R. Kelly to be sentenced in sex-trafficking case: The Refresh

·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
·3-min read

R. Kelly has been behind bars for nearly three years — and won't get out any time soon. The Grammy-winning singer, 55, faces decades in prison ahead of Wednesday's sentencing.

What was he convicted for, again?

  • In Sept. 2021, the R&B singer was found guilty on all nine counts: one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act.

  • Within that single racketeering count were 14 individual acts, including bribery, kidnapping and forced labor.

What's the Mann Act?

  • A federal anti-sex trafficking law that criminalizes the transportation of "any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose."

Isn't racketeering associated with organized crime?

  • Typically, yes.

  • The government argued Kelly used "manipulation, threats and physical abuse to dominate his victims" and that his inner circle "served as enablers for his criminal conduct" while he ran his criminal enterprise. Kelly and his organization used the singer's fame to entrap women, girls and boys.

Case agent Ryan Chabot testifies as a CD cover of the 1994 debut album of late singer Aaliyah's
Case agent Ryan Chabot testifies as a CD cover of the 1994 debut album of late singer Aaliyah's "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number," produced by R. Kelly, is shown on a screen during the singer's sex abuse trial. (Photo: Reuters)

Who were the victims in this case?

  • Eleven accusers — nine women and two men — testified at trial. Six were minors when the alleged abuse took place.

  • The criminal charges hinged on accusations related to six women, five of whom testified.

  • The sixth was singer Aaliyah who died in 2001. Prosecutors claimed she and Kelly illegally wed when he was 27 and she was 15.

  • Kelly did not take the stand.

How long will he go to prison?

  • Kelly faces 10 years to life in prison.

  • The government wants more than 25 years, noting his "long and pervasive history of enticing children to engage in sexual activity."

  • Kelly's lawyer asked for the mandatory minimum 10-year sentence.

What's expected at the sentencing hearing?

  • Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Bobby Shamuilian, founder of My Rights Law Group, predicts Kelly will make a statement.

  • "He and his defense team are likely to introduce evidence of his modest beginnings, the domestic violence he experienced as a youngster, and a lengthy history of sexual abuse by a sibling and family friend in hopes of mitigating his sentence to the mandatory minimum of 10 years," says Shamuilian.

  • The judge will hear victim impact statements from multiple Kelly victims "tormented over decades," adds Shamuilian, many of which he predicts will be "emotional and gut-wrenching."

R. Kelly performing in 2016.
R. Kelly performing in 2016. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Is Kelly appealing?

  • He's expected to. The singer filed a motion for a new trial due to "unprepared" lawyers and hired different legal representation.

  • Kelly's new attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, successfully got Bill Cosby's sex assault conviction overturned.

  • Bonjean argued in documents that jurors shouldn't have seen videos of him engaging in group sex or sex involving feces and that he was unfairly portrayed to the jury as a "sexual deviant."

Isn't another trial coming up?

  • Yes. Kelly faces charges of child pornography and obstruction of justice in his federal case in Chicago. Trial is set for August.