© 2024 Cincinnati Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

R. Kelly, sentenced by a court in New York, still faces charges in other states


After decades of rumors, allegations and criminal trials, R&B singer R. Kelly has now been sentenced to 30 years in prison. A warning here - we're going to talk about sex crimes and sexual assault in this story. R. Kelly was found guilty in New York on charges that include sexual exploitation of a child, racketeering, bribery and sex trafficking. And NPR's Andrew Limbong reports Kelly faces more charges elsewhere.

ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: Yesterday was a ball of emotions for many of the women who spoke out against R. Kelly, including Lizzette Martinez, who was physically and sexually abused by Kelly in the '90s. She spoke at a press conference outside the courtroom just after the sentencing.


LIZZETTE MARTINEZ: Today was a very special but hard day for us. I personally, this happened to me a long time ago. I was 17; I'm 45 today. I never thought that I would be here to see him be held accountable for the atrocious things that he did to children.

LIMBONG: Kelly, who is 55, was convicted of being at the head of a criminal enterprise that used his fame to lure victims who would then be transported across state lines for Kelly to sexually exploit. Kelly's lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, said she's planning to appeal. But Kelly faces another federal trial later this summer in Illinois for creating and receiving child pornography, enticing minors into illegal sexual activity and obstruction of justice. Kalia Coleman is a former federal prosecutor in the northern district of Illinois. She says that while yesterday's sentencing technically shouldn't have an impact on the Illinois case...

KALIA COLEMAN: The reality is this is a case where Mr. Kelly is well known. He's a public figure. The New York case has been pending for some time and gained a lot of media attention. And so with any other media case - right? - there's always this challenge, particularly for the defense, of ensuring that he will have a fair trial.

LIMBONG: Especially when it comes time for jury selection.

COLEMAN: Chicago, particularly, those are his roots, so it will be particularly challenging for both the defense here and also for the prosecution to make sure that, you know, whoever the jurors are who will be selected to preside over the case and listen to the evidence, will be able to do it in a fair and impartial manner.

LIMBONG: The obstruction of justice charge Kelly is facing in Illinois is tied to his 2008 child pornography case, where he was acquitted of all charges. Federal prosecutors allege that Kelly conspired to intimidate victims and conceal evidence. Here's Moira Penza, another former federal prosecutor.

MOIRA PENZA: Illinois and the federal prosecutors there have a vested interest in showing the community that they are taking seriously and that they are the ones who are making sure he faces justice on those charges.

LIMBONG: Kelly also faces separate criminal charges in Minnesota for engaging in prostitution with a minor for an alleged incident in 2001.

Andrew Limbong, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.