R&B singer R. Kelly’s sentencing hearing in sex case begins

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A sentencing hearing for R. Kelly began on Wednesday, where the multiplatinum R&B singer will learn his fate after being convicted of exploiting his stardom and wealth over decades to lure women and underage girls into his orbit for sex.

Kelly, 55, was convicted last September in Brooklyn federal court following a 5-1/2 week trial that amplified accusations that had dogged the singer of the Grammy-winning hit “I Believe I Can Fly” since the early 2000s.

He is among the most prominent people convicted of sexual misbehavior during the #MeToo movement against such conduct by prominent men.

Several abuse victims testified about how Kelly would demand that they strictly obey rules such as needing his permission to eat or go to the bathroom, calling him “Daddy,” and writing “apology letters” that purported to absolve him of wrongdoing.

Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, has repeatedly denied sexual abuse accusations.

He wore a black face mask and beige prison clothing to Wednesday’s hearing, and said “good morning” to the presiding judge before it began. At least seven accusers are expected to make statements about Kelly before he is sentenced.

U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly, who will sentence Kelly, dealt him a setback by saying federal sentencing guidelines recommend that he spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Donnelly is required to consult, but not necessarily follow, the guidelines when imposing a sentence.

Prosecutors said Kelly should spend more than 25 years in prison for his conviction on charges of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which bars transporting people across state lines for prostitution.

They have said he demonstrated a “callous disregard” for his victims and showed no remorse.

Lawyers for Kelly said he deserves no more than 10 years, the mandatory minimum, arguing his history as an abused child may have led to his adult “hypersexuality” and that he no longer poses a risk. 

Kelly also faces federal charges in Chicago on child pornography and obstruction, and state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.


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