Watch CBS News

Attorneys appeal R. Kelly's 20-year sentence in Chicago sex crime case

Attorneys for R. Kelly appeal sentence in Chicago case
Attorneys for R. Kelly appeal sentence in Chicago case 00:32

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Attorneys for R. Kelly were back in court Thursday, fighting for a new sentence.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard the attorneys' arguments in court Thursday. Kelly himself was not present.

Kelly's attorneys claimed the federal child pornography and child enticement charges of which Kelly was convicted in Chicago were filed after the statute of limitations had expired – and said the sentenced was "unduly harsh."

A year ago, a jury in U.S. District Court in Chicago sentenced the disgraced R&B star – whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly –  to 20 years in prison for enticing minors into sexual activity.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber ordered that only one year of that sentence would be served after Kelly completes a separate 30-year sentence on racketeering and sex trafficking charges in federal court in New York. The remaining 19 years in the Chicago case will be served at the same time as his New York sentence.

Kelly, now 57, could be eligible for release from prison when he's a little over 79 years old.

In September 2022, a federal jury in Chicago convicted Kelly of six counts accusing him of sexually abusing three girls – identified in court as Jane, Nia, and Pauline – on video.

The same jury acquitted Kelly of seven other charges, including obstruction of justice, accusing him and two associates of rigging his 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County.

Allegations that Kelly abused young girls began to circulate in the 1990s. He was sued in 1997 by a woman who alleged sexual battery and sexual harassment while she was a minor, and later faced criminal child pornography charges related to a different girl. A jury in Chicago acquitted him in the 2008 trial, and Kelly settled the lawsuit.

Evidence also surfaced over the years regarding late R&B singer Aaliyah. Witnesses said they were married in matching jogging suits using a fake license that said she was 18 and not 15. Kelly was then 27. Aaliyah, whose music Kelly produced, died in a plane crash in 2001.

Outrage over Kelly's sexual misconduct with young women and children was fueled in part by the widely watched docuseries "Surviving R. Kelly," which gave voice to accusers who wondered whether their stories were previously ignored because they were Black women.

In the 2022 Chicago trial, Jane had accused Kelly of sexually abusing her hundreds of times after becoming her godfather when she was only 14 years old. Prosecutors showed the jury three videos that they said showed Kelly having sex with Jane, including one that showed him telling her to lay on the floor while he urinated on her.

Jane had denied for years that Kelly abused her, but later said Kelly intimidated her and her family, and paid them off to keep his abuse secret. She said she was the person in the video at the center of Kelly's 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County, and told the jury Kelly recorded her on other videos shown in court during the 2022 trial.

Nia testified in the 2022 trial that she met Kelly when she was only 15, and they had two sexual encounters. Pauline testified in the trial that she was 14 when Jane introduced her to Kelly – and they had threesomes before she began her own sexual relationship with Kelly alone when she was 15.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.