R. Kelly's 20-Year Prison Sentence Upheld by Federal Appeals Court

R. Kelly's child pornography conviction upheld, marking a milestone for the MeToo movement as the first major sex abuse trial with Black women accusers. His 20-year sentence will be served concurrently with a 30-year racketeering conviction.

Salman Akhtar
New Update
R. Kelly's 20-Year Prison Sentence Upheld by Federal Appeals Court

R. Kelly's 20-Year Prison Sentence Upheld by Federal Appeals Court

The U.S. federal appeals court in Chicago has upheld R. Kelly's 20-year prison sentence for child pornography and other crimes, rejecting his statute-of-limitations defense. In 2022, a jury convicted the Grammy Award-winning R&B singer on three charges of producing child sexual abuse images and three charges of enticing minors for sex.

Kelly argued that Illinois' former and shorter statute of limitations on child sex crime prosecutions should have applied to his Chicago case, and that charges involving one accuser should have been tried separately. However, the appeals court rejected these arguments, stating that Kelly was attempting to "elude the charges entirely" after "employing a complex scheme to keep victims quiet."

Why this matters: The case against R. Kelly was seen as a milestone for the MeToo movement, as it was the first major sex abuse trial where the majority of the accusers were Black women. It also marked the first time Kelly faced criminal consequences for the abuse he was rumored to have inflicted on women and children for decades.

The court ruled that Kelly's Chicago sentence of 20 years should be considered in the context of the 30-year sentence he received in New York for a racketeering conviction, which he is appealing separately. The court concluded that the judge did not overreach in handing down the 20-year sentence.

Kelly's attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, said they plan to seek U.S. Supreme Court review of the decision and "pursue all of his appellate remedies until we free R. Kelly." She argued that a new law passed after the underlying crimes should have been applied in Kelly's case.

The case against Kelly involved multiple victims, including Jane, Pauline, Nia, Brittany, and Tracy, whom he groomed and sexually abused over the years. His abuse was documented in video recordings, and he went to great lengths to recover and conceal these tapes.

Kelly, 57, is currently being held in a medium-security prison in North Carolina and is not due to be released until December 2045. The appeals court affirmed his conviction, which included charges for producing child pornography and inducing minors to engage in sexual activities. In the court's words, "for years, Robert Sylvester Kelly abused underage girls" and "those crimes caught up with him at last."

Key Takeaways

  • U.S. court upholds R. Kelly's 20-year sentence for child pornography and other crimes.
  • Kelly's statute-of-limitations defense and request for separate trials were rejected.
  • The case was a milestone for the MeToo movement, involving mostly Black female accusers.
  • Kelly's 20-year Chicago sentence is in addition to his 30-year racketeering conviction.
  • Kelly, 57, is currently serving his sentence in a North Carolina prison until 2045.