By Mike Bedigan and Josh Payne, in New York
R Kelly was branded “the pied piper of R&B” as he came face to face with several of his victims who detailed his “deplorable and inexplicable” abuse ahead of his sentencing.
The former 90s superstar faces spending the rest of his life behind bars for masterminding an elaborate scheme to entice and sexually exploit aspiring young singers and under-age children.
He was convicted on multiple counts of racketeering, relating to bribery and forced labour, by a jury in September last year.
Kelly, 55, was also found in violation of an anti-sex trafficking law known as the Mann Act.
The singer, who denied all charges, was found guilty on all nine counts against him after a six-week trial in Brooklyn, New York.
At his sentencing on Wednesday, the court heard victim impact statements from seven women, presented anonymously to the court as Jane Does, who detailed Kelly’s “God-like complex” and how he used his “fame and power” to entice his victims.
A woman using the pseudonym Angela told him: “The pied piper of R&B, both in music and in technique and in approach.
“Success and love… you presented these glittering gems as if they were gold.
“With every addition of a new victim you grew in wickedness, cockiness, diminishing any form of humanity or self-awareness, which soon became the breeding ground for your God-like complex.
“You were doing, saying and encouraging despicable things that no one should be doing.
“We reclaim our names from beneath the shadows of your afflicted trauma.”
Kelly, dressed in a grey prison-issue uniform, looked straight ahead as the emotional statements were read out.
At one point a woman known as Jane Doe number two halted her statement saying she “did not want to interrupt (Kelly’s) conversation” as the singer appeared to confer with his lawyer.
“You are an abuser, you are shameless, you are disgusting,” she told him.
Kelly’s conviction carries a minimum sentence of 10 years, but he may receive up to life imprisonment for his crimes.
He may make statements before sentence, despite having declined to take give evidence during the trial.
The singer, real name Robert Sylvester Kelly, has been detained at the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn since his conviction.
He is known for songs including his first number one single Bump N’ Grind and 1996 smash hit I Believe I Can Fly.
The latter became an inspirational anthem played at school graduations, weddings, advertisements and elsewhere, including the inauguration of former US president Barack Obama in 2008.