R. Kelly Hit With Lengthy Prison Sentence Nine Months After Being Found Guilty Of Sex Trafficking

R. Kelly Screenshot from CBS News interview with Gayle King
(Image credit: CBS News)

R. Kelly, once best known for his string of hits in the music industry, was convicted of sex trafficking after a lengthy court battle back in September of 2021. Now, the New York court has sentenced him to thirty years in prison. 

Robert Sylvester Kelly – who is more famously known as R. Kelly – has been sentenced to thirty years in prison after federal prosecutors requested "in excess of 25 years" in light of the charges for which he was convicted, according to Variety. Prosecutors cited a continued danger to public as well as a lack of apparent remorse. He is currently 55 years old.

The thirty-year decision follows the argument from the former music superstar's attorney for no more than ten years. His lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean (also known for representing Bill Cosby) argued that he should receive a considerably shorter sentence due to his development of "hypersexuality" as an adult after sexual abuse as a child.

He was charged with nine counts back when the six-week trial began in 2021, including one count of racketeering and eight violations of anti-sex trafficking law. At the time, Variety reported that the jury deliberated for nine hours in New York federal court before returning with the guilty verdict. He was convicted of all nine counts after pleading not guilty.

The charges resulted from allegations that he lured fans and prospective singers into sexually abusive situations, with the help of employees and intermediaries. Among the accusations was that he locked victims in rooms for days while denying them bathroom access or food. 45 witnesses testified to bolster the case against Kelly, who has been in prison since back in the summer of 2019. 

In their sentencing letter, prosecutors wrote that Kelly has not acknowledged his illegal behavior, and hasn't shown remorse in a "callous disregard" for the abuses for which he has been convicted. The thirty-year sentence comes from New York; he is expected to next be transferred to Chicago for an upcoming trial on charges of obstruction and child pornography, and he faces state charges in both Illinois and Minnesota. 

The sentencing comes after decades of allegations against R. Kelly before he was eventually jailed in 2019. They began in the early '90s, and he famously (and illegally) married singer Aaliyah Haughton when she was only 15 years old in 1994. In the wake of future accusations, he was jailed in 2002 but ultimately acquitted. 

Accusations continued to surface over the ensuing years, including of brainwashing women in mid-2017 and a sexual battery lawsuit in 2018. Later that year, authorities were even looking for Kelly's manager.

The allegations against him gained even wider public awareness in early 2019 with the release of the Lifetime docu-series called Surviving R. Kelly (now available streaming for Netflix subscribers). He was arrested shortly after, and the docu-series received a second season the next year. (Unsurprisingly, R. Kelly was not a fan.) His thirty-year sentence isn't the end of the charges against him, and only time will tell if more years are added. 

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).