New York, Jun 29 (EFE).- Singer R. Kelly was sentenced here Wednesday to 30 years in prison on a conviction for sex trafficking and racketeering.
“You left in your wake a trail of broken lives,” United States District Court Judge Ann Donnelly told the 55-year-old entertainer once known as the King of R&B.
During a five-week trial last year, nearly a dozen witnesses testified that they had been victims of sex crimes at the hands of the singer, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, while dozens of others detailed a continuous pattern of abuse.
On the stand, the witnesses described a charismatic celebrity who would frequently target young girls who attended his concerts and sometimes sexually assaulted them backstage minutes after the shows.
Some of his former girlfriends testified that Kelly beat them, forced them to call him “daddy” and told them what to wear and when they could use the bathroom or eat.
The witnesses also said Kelly used his entourage to help him recruit young girls and isolate and intimidate them.
Federal prosecutors requested a sentence of at least 25 years, while Kelly’s attorneys said that he should face no more than 10 years behind bars, citing their client’s age and the sexual abuse he suffered as a child.
Kelly’s childhood trauma, which may partly explain Kelly’s conduct, “most surely is not an excuse,” the judge said Wednesday.
Several of Kelly’s victims made statements before Donnelly pronounced sentence, including Lizzette Martinez, who said that she continues to contend with the psychological damage inflicted on her by the singer.
“No one can undo the harm that has been done to these victims,” attorney Gloria Allred, who represented three victims who testified, said Wednesday outside the courthouse. “But at least it’s time for Mr. Kelly to be accountable.”
The defense team said they were preparing to appeal the conviction even as Kelly faces the prospect of another federal trial in Chicago on child pornography and obstruction charges. EFE jfu/dr