Former pop superstar R. Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison in an abuse trial. Judge Ann Donnelly made the announcement at a court in New York on Wednesday.

A jury found the musician guilty on all nine charges, including sexual exploitation of minors, kidnapping and bribery, last year after a trial lasting several weeks. Kelly, who appeared in court with black glasses, a black corona mask and a khaki top, had always denied the allegations.

Particularly bizarre: Kelly is said to be engaged to one of his victims, as it became public shortly before the announcement. His alleged future wife Joycelyn Savage (26) is said to have been one of the sex slaves in the past.

Savage is said to have written a letter to the judge, according to the AllHipHop portal. In it, she gushed about Kelly: “My relationship with Robert is amazing. He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. We have a very special connection and are deeply in love. I still support Robert to this day because I love him and will always be here to support him.”

Whether the 26-year-old was manipulated by Kelly, as her parents claim? In any case, in 2019 Savage, who met the singer when she was 17, said against Kelly: “He started giving me orders and made sure that I called him by certain names. I had to call him Daddy or Master.”

Before Judge Donnelly handed down the sentence, seven of Kelly’s victims told their stories one after the other, sometimes in tears. Sometimes the women looked and spoke to him directly – but Kelly either stared straight ahead at the notes on the table in front of her, or chatted quietly with his defense attorneys.

The musician has a “god complex”, has “manipulated millions of people” and committed “pathetic, inexplicable” acts, said one woman. “I’m not here for the money and certainly not for Hollywood,” said another. “I am here because I seek justice.”

The women recounted the sexual, physical, and mental abuse they experienced at the hands of Kelly—sometimes when they were minors. “Robert, you destroyed so many people,” said one woman. “You are an abuser, you are shameless, you are gross and you are self righteous,” another woman accused the singer. Another said she doesn’t care about Kelly’s remorse because she could see he wasn’t showing any. The women also reported that they had been attacked online by fans of the singer who didn’t believe them.

Prosecutors had previously asked for more than 25 years in prison and a fine of between $50,000 and $250,000 for the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer, who has been in prison since his arrest in the summer of 2019. Such a punishment is appropriate, among other things, because of the seriousness of his crimes, and Kelly still poses a danger, it said.

The musician’s lawyers had demanded a significantly lower sentence. Before the sentence was announced, there were also renewed discussions in court about the musician’s financial situation. While prosecutors claimed that Kelly was owed millions from rights sales, the musician’s defense dismissed this, claiming he was effectively bankrupt. “His music isn’t being played anymore,” attorney Jennifer Bonjean said. “We can see it in his royalties, since the trial they have gone down extremely.”

The process is – after cases like those of film producer Harvey Weinstein and comedian Bill Cosby – another much-noticed legal reappraisal of the MeToo era. Representatives of the MeToo movement had already celebrated the verdict against Kelly. The ex-superstar was “the worst” of the many sex offenders she has pursued in her career, said women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, who represented several plaintiffs in the case. He used his fame to abuse, intimidate and humiliate minors.

The first allegations against the musician, born Robert Sylvester Kelly in Chicago in 1967, were made around 25 years ago. In 2008 he was tried for possession of images of serious sexual abuse of children – and was acquitted. The music colossus seemed unassailable on its pop throne. With more than 50 million albums sold, several Grammys and other awards, he was one of the most successful musicians of the late 20th century.

But at the latest when the sensational documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” summarized the allegations in 2019, the singer became more and more lonely. Stars distanced themselves from him, as well as radio stations, streaming services and then his music label RCA, which belongs to Sony Music.

The legal disputes for Kelly are not over after the sentencing in New York: There are also charges against the musician in the US states of Illinois and Minnesota. A trial in Chicago is scheduled to begin in mid-August.

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