R. Kelly faces conviction in child sex abuse trial: Live Updates

Former R&B singer R. Kelly, who had long escaped criminal sanctions despite decades of sexual misconduct allegations, will be sentenced in federal court in Brooklyn on Wednesday following his conviction last year for ordering a massive program recruitment of women, as well as underage girls and boys, for sex.

Mr. Kelly, 55, could spend the rest of his life in prison, and federal prosecutors have called for a sentence “over 25 years”.

The multi-platinum singer was found guilty of all nine charges against him in September, after a six-week trial shed light on how Mr Kelly used enablers and sycophants to entrap fans and artists budding and control their lives. He was charged with racketeering and breaking an anti-sex trafficking law known as the Mann Act.

Sentencing of R. Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, will begin at 10:30 a.m. Several victims, including some who testified last year, are expected to describe in court how the singer’s abuse affected them.

And Mr Kelly himself could make public statements for the first time, after refusing to testify at his trial. He has been held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn since the verdict.

His lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, argued that the government’s understanding of the appropriate sentencing range is flawed and asked for a sentence of less than 10 years.

Regardless of who Judge Ann M. Donnelly agrees with, the decision will mark a final step in Mr. Kelly’s stunning downfall, a collapse that took decades.

He was first accused of having sex with underage girls in the 1990s, and his illegal marriage to singer Aaliyah in 1994, who was 15 at the time, sparked questions about his behaviour. A few years later, in 2002, Mr Kelly was charged with child pornography, but was acquitted in 2008 at a trial in Chicago.

It wasn’t until the #MeToo movement renewed scrutiny of his conduct that a new wave of charges came – and a conviction ultimately stalled in New York.

At last fall’s trial, nine women and two men vividly described Mr Kelly’s sexual, physical and emotional abuse. Several testified that they were underage when he first had sex with them.

Federal prosecutors wrote in their sentencing letter that Mr. Kelly had shown no remorse and for decades had “shown callous disregard” for the effects of his abuse on victims. His actions appeared to have been “fueled by narcissism and the belief that his musical talent absolved him of any need to comply” with the law, they wrote in their argument for his sentence.

“He committed these crimes using both his fame and celebrity as a shield, which prevented scrutiny or condemnation of his actions,” prosecutors wrote. “And a sword, which gave him access to wealth and a network of enablers to facilitate his crimes, and an adoring fanbase from which to eliminate his victims.”

In her sentencing letter, which was unsealed on Tuesday, Ms. Bonjean, R. Kelly’s attorney, told the judge that prosecutors had portrayed her client as “a one-dimensional villain, deserving of no measure of humanity or dignity. ” and that there “is much more to the image.

She said her “traumatic childhood”, which includes “a serious history of sexual abuse” by relatives and others, warrants a lenient sentence. Mr. Kelly said in a 2016 interview with GQ that he was sexually abused growing up.

“He is not an evil monster, but a complex (undoubtedly imperfect) human being who faced overwhelming challenges in his childhood that shaped his adult life,” Ms Bonjean wrote, noting two reports. doctors who detailed Mr Kelly’s anxiety and his responses to the charges against him.

The government, however, responded that the singer “continues to avoid any acknowledgment of the seriousness of his conduct or the harm he has caused” and that he has made “substantially false statements”. Mr. Kelly “is willing to lie to receive a more lenient sentence,” prosecutors wrote.

At trial, Mr Kelly’s lawyers sought to portray his accusers as obsessive fans and opportunists seeking financial gain. But the jury ultimately believed the prosecution.

“The defendant’s victims are not groupies or gold diggers. They are human beings,” Nadia Shihata, an assistant U.S. attorney, said at the end of the trial. “Daughters, sisters, some are now mothers. And their lives matter.