R. Kelly Receives Another 20-Year Prison Term for Criminal Sexual Charges

Photo Credit: Andrew Steinmetz / CC by 2.0

R. Kelly receives another 20-year prison term for criminal sexual charges — but will not serve them consecutively.

Following his 30-year sentence in New York for sex trafficking and racketeering charges, R. Kelly was sentenced in Chicago on Thursday to 20 years for child pornography and enticement of minors for sex. However, Kelly will serve all but one of those years simultaneously; serving the Chicago sentence only after completing the 30-year New York term would have been akin to a life sentence.

US District Judge Harry Leinenweber ordered Kelly to serve one year in prison for the Chicago charges following the racketeering sentence imposed last year in New York. Prosecutors acknowledged that a long term served after the New York sentence could have negated any chance of Kelly getting out of prison alive, and in fact, is what they asked for — attorneys argued that his crimes against minors and lack of remorse justified a more severe sentence.

Still, Thursday’s sentence means that Kelly will serve no more than 31 years, eligible for release around age 80. Kelly was convicted last year in Chicago on six of the 13 counts against him: three counts of producing child porn and three of enticement of minors for sex.

On Thursday, US Assistant Attorney Jeannice Appenteng urged the judge to increase Kelly’s sentence and keep him in prison “for the rest of his life.” Appenteng says that Kelly made his abuse of minors all the worse by “memorializing” the abuse, filming his victims to produce pornographic videos.

Kelly’s lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, said that Kelly will be lucky to survive his 30-year New York sentence and to give him a consecutive 20-year sentence on top of it “is overkill.” Bonjean claims Kelly has suffered enough, both personally and financially, that while his wealth once approached $1 billion, he “is now destitute.”

During prehearing filings, Bonjean accused prosecutors of providing “an embellished narrative” in the government’s “bloodthirsty campaign to make Kelly a symbol of the #MeToo movement.” Bonjean says that Kelly’s silence through most of the legal proceedings should not be viewed as a lack of remorse and that she had advised the disgraced singer not to speak lest he face further legal action.