Chicago, IL — R. Kelly was sentenced to only one additional year in prison over federal child pornography charges in Chicago on Thursday. Last September, a federal jury convicted the disgraced singer on six of 13 counts, including three counts each of producing child pornography and enticing minors into illegal sexual activity.
On Thursday, at Dirksen U.S. Courthouse, Judge Harry Leinenweber essentially sentenced Kelly to one year of prison to be tacked onto the 30-year prison sentence he’s already serving after being convicted in 2021 in New York of sexual exploitation of a child, racketeering, bribery and sex trafficking. (The singer is currently appealing the New York sentence.)
Officially, Leinenweber gave Kelly a 20-year sentence, 19 years of which Kelly would serve concurrently (or, at the same time) with the New York sentence, plus the one additional year for the Chicago charges.
Earlier this month, federal prosecutors asked Judge Harry Leinenweber that Kelly — born Robert Sylvester Kelly — be sentenced for 25 more years in prison, higher than sentencing guidelines recommend, and that he serve it after (or, in legal terms, consecutively) finishing his time in the New York case, where he is already serving 30 years.
Kelly’s lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, had argued in a filing that her client serve 10 years, at the lower end of the sentencing guidelines. His attorneys also filed motions to either overturn the conviction or grant him a new trial, which the judge denied earlier this month. At Thursday’s sentencing, Bonjean recommended a 14-year sentence that, most importantly, ran concurrently with his New York sentence. A consecutive prison term, Bonjean acknowledged, would essentially mean life in prison for Kelly. “Black men, with diabetes, do not live into their 80s in prison,” she told the judge.
During sentencing, Leinenweber, himself in his 80s, admitted that Kelly’s age at the end of his New York sentence would factor into his Chicago sentencing, and quipped that octogenarians are more concerned about their prostate and arthritis than young girls. (If he serves his complete 31-year-sentence, the now-56-year-old Kelly will be in his mid-80s when he’s released from prison.)
Instead of a sentence that would run entirely concurrent with the 30-year prison sentence, thus nullifying any real punishment in the Chicago trial at all, Leinenweber instead opted for the one-year sentence to be served consecutively. However, Leinenweber said that Kelly could be eligible for parole three years after the concurrent prison sentences.
Last month, in light of his convictions in New York and Chicago, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced that the state was dropping the then-pending sexual assault and abuse cases, where he was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four alleged victims, three of whom were under the age of consent.
After a dramatic, graphic five-week trial, a federal jury in Chicago found Kelly guilty on three counts of child pornography and three counts of enticement of a child. The video central to the federal Chicago case was also the one involved in the 2008 child pornography trial where he was acquitted involving “Jane,” Kelly’s goddaughter, who tearfully testified that Kelly filmed him sexually abusing her beginning when she was 14. Parts of the tapes were played during the trial. Prosecutors also tried to argue last year that Kelly’s then-business manager Derrel McDavid had rigged the 2008 trial, but failed to convince the jury on that count, and acquitted Kelly and his two co-defendants, McDavid and Milton “June” Brown, of conspiring to receive the footage that was shown in court.
Kelly is also facing charges of engaging in prostitution with a minor and soliciting a minor for sexual purposes in Minnesota.