Disgraced R&B superstar R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison after a New York jury found him guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking charges.
It's a stunning fall for the singer and songwriter, who won multiple Grammy Awards and released chart-topping music while dodging sexual abuse allegations for decades.
He's among the highest-profile cases to spring from the #MeToo movement, and his 30-year sentence is one of the harshest since the movement began.
According to court documents, R. Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, would use "enablers and sycophants" to pull in fans and aspiring artists before taking over and controlling their lives.
Ahead Of Kelly's Sentencing, A Handful Of Women Took The Stand To Confront Him
Through tears and anger, several of Kelly's victims told the court — and the singer himself — that he misled and preyed on them.
One unnamed survivor, directly addressing Kelly — who kept his hands folded and his eyes downcast — said:
"You made me do things that broke my spirit. I literally wished I would die because of how low you made me feel."
"Do you remember that?"
"You couldn't care less. I avoided your name and your songs and suffocated with fear... You left a permanent stain on my life."
Another woman, identified as Jane Doe No. 3, told the court that she was imprisoned and raped at Kelly's Illinois home in 2003.
And after she managed to escape, Kelly had people watching and following her for many years.
"I was scared for my life. I hope and pray to God that we can all heal."
A third survivor, identified as Angela, told Kelly:
"You used your fame and power to groom and coach underage boys and girls for your own sexual gratification."
"We are no longer the preyed-upon individuals we once were."
R. Kelly Sex Trafficking Scheme Went On For Decades
For decades, allegations swirled around the singer, who was acquitted in 2008 on child pornography charges.
In an indictment following his arrest in 2019, prosecutors alleged Kelly and his team "traveled throughout the US and abroad to perform at concert venues … and to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with Kelly" as far back as 1999.
The singer allegedly forced his victims to follow "numerous rules" in which they "were not allowed to leave their room without permission, including to eat or go to the bathroom," according to the indictment.
They were also not allowed to look at other men and "were required to call Kelly 'Daddy.'"
He Used Bribery And Blackmail To Get Away With The Crimes
During the six-week trial, many accusers revealed that they were coerced into signing nondisclosure agreements and subjected to violent punishment if they broke his rules.
And given his history of videotaping sex, the victims feared he'd use those tapes as blackmail to keep them quiet.
In court, details of Kelly's fraudulent marriage scheme to a then-underage R&B phenom Aaliyah in 1994 were also brought to the surface.
The jury heard that the singer falsified a license to marry Aaliyah when she was only 15, he was 27 at the time.
Kelly was also accused of bribing a government official to facilitate the illegal marriage. Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001, aged 22.
Despite The Horrors He Inflicted On Young Girls, R. Kelly Showed No Remorse
Federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing letter that Kelly's refusal to accept responsibility or show remorse for his actions "exhibited a callous disregard" for those he harmed.
The letter read:
"[R. Kelly was] fueled by narcissism and a belief that his musical talent absolved him of any need to conform his conduct."
"He committed these crimes using his fame and stardom as a shield, which prevented scrutiny or condemnation of his actions. And a sword, which gave him access to wealth and a network of enablers to facilitate his crimes, and an adoring fan base from which to cull his victims."
Following his sentencing in New York, Kelly is scheduled to stand trial in August in Chicago on federal child pornography and obstruction of justice charges.
He's also due to face sex abuse charges in Illinois and Minnesota.