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R. Kelly and Universal Music Group must pay over $500,000 in music royalties to his victims, judge rules

The judge signed an order stating that the music corporation must turn over funds satisfying Kelly’s debt of $507,234.05.
Image: R. Kelly
R. Kelly at a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago, Ill., on Sept. 17, 2019.Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune via AP file

Disgraced musician R. Kelly and Universal Music Group must pay more than $500,000 in music royalties to his sexual abuse victims, a New York judge ruled.

Judge Ann Donnelly of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York signed an order Wednesday stating that the music corporation must turn over funds satisfying Kelly's debt of $507,234.05.

Universal is in possession of at least $567,444.19 from the singer's music publishing royalties, the court order states.

The money will be sent to Brooklyn federal prosecutors to help cover his victim's restitution and criminal fines. 

Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is serving 30 years in prison after a New York jury convicted him of racketeering and sex trafficking in 2021. As part of his sentencing in the case, Kelly, Universal and Sony Music Entertainment were ordered to pay his half-million dollar debut.

Prosecutors, however, said Wednesday that Sony was no longer responsible because Kelly's royalties with Universal will cover it.

"The outstanding balance fluctuates because it is subject to interest, but as of today is $507,234.05. Universal Music Group is holding at least $567,444.19. Because the funds held by Universal will cover the entire restitution debt, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will withdraw our Writ of Garnishment against Sony," the prosecutor's office said.

Universal Music Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Kelly, 56, was found guilty in September 2021 on nine counts of sex trafficking and racketeering in a high-profile sex trafficking case. The "I Believe I Can Fly" singer had pleaded not guilty to all charges. Prosecutors in the case said Kelly was a serial sexual predator who abused young women, as well as underage boys and girls, for more than two decades.

They also said he and his entourage led a criminal enterprise that recruited and groomed victims for sex, arranging for them to travel to concerts and other events across the U.S.

Kelly, whose crimes were detailed in "Surviving R. Kelly," a Lifetime documentary series, was also sentenced to 20 years in prison on another set of sex crimes, including enticement of a minor, in Chicago. A judge ruled that 19 years would be served concurrently with his New York sentence and one year would be served afterward.

He also faced charges in Minnesota related to him allegedly inviting a 17-year-old girl to his hotel room in 2021 and paying her to dance naked for him. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office dismissed the case, saying that they believed the victim but did not think a conviction would add any additional prison time for Kelly.