On Thursday, a federal judge sentenced singer R. Kelly to 20 years in prison for child pornography and the enticement of minors for sex.
US District Judge Harry Leinenweber also sentenced Kelly to one year in prison after his conviction in New York.
A key question at the sentencing hearing in Kelly’s hometown of Chicago was whether Linenweber would order the 56-year-old man to serve his sentence concurrently with or after completing his life sentence under the New York State Sex Trafficking and Extortion Act in 2021.
Prosecutors acknowledged that only a long time after the New York decision could any chance of Kelly getting out of prison alive be extinguished. This they demanded under the pretext of their crimes against children and justified unrepentance.
But with Thursday’s decision, Kelly will not serve more than 31 years. That means the 56-year-old Grammy winner is eligible for parole until the age of 80, giving him hope of one day getting out of prison alive.
Linenweber said at the beginning of the hearing that he did not accept the government’s allegation that Kelly had used fear to entice underage girls to have sex.
The quiet Kelly spoke briefly at the beginning of the trial when the judge asked if he had reviewed key court documents for errors.
“Your honor, I have gone over it with my attorney,” Kelly said. “I’m just relying on my attorney for that.”
A Chicago jury last year convicted Kelly on six of 13 counts: three counts of manufacturing child pornography and three counts of soliciting underage sex.
Kelly rose from poverty in Chicago to become one of the biggest R&B stars in the world. Best known for his hit “I Believe I Can Fly” and sex-inspired songs like “Bump n’ Grind,” he sold millions of albums even after allegations of his abusing young girls became public in the 1990s.