R. Kelly will be convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking today

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R. Kelly will be convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking today

Defense attorneys have argued that Kelly should be sentenced to 10 years or less, saying anything less would be “greater than necessary” and imprisoning the 55-year-old singer for more than a quarter-century would be “tantamount to a life sentence.”

Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, wore a tan prison uniform, dark-rimmed glasses and a black mask at Wednesday’s hearing, which was also attended by survivors of the case. The court is expected to hear testimony from seven of Kelly’s victims, after which US District Court Judge Ann Donnelly will return Kelly’s verdict, possibly including a fine.

A jury last September convicted Kelly of nine counts, including one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, a sex trafficking statute. Prosecutors for the Eastern District of New York accused Kelly of using his celebrity status and a “network of people available to him to approach girls, boys and young women for his own sexual gratification.”
The five-week federal trial in Brooklyn included testimony from witnesses who said they were sexually and physically abused by Kelly. The court also heard from people involved in orchestrating the disgraced R&B singer’s 1994 marriage to the late singer Aaliyah when she was just 15 and he was an adult after she believed she had become pregnant .
“No one can undo the damage that was done to these victims,” ​​attorney Gloria Allred, who represented three victims who testified, said in court on Wednesday. “But at least it’s time Mr. Kelly held himself accountable.”

Defense attorneys and prosecutors argued in court Wednesday over whether Kelly could even pay a fine. The defense said he was “pretty destitute” and couldn’t. Prosecutors disagreed, saying money from the sale of some of his music rights and millions of dollars in royalties from Sony could cover any fine.

In the nine months since his conviction, Kelly has replaced his entire legal team with Jennifer Bonjean and her firm. Bonjean is the attorney who helped Bill Cosby have his sexual assault conviction overturned and also represented Cosby in a civil case he lost in court this month.

Kelly’s sentencing judge will have broad discretion to impose a sentence she deems appropriate, said CNN legal analyst Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor who has handled cases involving the extortion and Mann Act laws in Kelly’s case went.

“Typically, post-trial, it’s more difficult for a defendant to meet his recommended sentence,” Honig said. “Now the judge has seen all the evidence against the defendant, has heard from the victims, and that tends to push up the sentence.”

Kelly is being held in a federal detention center in Brooklyn and after his conviction is expected to be returned to Chicago where he faces another federal trial on child pornography and disability charges in August.

childhood trauma revealed

In over 14 hours of interviews with psychiatrist experts, Kelly said his closest relationship growing up was with his mother. His earliest memories were of his mother singing in a band called “Six Pack” and he would often accompany her to McDonald’s where she would have coffee and they would share a pastry.

Kelly had never met his father and described his mother’s death as the most tragic event of his life. He said he often goes to McDonald’s to smell the coffee and remember her, according to a letter from Renee Sorrentino, a clinical assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.

“To me, the ‘M’ stands for Mom. Going to McDonald’s means I’m always close to my mom,” Kelly said.

But his childhood was also marked by trauma.

A look at the women who brought R. Kelly to court

As a young boy, Kelly watched a childhood sweetheart drown. And people interviewed by psychiatrist experts said Kelly was repeatedly sexually abused when he was a 6 or 7-year-old boy, his attorney wrote, saying he was by his older sister and also a landlord at times ” weekly” abused.”

Sorrentino said in her letter that Kelly’s childhood sexual abuse may have contributed to his “hypersexuality,” or difficulty controlling sexual urges, and believes it was a factor in his criminal convictions.

While Kelly was convicted of sexually exploiting a child, Sorrentino refused to diagnose Kelly with pedophilia because he told her his “sexual behavior was never involved with prepubescent individuals,” she said.

support for the singer

Among the letters calling for a reduced sentence for Kelly is one from Diana Copeland, Kelly’s former assistant, who testified as a government witness and said she wrote a letter in support of Kelly because it was the “right thing” to do. be.

“God does not want us to throw people away,” Copeland wrote. “If we have the courage to take care of both the perpetrators and the victims, we can all stand up.”

Joycelyn Savage, who was considered by prosecutors to be Kelly’s victim, also remains a supporter.

“Robert and I are very much in love and it breaks my heart that the government has created a narrative that I am a victim,” Savage wrote. “I am a grown woman and can speak for myself, which is why I wanted to submit this letter to the court.”

In her letter, Savage announced that she is now engaged to Kelly.

Prosecutors faced threats

Before sentencing, a Chicago man who attended Kelly’s trial in Brooklyn was arrested and charged with making threats against the three US attorneys who were prosecuting Kelly, a copy of his warrant shows.

Christopher Gunn was arrested on Saturday for allegedly threatening to kill or seriously injure the prosecutor.

According to the warrant, in October, shortly after Kelly was found guilty, Gunn posted a video on his YouTube channel that showed a picture of the US Attorney’s Office for the East County of New York, where the women work. Prosecutors believe a voice narrating the video is Gunn’s, and he says, “There they are. That’s where they work… We’re going to storm the office,” and names all three prosecutors.

“If you don’t have the guts for the shit we’re about to do, I’m asking you to just step out,” he allegedly said in the video.

Prosecutors also analyzed a CashApp account linked to Gunn, which shows multiple transactions from February 26, 2021 to June 1 that suggest Gunn “was involved in the sale of firearm ammunition related to the Kelly affair,” they said you. Transactions included payments for $20 with descriptions such as “30 rounds… free R Kelly.” CNN has reached out to an attorney for Kelly’s for comment.

Prosecutors believe Gunn was planning to attend Kelly’s sentencing on Wednesday after he posted another video saying he had a “place” for supporters to meet near the courthouse.

CNN has reached out to an attorney for Gunn, who is expected to have a detention hearing Wednesday.

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