R&B superstar R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Wednesday for using his fame to subject young fans to systematic sexual abuse.
Several of Kelly’s accusers told a court, and him, that he had preyed on them and misled his fans.
“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 a Kelly who kept his hands folded and his eyes downcast.
“Do you remember that?” she added.
Kelly, 55, didn’t speak at his sentencing, where he also was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine. The Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling singer and songwriter was convicted 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.
“Although sex was certainly a weapon that you used, this is not a case about sex. It’s a case about violence, cruelty and control,” U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly told him.
Kelly’s lawyers had argued he should get no more than 10 years in prison because he had a traumatic childhood “involving severe, prolonged childhood sexual abuse, poverty, and violence.”
Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, used his “fame, money and popularity” to systematically “prey upon children and young women for his own sexual gratification,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing earlier this month.
Several accusers testified that Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage.