R&B superstar R. Kelly was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in prison for using his fame to sexually abuse young fans, including some who were just children, in a systematic scheme that went on for decades.
Through tears and anger, several of Kelly’s accusers told a court in New York City, and the singer himself, that he had misled and preyed upon them.
“You made me do things that broke my spirit. I literally wished I would die because of how low you made me feel,” said one unnamed survivor, directly addressing Kelly, who kept his hands folded and his eyes downcast.
“Do you remember that?” she asked.
Kelly, 55, didn’t give a statement and showed no reaction on hearing his penalty, which also included a $100,000 fine. He has denied wrongdoing, and he plans to appeal his conviction.
The Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling songwriter was found guilty last year of racketeering and sex trafficking at a trial that gave voice to accusers who had previously wondered if their stories were being ignored because they were Black women.
Victims “are no longer the preyed-on individuals we once were,” another one of his accusers said at the sentencing.
“There wasn’t a day in my life, up until this moment, that I actually believed that the judicial system would come through for Black and brown girls,” she added outside court.
A third woman, sobbing and sniffling as she addressed the court, also said Kelly’s conviction renewed her faith in the legal system.
The woman said Kelly victimized her after she went to a concert when she was 17.
“I was afraid, naive and didn’t know how to handle the situation,” she said, so she didn’t speak up at the time.
“Silence,” she said, “is a very lonely place.”
Kelly’s lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, said he was “devastated” by the sentence and saddened by what he had heard.
“He’s a human being. He feels what other people are feeling. But that doesn’t mean that he can accept responsibility in the way that the government would like him to and other people would like him to. Because he disagrees with the characterizations that have been made about him,” she said.
What is R Kelly’s net worth?
According to Celebrity Net Worth, R. Kelly currently has an estimated net worth of negative $2million (-£1.65million).
This means that Kelly has no wealth himself and is in significant debt.
According to TMZ, as part of an attempt to show that he wasn’t a flight risk R. Kelly’s lawyers filed legal documents showing that the singer owed $1.8million (£1.4million) to the IRS.
In 2019 Kelly’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, argued for the singer’s $1million (£826,000) bond to be reduced, telling a judge that Kelly’s “finances are a mess”.
After the bond hearing, Greenberg told reporters: “This is someone who should be wealthy at this stage of his career,
“And through mismanagement, through hangers-on, and bad contracts, and bad deals, and bad leases like he had in his studio. He really doesn’t have any money at this point.”
At the height of his career, it’s believed that the singer had an estimated net worth of around $100million (£82.5million).
His 1995 album “R.Kelly” sold four million copies and in the 2000s he released a series of multi-platinum albums.