R. Kelly, the R&B celeb known for his anthem “I Believe I Can Fly,” was sentenced Monday in a sex trafficking trial after decades of averting criminal duty for numerous allegations of misdeed with young women and children.
A jury of seven men and five women found Kelly sinful of all nine counts, comprising racketeering, on their second day of deliberations. Kelly wore a face mask below black-rimmed glasses, staying motionless with eyes downcast, as the verdict was read in federal court in Brooklyn.
Prosecutors claimed that the retinue of managers and aides who helped Kelly meet girls — and keep them respectful and quiet — amounted to a criminal business. Two people have been accused with Kelly in a separate federal case pending in Chicago.
He confronts the possibility of decades in prison for crimes comprising violating the Mann Act, an anti-sex trafficking law that forbids taking anyone across state lines “for any immoral purpose.” Sentencing is planned for May 4.
One of Kelly’s lawyers, Deveraux Cannick, said he was unhappy and hoped to appeal.
“I think I’m even more disappointed the government brought the case in the first place, given all the inconsistencies,” Cannick said.
Many accusers confirmed in lurid detail during the trial, declaring that Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic notions when they were underage.
For years, the public and news media appeared to be more amused than stunned by allegations of problematic connections with juveniles, beginning with Kelly’s illegal marriage to the R&B phenom Aaliyah in 1994 when she was just 15.
His contracts and concert tickets kept selling. Other artists proceeded to record his songs, even after he was imprisoned in 2002 and impeached for making a recording of himself sexually offending and urinating on a 14-year-old girl.
Widespread public rebuke didn’t come until a widely watched docuseries, Surviving R. Kelly, helped make his lawsuit a signifier of the #MeToo era, and provided a voice to accusers who marvelled if their tales were previously ignored because they were Black women.
“To the victims, in this case, your voices were heard and justice was finally served,” Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis told on Monday.
Gloria Allred, an attorney for some of Kelly’s accusers, said outside the courthouse that of all the vultures she’s gone after — a list encompassing Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein — “Mr Kelly is the worst.”
At the trial, various of Kelly’s accusers testified without using their real names to protect their privacy. Jurors were revealed homemade tapes of Kelly committing sex acts that prosecutors said were not consensual.
The defence named the accusers “groupies” and “stalkers.”
Kelly’s lawyer, Cannick, challenged why women lived in relationships with Kelly if they believed they were being exploited. “You made a choice,” Cannick told one woman who vouched, adding, “You participated of your own will.”
Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, has been detained without bail since 2019. The New York case is only part of the formal threat facing the singer. He also has asked not guilty to sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota. Trial intervals in those cases have yet to be set.
At the trial, prosecutors named the singer as a pampered man-child and control freak. His accusers told they were under rules to call him “Daddy,” required to jump and kiss him anytime he wandered into a room, and to cheer only for him when he played pickup basketball pastimes in which they said he was a ball hog.
The accusers claimed they were ordered to sign nondisclosure forms and were subjected to warnings and punishments such as brutal spankings if they broke what one related to as “Rob’s rules.” Some said they thought the videotapes he shot of them having sex would be used against them if they uncovered what was happening.
Among the other more troubling tableaus: Kelly maintaining a gun by his side while he chastised one of his accusers as an opening to forcing her to give him oral sex in a Los Angeles music studio; Kelly giving many accusers herpes without revealing he had an STD; Kelly intimidating a teenage boy to join him for sex with a naked girl who arose from underneath a boxing ring in his garage, and Kelly shooting a shaming video of one apparent victim showing her smearing faeces on her face as punishment for breaking his rules.
Of 14 apparent racketeering acts evaluated in the trial, the jury establish only two “not proven.” The testimonies involved a woman who said Kelly took advantage of her in 2003 when she was an unfamiliar radio station intern.
She declared he whisked her to his Chicago recording studio, where she was kept detained and was drugged before he sexually assaulted her while she was collapsed. When she knew she was trapped, “I was scared. I was ashamed. I was embarrassed,” she said.
Another statement pointed to Kelly’s relationship with Aaliyah. One of the final witnesses interpreted seeing him sexually abusing her around 1993 when Aaliyah was only 13 or 14.
Jurors also learned testimony about a FALSE marriage scheme hatched to protect Kelly after he worried he had impregnated Aaliyah. Witnesses said they were wedded in matching jogging suits using a license falsely documenting her age as 18; he was 27 at the time.
Aaliyah, whose full name was Aaliyah Dana Haughton, worked with Kelly, who composed and produced her 1994 debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number. She died in a plane crash in 2001 at age 22.
Kelly had been tried once previously, in Chicago in a child pornography lawsuit, but was acquitted in 2008.
For the Brooklyn trial, U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly banned people not directly implicated in the case from the courtroom in what she called a coronavirus safeguard. Reporters and other observers had to watch on a video feed from another room in the same building, though a few were enabled in the courtroom for the ruling