R. Kelly sentenced to 20 years in Chicago sex crimes, 19 years served along with previous sentence

ByDiane Pathieu WLS logo
Thursday, February 23, 2023
R. Kelly sentenced to 20 years in prison in Chicago sex crimes case
Singer R. Kelly received a 20 year prison sentence in his federal Chicago sex crimes case, with nineteen years of the sentence being served along with his New York sentence.

CHICAGO -- R. Kelly was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Chicago.

Nineteen of the years from this sentence will be served along with his New York sentence, which means he will spend an additional year in prison.

Kelly is being sentenced on his convictions of child pornography and enticement in Chicago.

He was convicted in September on three counts of producing child pornography and three counts of enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity.

Prosecutors were recommending Kelly serve 25 more years, consecutively to his New York sentence. They said he is a sexual predator who used his fame and wealth to abuse his victims and has shown no remorse.

Kelly's lawyer has asked for a sentence of 10 years, serving it at the same time as his New York sentence. The lawyer added Kelly's own abuse as a child justifies leniency.

Attorney Michael Avenatti spoke Friday alongside the father of one of R. Kelly's live-in girlfriends, who recently came out in defense of the singer.

What happened at the trials

The federal trial in Chicago last September was based on allegations from five minors who prosecutors allege were abused by Kelly in the late 1990s by making explicit videos with four of them.

One of the witnesses in the trial, a 37-year-old woman, spoke in federal court under the pseudonym Jane and testified Kelly began engaging in sex acts with her when she was 14 and had sex with her starting when she was 15. They had sex "hundreds" of times before she turned 18, she said.

She testified that she falsely denied they had a sexual relationship in interviews with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Chicago police investigators and to a grand jury in 2002.

"Why were you untruthful?" a prosecutor asked Jane in court.

"Because I was afraid to expose Robert. Because I was afraid of what might happen to my parents," she said. "I also did not want that person to be me."

The jury convicted Kelly of six charges, including three counts of producing videos depicting sexual conduct with Jane and three counts of enticing Jane and two other minors to engage in sexual activity. He was acquitted on seven other counts, including conspiracy to obstruct justice. Two associates were acquitted of all charges.

At the time of the Chicago federal trial, Kelly had already been convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking in a New York federal trial.

In that case, prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York accused Kelly of using his status as a celebrity and a "network of people at his disposal to target girls, boys and young women for his own sexual gratification."

The New York trial included testimony from witnesses who said they were sexually and physically abused by Kelly. The court also heard from people involved with orchestrating Kelly's 1994 marriage to the late singer Aaliyah when she was just 15 years old and he was an adult after she believed she'd gotten pregnant.

Last month, prosecutors in Cook County, Illinois, dropped state sex-crime charges against Kelly, citing in part his lengthy federal sentence.

"I understand how hard it was for these victims to come forward and tell their stories. I applaud their courage and have the utmost respect for everyone who came forward," Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx said in a news release. "While this may not be the result they were expecting, due to the sentences that Mr. Kelly is facing, we do feel that justice has been served."

Through the allegations, Kelly was one of the most successful R&B artists of the 1990s and 2000s, known for hit songs "Bump N' Grind," "Ignition (Remix)" and "I Believe I Can Fly," which won him three Grammy Awards. He has been nominated for 26 Grammy Awards in all, including as recently as 2015.

The CNN Wire contributed to this report.