Tuesday, October 19, 2021

R Kelly sentenced to 15 years for child pornography charges

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption R Kelly was acquitted of all counts of child pornography in 2008

A judge has sentenced R Kelly to 15 years in prison on child pornography charges.

The singer will also serve an additional 10 years on probation for a separate case in Illinois, but will not have to register as a sex offender.

Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008 and after years of attacks by critics, sex assault allegations emerged in 2017.

Several women and girls have come forward with claims against him.

Since then, the #MuteRKelly campaign has launched to limit sales and advertising of his music.

Mr Kelly’s lawyer, Steve Greenberg, was quick to stress that the singer would not be serving his sentence in a federal prison.

Federal prison space is vastly different from that of state prison. He also said his client would be eligible for early release in 10 to 12 years.

Mr Kelly’s tweets after the verdict showed that he was elated to have won an acquittal on the child pornography charges but was “even more thrilled” with the conviction of co-defendant Timothy Savage, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In his tweets, Mr Kelly also said he was “very grateful for your prayers and unwavering support”.

‘I want my life back’

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Ms Winfrey’s film, ‘Surviving R Kelly’, has opened up debate on the singer’s reputation

Ms Winfrey’s gripping, six-part documentary, Surviving R Kelly, has been hailed a watershed moment in the American media debate about the singer’s alleged abuse.

It includes the account of six women who claim to have been victims of sexual violence, some of whom allege Mr Kelly coerced them into marriage, ran cult-like “sex camps” and recorded their encounters.

Addressing one woman at one point in the documentary, Ms Winfrey said: “I don’t want your innocence to be confused with your truth.

“The false accusations that took you away from your children, the one who had to testify against you, the loneliness and depression and isolation – none of that is an excuse. None of that is a game.

“You deserve, more than anything, your true truth, the truth that has never before been told. I am here to tell you that’s the truth.

“That’s what happened. You were abused.”

After the verdict, Kelly’s legal team had maintained that Mr Savage, his live-in boyfriend at the time, conspired with the singer to produce the original video.

But Ms Winfrey said the filmmaker, whose name was obscured in the film, was an “innocent young man who was in love” with Kelly.

Ms Winfrey also insisted that the documentary had proved Kelly had a “devastating set of deviant sexual fantasies” that included sex with little girls.

Ms Winfrey said: “I will tell you what’s devastating to me, the loss of freedom and having to endure this rape culture for so long.”

The documentary included audio recordings of Kelly talking to women about being celibate, grooming them for sex and instructing them to use the singing and dance styles of the 1970s and 1980s to seduce their male audience.

Image copyright Yvonne Neal Image caption Lynn Grace Cole stood trial alongside Mr Kelly in 2017

In a powerful sequence played at trial, he can be heard telling a woman to hold her breath so he could record “testosterone” for “threesomes”.

Lynn Grace Cole, a woman who was also jailed for four years for running a prostitution ring for Kelly, said she felt vindicated.

“It’s given me closure,” she said. “I know what happened to me happened for a reason.”

She also claimed Kelly used her testimony to drum up audience interest in his music.

“He doesn’t have to do anything. If a song is hot, they’ll listen to it regardless of whether I’m on it,” she said.

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