In September 2021, a federal jury in Brooklyn found R. Kelly guilty on one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating a sex trafficking law called the MANN Act. After being convicted by the jury, it was up to the judge to decide how many years behind bars the singer would face. Sentencing was scheduled for June 30.
R. Kelly’s lawyers were hoping for 10 years at most, maybe even closer to 5 years. Federal prosecutors requested a minimum of 25 years.
Spoiler alert. The judge sentenced R. Kelly to 30 years.
You probably heard about that. But some startling new revelations made by Kelly’s defense were just made public.
In the weeks before that sentence came down, R. Kelly’s lawyers dropped four bombshells about the singer in an attempt to gain sympathy for a lighter sentence.
Bombshell #1: R. Kelly won’t survive a multi-decade sentence
R. Kelly’s lawyers asserted that the 55-year-old suffers from various health concerns including diabetes. As such, he would be “unlikely to see a prison sentence through until his 80th birthday.” In other words, a 25-year (or more) sentence would be tantamount to a life sentence.
Bombshell #2: R. Kelly’s childhood abuse
R. Kelly’s lawyers hoped their client would get sympathy because he himself was a victim of “prolonged childhood sexual abuse, poverty and violence” Kelly was apparently sexually abused on a weekly basis, at first by an older sister and then by a landlord.
Bombshell #3: R. Kelly is “functionally illiterate”
According to his lawyers, R. Kelly is “functionally illiterate,” with reading and writing skills equal to a first grader. That means he basically can’t read or write at all on his own. As a result, R. Kelly has been “repeatedly defrauded and financially abused” by his financial managers throughout his professional career.
Bombshell #4: $900 Million Fortune???
To underscore that last point, the lawyers revealed that at one point R. Kelly believed his net worth was $900 million. Why? Because that’s what someone, presumably a financial advisor, told him.
R. Kelly was certainly never worth $900 million. By our estimation, had R. Kelly never experienced any legal issues, today he would easily be sitting on a $50 – $100 million fortune, depending on his lifestyle expenses. His publishing catalog alone could have been worth that much thanks to his long bench of hits he penned for himself and other artists like Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Aaliyah
Unfortunately R. Kelly has had LOTS of legal issues over the years, culminating with this 30 year criminal sentence and a slew of pending civil lawsuits. On the bright side for Kelly, those civil lawsuits will be effectively moot because, according to his lawyers, today he is financially “destitute.”