Chicago-born singer R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Wednesday after being convicted of sex trafficking in New York, and reaction is pouring in from both those who support the artist, and those who were victimized by his crimes.
Jamie Nesbitt Golden, who was a student at Kenwood Academy in the 1990’s and appeared in the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” in 2019, said that the news of the singer’s sentence was “bittersweet.”
“The things that were happening at the school were kind of the worst-kept secret,” she said. “It’s bittersweet, I think, because it took so long to happen.”
Nesbitt-Golden says that she remembers Kelly coming to the school, ostensibly to visit teachers, but then leaving the school with female students.
“It wasn’t until 2000 when Jim DeRogatis from the Sun-Times had sort of broken the story about Kelly and his dealings with underage girls that we began to see some sort of movement,” Nesbitt, who is now a reporter for Block Club Chicago, said.
DeRogatis reported for years on Kelly’s behavior, which eventually became a book entitled “Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly.”
“Every system in this city failed dozens and dozens of young women of color,” he said. “The many victims of R. Kelly whom I’ve interviewed for 20-plus years have said ‘nobody believed me. I was a young Black girl.’”
Kelly’s brother Carey says that despite the sentencing, he still loves his brother, saying that they had a tough upbringing that included being sexually abused when they were children.
“The situation that happened to us when we was kids, that was never tended to,” he said. “We just hope and we just praying for him that he stays strong.”
The singer still faces child pornography and obstruction of justice charges in Chicago, with a trial set to begin in August.