Disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly has been convicted for racketeering and sex trafficking after a decades-long scheme to recruit women and underage girls for sex.
The singer, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, attended his federal trial at a U.S. District court in Brooklyn, New York, where he faced nine counts of sexual misconduct against young girls, including acts of bribery and sexual exploitation of a child. He was also found guilty of violating the Mann Act, an anti-sex trafficking law that prohibits taking anyone across state lines “for any immoral purpose,”
He could face up to life in prison at his sentencing, which is scheduled for May 4.
“Today’s guilty verdict forever brands R. Kelly as a predator,” U.S. attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis told the press after Kelly’s verdict was read.
“To the victims in this case, your voices were heard and justice was finally served. No one deserves what they experienced at his hands. Or the threats and harassment they faced.”
Several of Kelly’s victims attended court to testify against him, recounting instances where they were sexually abused and exploited. They shared that they were under orders to call him “Daddy” and that they were made to sign nondisclosure forms and were punished if they broke what one referred to as “Rob’s rules.”
The punishments that Kelly would administer involved violent spankings or smearing feces on one’s face. Other victims detailed contracting herpes from the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer after his failure to disclose that he had the disease.
One of Kelly’s lawyers, Deveraux Cannick, said he was disappointed in the verdict and hoped to appeal. “I think I’m even more disappointed the government brought the case in the first place, given all the inconsistencies,” he said.
Gloria Allred, a lawyer who represented some of the victims, said that in the decades she’d practiced law and pursued predators (that which include Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein), “Mr. Kelly is the worst.”
Accusations against Kelly began in the late 90s and materialized in 2002, where he was first indicted on charges of child pornography. In the coming years, he would be accused of harassing and sexually abusing minors, forming a “sex cult,” and filming underage girls engaging in sexual acts.
Art Daniella Sison