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Survivor makes tearful statement after R. Kelly sentencing

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US singer R. Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for using his celebrity status to sexually abuse children and women.

The R&B artist was convicted last September in New York of racketeering and sex trafficking crimes.

Lizzette Martinez, 45, told reporters in New York she was grateful for the sentencing, and never thought she would see him be held accountable for his actions.

R. Kelly given 30 years in jail for sex abuse

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R. Kelly in 2019Image source, Reuters

US singer R. Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for using his celebrity status to sexually abuse children and women.

The R&B artist, 55, was convicted last September in New York of racketeering and sex trafficking crimes.

He had faced years of allegations and the judge on Wednesday said he had an “indifference to human suffering”

Lawyers for the singer, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, say he will appeal.

Ahead of his sentencing, a handful of women took the stand to confront Kelly.

A woman identified only as Angela called the singer a Pied Piper who “grew in wickedness” with every new victim, while others who were not named testified he had broken their spirits.

“I literally wished I would die because of how you made me feel,” said one.

Dressed in prison khakis and dark glasses, Kelly declined to make a statement of his own and did not react as the verdict was handed down.

US District Judge Ann Donnelly said the celebrity had used sex as a weapon, forcing his victims to do unspeakable things and saddling them with incurable diseases.

“You taught them that love is enslavement and violence,” she said.

The court heard how Kelly – known for hit songs like I Believe I Can Fly and Ignition – used his influence to lure women and children into sexual abuse over two decades.

Jurors at his six-week trial in Brooklyn heard how he trafficked women between different US states, assisted by managers, security guards and other members of his entourage.

The court also heard how Kelly had illegally obtained paperwork to marry singer Aaliyah when she was 15 in 1994, seven years before the singer died in a plane crash.

The certificate, leaked at the time, listed Aaliyah’s age as 18. The marriage was annulled months later.

Federal prosecutors had recommended that Kelly be sentenced to more than 25 years in prison, given the seriousness of his crimes and “the need to protect the public from further crimes”.

But his lawyers called for a sentence of 10 years – the mandatory minimum for his conviction – or less.

They portrayed Kelly as growing up poor in a household rife with domestic violence and suffering sexual abuse from a young age.

They said he was “devastated” by the sentence and planned to appeal.

Kelly has been in custody since he was indicted by federal prosecutors in New York and Chicago in July 2019.

His three years behind bars have been eventful, including a beating from a fellow inmate in 2020 and a bout with Covid-19 earlier this year.

The singer faces further legal action in August, when he goes on trial again, this time in Chicago on child sex images and obstruction charges.

He is also due to face sex abuse charges in courts in Illinois and Minnesota.

Glastonbury: Paul McCartney fan who fainted hopes to see her 'hero' perform again

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A Paul McCartney fan who fainted at his Glastonbury set has said she hopes to see her “hero” perform again someday – or even have a cup of tea with him.

Lisa Morris, from Bath, waited seven hours to secure a spot near the front for the set, but collapsed about 25 minutes into the performance at the Pyramid Stage.

She was then treated at the medical tent, where she was told she was on the verge of hypothermia.

Watch Paul McCartney’s full set on BBC iPlayer

Margaret Keane: Big Eyes artist, whose husband claimed credit, dies at 94

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Margaret Keane (second left) with director Tim Burton and actors Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in 2014Image source, Getty Images

Artist Margaret Keane, known for her paintings of children with large sad eyes – and who had to prove in court she had created them, after her husband originally took credit – has died.

Keane’s haunting portraits became hugely popular in the 1950s and 60s.

In 1986, she sued her ex-husband Walter and a judge asked them both to paint in court to prove who was the real artist. He did not do so – but she did and won.

Director Tim Burton turned her story into a film called Big Eyes, in 2014.

The 94-year-old died peacefully on Sunday morning at her home in Napa, California, according to a statement on social media.

Her daughter Jane Swigert told the New York Times the cause was heart failure.

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Keane’s images of “big-eyed waifs” were dismissed by art critics but bought in huge volumes by the public and celebrities.

She had married Walter in 1955 and he sold the works while forcing her to toil for up to 16 hours a day at home.

“When he wasn’t home, he’d usually call every hour to make sure I hadn’t gone out,” she told the Guardian in 2014. “I was in jail.”

What she did not realise for the first two years was he was also passing the paintings off as his own.

Walter and Margaret Keane in 1965

Image source, Getty Images

“The whole thing just snowballed and it was too late to say it wasn’t him who painted them,” she later told the New York Times. “I’ll always regret that I wasn’t strong enough to stand up for my rights.”

But he had threatened to have her killed if she revealed the truth, she said. “He knew a lot of Mafia people,” she told the Guardian. “He really scared me. He tried to hit me once.”

The couple divorced in 1965 and she did not publicly reveal his hoax until 1970. She challenged her ex-husband to a public “paint-off” in San Francisco but he failed to attend.

There was another painting challenge in the Honolulu court in 1986. Margaret completed one of her trademark paintings in front of the judge and jury in 53 minutes while Walter claimed to be unable to paint because of a shoulder injury.

She was awarded $4m (£3.3m) but the amount was reduced on appeal. “I didn’t want money anyway,” she said. “I just wanted legal victory.”

In 2014, Amy Adams played Margaret in Big Eyes, with Walter – who died in 2000 – portrayed by Christoph Waltz.

Sherwood: TV drama hailed by critics after final episode

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David Morrissey stars as DCS Ian St Clair

Crime drama Sherwood drew to a close on Tuesday, with one critic describing it as “the best BBC drama of the year”.

The show, starring Lesley Manville and David Morrissey, centres around the hunt for a killer tormenting a fractured Nottinghamshire community.

It has had glowing reviews, and the BBC announced on Wednesday that a second series has been commissioned.

The Telegraph‘s five-star review of the finale said the show was “authentic, devastating and perfectly cast”.

The paper’s critic Alex Diggins wrote: “2022 has been a purple patch for grown-up, serious drama on the BBC.

“The Tourist, The Responder and This is Going to Hurt were all excellent. But in the clarity of its storytelling, and the authenticity of its atmosphere, Sherwood split the bullseye: the best BBC drama of the year so far, and I’d hazard some time to come.

“No wonder it’s just been recommissioned for a second series.”

Lesley Manville plays Julie Jackson in the show

Two murders and the toxic legacy of a dispute that drove families apart lie at the heart of the drama, which was inspired by real-life events in writer James Graham’s home town.

It follows two police officers in a mining village still scarred by the divisions laid down during the miners’ strike decades earlier.

Diggins added that Nottinghamshire-born Graham’s “story of murder, scabs and old wounds has proved to be so much more than a simple crime drama”.

The show, he said, contains “ringing echoes” of the mythology of Robin Hood, and, moreover, “believable people, in a believable world, broken on the rack of history and their own mistakes”.

Philip Jackson, Lorraine Ashbourne and Perry Fitzpatrick in Sherwood

Image source, Matt Squire

The Guardian seemed to agree, also offering five-stars. Lucy Mangan wrote that the “gloriously directed, superbly written ending was quietly devastating”.

She said: “The entire cast has been rightly and unanimously lauded.

“Sherwood has been stuffed with the unquestionable best of a generation of British acting talent in Manville, Morrissey, Lorraine Ashbourne (who gets all the work she deserves but not always the glory – despite never failing to convince absolutely every moment she’s on screen) and those filling every other main role.

“They all had a fine script to work with and glorious direction that made it even more than the sum of its parts. Every arrow found its mark.”

Reviewing the penultimate episode of the BBC One show the previous evening, however, the Daily Mail was less impressed, offering only two-stars.

Bally Gill, David Morrissey, writer James Graham and Joanne Froggatt attended a screening of Sherwood in Nottingham at the start of June

Image source, PA Media

“Sherwood has been a disappointment, with storylines as flat as the beer,” wrote Christopher Stephens, referencing the working men’s club in the show.

“The cast is outstanding, crammed with more top actors than a Harry Potter movie. But even the talents of Lorraine Ashbourne, Mark Addy, Pip Torrens, Adeel Akhtar, David Morrissey and Robert Glenister can’t cover up the yawning illogicalities in the plot.”

His paper had previously described the show as “utterly compelling”.

As the BBC announced that filming for series two would commence next year, Graham said he had been “so deeply moved by the response to Sherwood”.

“These stories come from my home, and I want to specifically express gratitude to my community for whom I know these subjects can be difficult, but – I hope – important ones to explore,” he said.

Morrissey said it had been “a wonderful ride”.

Comedian Janey Godley reveals she is clear of cancer

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janey godleyImage source, janey godley

Comedian Janey Godley, who revealed last year that she had ovarian cancer, has said she is clear of the disease.

The 61-year-old Glaswegian had a hysterectomy and six rounds of chemotherapy as part of her treatment.

She announced on social media that NHS staff had “definitely saved my life”.

The entertainer thanked “everyone who supported me, everyone who sent me love, everyone who sent me so much strength”.

She added: “I’ve just had a phone call from the cancer specialist and the scan has come back clear. There is no evidence of disease.

“I want to thank everybody at Beatson Cancer Care and everyone in the NHS who looked after me.

“My cup is full with gratefulness.”

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Godley revealed last November that said she had been diagnosed after suffering from a bloated feeling in her stomach.

The comedian, who found viral fame with her dubbed sketches about First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, urged anyone with symptoms to get them checked out.

Her pastiches of Nicola Sturgeon’s coronavirus news briefings gained her a massive social media following during the pandemic.

She featured in Scottish government coronavirus adverts but they were pulled after offensive historical tweets by her came to light.

R. Kelly: The history of allegations against him

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R KellyImage source, Getty Images

For more than two decades, chart-topping R&B singer R. Kelly had faced allegations of sexual abuse.

The accounts went back to the start of his career in the 1990s, with many centring on the predatory pursuit of teenage girls.

In September 2021, he was found guilty of eight counts of sex trafficking and one of racketeering in a New York court, and now faces a lengthy jail sentence.

The singer – whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly – is separately facing trial in Chicago on child sex images and obstruction charges. He is also due to face sex abuse charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

Kelly was himself the victim of child sex abuse, and detailed in his autobiography how he was raped by a female family member when he was eight years old.

Here is a history of the accusations against him.

1994: Marries Aaliyah

Kelly, then aged 27, wed 15-year-old singer Aaliyah at a secret ceremony in Chicago.

Vibe magazine later discovered Aaliyah had lied about her age on the wedding certificate, listing herself as 18. The marriage was annulled in February 1995.

A former tour manager for Kelly testified at his trial that he bribed a government worker in 1994 to obtain a fake ID for Aaliyah – so the singers could marry.

For the rest of her career, Aaliyah dodged questions about the nature of her relationship. “When people ask me, I tell them, ‘Hey, don’t believe all that mess,'” she told one interviewer. “We’re close and people took it the wrong way.”


Image source, Getty Images

Kelly rarely spoke about Aaliyah after she died in a plane crash in 2001. She is not mentioned in his autobiography, where an author’s note explains “certain episodes could not be included for complicated reasons”.

In a 2016 interview with GQ magazine, he described their relationship as “best, best, best, best friends”, but declined to comment on their marriage, saying: “I will never have that conversation with anyone. Out of respect for Aaliyah, and her mother and father who have asked me not to personally.”

1996: Sued for emotional distress

Tiffany Hawkins sued R. Kelly for the “personal injuries and emotional distress” she suffered during a three-year relationship with the star.

In court documents, she said she began having sex with Kelly in 1991, when she was 15 and he was 24, and the relationship ended when she turned 18. According to the Chicago Sun Times, Ms Hawkins sought $10m in damages but accepted a fraction of that amount ($250,000) when the case was settled in 1998.

Kelly’s spokeswoman said she had “no knowledge” of the accusations.

R Kelly

Image source, Getty Images

2001: Sued by intern

Tracy Sampson sued R. Kelly, accusing him of inducing her “into an indecent sexual relationship” when she was 17.

The woman, a former intern at Epic Records, said she was “treated as his personal sex object and cast aside”.

“He often tried to control every aspect of my life including who I would see and where I would go,” she said. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, according to the New York Post.

April/May 2002: Two more court cases

Kelly is sued by Patrice Jones, a Chicago woman who claimed he impregnated her when she was under age, and that she was forced to have an abortion.

Montina Woods also sued Kelly, alleging that he videotaped them having sex without her knowledge. The recording was allegedly circulated on a “sex tape” sold by bootleggers under the title R. Kelly Triple-X.

The singer settled both cases out of court, paying undisclosed sums in return for non-disclosure agreements.

June 2002: Charged over child abuse videos

He is charged with 21 counts of making child sexual abuse videos involving various sexual acts.

Chicago police accused him of taping the acts and enticing a minor to participate in them. All the charges related to one girl, born in September 1984.

His arrest stemmed from a video that was sent anonymously to the Chicago Sun Times earlier in the year. They passed it on to police, who verified its authenticity with help from FBI forensic experts.

Kelly, who posted $750,000 bail, immediately denied the charges in an interview with MTV and later pleaded not guilty in court.

It took six years for the case to come to trial, during which time Kelly released his wildly successful Trapped In The Closet album and was nominated for an Image Award by the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), prompting widespread criticism.

The jury eventually concluded they could not prove that the girl on the tape was a minor, and Kelly was found not guilty on all counts.

2002-2004: Arrest prompts further charges

Kelly was charged with a further 12 counts of producing child sexual abuse images in Florida, where he was arrested at his holiday home.

These charges came after police seized a camera during the arrest, which allegedly contained images of him having sex with an underage girl.

The charges were dropped when a judge agreed with Kelly’s defence team that police lacked sufficient evidence to justify a search.

2017: Allegations of a “cult”

A long and detailed Buzzfeed report accused R. Kelly of trapping six women in a sex “cult”.

The article alleged that Kelly seduced young women when they approached him for help with their music careers, before taking control of their lives – dictating “what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records”.

Kelly also confiscated the women’s mobile phones, the report said, barring contact with friends and family.

The allegations came from three former employees and the parents of several women, who said their daughters had all but vanished.

2017-2018: Victims approach the press

Buzzfeed’s report prompted further allegations.

Jerhonda Pace broke a non-disclosure agreement to speak about having sex with Kelly while she was underage. Another woman, Kitti Jones, claimed the star starved her, coerced her into sexual encounters with other women and physically abused her. Ms Pace would go on to testify against Kelly in the 2021 trial.

Ms Kitti, along with other members of R. Kelly’s inner circle, also spoke to a BBC Three documentary in March 2018. One former friend and collaborator, Lovell Jones, said Kelly asked him to scout out women “that looked young” at parties, and claimed that it was “common knowledge” that the singer preferred young girls.

2018: #MuteRKelly, staff departures and new court case

The #MuteRKelly campaign lobbied record label RCA to sever ties with the singer. They also targeted concert promoters, ticket sellers and streaming services – with Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora all agreeing to demote Kelly’s songs from their playlists (a decision that was later reversed).

Around the same time, the star’s lawyer, publicist and personal assistant all quit – although attorney Linda Mensch said her departure was “unrelated to any allegations related to Mr Kelly’s social life”.

Kelly continued to perform live despite protests outside his shows, and was filmed saying the campaign against him was “too late”.

“Only God can mute me,” he sang defiantly on a song called I Admit. “Am I supposed to go to jail or lose my career because of your opinion?”

Meanwhile, the star was sued by a former partner who said he “intentionally” infected her with a sexually transmitted disease.

2019: New documentary leads to charges

Over the course of six hour-long episodes, Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly presented the most comprehensive look yet at the allegations against the musician.

Two weeks after the programme was broadcast, Kelly was dropped by his record company. Planned concerts in the US and New Zealand were cancelled.

In February, celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti said he had obtained a video showing Kelly having sex with a 14-year-old girl. Weeks later, Kelly was charged in Chicago with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He pleaded not guilty and gave a histrionic TV interview.

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Prosecutors later filed an additional 11 charges of sexual assault and abuse against a minor aged between 13 and 16.

The charging documents described sex and oral sex with a minor “by the use of force or threat of force”. The accuser was thought to be one of the women featured in Surviving R. Kelly, who said she met the singer during a previous trial.

July 2019: Sex Trafficking charges

R Kelly

Image source, Reuters

Kelly was hit with two separate federal indictments in Illinois and Brooklyn.

Combined, the allegations depicted an organised effort from the singer and his associates to recruit and transport underage girls over state lines for illegal sexual purposes, including the production of child sex abuse images, as well as conspiracy to obstruct justice by destroying evidence and bribing or threatening witnesses.

August 2019: Prostitution charges

Prosecutors in Minnesota filed prostitution charges against R. Kelly, meaning he faced criminal cases in three US states.

He was accused of soliciting a teenager who asked him for an autograph in 2001. Kelly allegedly invited the 17-year-old to his hotel room and offered her $200 (£164) to undress and dance with him.

Kelly’s lawyer said the charges were “beyond absurd”.

R. Kelly in court in September 2019

Image source, Getty Images

August-September 2020: Prison assault

Towards the end of August, Kelly was attacked in his sleep by a fellow inmate in Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Centre.

His lawyer called for his immediate release, saying “the government cannot ensure his safety”. However, the request – along with numerous other attempts to get Kelly released on bail – was denied.

August 2021: Aaliyah relationship confirmed

In the last pre-trial hearing before Kelly’s trial, US District Judge Ann M Donnelly made a series of rulings to narrow down what evidence could be shown to jurors.

During the hearing, she asked one of the singer’s lawyers whether they denied the star had sexual relations with Aaliyah while she was underage.

According to the Associated Press, Thomas A Farinella “let out a deep sigh and responded, ‘No.'”

August-September 2021: Trial and guilty verdict

The trial began on 18 August in New York.

Read more about the trial:

On 27 September, following two days of deliberation, the jury found R. Kelly guilty on all nine counts.

Gloria Allred, a lawyer who represented several victims, told reporters: “I’ve been practising law for 47 years. During this time, I’ve pursued many sexual predators who have committed crimes against women and children.

“Of all the predators that I have pursued, Mr Kelly is the worst.”

November 2021: Witness intimidation

A man was sentenced to eight years in prison after intimidating a witness before Kelly’s New York trial.

In June 2020, Michael Williams set fire to a car belonging to the father of a witness who was due to testify in order to “prevent the victim-witness from continuing to co-operate”, according a statement from the attorney’s office in New York.

“Williams attempted to use violence and intimidation to divert the course of justice and prevent a victim’s voice from being heard,” they said.

June 2022: New York sentencing

Sentencing for Kelly’s New York conviction is due on Wednesday, 29 June, and the disgraced 55-year-old will end up spending a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life behind bars.

Prosecutors recommended at least 25 years, saying he showed a “callous disregard” for his victims and no remorse.

“Indeed, the defendant’s decades of crime appear to have been fuelled by narcissism and a belief that his musical talent absolved him of any need to conform his conduct – no matter how predatory, harmful, humiliating or abusive to others – to the strictures of the law,” they said.