R. Kelly was sentenced on Wednesday in a Brooklyn Court to 30 years in prison after he was convicted last September of racketeering and sex trafficking multiple victims, some of whom were underage.

Despite being suspected of this conduct for years, Robert Sylvester Kelly avoided facing criminal charges for sexual and psychological abuse due to his fame, and the fact that the victims were young black women.

Federal Prosecutors wrote that Kelly used his status in the music industry “as both a shield, which prevented close 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.”

R. Kelly’s conduct first raised alarm bells when he married singer Aaliyah in 1994 when she was only 15, falsely saying she was 18 on the marriage license. He got in some legal trouble in the following years, but his overall album sales and general reputation remained pretty much unaffected.

Seven women spoke in the courtroom before Kelly’s sentence was read. Lizzette Martinez, one victim who was featured in the docuseries Surviving R Kelly, said, “I do not know how to put a price on all I’ve gone through,” and that she still struggles with her mental health to this day thanks to his abuse. She addressed the singer directly when she said, “Robert, you destroyed so many people’s lives.”

Many of these victims provided key witness testimonies that illustrated a pattern of abusive behavior. Several of them testified that Kelly pressured them into sex with him in exchange for favors and opportunities in the music business, abused those who broke “rules” that he established, and gave several of his victims herpes without informing them of his STD status.

Kelly’s lawyer requested the minimum sentence of 10 years for the conviction, arguing that he grew up being sexually abused, and suggested that a higher sentence would be “based on inflamed emotions.”

Judge Ann M. Donnelly told Kelly, “These crimes were calculated and carefully planned and regularly executed for almost 25 years. You taught them that love is enslavement and violence.”

Now that this trial is completed, Kelly will now stand trial for charges of child pornography and obstruction of justice in Chicago next year.

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