NEW YORK — Disgraced R&B superstar R. Kelly was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in prison for using his fame to sexually abuse young fans, including some who were just children, in a systematic scheme that went on for decades.
Through tears and anger, several of Kelly's accusers told a court, and the singer himself, that he had misled and preyed upon them.
“You made me do things that broke my spirit. I literally wished I would die because of how low you made me feel,” said one unnamed survivor, directly addressing Kelly, who kept his hands folded and his eyes downcast.
“Do you remember that?” she asked.
Kelly, 55, didn't give a statement and showed no reaction on hearing his penalty, which also included a $100,000 fine. He has denied wrongdoing, and he plans to appeal.
The Grammy-winning, multi-platinum-selling songwriter was found guilty last year of racketeering and sex trafficking at a trial that gave voice to accusers who had previously wondered if their stories were being ignored because they were Black women.
One woman, sobbing and sniffling as she spoke, said Kelly’s conviction renewed her confidence in the legal system.
“I once lost hope,” she said, addressing the court and prosecutors, “but you restored my faith.”
The woman said Kelly victimized her after she went to a concert when she was 17.
“I was afraid, naive and didn’t know to handle the situation,” she said, so she didn’t speak up at the time. “Silence,” she said, “is a very lonely place.”
Kelly's lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, said he was “devastated” by the sentence and saddened by what he had heard.
“He’s a human being. He feels what other people are feeling. But that doesn’t mean that he can accept responsibility in the way that the government would like him to and other people would like him to. Because he disagrees with the characterizations that have been made about him," she said.
The sentence caps a slow-motion fall for Kelly, who is known for work including the 1996 hit “I Believe I Can Fly.”
He was adored by legions of fans and sold millions of albums even after allegations about his abuse of young girls began circulating publicly in the 1990s. He beat child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008, when a jury acquitted him.
Widespread outrage over Kelly’s sexual misconduct didn’t emerge until the #MeToo reckoning, reaching a crescendo after the release of the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly.”
“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 make you feel — justice only hears the truth,” Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said Wednesday.
Several accusers testified that Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage.
The accusers alleged they were ordered to sign nondisclosure forms and were subjected to threats and punishments if they broke “Rob’s rules.”
Some said they believed the videotapes he shot of them having sex would be used against them if they exposed what was happening.
According to testimony, Kelly gave several accusers an STD without disclosing he had one.
“The horrors your victims endured,” U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly said as she sentenced him. “No price was too high to pay for your happiness.”
Kelly has been jailed without bail since in 2019. He still faces child pornography and obstruction-of-justice charges in Chicago, where a trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 15.
“No matter how many hit songs he may have released, his legacy will not be remembered by that of his voice, but by the voices of the brave women and men who came forward to reveal to the world the monster that R. Kelly truly is,” said Steve Francis of federal Homeland Security Investigations.
LOS ANGELES — Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, who was hospitalized on Tuesday, is reportedly dealing with a bout of pancreatitis.
TMZ first reported on Wednesday that the musician, 46, was rushed to the hospital due to pancreatitis, which doctors believe was triggered by a recent colonoscopy.
Barker's representatives did not immediately respond to the L.A. Times' request for comment Wednesday.
According to " Entertainment Tonight, " the drummer, who recently married Kourtney Kardashian, "was sick and had intense pain in his abdomen, and it really concerned him and Kourtney."
"They called 911 and he was rushed to the hospital. After speaking with Travis and running several tests, doctors said Travis is suffering from pancreatitis," a source told "ET."
According to the Mayo Clinic, pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. Symptoms, which vary depending on the severity of the inflammation, can include fever, nausea, vomiting and unintentional weight loss.
Barker first went to West Hills Hospital and Medical Center on Tuesday and was then taken by ambulance to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in L.A. for additional care. Photos from TMZ showed Kardashian, 43, walking alongside Barker, who was transported on a stretcher.
Shortly after news broke of Barker's hospitalization Tuesday evening, the musician's daughter, Alabama Barker, urged her social media followers to send well wishes.
"Please send your prayers," a Tuesday Instagram post read.
The 16-year-old also reportedly posted picture of her holding Barker's hand on TikTok. The post, which has since been deleted, read "Please say a prayer."
On Tuesday morning, Travis Barker tweeted, "God save me," though it's unclear whether the post was related to his medical problems.
NEW YORK — “ER” actress Mary Mara, who police say died in a possible drowning in upstate New York, may have suffered a head injury before her death, a representative for the star said.
She may have sustained the injury in a slip and fall, the representative told TMZ, citing what investigators told the actress’ family.
Mara, 61, was found dead in St. Lawrence River at Cape Vincent on Sunday, New York State Police said.
“The preliminary investigation suggests the victim drowned while swimming,” police said in an announcement Monday.
“The victim’s body showed no signs of foul play and was transported to the Jefferson County Medical Examiner’s Office pending an autopsy to determine an official cause of death.”
Investigators told Mara’s relatives that she may have slipped after swimming due to abrasions they observed on her face, according to TMZ.
A representative for Mara didn’t immediately respond to a Daily News request for comment.
Mara, who was born in Syracuse, had a recurring role as Loretta Sweet on “ER,” and a leading role on the 1990s police drama series “Nash Bridges.”
The actress also appeared on episodes of “Law & Order,” “NYPD Blue” and “Criminal Minds.”