R. Kelly has been found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking by a federal jury in Brooklyn, New York today (September 27).
The R&B singer (real name Robert Sylvester Kelly) was standing trial for racketeering, bribery and violating the Mann Act, which criminalises the transportation of any woman or girl across state lines for “immoral” purposes, such as illegal sexual activity. He has consistently denied all the claims against him and had pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
A jury of seven men and five women had begun deliberating the charges on Friday afternoon (September 24) after prosecutors and defence attorneys finished their closing arguments at the end of a gruelling trial. Kelly was found guilty of all the charges against him.
Witnesses said Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage, believing “the music, the fame and the celebrity meant he could do whatever he wanted”, assistant US attorney Nadia Shihata said (per Sky News).
She added that his alleged victims “aren’t groupies or gold diggers, they’re human beings”.
Speaking outside the courtroom, Deveraux Cannick, a lawyer for Kelly, said the defence was “disappointed”. Kelly is due to be sentenced on May 4, 2022.
Kelly’s trial had been delayed multiple times due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It started last month (August 19) and has seen nine accusers take the stand to detail allegations of abuse by the singer. One woman claimed he had told her he was going to “train her” sexually when she was 16 years old and was told to follow “Rob’s rules”, given instructions to call Kelly “Daddy” and wear baggy clothes to hide her figure.
A man using the pseudonym Louis also alleged that Kelly had sexually assaulted him when he was 17 after inviting him to his studio to record music.
The ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ singer is still facing charges of child pornography and obstruction in Illinois, after that date was also delayed due to COVID-19. He is also concurrently facing other sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota. He has pleaded not guilty to these charges.