The American singer R. Kelly was sentenced on Wednesday June 29 to thirty years in prison for having led for years a ” system “ sexual exploitation of young people, including minors, over a period from 1994 to 2018. The fallen R’n’B star was found guilty in September 2021 of all the charges against him: extortion, sexual exploitation of minors, kidnapping, trafficking, corruption and forced labour.
In their last indictment, the prosecutors of the federal court of Brooklyn had claimed at least twenty-five years of criminal imprisonment because of the ” danger “ Robert Kelly, his real name, for his victims and for public opinion. The US prosecutor’s office believed that he was “an impudent, manipulative, controlling and coercive, showing no sign of remorse or respect for the law”.
Major stage of the #metoo movement
The trial revealed the ” system “ of R. Kelly to attract very young women and sexually assault them, with the complicity of his entourage, as in a kind of mafia enterprise, according to the prosecution. Many victims had recounted their meeting with their idol during concerts after which they were slipped a small piece of paper with the singer’s contact details.
The singer had been portrayed by the prosecution in “criminal, predator”. Nine women and two men had accused him of having sexually abused them, describing rape, forced drug taking, situations of imprisonment or even child pornography. The 55-year-old man has always denied the facts.
Nine months ago, the trial of the singer known worldwide for his tube I Believe I Can Fly had been analyzed as an indicator of sexual crimes in the African-American community. It was seen as a major milestone in the #metoo movement: it was the first time that the majority of plaintiffs were black women and they accused a black artist.
For Kenyette Barnes, the originator of the hashtag #muteRKelly (“Shut up R. Kelly”) in 2017 – the same year as the global #metoo movement –, American justice made it possible for the first time to give an echo “to the blood, sweat and tears of black women” that American society did not want to see until now.