Singer R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years in prison for sex trafficking and other charges Credit: Chicago Police Department photo

Singer R. Kelly was found guilty of all charges last October and was sentenced to 30 years in prison this week in a New York courtroom. The 55-year-old Grammy-award-winning singer and songwriter was convicted on multiple charges, including sex trafficking and racketeering, and is now a registered sex offender–and still faces several other charges.

The sentencing was read on Wednesday afternoon. Several colleagues and friends were covering the case and posting the news on social media through text messages and phone calls. I wasn’t surprised by the decision to convict and sentence the talented yet severely flawed and deeply troubled musician. To add to the seedy mix of events, on Tuesday disgraced 60-year-old New York socialite Ghislaine Maxwell–the former girlfriend of disgraced sex deviant Jeffrey Epstein, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for her role in sex trafficking and abusing young girls and boys.

Singer R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years in prison for sex trafficking and other charges. Credit: Chicago Police Department photo

I read excerpts, tidbits of the court transcripts, and other details from the R. Kelly and Maxwell cases, which made for some sizzling, salacious and disgusting reading. The testimony from some witnesses, accusers, and victims of the perverted singer and sex-crazed Maxwell was so raw and repulsive that perhaps even the most deranged and depraved deviant would gasp in disgust and cringe in horror.

Despite this, some people took to social media to voice their outrage at the sentences–especially that of R. Kelly. Someone said, “This was just another example of they system trying to keep a black man down.” I smirked and snarled when I read the lame response and quickly shot back a curt response–“Here we go again–playing the race card, when at least this time, skin color had little to do with how the R. Kelly case turned out.”

Prosecutors had reams of photographic, video, and documented evidence against R. Kelly and Maxwell. Eyewitness accounts of the Kellys and Maxwell’s vile sexcapades made the cases against them indisputable over the years.

If dimwitted people want to raise the race again, look closely at recent high-profile white men in sex scandals. The misfits include former New York Governor Mario Cuomo; Leslie Moonves, former CEO of CBS; Matt Lauer, former host of the Today show; entertainment mogul Harvey Weinstein and Team USA doctor Larry Nassar.

I get tired of people falling into that old tired trap of immediately pulling the Black card and arguing that EVERYTHING is related to race.

In this post-Trump era and as a writer of color, I’m usually the first to verbally pummel anyone attempting to dismiss or diminish systemic racism as being untrue or exaggerated. It’s not. 

In the Kelly case, prosecutors had initially asked for a 25-year sentence for the singer. The judge agreed and then some and added another five years. R. Kelly is guilty of the allegations against him and deserved the harsh sentence. Period. Race, celebrity status, or net worth had little to do with the guilty verdicts or the sentence. My only regret is that some of the dysfunctional parents of the underage victims were not indicted or criminally charged. Unfortunately, stupidity, ignorance, and greed are not crimes. Several of the parents and adult guardians of the victims were complicit in the vile activities of R. Kelly because of the cash, gifts, and favors they received from him. The singer’s signature song, “I Believe I Can Fly,” which became an anthem back in the 1990s, will be tainted and aligned to a former superstar and now disgraced sex offender. Like the singer, the song has forever lost its harmonious, melodic, and inspirational influence.

Glenn Townes

I'm an award winning journalist based in Edison, NJ. My work has been featured in dozens of publications including, Black Enterprise magazine; ESSENCE magazine and Real Health magazine. I am also a featured...

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