U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly handed down the sentence following a three hour hearing, Fox News reported. Kelly showed no outward reaction and did not address the court after sentencing. The victims held hands as the decision was read.
Unlike Kelly, the victims were not silent during the hearing. “You made me do things that broke my spirit. I literally wished I would die because of how low you made me feel,” one woman said while addressing the recording artist. “Do you remember that?”
Another victim tearfully said that Kelly being sentenced made her believe in justice.
“I once lost hope,” she said to the court, “but you restored my faith.”
“I was afraid, naive and didn’t know to handle the situation,” she continued, speaking of the assault that occurred when she was a teen. “Silence is a very lonely place.”
The Daily Wire reported that a jury found the recording artist, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, guilty in September 2021 after a month-long trial that included no fewer than 50 separate witness testimonies.
Prosecutors recounted the singer’s “decades of crime” and “callous disregard for the very real effects that his crimes had on his victims.”
They were seeking at least 25 years in prison for Kelly, with as much as a life sentence on the line for violating the Mann Act, which prohibits transportation across state lines of women and girls for an “immoral purpose,” per the New York Post.
“The defendant’s decades of crime appear to have been fueled by narcissism and a belief that his musical talent absolved him of any need to conform his conduct — no matter how predatory, harmful, humiliating or abusive to others — to the strictures of the law,” prosecutors wrote in the filing.
They went on, saying Kelly’s “actions were brazen, manipulative, controlling and coercive. He has shown no remorse or respect for the law.”
“Put simply, [Kelly’s] crimes were calculated, methodical, and part [of] a long-standing pattern of using his platform as a larger-than-life musical persona and his deep network to gain access to teenagers, many of whom were particularly vulnerable, and then to exploit them for his personal gain and sexual gratification,” the filing continued.
Kelly famously married singer Aaliyah when she was just 15 years old, coercing her to lie and say she was 18 at the time. Aaliyah is believed to be one of the singer’s many victims. She died in a plane crash in 2001 when she was 22.