List of Notable US Figures Handed Long Prison Sentences For Sexual Misconduct

Fridah Wangechi | 2 years ago
Convicted sexual offenders R.Kelly, Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby. COURTESY

On Wednesday, June 30, the world was shaken after a US court handed the once-celebrated RnB singer R. Kelly, real name Robert Sylvester Kelly a 30-year prison sentence for sexual related offences, with many lauding the court for bring justice to his victims and others finding the sentence rather harsh for the 55-year old singer.

His sentencing is a culmination of a two-decade long fight with the law, after he was charged in 2019 with 10 counts of "aggravated criminal sexual misconduct involving girls between the ages of 13 and 16. He had managed to save himself in 2008 after he was not found guilty of statutory rape charge charges filed against him in 2002.

The 2019 ruling saw more of his victims come forward with their stories after a 2018 documentary, Surviving R. Kelly was released and at least two women reportedly responded. 

He was then found guilty of racketeering, including acts of bribery and sexual exploitation of a child, along with separate sex trafficking charges. In his sentencing yesterday, evidence according to U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in Brooklyn federal court, stated that it reflected his "indifference to human suffering" and "sheer brutality" toward his victims hence the harshness by the court.

Another notable figure in the United States who was slapped with long jail sentence in the same week for sexual misconduct was Ghislaine Maxwell who was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for sex-trafficking , as she was found guilty of procuring teen girls for Jeffrey Epstein for him to abuse.

Epstein was a convicted sex offenders and financier of former US president  Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and monarch Prince Andrew who committed suicide after he was arrested in 2019 for sex-trafficking counts.

The 60-year-old Maxwell who hails from Britain still maintained her innocence and was convicted on December 29, 2021 of five of the six charges she faced.

In addition to sex trafficking, she was convicted of conspiracy to entice individuals under the age of 17 to travel in interstate commerce with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity, conspiracy to transport individuals under the age of 17 to travel in interstate commerce with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity; transportation of an individual under the age of 17 with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity; and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of individuals under the age of 18.

In 2020 ,former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein behind great cinematic masterpieces such as Django Unchained and Lord of the Rings ,was sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault in a landmark ruling that was triggered by the Me Too movement where a multitude of more than a 100 women came forward revealing the atrocities the producer had commited against them.

The 67-year-old was found guilty of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and raping former aspiring actress Jessica Mann out of six women who testified in the case, leading to his sentencing.

Weinstein was convicted of the two felonies, out of five he was charged with, and was at risk of facing the possible maximum sentence of 29 years in prison but the judge slashed six years off his term. This was to serve as an example to any potential offender of the fate they would face in the event they commit such crimes. Weinstein's earliest possible release date is late 2039.

American disgraced comedian Bill Cosby is one of the lucky few who got a reprieve after he was freed by the court before he could finish his prison sentence.

84-year-old Cosby was sentenced in 2018 to 3 to 10 years in a state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004 and had served three years before his release in 2021.

He was released from prison in 2021 after Pennsylvania's highest court overturned his sexual assault conviction, saying the disgraced actor's due process rights were violated.

This was after a panel of Pennsylvania State Supreme Court judges ruled that there was a “vast” violation of Cosby’s due process rights when he was criminally charged and convicted, a decade after a previous prosecutor had declined to prosecute him in 2005 for another sexual assault case in order to urge him to sit for a civil deposition instead – which was ultimately used against him in his criminal trial

This was highly protested by the prosecution and his accusers who felt that it was a huge step back in the progress achieved by the Me Too movement, giving hope to other assaulters such as Harvey Weinstein.