R&B superstar R. Kelly is facing sentencing on Thursday in his hometown of Chicago for his convictions of child pornography and enticement. The sentencing hearing will determine if Kelly will be ordered to serve the sentences one after the other or simultaneously. If Kelly is ordered to serve the sentences one after the other, it would practically erase any chance of him ever getting out of prison alive.
Kelly, 56, was convicted on three counts of producing child pornography and three counts of enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity. Each count of producing child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in federal prison and a maximum of 20 years. The maximum sentence for each count of enticement of a minor is ten years. In all, Kelly faces a sentence of ten to 90 years in prison.
Prosecutors have recommended a 25-year sentence and that it be served consecutively to the New York sentence. Prosecutors have described Kelly as “a serial sexual predator” who used his fame and wealth to reel in star-struck fans to sexually abuse and then discard them. They also say he has shown no remorse.
Kelly’s lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, has asked for a sentence of around 10 years — on the low end of the guideline range. She also requested in a series of pre-sentence filings that, whatever prison sentence Leinenweber imposes, he allows Kelly to serve it at the same time as the New York sentence. Bonjean said Kelly’s existing 30-year term alone means he won’t be eligible for release until he is around 80 and that a new consecutive sentence would be a “second life sentence.”
Bonjean accused prosecutors of offering an “embellished narrative” in their sentencing memo “to inflame the passions of the public and the Court” against Kelly. She also said they have sought to get the judge to join what she called the government’s “blood-thirsty campaign to make Kelly a symbol of the #MeToo movement.”
It is not clear if Kelly will address the court during the sentencing hearing. Judges often like to hear expressions of remorse at sentencing, however, defendants who are appealing convictions, as Kelly is, sometimes choose not to. Kelly did not speak at his 2022 sentencing in New York.
The judge will decide on Thursday whether to accept prosecutors’ recommendations and sentence Kelly to 25 more years in prison. If the judge does accept the recommendation, it would practically erase any chance of Kelly ever getting out of prison alive.