The Slammer Shuts on Heinous Criminals

Do celebrities get sentenced fairly in SA trials?


Mihai Surdu/Unsplash

The original Harvey Weinstein trial was one of the catalysts of the #MeToo Movement.

RobyLane Kelley, Staff Writer

Warning: Themes of sexual assault  

The gavel has dropped against R. Kelly once again.

  Decades after Kelly committed pedophilic acts, only one year has been added to his sentence in his second hearing, but I don’t think a total of 31 years is enough for what he’s done. The fact that all but one year will be served in conjunction with his previous 30-year sentence is ludicrous.

  We’re talking about a man who was found guilty of sex trafficking, raping and creating sex tapes of minors–one of his victims was his 14-year-old goddaughter. Most of us know that pedophiles don’t last long when put into the general prison population. However, Kelly has money and fame from his time as a public figure, and I highly doubt that he’ll face the music.   

  Federal prosecutors said that they believe Kelly is a danger to society because of his “lack of remorse.” Prosecutors wanted to add a consecutive 25 years to Kelly’s sentence to ensure he would never be released back into society. Unfortunately, the judge thought otherwise. Federal district judge Harry Leinenweber ruled that 19 years of Kelly’s new sentence will be served concurrently with his previous 30 years: the remaining year will be tacked on to the end of his current sentence.

  Kelly’s lawyer argued that for an African-American man with diabetes, a 30-year sentence equals life in prison. I would argue that for a pedophile who prosecutors say has little remorse for his actions, we shouldn’t run that risk.

  Less than a week after Kelly’s case, Harvey Weinstein had his day in court–a man who, in my mind, will forever be synonymous with the start of the #MeToo movement. After his most recent sentencing, Weinstein will serve a total of 39 years in prison. 

  Kelly and Weinstein have similar sentence lengths, but the difference between the cases is that Weinstein will probably never walk as a free man again. Weinstein is 20 years Kelly’s senior, and Kelly will be in the last decade of his sentence when he is Weinstein’s current age. Weinstein would be over 100 years old at the end of his sentence. 

  Evgeniya Chernyshova revealed to the world that she is Jane Doe number one shortly after Weinstein was convicted. As a woman that was sexually harassed and assaulted at the beginning of the #MeToo movement, I genuinely hope that these court cases lead to more rightful convictions. I stand with Chernyshova in that I’m tired of hiding. I don’t want to be someone’s victim, but a survivor. My attackers will never face repercussions for changing my life forever, but that doesn’t mean I have to hide. 

  I don’t feel like Weinstein or Kelly could ever receive a sentence that fits their heinous acts. However, knowing that the women who survived Weinstein feel vindicated will bring me some peace of mind.

  As Women’s History Month continues, let’s all remember the people who have paved the way to ensure these cases have their day in court. While I might not feel like these criminals are facing enough backlash, what matters most is that the victims have a sense of closure to this chapter of their lives.

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