After years of allegations, R. Kelly has been found guilty of sexual abuse.
On Monday afternoon, a federal jury in Brooklyn, New York handed down its verdict — guilty of racketeering and eight violations of an anti-sex-trafficking law. The jury’s decision asserts Kelly was the ringleader of a scheme that recruited women and underage girls for sex.
The Grammy-winning singer wore a face mask in court because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He sat silently with his eyes downcast as the verdict was read, according to the Associated Press.
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Prosecutors alleged Kelly used close associates to help him meet girls at tour stops and in restaurants. Several accusers testified in the case, including Jerhonda Pace, who took the witness stand last month and said the musical artist ordered her to role play during their sexual encounters.
“He wanted me to put my hair up in pigtails and dress like a Girl Scout,” Pace said, adding that Kelly was 42 at the time when she was 16 years old.
Other accusers said they were forced to sign nondisclosure agreements and follow strict instructions from the singer titled “Rob’s Rules.”
“To the victims in this case, your voices were heard and justice was finally served,” Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis said Monday following the reading of the verdict.
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Deveraux Cannick, one of Kelly’s lawyers, said he plans to appeal.
“I think I’m even more disappointed the government brought the case in the first place, given all the inconsistencies,” Cannick said.
The jury consisted of seven men and five women. Due to the highly-publicized trial, Judge Ann M. Donnelly asked for jurors to be partially sequestered and to remain anonymous.
Deliberations in the case began last week following closing arguments and weeks of testimony by witnesses who alleged the “I Believe I Can Fly” artist performed sex acts with them when they were underage. Jurors were shown videos Kelly made of the encounters.
The New York Times reports this is “the first high-profile Me Too case in which a powerful man’s accusers have been primarily Black women.”
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Kelly, a prolific producer, writer and performer, was previously indicted on 13 counts of child pornography, but was acquitted of all charges in 2008.
The allegations against him received renewed attention when Lifetime aired its 2019 docuseries Surviving R. Kelly and Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning.
The two series addressed claims that the R&B singer had sex with numerous underage girls, obtained fraudulent paperwork to marry R&B phenom Aaliyah when she was 15 years old, and abused his ex-wife, Andrea Kelly. Yet the superstar singer repeatedly denied the claims.
Tiffany Hawkins, who described herself as Kelly’s first accuser, said in the series she was a 15-year-old high school vocalist when the “Step in the Name of Love” singer agreed to mentor her and they started having sex. She said she got pregnant and was later offered a $200,000 settlement and told to sign an NDA.
Over the years, there were whispers that music executives helped protect Kelly because he continued to top the charts and sell millions of records.
Sentencing for the now-convicted singer is scheduled for May 4, 2022. He faces the possibility of spending decades in prison for his crimes including the violation of the Mann Act, which is an anti-sex trafficking law that prohibits taking someone across state lines “for any immoral purpose.”
R. Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is still facing a federal case pending in Illinois, along with two other associates who have also been charged.