R. Kelly’s Child Pornography Conviction Upheld in Chicago

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

Lawyers for the disgraced singer argued that U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber exceeded federal sentencing guidelines by six years when he handed down the 20-year sentence in 2022. Leinenweber is allowing Kelly to serve 19 of the 20-year sentence concurrently with the 30-year sentence he received following a separate conviction in New York federal court.

In their decision, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the sentencing was appropriate given the “horrid, horrible” nature of Kelly’s crimes. The court also rejected Kelly’s argument that the charges were filed after the statue of limitations had expired.

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“Kelly—interposing a statute-of-limitations defense—thinks he delayed the charges long enough to elude them entirely. The statute says otherwise, so we affirm his conviction,” a three-judge appeals panel unanimously concluded. “An even-handed jury found Kelly guilty, acquitting him on several charges even after viewing those abhorrent tapes. No statute of limitations saves him, and the resulting sentence was procedurally proper and — especially under these appalling circumstances — substantially fair.”


Responding to the upholding of his conviction, R. Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean told TMZ, “Our fight is not over. We will see review from the [United States Supreme Court] on the statute of limitations questions at a minimum. And he has habeas remedies at his disposal. And if we win in New York, he will be entitled to resentencing in Illinois. So this story is far from over.” Kelly has also appealed the New York sentence, and alleged that the Surviving R. Kelly docuseries influenced the trial and made him out to be guilty before the trial even began.

R. Kelly was convicted by an Chicago federal court in 2023 on charges of coercing minors into sexual activity and producing sex tapes involving a minor. He was separately convicted of sex trafficking and racketeering in New York in 2022. He is currently serving his sentence in a prison in Butner, North Carolina.