Skip to main content

R. Kelly’s Sentencing Has Been Postponed Following His Racketeering and Sex Trafficking Convictions


R. Kelly wearing sunglasses

R&B singer R. Kelly succeeded in getting his sentencing bumped following his federal racketeering conviction, but he got less of a break than he had wanted.

Convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking last September in a federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., Kelly wanted to delay his sentencing until after he can be tried on child pornography and obstruction charges in the Northern District of Illinois. That trial was set for Aug. 1 of this year, and his sentencing was previously set for May 4.

Splitting the difference, U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly reset Kelly’s sentencing until June 16 of this year, in a brief minute order.

“The Court denies the application to adjourn the sentence until after the completion of the trial in the Northern District of Illinois, but because the presentence Report was filed today, grants an adjournment until 6/16/2022 at 10:30 a.m.,” Donnelly wrote, without issuing a formal document memorializing her ruling.

Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean, who successfully defended Bill Cosby on appeal, had tried to obtain the reprieve to secure a “mitigation expert” to lower his sentence.

“A preliminary sentencing investigation has revealed that Mr. Kelly himself is a rich source of mitigation that should be further developed, potentially with the aid of a mitigation expert,” Bonjean wrote, adding that submitting her client to an examination by that expert could incriminate him as his Illinois case remains pending.

“However, undersigned counsel has grave concerns that a comprehensive examination by a mitigation expert could interfere with Mr. Kelly’s Fifth Amendment guarantees in his NDIL case,” Bonjean wrote. “To put a finer point on it, undersigned counsel cannot advise Mr. Kelly to be examined or interviewed by a mitigation expert for sentencing in this case if his words might be used against him in some manner at his pending NDIL trial. Mr. Kelly should not have to compromise his Fifth Amendment rights in his pending criminal case in NDIL to develop and present comprehensive mitigation evidence in the instant case.”

Prosecutors said that Kelly systematically groomed women and girls for abuse, including minors such as the late “Queen of Urban Pop” Aaliyah.

“This case is about a predator,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez told the jury this past August. “That man, that predator, is the defendant, Robert Sylvester Kelly, more commonly known as R. Kelly.”

Prosecutors depicted Kelly as the leader of an “enterprise” who—aided by his “inner circle” of managers, assistants and runners— recruit his victims, pressured them into signing non-disclosure agreements, and give them hundreds of thousands of dollars “hush money” settlement payments to maintain his sexual gratification. His alleged enablers secured him access to anything he wanted, whether it is a “girl, a boy, or a young woman,” the prosecutor said at the time.

The trial turned up several salacious revelations, especially concerning Aaliyah, including Kelly’s alleged plans to marry the then-15-year-old starlet. Prosecutors say Aaliyah got pregnant and the marriage would have been illegal. The prosecutor said he planned to get Aaliyah a fake ID to consummate the ceremony and benefit from spousal privilege.

Read the request for an adjournment, below:

(Photo via Scott Olson at Getty Images)

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime:

Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."