A US judge on Thursday handed disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly a 20-year prison term for child pornography and other charges, but he will serve most of it simultaneously with a previous sentence.
Kelly, 56, is already serving a 30-year sentence he received after a Brooklyn jury in a separate federal trial convicted him on racketeering and sex trafficking charges.
The judge in Chicago — Kelly’s hometown, where he was once seen as a source of pride — ruled that most of the new sentence would be served concurrently with the previous one, with all but one year taken at the same time.
That Kelly will spend a maximum of 31 years in prison is a win for the defence, which urged in its sentencing memorandum that “a concurrent sentence is what fairness demands,” accusing the prosecution of engaging in a “quest to ensure that Kelly never sees the light of day.”
His lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, is appealing both of Kelly’s federal convictions.
The artist born Robert Sylvester Kelly was convicted in September 2022 on six of 13 counts alleged in the Chicago trial: three counts of producing child pornography and three of enticement of a minor.
The singer known for hits including “I Believe I Can Fly” was acquitted by a federal jury of seven other counts, including charges that he obstructed justice in a previous trial.
Kelly and two ex-associates had been accused of rigging the singer’s 2008 child pornography proceedings in which a jury delivered a verdict of not guilty.
The federal conviction in Chicago came one year after Kelly was convicted in New York of systematically recruiting teenagers and women for sex.
That verdict was widely seen as a milestone for the #MeToo movement: it was the first major sex abuse trial where the majority of the accusers were Black women.
It was also the first time Kelly faced criminal consequences for the abuse he was rumoured for decades to have inflicted on women and children.