One of R. Kelly’s victims blasted the convicted sexual predator’s 30-year-prison sentence on Wednesday as “not enough” — while another said she was “overwhelmed,” having never imagined the justice system would pull through for her.
Attorneys for Kelly, 55, said they plan to appeal the punishment handed down in Brooklyn federal court for preying on multiple women and underage girls over decades.
“I personally don’t think it’s enough but I’m pleased with it,” said accuser Lizzette Martinez.
Martinez said she was “a girl full of life” who dreamed of becoming a singer when she was roped into the disgraced R&B star’s orbit and turned into a “sex slave.”
Jovante Cunningham, who first met Kelly at age 14, said his abuse spanned 30 years and “30 years is what he got.”
“There wasn’t a day in my life that I actually believed the judicial system would come through for black and brown girls,” Cunningham said outside the courthouse.
She said she “absolutely” cried when the sentence came down and that she felt “overwhelmed.”
Cunningham, a former Kelly backup dancer, was one of seven women who shared victim statements before the sentencing. She told the court that Kelly “grew in wickedness” with each new victim and appeared to take pleasure “in humiliating” her.
“You enjoyed seeing me reach new lows at your command,” said Cunningham, who also testified at Kelly’s trial under the name “Angela.” “You are shameless, you are disgusting and you are self-serving.”
Kelly, wearing tan prison garb, black-rimmed glasses and a face mask, briefly looked up at Cunningham as she said, “We are no longer the preyed-upon individuals we once were.” Kelly then looked down.
The singer, whose full name is Robert Kelly, has faced multiple lawsuits and charges related to child pornography and sexual misconduct since 1997 – even as he ascended to the heights of stardom with his hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” selling millions of records and winning three Grammy Awards.
Disturbing testimony during the trial outlined how Kelly gave several accusers herpes after he didn’t tell anyone he had an STD. He also shot incriminating videos, including one that showed a victim smearing feces on her face as punishment for breaking his rules.
A victim referred to as Jane Doe #2 described how the singer would push her to perform oral sex on him, and briefly paused her statement when Kelly started to speak with his attorneys.
“I’m sorry I don’t want to interrupt his conversation,” she said and raised her hand. Then she continued, “No price is too high to pay for your happiness.”
Breon Peace, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said after the sentencing that the voices of the victims – mostly “black and brown women and children” were heard and believed more than three decades after the first accusations surfaced.
“I hope this sentencing serves as its own testimony that it doesn’t matter how powerful, rich or famous your abuser may be – or how small they may make you feel – justice will lead you to the truth,” Peace told reporters at a news conference outside the courthouse.
Kelly’s attorney Jennifer Bonjean said her client, who didn’t deliver a statement at his sentencing hearing, disagrees with the “characterizations that have been made about him.”
“Obviously, he is devastated,” said Bonjean, who also recently represented actor Bill Cosby in a civil sexual abuse case. “Thirty years in prison is like a life sentence for him.”
The singer, who she had argued was effectively illiterate and suffered abuse as a child, needed some clarification after the sentencing, she said.
“As you all know Mr. Kelly has some literacy issues … there is a great deal of things that have to be explained a little more slowly,” she said.
Kelly would be 85 when he gets out of prison, and still facing child pornography and obstruction of justice charges in Chicago, with a trial set to begin Aug. 15. He is also charged with engaging in prostitution with a minor in Minnesota.
With Post wires