American rap and R&B artist Ar Kelly (real name — Robert Sylvester Kelly), the performer of the hit I Believe I Can Fly, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexualized violence and trafficking of minors for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
In September last year, the musician was found guilty of sexual crimes, now new ones have been added to these charges. The prosecution concluded that the 55-year-old actor used his popularity to exploit minors, manipulate them and force them to fulfill his demands, including of a sexual nature. It was proved that Ar Kelly held his victims captive and forced them to ask for permission to eat or go to the toilet. So, one of the girls said that the singer kept her without food and water for two days, and then raped her. Accusations of creating a "sex sect" have been heard before, but only now they have been proved.
Ar Kelly was also found guilty of violating the so—called Mann Act, a US federal law prohibiting the transportation of people across state borders for "any sexual activity."
It was established that Ar Kelly had been involved in criminal activity for 25 years. Also during the hearing it became known that Ar Kelly forged the documents of a 15-year—old girl performer Aliya in order to be able to legally register a marriage with her. They got married in 1994, the court later declared their marriage illegal because of the singer's age. In 2001, Aliya died in a plane crash.
The prosecution demanded that the rapper be sentenced to more than 25 years in prison, the rapper's lawyers sought a commutation of the prison term — no more than 10 years, since a longer term for Ar Kelly would be "equivalent to life imprisonment."
The defense stated that Ar Kelly himself was sexually abused by a family member as a child. In addition, he was shot at as a child and witnessed the murder of his friend. These facts of a traumatic childhood were taken into account when sentencing, but did not allow to reduce the prison term:
You have left behind a trail of broken lives,
Judge Ann Donnelly said.
Ar Kelly himself has pleaded not guilty. The rapper has been accused of sexualized violence for years, starting in 1997. He was arrested in 2002, 2003 and 2019, but released each time.
Ar Kelly is the winner of three Grammy Awards.He became widely known in 1995 after the release of the song I Believe I Can Fly. There are 14 albums in his discography — the album sales have increased fivefold since the trial began.