R. Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly on January 8, 1967, in Chicago, Illinois, is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer well-known as one of the best-selling rhythm and blues (R&B) artists of the 1990s and early 21st century.
However, he faced various allegations of sexual abuse throughout his career. In the 2020s, he was convicted of sex trafficking, child pornography, and racketeering.
If you are familiar with his songs and have been following his case, you may be curious about where he is serving his sentence.
Which prison is R. Kelly staying in? Who are some of the well-known criminals incarcerated in that facility? Are there any appeals to help dismiss his case?
This article tackles these questions and provides more detail regarding R. Kelly’s trial and sentencing.
If you want to look up a loved one incarcerated for crimes related to sexual abuse, use LookUpInmate.org’s inmate search tool. This website also has helpful information that can guide you through the ins and outs of the criminal justice system.
R. Kelly Transferred to a Federal Prison in North Carolina
Sex trafficking is a form of human trafficking for sexual exploitation purposes.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) defines sex trafficking as the recruiting, transporting, provisioning, harboring, or obtaining of a person for commercial sex acts in which the action is induced by force, coercion, or fraud or in which the person induced is below 18.
In North Carolina, human trafficking is a class F felony for cases involving adult victims and a class C felony when the crime involves child victims. Convictions can lead to jail time that can extend to several years.
Class F felonies in North Carolina have a prison sentence of one to three years and a maximum of five years. Meanwhile, class C felonies have a standard sentence of 5 to 12 years and a maximum of 19 years.
Prison authorities moved R. Kelly to FCI Butner Medium I. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) website, this facility is a medium-security federal correctional institution in Granville County, North Carolina.
This facility is part of the Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) Butner, a male federal prison complex operated by the BOP.
- FCI Butner Low: This low-security federal prison for males houses 955 individuals as of November 2023. The facility has an adjacent minimum security satellite camp, and the housing units comprise two- and three-person cubicles.
Some well-known prisoners in this facility include:
- Troy Titus: The former real estate investor is serving a 30-year sentence for several crimes like fraud and money laundering. He is set for release in 2035.
- Samuel Israel: The defunct Bayou Hedge Group founder was found guilty of defrauding investors of $400 million. He is serving a 22-year sentence and is scheduled for release in 2027.
- FCI Butner Medium I: This prison has eight housing units, each holding inmates in two-person dorm rooms. On the other hand, the adjacent minimum-security camp holds incarcerated individuals in two-person rooms.
As of November 2023, this facility houses 874 male offenders, comprising 601 inmates at the FCI and 273 at the satellite camp.
Aside from R. Kelly, notable inmates in this facility include the following:
- Bernie Madoff: The former financier was guilty of fraud, money laundering, perjury, and theft, defrauding investors of more than $65 million in 20 years. He was serving 11 years of his 150-year jail term until he died on April 14, 2021.
- Carmine Persico: This former Mafia crime boss from Colombo was convicted of extortion, loansharking, bribery, and murder in 1986. His release was scheduled for 2050, but he died while serving his 139-year sentence.
- FCI Butner Medium II: This medium-security facility could initially accommodate a maximum of 1,400 individuals, but the prison expanded its capacity over time. As of November 2023, Butner Medium II holds 1,500 male inmates.
One notable individual in this facility is Lee Farkas, the former Taylor, Bean, and Whitaker Mortgage Corporation chairman. Convicted of fraud in 2011, Farkas is serving a 30-year sentence and is scheduled for release in 2037.
- Federal Medical Center (FMC) Butner: This administrative security medical center functions as a BOP referral center for treating primary medical conditions other federal prisons cannot accommodate.
FMC Butner has a population of 850 male inmates as of November 2023.
A few notable criminals held in this facility include:
- Ted Kaczynski: Also called the Unabomber, Kaczynski is serving eight life sentences after pleading guilty in 1998 to mailing bombs that killed three individuals and wounded 23 others from 1978 to 1995.
- John Hinckley, Jr.: This man attempted to assassinate former President Ronald Reagan in 1981 in Washington, D.C. The attempt was Hinckley’s effort to impress then-teen actress Jodie Foster.
R. Kelly was previously incarcerated in Chicago, where he received a 20-year sentence in federal prison after getting convicted on three counts of enticing a minor to participate in criminal sexual activity and three counts of producing child pornography.
Child enticement is the inviting, persuading, or attempting to convince a minor (a person who has not reached the age of consent) to enter a private area to engage in sexual assault or unlawful sexual contact.
Meanwhile, child pornography is the visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit activity.
R. Kelly was already serving a 30-year sentence for racketeering (criminal acts typically involving extortion) and sex trafficking charges after being convicted in September 2021 in New York.
At that time, prosecutors accused the singer of using his celebrity standing and a network of people working for him to target girls, boys, and young women for his sexual gratification.
The week before his transfer to the North Carolina prison, R. Kelly’s attorneys appealed for his federal racketeering conviction. They said the charge was “absurdly remote” and was aimed to prosecute him for alleged misdeeds decades back without the statutes of limitations.
A statute of limitations determines the maximum period parties involved in a case must initiate legal proceedings. This period starts from the date an alleged civil or criminal offense occurred.
The period allowed by the statute for a victim to take legal action against a suspected offender depends on the nature of the offense and the jurisdiction.
Regarding the appeal, R. Kelly’s charge falls under the federal statute that requires proof of an ongoing criminal enterprise. However, his attorneys allege the prosecution failed to show such evidence aside from individuals promoting R. Kelly’s music.
Additionally, some seated jurors were already familiar with accusations regarding the defendant’s history of sexually abusing underage girls. Some of these jurors may have also seen the documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly,” which featured some government witnesses.
From this information, some jurors admitted to prejudging the defendant’s guilt or collecting knowledge about the case from different sources. However, the defense counsel did not move to disqualify these jurors.
R. Kelly, the Latest Notorious Inmate at Butner Federal Prison
Based on a report released in the last week of April 2023, the R&B singer R. Kelly transferred from a Chicago correctional center to FCI Butner in North Carolina the week before.
The 56-year-old is serving a 30-year-long prison sentence for child sex crimes and other offenses, such as sex trafficking and racketeering.
Chris Zoukis, author of the Federal Prison Handbook and runs a federal prison consultancy group, says FCI Butner was always a sought-after facility for offenders with federal sentences. One reason is that the facility’s medical center provides inmates better medical care.
According to Zoukis, one of the favorable things about Butner’s complexes is that they tend to be soft facilities with their own cultural level and a low occurrence of violence.
Furthermore, incarcerated criminals such as sex offenders, informants, and inmates who are part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) group can remain there as opposed to some facilities where they are more likely to be attacked.
R. Kelly Moved to a North Carolina Prison to Serve His Sentence
On April 19, 2023, authorities transferred R. Kelly from Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center to FCI Butner in North Carolina. This transfer was part of his prison sentence for child sex crimes and other offenses.
R. Kelly was initially arrested in February 2019 for numerous sex abuse charges and is expected to stay in prison until he reaches his late 80s. News outlets reported that Kelly denied wrongdoing and planned to appeal his conviction.
The television documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” detailed the allegations against the artist and covered three seasons aired in 2019, 2020, and 2023.
Kelly grew up in Chicago’s public housing projects as a young boy.
He was taught by his mother to have a strong Christian faith. Observers described Kelly’s singing style as church-trained.
But despite his lyrics using faith as a recurring theme, some of his early singles, such as Sex Me released in 1993, established carnality as a focus of his music.
The contrast between the sacred and profane and the friction between tender vocals and the tough-guy persona have been constant features in his career.
Kelly’s 1992 debut album, Born Into the ’90s, featured him joining the vocal group Public Announcement to provide songs with a smooth, melodic signature sound fused with hip-hop rhythms.
Hip-hop is a cultural movement that peaked in popularity during the 1980s and ’90s and is used as backing music for rap, a musical style incorporating rhyming or rhythmic speech, or both.
R. Kelly’s subsequent efforts helped him succeed as he dominated the R&B market, translating into pop stardom. In 1996, his inspirational ballad “I Believe I Can Fly” became a massive hit and earned him three Grammy Awards, including one award for Best R&B Song.
I Believe I Can Fly was initially released on the soundtrack for the hit movie Space Jam, which starred basketball icon Michael Jordan, who personally asked R. Kelly to compose a song for the movie.
R. Kelly had numerous songs attain the Billboard singles chart’s top 40, more than any other male solo artist in the 1990s. His songs during this period included hits such as Bump n’ Grind in 1994, You Remind Me of Something in 1995, and I’m Your Angel in 1998.
The popularity of I’m Your Angel, a duet with Céline Dion, contributed to the success of R. Kelly’s 1998 album titled R. This album sold more than eight million copies in the United States.
Despite his achievements in the music industry, R. Kelly’s personal life was rife with controversy. One of these issues was the revelation that he secretly wed the singer Aaliyah in 1994. She was reportedly 15 at that time, and the illegal marriage was annulled shortly afterward.
R. Kelly’s troubles did not end on that issue. In 2002, authorities obtained a videotape, first given by an anonymous source to the Chicago Sun-Times, allegedly showing the artist having sex with an underage girl.
Soon, R. Kelly was indicted on multiple charges related to child pornography. However, various circumstances delayed his trial for several years.
During the lengthy pretrial period, R. Kelly continued releasing albums. Despite the initial public shock due to his criminal allegations, his albums Chocolate Factory in 2003 and Happy People/U Saved Me in 2004 helped maintain his status as one of the world’s leading R&B artists.
- R. Kelly
- UNDERSTANDING SEX TRAFFICKING
- What is Human Trafficking?
- FCI BUTNER MEDIUM I
- FCI BUTNER LOW
- FCI BUTNER MEDIUM II
- FMC BUTNER
- Child pornography
- Statute of Limitations: Definition, Types, and Example