Students express feelings regarding R. Kelly’s latest sentence


Student Government Association Executive President Dylan Stallworth speaks frankly about bills he would like to see become

Phyllis Turnipseed, Staff Reporter/ Writer

A federal judge on Feb. 23 rejected a call from prosecutors to keep R. Kelly behind bars until he is 100-years-old, instead telling the Grammy Award-winning R&B singer he would serve all but one of his 20 years on child sex convictions simultaneously with a previous sentence.
Handed down in a courtroom in Kelly’s hometown of Chicago, the sentence means Kelly could make it out of prison alive when he is about 80.
Prosecutors had asked Judge Harry Leinenweber to sentence him to 25 years — and not to let him begin serving those until after he completed the first 30-year sentence imposed on him last year in New York for federal racketeering and sex trafficking convictions.
“The nature of this offense is … horrific,” Leinenweber said in explaining the 20-year sentence. He noted that Kelly’s sexual abuse victims would suffer from his crimes for the rest of their lives.
At the same time, he accepted defense arguments that Kelly might not even make it to 80, so handing him a consecutive lengthy sentence, rather than allowing him to serve all but one year of it simultaneously, did not make much sense.
Students at Alabama State University disagreed with the way the Kelly’s sentencing was handled.
Mikhia Coleman, a freshman majoring in marketing and minoring in computer science, believes he should have received the entire sentence.
“What he did was wicked,” she said. “He was wicked in his past. R. Kelly knew what he did was wrong, and he should do his time.”
Jonathan Knox, a senior psychology major, believes the sentence is comical.
“I think it’s funny they keep putting charges on the man like he is not already in jail because they keep giving him extra charges for the same sentence,” Knox said.
There were some students who believed that his sentence was not long enough.
Avi Dansy, a freshman majoring in dance, is one of those students.
“I feel like he deserves more time – actually, he deserves hell,” Dansy said. “I feel like he should rot in jail for as long as possible.”
Payton London, a freshman physical therapy major, agrees.
“I feel like he should get 20-plus years,” she said. “For the fact of the matter, he did sex crimes against multiple girls.”
Freshman dance major Symone Greenwood, believes that there is no sentence that can make up for what Kelly did.
“From the victims and their parents, however much time he spends in jail will never make up for the innocence he took from those girls,” Greenwood said.
“I think that that’ll be an outstanding option … so that people can feel safe especially the victims that unfortunately have been hurt by his past actions,” said sophomore social work major Jordan Aaliyah Johnson.
Senior rehabilitation services major Terrance Hodges feels like the judge should have given him more time.
“I feel like he deserve more because he did the crime,” he said. “I’m not the justice system so I can’t say how many years I would give him but he did it.”
Dominique Robinson, a graduating senior physical education agrees.
“Honestly, aside from the fact he makes great music, I feel like he deserves it,” she said. “What he did to multiple women wasn’t right. I watched the documentary Surviving R. Kelly and I feel like he deserved it. Also, the child pornography wasn’t good at all. I don’t wish that on no Black man, but to do what he did to Black women was not at all acceptable.”
Kelly’s defense lawyer celebrated the ruling as a victory, and some of the singer’s fans could be heard cheering outside the courtroom.
Kelly remained still, his eyes downcast, as Leinenweber explained what was, at times, a hard-to-follow sentence. He did seem to show some emotion when a representative read a statement written by “Jane,” one of his accusers and a key prosecution witness.
“I was brainwashed by Robert and a sex slave,” Jane’s statement said. “It almost killed me.”
Kelly did not make a statement in court prior to the sentencing decision, heeding the advice of his lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, to stay quiet while they appeal both his Chicago and New York convictions.
“It’s the right outcome,” Bonjean said of the sentence after the hearing ended. “The judge was reasonable. He, I think, took into account both sides and ultimately was fair.”
The U.S. Attorney in Chicago, John Lausch, conceded that prosecutors were disappointed Kelly did not receive more consecutive prison time. But he added, “Twenty years is a significant sentence, and we are happy that that was imposed in this case.”