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R Kelly sentenced to 30 years on sexual abuse charges

Singer Robert Sylverster Kelly, commonly known as R Kelly, will likely spent the rest of his life in prison after he was slapped with a 30 years jail term for sexually abusing women, girls and boys.

The US singer, once considered among the most popular in the world, was sentenced nine months after a jury in New York City found him guilty of sex trafficking and racketeering, on all nine counts against him.

On Wednesday, US district judge Ann Donnelly imposed the sentence at the federal court in Brooklyn after hearing from survivors who attested to how the 55-year old’s exploitation reverberated in their lives.

After the sentence was passed down, Donnelly spoke directly to Kelly, saying: “These crimes were calculated and carefully planned, and regularly executed for almost 25 years. You taught them that love is enslavement and violence.”

At the trial, victims had described how Kelly, real name Robert Sylvester Kelly, subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage. Several said he would demand they strictly obey rules such as needing his permission to eat or go to the bathroom, and writing “apology letters” that purported to absolve him of wrongdoing.

Before sentencing on Wednesday, some victims made statements, including “Angela”, who said that “with every addition of a new victim, you grew in wickedness”. On this day of sentencing “we reclaim our names”, she said. “We are no longer the preyed-upon individuals we once were.”

In her victim statement, Lizette Martinez said: “Robert, you destroyed so many people’s lives.”

Another, unnamed, victim who directly addressed Kelly as he kept his hands folded and his eyes down, said: “You made me do things that broke my spirit. I literally wished I would die because of how low you made me feel. Do you remember that?”

Kelly did not address the court.

The singer, whose hits include Ignition and I Believe I Can Fly, was represented by Jennifer Bonjean, a lawyer who represented Cosby.

He is also remembered for singing Signs of a victory, a song that lit up Africa during the 2010 Fifa World Cup hosted in South Africa

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