R. Kelly’s new 20-year sentence adds only one year to existing 30-year prison term

A middle-aged man in sunglasses wearing a suit.
R. Kelly leaves a Chicago courthouse in May 2019. Thursday he was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of child pornography and enticement of minors for sex.
(Matt Marton / Associated Press)

Disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in federal prison after being convicted on child pornography and enticement charges — but he will serve nearly the entire sentence concurrently with his existing 30-year federal sentence for racketeering charges.

A federal judge in Chicago said the 56-year-old, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, must serve one additional year in prison after his sentence from the New York racketeering case is done.

In a sentencing recommendation filed late Thursday, federal prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber to sentence the singer to 25 years, calling him a “serial sexual predator” who would almost certainly re-offend if released.

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“The only way to ensure Kelly does not re-offend is to impose a sentence that will keep him in prison for the rest of his life,” said the 37-page government filing, reviewed by the Associated Press.

Kelly began serving his 30-year sentence last year after being convicted in 2021 for sex trafficking and racketeering.

“Although sex was certainly a weapon that you used, this is not a case about sex. It’s a case about violence, cruelty and control,” the New York judge told the multiplatinum singer at his June 2022 sentencing.

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Kelly will now serve no longer than 31 years total in federal prison. He will be eligible for release around age 80.

Due to the length of the federal sentence the singer was hit with last year in New York, Illinois state prosecutors decided in January to drop a slew of charges they were pursuing against him, citing their limited resources.

Kelly had been indicted in Cook County on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse linked to allegations made by four women. Three of the women were underage at the time of the alleged crime.

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“These women, all of them Black, came forward believing that they would be heard,” Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said in January.

She added, “I want to acknowledge that when we brought these charges ... we brought them because we believed the allegations to be credible and we believed that they deserved the opportunity to have the allegations heard.”

According to Foxx, some of the evidence the state’s attorney’s office solicited in 2019 helped convict Kelly in federal court.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.