R&B superstar R Kelly has been convicted of running a violent and coercive scheme to sexually abuse women and children over three decades. He was found guilty of all nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking by a federal jury on Monday.
Kelly, 54, has been held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago since July 2019 without bail. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on federal charges alleging additional sex crimes, with federal prosecutors in New York and Chicago charging Kelly with kidnapping, forced labor, child sexual exploitation, child pornography production, and obstruction of justice.
Kelly was the Leader of a Criminal Enterprise
Kelly was accused of running a Chicago-based criminal enterprise ("the Enterprise") for nearly three decades that prosecutors say he used to "target, groom and exploit girls, boys and women" for unwanted sex and mental torment, reported the Daily Mail.
Kelly identified these girls and women at concerts, and then directed members of the Enterprise to escort them backstage following his musical performances. Kelly exchanged contact information with girls and women so that he and other members of the Enterprise could arrange travel and lodging for them to visit Kelly and engage in the charged illegal sexual conduct, according to the Department of Justice.
One woman who testified that Kelly imprisoned, drugged and raped her said in a written statement after the verdict that she had "been hiding" from Kelly "due to threats made against me" since she went public with her accusations.
"I'm ready to start living my life free from fear and to start the healing process," the woman, identified in court as Sonja, added, according to the BBC.
Legal documents also revealed the mental torment Kelly subject his victims to. They were not allowed to eat or use the bathroom without his permission, he controlled what clothes they wore and made them call him "Daddy", according to the news outlet.
Sex Trafficking Trial
A jury of seven men and five women reached the verdict after nine hours of deliberation and a six-week long trial featuring lurid testimony. The evidence at trial included the testimony 45 government witnesses, including more than 10 victims, five of whom are named in the superseding indictment, testimony from employees of the defendant, text messages, video and audio recordings, photographs, phone and travel records, DNA evidence and expert witnesses.
Predator Who Used his Fame to Prey on Young Victims
One of the 1990s' brightest stars whose hits included "I Believe I Can Fly," the disgraced Kelly faces up to 100 years in prison - 20 years for racketeering, 10 for each of the sex trafficking convictions. Sentencing is expected to take place on May 4, 2022. The singer maintains his innocence and denies any wrongdoing.
"Today's guilty verdict forever brands R. Kelly as a predator, who used his fame and fortune to prey on the young, the vulnerable, and the voiceless for his own sexual gratification," stated Acting U.S. Attorney Kasulis.
"A predator who used his inner circle to ensnare underage teenage girls, and young women and men, for decades, in a sordid web of sex abuse, exploitation and degradation. To the victims in this case, your voices were heard, and justice was finally served. We hope that today's verdict brings some measure of comfort and closure to the victims."