Is R. Kelly in Jail?

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The song “I Believe I Can Fly” has an uplifting theme that portrays what belief in yourself can do. This song was forever immortalized by R. Kelly, a talented singer but indelibly tainted with stains of sexual abuse of minors. 

You may ask, with all of these sexual abuse allegations, is R. Kelly in jail? If so, how many years did he get for his vile conduct with underage girls?

This article dives into this sensitive topic and reveals the life of R. Kelly and the sexual abuse charges. It also discusses the timeline of events that show the gradual descent of this famous singer from the limelight to the dull mugshot lamp of the prison booking him. 

Furthermore, this write-up reveals other information about fines and bail R. Kelly paid during his legal ordeal, aside from the federal sentences that finally locked him up for good.

 The R. Kelly case shows how criminal records and charges can ruin the image of a person. Arrest and court records are all public and can be accessed through various background-checking sites. 

You can visit for links to correctional facilities in the United States to get the necessary criminal records that are publicly available. 

Let’s say you have a loved one in prison and need vital documents to help you build a case alongside a criminal defense attorney. In that case, you can easily search for your loved one’s records and retrieve them. 

R. Kelly’s 20-Year Sentence in Child Porn Case Only Extends Total Prison Time by 1 Year

Robert Sylvester Kelly, or simply R. Kelly, is a popular Rhythm and Blues (R&B singer) with big hits under his belt like “I Believe I Can Fly.” 

The singer went to prison because of a child porn case conviction, which is a felony offense. He was found guilty of three counts of both child enticement and child pornography but was acquitted of another pornography count. 

R. Kelly was also implicated in a conspiracy to obstruct justice because of fixing a state child pornography trial in 2008. 

The conviction is to be served simultaneously with a previous 30-year sentence for R. Kelly’s 2021 convictions of sex trafficking and racketeering in New York

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber ordered R. Kelly to serve a prison sentence after the racketeering sentence.

R. Kelly’s Timeline from Stardom to Prison

R. Kelly’s descent from stardom to prison is better illustrated by this timeline, compiled by the Associated Press. 

  • 1990: R. Kelly’s R&B group wins the $100,000 grand prize on the talent show “Big Break.” However, the performance became the last of Kelly’s group due to money disagreements. 
  • 1993: Kelly released his “12 Play” album, selling over five million copies. Singles, including “Sex Me” and “Bump n’ Grind” became the longest-running number-one R&B song in over 30 years.  
  • 1994: R. Kelly (27 years old) married R&B singer Aaliyah Haughton, who then was only 15 years old. The two got married in a secret ceremony arranged by Kelly in Chicago. However, the marriage was eventually annulled months later because Aaliyah was a minor. 
  • 1997: R. Kelly faced a complaint from Tiffany Hawkins alleging intentional sexual harassment and sexual battery while she was still a minor. The complaint reportedly ended in a settlement of $250,000 in 1998. 
  • 1998: R. Kelly won three Grammys for the iconic song “I Believe I Can Fly.”
  • 2001: R. Kelly faced a lawsuit from Tracy Sampson, who allegedly claimed that her sexual encounters with the singer were illegal under Illinois law because he was in a position of authority over Tracy. Again, the lawsuit ended with a settlement, and the amount remained undisclosed. 
  • February 2002: The Chicago Sun-Times received a videotape that allegedly showed Kelly having sex with a minor. 

The newspaper reported that Chicago police started investigating this allegation three years prior. During that time, the girl and her parents denied that she was having sex with the singer. 

  • June 2002: Kelly got indicted in Chicago for child pornography that stemmed from the previous sex tape. Kelly pleaded not guilty and was released after posting $750,000 bail. 
  • 2003: Kelly was arrested due to additional child pornography charges. Investigators said that they found images of him having sex with a girl. However, the case was dropped because the police searched Kelly’s house without a warrant. 
  • May 9, 2008: Kelly’s child pornography trial started. However, on June 13, 2008, the court acquitted Kelly on all accounts after a speedy deliberation, which lasted less than one full day. 
  • July 17, 2017: BuzzFeed reported that some parents are claiming that Kelly had brainwashed their daughters, keeping them inside an abusive “cult.” Following this report, the #MuteRKelly movement started and called for a boycott of Kelly’s music. 
  • May 21, 2018: Kelly faced another sexual battery lawsuit now coming from Faith Rodgers, who allegedly suffered mental and verbal abuse from the singer. She also claimed R. Kelly inflicted her with herpes during their one-year relationship. 
  • Jan. 3, 2019: The “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary aired. It revisited the previous allegations against Kelly and brought some new ones into the spotlight. 

The documentary followed the “R. Kelly: Sex, Girls and Videotapes,” which BBC (British Broadcasting Company) aired last year. The BBC series alleged that Kelly held women against their will.

  • Feb. 14, 2019: Attorney Michael Avenatti stated that he gave Chicago prosecutors new video evidence of R. Kelly having sexual intercourse with an underage girl. He pointed out that this evidence was not used during the 2008 trial. 
  • Feb. 22, 2019: Law enforcement arrested Kelly and charged him with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse. 
  • March 6, 2019: Kelly denied the sexual abuse charges imputed on him in an interview with CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System). 

Later, Cook County authorities took Kelly back into custody after he told the judge he couldn’t pay $161,000 in back child support, which he owed his ex-wife.

  • July 11, 2019: Kelly was indicted in Chicago by a federal grand jury on charges that include child pornography, obstruction of justice, and enticement of a minor. 

A separate indictment was filed in New York for charges of racketeering, sexual exploitation of a child, and forced labor. 

  • Aug. 5, 2019: Kelly received another allegation of prostitution and solicitation in Minnesota. The allegation was that Kelly invited a 17-year-old girl into his hotel room in 2001 and paid her $200 to dance without clothes with him. 
  • Sept. 27, 2021: The federal jury in Brooklyn found Kelly guilty of sex trafficking and violating the Mann Act, which prohibits the transport of women for immoral purposes.  
  • June 29, 2022: Kelly received a federal sentence of 30 years in prison in the New York case.

What Happened at the Sentencing?

R. Kelly continually faced sexual abuse allegations throughout his career. The R&B star was constantly involved in allegations of having sexual activity with minors. 

R. Kelly’s troubling behavior and accusations started in 1994 with his marriage to Aaliyah, which was annulled after a few months because she was underage. 

Many brought lawsuits against him for having sex with minors. In 2010, Buzzfeed News reported that R. Kelly ran a group or cult where he dictated and sexually manipulated six women. 

Kelly denied these allegations, but the damning report resulted in a backlash that sparked the #MuteRKelly campaign, inspiring women abused by Kelly to file lawsuits against him. 

During sentencing, Federal Judge Leinenweber said that from the hearing’s outset, he didn’t accept the government’s contention that Kelly used fear to sexually groom underage girls. 

The government’s case against the singer R. Kelly hinges on the theory of grooming, which wasn’t in line with the idea that the singer used the fear of bodily harm to do what he did. 

Prosecutors say that Kelly’s child sex crimes and his lack of remorse should be met with stiffer punishment. However, when the judge asked Kelly if he reviewed key pre-sentencing documents for inaccuracies, the singer replied calmly and briefly. Kelly said he had reviewed the documents with his attorney and relied on his legal representation. 

Meanwhile, during the hearings, a woman, who went by the name “Jane,” testified in R. Kelly’s trial for sex crimes. The accusers wanted the judge to punish Kelly harshly. 

“Jane” said she had lost her dream to Kelly and would never get it back. She added that Kelly permanently scarred her. This witness’ testimony was crucial because the four convictions against Kelly were tied to her. 

R. Kelly Faces Multiple Legal Challenges: Previous New York Sentencing and Upcoming Trial

As mentioned above, Kelly faced not only one federal trial. He got a 30-year conviction in New York for racketeering and sex trafficking. However, the ordeal didn’t end there. Kelly again faced charges in Chicago, Illinois, for another “bout” of sexual assault cases filed against him. 

Prosecutors aim for a 25-year sentence despite being higher than the sentencing guidelines for this offense. A sentencing guideline is a standard set in place to establish consistent and rational sentencing practices in a particular jurisdiction.

The reason for this is that Kelly’s desire to abuse children sexually is insatiable. According to the prosecutors, a harsher punishment may be needed to protect the community from the singer. 

In response, Kelly’s lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, requested a more lenient sentence of around ten years, which is the low end of the sentencing guideline. 

Chicago Trial Results in R. Kelly’s Guilt on Six Counts

The Illinois trial of R. Kelly resulted in a conviction on six counts of sexual exploitation and an enticement of a minor charge. These cases stemmed from various complaints of women who claim that Kelly lured them into doing those sex acts while still underage. 

Also, Kelly received accusations of conspiring to bribe and intimidate witnesses against his case. The federal jury, after two days of deliberation, indicted Kelly. 

Furthermore, the testimonies of three women, “Jane, Pauline, and Nia,” all pseudonyms, were compelling enough to add weight to the prosecution’s case against Kelly. 

All in all, Kelly faced 13 criminal counts. However, only six counts got a guilty conviction. Kelly’s criminal counts include the following charges: 

  • Three counts of child pornography
  • Three counts of child enticement to engage in unlawful sexual conduct 

In the end, the federal jury convicted R. Kelly and got an additional year to his already 30-year sentence. The news of the conviction spread like wildfire, and news outlets, including CNN (Cable New Network), were among those who reported it to the American people. 

R. Kelly Relocated to North Carolina Prison to Begin Sentence

The Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed that Kelly was transferred from a Chicago correctional center to a medium-security prison in North Carolina

Medium-security prisons are also known as FCI (Federal Correctional Institutions). These facilities have the following characteristics: 

  • Strengthened perimeters
  • Perimeter fencing
  • High staff-to-inmate ratio
  • Enhanced security control over inmates

Kelly lost his case in New York, which resulted in a 30-year imprisonment due to racketeering and sex trafficking. However, even after the sentencing, Kelly’s ordeal hasn’t ended. 

In another case in Chicago, the court sentenced the 56-year-old Kelly to 20 years imprisonment for child pornography and enticement of minors for sex. However, Kelly will serve the sentence simultaneously with the previous sentence ordered by the court in New York. 

R. Kelly Becomes a Notable Inmate at Butner Federal Prison in North Carolina

R. Kelly was transferred to Butner Federal Prison in North Carolina and became the latest addition to the high-profile inmates in this correctional facility. The following are some of the famous personalities behind bars. 

  • Bernie Madoff: The infamous architect of a Ponzi scheme, Madoff destroyed thousands of investors and outmaneuvered regulators. In 2020, Madoff’s lawyers tried to get the convict released from prison due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The lawyers cited that the prisoner had end-stage renal disease and other chronic medical conditions. The court denied the request. Madoff died in April 2021. He was 82, and he was serving a 150-year sentence. 

  • Theodore John Kaczynski: He is known as the “Unabomber” and is serving time at Butner. Kaczynski became infamous because of the package bombs he sent and his anti-technology manifesto published in the Washington Post. 

The Unabomber is serving eight life sentences after pleading guilty to illegally transporting and mailing bombs, which were linked to the deaths of three people and the injuries of 23 more in almost two decades.

  • John Hinckley Jr.: He was the person who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981. In 1981, Chief Judge William Bryant ordered to examine and determine Hinckley’s competency to stand trial and his mental condition. 

Hinckley’s mental condition prompted authorities to commit the inmate to undergo examinations. In 1982, the court found Hinckley not guilty due to insanity. He remained in an institution for decades. As of 2022, the man who almost killed Reagan is free. 

  • Joe Exotic: Also known as the “Tiger King,” Exotic is serving a 21-year sentence due to multiple counts of animal abuse and two counts of murder-for-hire. In 2021, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was transferred to Atlanta Federal Prison in 2022. 

R. Kelly and Record Label Ordered to Compensate Sex Abuse Victims With Over $500K in Royalties

Aside from the over 30 years imprisonment, the court ordered Kelly to pay compensation to his sex abuse victims. The amount Kelly has to pay is over $500k in royalties. 

The court practically squeezed Kelly dry that even the singer’s prison account funds worth $28,000 were surrendered to pay the fines. Kelly felt the full brunt of the law that’s stiff and stringent towards cases of sexual abuse against minors and children. 

In a recent update, the Cook County state’s attorney Kim Foxx dropped the case she filed against Kelly in 2019, which involved sex with four underage girls and videotaping some of their encounters. 

Currently, R. Kelly is serving his term in prison until his late 80s. The meteoric rise of R. Kelly was brutally juxtaposed with his epic downfall, which involved constant issues with sex with underage girls and minors. 

One may think otherwise of R. Kelly, but many believe the disgraced singer should be imprisoned for the community’s safety. 

When people are incarcerated, their criminal records become public. One can use to retrieve the records of loved ones behind bars, especially when building a case for appeals and reviews. 


  1. R. Kelly sentenced to 20 years in child porn case, but total prison time only extended by 1 year
  2. R. Kelly timeline: Shining star to convicted sex trafficker
  3. Mann Act
  4. R. Kelly Sentenced Again: Here’s An Overview Of The Charges And Allegations Against Him
  5. R. Kelly sentenced to one more year in prison for child pornography

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