R. Kelly challenge to sex abuse conviction draws skepticism from US appeals court

R. Kelly’s sex abuse conviction in Chicago upheld in appeals court

A federal appeals court has upheld R. Kelly’s 20-year prison sentence in Chicago for federal sex crimes.

The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against R. Kelly’s legal team’s arguments that his indictment on child enticement and child pornography charges were filed after the statute of limitations lapsed. His legal team was seeking a new sentencing hearing in appeals court after they claimed the 20-year sentence was “unduly harsh.”

“For years, Robert Sylvester Kelly abused underage girls,” wrote Judge Amy St. Eve in a unanimous ruling. “By employing a complex scheme to keep victims quiet, he long evaded consequences. In recent years, though, those crimes caught up with him at last. But Kelly—interposing a statute-of-limitations defence—thinks he delayed the charges long enough to elude them entirely.”

R. Kelly was convicted of six counts of child pornography and child enticement by a Chicago federal jury in September 2022. He was acquitted of seven other charges but was found guilty for videos of him sexually abusing three children, including his then 14-year-old goddaughter. In February 2023, he was sentenced to 20 years behind bars.

The sentencing comes just over half a year after he was sentenced to 30 years in prison following his 2021 conviction by a federal jury for child sex crimes and racketeering in New York.

The upholding of the charges and sentence against R. Kelly coincides with the overturning of disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein’s rape conviction in New York. Weinstein was found guilty and sentenced to 23 years in prison in February 2020, and charged with another 16 years in Los Angeles in 2022.

His sentence in California remains unaffected by the decision in New York.