R. Kelly Found Guilty of All Charges in New York Racketeering and Sex-Trafficking Case

FILE - In this Sept. 17, 2019, file photo, R. Kelly appears during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago. The R&B star gained weight and lost money while he awaits a sex-trafficking trial that starts in earnest next week, his lawyers said Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, at a court hearing. The revelations came as U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly in New York made a series of rulings to narrow down what evidence can be shown to jurors.  (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool, File)

Singer R. Kelly was found guilty of leading a decades-long scheme to recruit women and underage girls for sex in New York on Monday, with the jury declaring him guilty of all all nine counts of the racketeering and sex-trafficking charges against him, according to the New York Times.

The jury, consisting of seven men and five women, convicted Kelly of racketeering and eight violations of an anti-sex trafficking law after nine hours of deliberations in federal court in Brooklyn, after beginning its deliberations Friday afternoon. Kelly faces the possibility of decades in prison; an attorney for Kelly told CNN they are considering filing an appeal and are disappointed in the verdict.

Kelly’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 4, 2022.

The singer sat motionless in the courtroom as the verdict was read, according to the paper. His facial expression was obscured by a mask. The verdict comes 13 years after Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges in Illinois. He faces further charges in Illinois.

“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,” Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, acting U.S. attorney from the Eastern District, said outside court after the verdict was read, according to CNN. “He is a predator who used his inner circle to ensnare underage girls and young men and women for decades, in a sordid web of sex abuse, exploitation and humiliation.

 “This conviction would not have been possible without the bravery and resilience of R. Kelly’s victims. I applaud their courage in revealing in open court, the painful, intimate and horrific details of their lives with him,” Kasulis continued. “No one deserves what they experienced at his hands or the threats or harassment they faced about telling the truth about what happened to them. We hope that today’s verdict bring some measure of comfort and closure to the victims.”

In the New York trial that began Aug. 18, Kelly faced federal counts of human trafficking, racketeering, child pornography, kidnapping and forced labor. The former music star denied all allegations against him, and pleaded not guilty. During the trial, the prosecution sought to prove that not only is Kelly a predator, but his team has long enabled his behavior.

During closing statements on Wednesday, federal prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes drove home the point that R. Kelly used his fame to take advantage of underaged girls and boys, as well as young women, characterizing the R&B singer as a predator.

“For many years, what happened in the defendant’s world stayed in the defendant’s world,” Geddes said, according to the Times. “But no longer.”
Over the course of the five-week trial, the prosecution brought nine women and two men to the stand to tell their accounts of Kelly’s sexual, physical and mental abuse, along with 34 witnesses, including former employees of Kelly. Kelly will not take the stand, per the Times.

According to the Associated Press, accusers testified that Kelly allegedly locked a radio intern in a room where she passed out and he sexually assaulted her, videotaped a woman wiping feces on her face as punishment for not following his rules and knowingly gave multiple people herpes without informing them of his STD status.

In one of the most explosive moments during testimony, a witness alleged that they had seen Kelly sexually abusing late R&B star Aaliyah in 1993, when she was only 13 or 14, according to the AP. That same witness also testified that Kelly began to sexually abuse her when she was 15. Part of the prosecution’s evidence included a fake marriage license that they alleged Kelly and his team used to wed the two when Kelly came to believe he had impregnated her, the AP stated. The faked license claimed that Aaliyah was 18, when in reality she was only 15. The prosecution alleged that Kelly wanted the sham marriage so that he could make Aaliyah get an abortion, out of fear of criminal consequences, according to the Times.

“We all know what the defendant was thinking,” Geddes said, according to the Times. “No baby, no jail.”

Geddes’ closing statement lasted more than three hours, according to the Times, also detailing what she called Kelly’s “violent temper” and tendency to use the promise of fame to take advantage of others sexually.

“He used lies, manipulation, threats and physical abuse to dominate his victims,” Geddes said. “Just because you have one of your henchmen do your dirty work doesn’t make you any less responsible. The defendant’s pattern of sexual abuse of minors didn’t change after he wed Aaliyah. In fact, it didn’t skip a beat.”

The defense presented four character witnesses, including former employees, an audio engineer and an accountant, the latter of whom testified about the structure of Kelly’s company, RSK, as demonstrated by an illustration of an octopus and its tentacles.

This is the first of several cases against R. Kelly, as he faces charges in several states, including Illinois and Minnesota. It’s the latest in a string of court procedures propelled by hit documentaries. On Sept. 17, Robert Durst, the New York real estate heir and subject of HBO’s 2015 docuseries “The Jinx,” was convicted of murdering his friend, Susan Berman, more than 20 years ago. On Sept. 29, Britney Spears faces a California judge in the matter of her 13-year-long conservatorship, the validity of which was questioned starkly in the New York Times documentary “Framing Britney Spears.” Interest in Kelly’s case was revived in large part due to the Lifetime series “Surviving R. Kelly.”