U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly handed down the ruling less than a year after Kelly was found guilty of racketeering charges in a decades-long scheme to recruit women and underage girls for sex. Prosecutors had asked for a minimum of 25 years in prison for Kelly, while his legal teamed argued for a sentence of 10 years or less.
“The public has to be protected from behaviors like this,” Donnelly told Kelly after handing down her ruling.
During a sentencing hearing, Kelly’s defense team asked for leniency for their client, citing he “experienced a traumatic childhood involving severe, prolonged childhood sexual abuse, poverty, and violence.”
They added, “His victimization continued into adulthood where, because of his literacy deficiencies, the defendant has been repeatedly defrauded and financially abused, often by the people he paid to protect him.”
The 55-year-old Kelly was on trial in New York for one count of racketeering, with 14 underlying acts that included sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery and sex trafficking charges. Additionally, he was hit with eight additional counts of violations of the Mann Act, a sex trafficking law.
“Many of us have been waiting for this day to come,” Kitti Jones, one of Kelly’s victims, said while delivering her impact statement. She also mentioned Kelly did things to her she “plans to take to my grave.”
According to testimony throughout the trial, Kelly gave several accusers herpes without telling them he had an STI, coerced a teenage boy to join him in a sexual encounter with a naked girl who emerged from beneath a boxing ring in his garage and filmed a video of one victim showing her smearing feces on her face as punishment for breaking one of his many rules.
In 2019, the documentary Surviving R. Kelly gave a greater spotlight to Kelly’s transgressions with underaged girls and allegations which have followed him since the 1990s.
Lizette Martinez, featured in Surviving R. Kelly, gave an impact statement on Wednesday. While Kelly did not look at her in the courtroom, meeting the singer in 1995 changed her life – for the worst.
“I do not know how to put a price on all I’ve gone through,” she said. “I am now 45, a mother and I struggle with mental health. Robert, you destroyed so many people’s lives.”
Kelly still faces trial for child pornography and obstruction of justice charges in his hometown of Chicago. The trial is scheduled for August 15.