, songwriter and producer was already serving the 30-year sentence for racketeering and sex trafficking charges for the New York case. He was found guilty in that case in 2021, and sentenced in June 2022.

Born, Robert Sylvester Kelly, the legendary singer was one of the most popular artists in R&B music during the 1990s and 2000s. His hit “I Believe I Can Fly” won him three Grammys in 1998. Among his other mega-hits were “Bump n’ Grind,” “Trapped In The Closet,” “I Wish,” “Step In The Name of Love,” “Fiesta” and “When a Woman’s Fed Up.”

For years, Kelly was followed by accusations of sexual misconduct and child molestation, even as he climbed the music charts and rose to massive success.

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He was acquitted in a 2008 state trial in Chicago on child pornography charges.

The woman allegedly seen in the sex tape that led to Kelly’s 2008 trial, told jurors in this latest case that she was just 14 years old when the tape was recorded. Kelly was about 30 at the time. The woman testified in August that Kelly had sex with her “hundreds” of times before she turned 18.

The decades-long allegations against Kelly received renewed attention when Lifetime aired its 2019 docuseries Surviving R. Kelly and followed it up with Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning, which detailed decades of alleged abuse.