R. Kelly faces potential life sentence

On Thursday, R. Kelly is scheduled to be sentenced for his convictions from last year in Chicago of child pornography and enticement. Prosecutors have recommended a 25 year sentence and that it be served consecutively to the 30 year sentence Kelly is already serving for his 2021 racketeering and sex trafficking convictions in New York. The defense has asked for a sentence of around 10 years, on the low end of the guidelines, and for the sentences to be served simultaneously.

Judge Harry Leinenweber will have to decide between the prosecution and defense's requests. If he decides to order that Kelly serve the sentences one after the other, it would effectively be a life sentence for the singer.

Prosecutors have described Kelly as a “serial sexual predator” and argued that an extended sentence is necessary “to protect the community” from him. On the other hand, Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean said that given his existing 30-year sentence, Kelly won't be eligible for release until he is around 80 and that a new consecutive sentence would be a “second life sentence.” She has also stated that an extended sentence for Kelly, who is Black, would also be disproportionate given that, according to her, white rock stars have gotten away with similar behavior.

Judges are more likely to order a simultaneous sentence to a sentence imposed in a previous case if the crimes in the two cases are related. The prosecution and defense disagree on whether the allegations against Kelly in the two cases are the same or different.

Kelly has the option to address the court at sentencing, but given that he is appealing his conviction, he may choose to remain silent. Ultimately, the decision of whether to order that Kelly serve the sentences concurrently or consecutively lies with Judge Leinenweber.


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