R. Kelly could face decades in prison.
*Editor's note: The following contains testimonies from victims describing graphic and violent abuse, sexual acts, etc. Please read with caution.
On Monday, September 27, a federal jury in Brooklyn, New York, has convicted R&B singer R. Kelly on charges of racketeering and sex trafficking charges.
Kelly has been on trial since August 18 and will be sentenced on May 4. He could face decades in prison.
The singer faced a total of nine counts—one count of racketeering, with 14 underlying acts that included sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery, and sex trafficking charges, and eight additional counts of violations of the Mann Act, a sex trafficking law.
There were 50 prosection and defense witnesses in the trial—45 of which were prosecution witnesses, including victims who were identified as "Jane Does" in the indictments.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez argued that Kelly was a serial abuser who "maintained control over these victims using every trick in the predator handbook."
Jurors were shown homemade videos of Kelly engaging in sex acts that prosecutors said were not consensual. Prosecutors also claimed the singer was a "pampered man-child" and "control freak." Kelly's victims alleged they were ordered to sign nondisclosure forms and subjected to threats/punishments if they broke what was referred to as "Rob's rules."
Victims recalled other instances, including Kelly keeping a gun by his side while he berated one of his accusers prior to forcing her to give him oral sex in a Los Angeles music studio; Kelly giving several alleged victims herpes without disclosing he had an STD; Kelly coercing a teen boy to join him for sex with a naked girl in his garage; and Kelly shooting a video of one alleged victim showing her smearing feces on her face as punishment for breaking his rules.
Other testimony focused on Kelly's relationship with the late singer Aaliyah, who died in 2001 at age 22. Jurors heard testimony about the sexual abuse Aaliyah faced at the hands of Kelly, as well as a fraudulent marriage scheme created to protect Kelly after he feared Aaliyah had become pregnant. According to witnesses, the two were married using a license that falsely listed her age as 18—she was only 15. Kelly was 27 at the time.
However, despite all of this, the defense went on to label the accusers as "groupies" and "stalkers," even questioning why the alleged victims stayed in relationships with Kelly if they felt unsafe.
"You made a choice," Kelly lawyer Deveraux Cannick told one of the victims, adding, "You participated of your own will."
Cannick went on to say how disappointed he was in his client's verdict. "I think I’m even more disappointed the government brought the case in the first place given all the inconsistencies," Cannick said.
The singer himself even has a post on his official Facebook page, which was posted following the verdict, that echoes his lawyer's words:
Probably the most horrific piece of this entire thing is that this has been something that has been happening for years. And despite this, Kelly kept selling records and concert tickets. The widespread public condemnation didn't come until Surviving R. Kelly gave the victims a voice and bring light to the issues.
Kelly has been jailed without bail since 2019.
*This is an ongoing story and will be updated frequently. Refresh for updates!