NEW YORK -- Singer R. Kelly was sentenced on Wednesday in Brooklyn Federal Court to 30 years behind bars.
A jury. It was seen as a signature moment of the #MeToo movement, CBS2's Alice Gainer reported.
Robert Sylvester Kelly, 55, declined to speak in court, citing pending charges in two other jurisdictions, but numerous victims did speak. Kelly did not look at them.
The judge said the public has to be protected from behavior like this.
Eight people gave victim impact statements and some spoke outside. In the courtroom, seven women detailed their anguish, saying Kelly had "decades of remorseless freedom."
And as Kelly appeared to chat with his attorney as some women spoke, one said, "I can see you're not sorry."
One referenced Kelly's alleged childhood abuse, saying, "Being abused doesn't give you the right."
The judge was also mindful of any suffering he endured at a young age, saying "Even if an explanation, it's not an excuse."
Prior to handing down the 30-year sentence, she said Kelly left in his wake "a trail of broken lives" and had "an indifference to human suffering."
One woman's father also spoke, asking Kelly to look at him and to also confess. Kelly's attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, said he was not obligated to confess.
Gainer asked her about this outside the courthouse.
"I said he has regrets and he is sad. Nobody wants to hear what he heard today. He's a human being. He feels what other people are feeling, but that doesn't mean he can accept responsibility in the way the government would like him to and other people want him to. He disagrees," Bonjean said.
In September, Kelly was found guilty of racketeering. It included the sexual exploitation of children, forced labor and Mann Act violations, involving the coercion and transportation of women and girls in interstate commerce to engage in illegal sexual activity.
The prosecution argued Kelly ran an enterprise of assistants, body guards and others, all used to recruit, groom and exploit underage girls, boys and young women for his own sexual gratification. Among the victims, it said, was the late R&B singer Aaliyah.
Witnesses testified about being locked in rooms and having to ask permission to leave or use the bathroom. Others alleged Kelly gave them herpes without disclosing he had an sexually transmitted disease.
A handful of witnesses for the defense included former employees and associates who said they never saw Kelly abuse anyone. His lawyers had argued the accusers were groupies and stalkers who sought to take advantage of his fame and lied on the witness stand.
Kelly is appealing. His federal sex crimes trial in Chicago begins in August.
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Robert Sylvester Kelly, 55, had no visible reaction as his 30-year sentence was handed down, but outside the courthouse, those who survived his abuse spoke out.
"Thirty years did he do this, and 30 years is what he got," Jovante Cunningham said.
"I was an up-and-coming singer, I was a girl full of life ... and quickly turned into I would just say a sex slave," Lizzette Martinez said.
Kelly opted not to address the court as seven women detailed their anguish.
As he appeared to chat with his attorney while one woman spoke, she said, "I can see you're not sorry."
Last September, the three-time Grammy winner was found guilty of criminal enterprise to sexually exploit young women and children.
Allegations against Kelly go back decades but resurfaced in the 2019 docuseries "Surviving R. Kelly." Weeks later, police arrested him.
In a now-infamous interview with Gayle King, he denied everything, saying, "I didn't do this stuff."
Kelly's lawyers argued he had been sexually abused as a child, and they asked for a lighter sentence.
"Obviously he is devastated. Thirty years is like a life sentence for him," attorney Jennifer Bonjean said.
Prosecutors pushed for at least 25 years for the predator to be held accountable.
"These are voices of mostly Black and Brown women and children that were heard and believed and for whom justice was finally achieved," said Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Kelly must pay $100,000 fine, and he faces another federal trial in August on child pornography and obstruction of justice charges in Chicago.
R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years in prison
R. Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for using his R&B superstardom to subject young fans to systematic sexual abuse.
The singer and songwriter was convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking last year at a trial that gave voice to accusers who had once wondered if their stories were ignored because they were Black women.
U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly imposed the sentence at a courthouse in Brooklyn. The sentence caps a slow-motion fall for Kelly, who is 55. He remained adored by legions of fans even after allegations about his abuse of young girls began circulating publicly in the 1990s.
R. Kelly expected to be sentenced in Brooklyn
It's sentencing day for singer R. Kelly in Brooklyn federal court.
He could spend decades behind bars.
Kelly was accused of.
Prosecutors want the judge to sentence Kelly to at least 25 years in prison.
His attorneys argue that he should receive no more than 10 years, citing his traumatic childhood, which included sexual abuse.
Kellyon child pornography and obstruction charges.
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