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R. Kelly Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison

For several years now, R&B singer and rapper R. Kelly has been under intense scrutiny after it was discovered that he had used his famous status to engage in numerous criminal activities. These activities include, but are not limited to, sex trafficking, sexual abuse, and federal racketeering. Last year, he was convicted on these charges, and this week, he was sentenced for his crimes.

Yesterday, US District Court Judge Ann Donnelly sentenced Kelly to 30 years in prison, a larger sentence than both the prosecution and the defense were expecting. “You left in your wake a trail of broken lives,” Donnelly said. Donnelly briefly mentioned Kelly’s own history with sexual abuse, saying that “It may explain, at least in part, what led to your behavior. It most surely is not an excuse.”

One of Kelly’s former backup singers, Jovante Cunningham, spoke positively of the ruling. “I started this journey 30 years ago,” Cunningham told the press following the hearing. “There wasn’t a day in my life up until this moment that I actually believed that the judicial system would come through for Black and brown girls. I stand here very proud of my judicial system, very proud of my fellow survivors and very pleased with the outcome.”

Kelly, for his part, declined to address the court, though did convey a message through his attorney, Jennifer Bonjean. “He accepts that he is a flawed individual,” Bonjean said, “but he is not this one-dimensional monster that the government has portrayed and the media has portrayed.” She added that Kelly “has regrets. And he is sad. Nobody wants to hear what he heard today.”

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