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Press Release

Robert Kelly Sentenced to 20 Years

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO — Recording artist ROBERT SYLVESTER KELLY, also known as “R. Kelly,” was sentenced earlier today by United States District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber to 20 years in federal prison, with one year to run consecutive to the 30-year sentence previously imposed in the Eastern District of New York.

On September 14, 2022 after a four-week trial a federal jury in Chicago convicted Kelly on three counts of producing child pornography and three counts of enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity.  The trial revealed that Kelly enticed multiple underage girls to engage in sexual activity, and that he continued to abuse his victims for years, at times recording some of the abuse on videotape.  Kelly met the victims in the late 1990s and engaged in sex acts with them beginning when they were as young as 14, 15, and 16 years old. 

On multiple occasions over several years Kelly took steps to cover up his abuse and silence his victims.     

The sentence is announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; R. Sean Fitzgerald, Special Agent-in-Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Chicago; and Justin Campbell, Special Agent-in-Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago.  Substantial assistance was provided by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Chicago Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeannice W. Appenteng, Elizabeth R. Pozolo, Jason A. Julien, and Brian F. Williamson represented the government.

“With today’s sentence, a sexual predator is being held accountable for the years of abuse he inflicted on minor victims,” said U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch. “Kelly used his celebrity and wealth to attract and victimize young girls, and to obstruct prior criminal proceedings intended to end his despicable conduct. We commend the courage and the strength of the victims who came forward in this case to expose Kelly’s crimes. Our office will never cease seeking justice for victims of child sexual abuse, and the public can take comfort knowing that Kelly will never again be in a position to exploit young girls.”

“Robert Kelly used his power and fame for evil when he exploited children for his own gratification,” said Sean Fitzgerald, special agent in charge of HSI Chicago. “We are confident that Kelly’s sentence will empower victims who are facing similar circumstances to come forward knowing they will be supported. HSI, alongside its partners from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Chicago Police Department, and IRS Criminal Investigation, will do everything in our power to ensure perpetrators like Kelly face justice.”

If you believe you are a victim of sexual exploitation, you are encouraged to contact HSI’s confidential tip line by calling 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (1-866-347-2423) or by logging on to  The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Updated February 23, 2023

Project Safe Childhood