Justice finally served: R&B superstar R. Kelly convicted in long-delayed federal sex crimes trial

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BROOKLYN, NY – R. Kelly, the R&B superstar known for his anthem “I Believe I Can Fly,” was found guilty on Monday of all charges in his trial for racketeering and sex trafficking.

Kelly, 54, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, was accused by multiple witnesses of targeting, grooming and exploiting young women and men “for his own sexual gratification” and running a “sex cult” by trafficking people across state lines.

His trial was long delayed by the coronavirus pandemic since his February 22, 2019 arrest in Chicago.

The scrutiny on the singer intensified in the #MeToo era, particularly after the premiere of “Surviving R. Kelly,” a 2019 documentary series that featured interviews with several of his accusers.

He also allegedly bribed a government worker to help him marry late R&B singer Aaliyah when she was 15 years old.

Following the announcement of the guilty verdict, Pete Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security investigations in New York, said:

“Today’s verdict brings an end to Robert Kelly’s decade-long reign of terror over many vulnerable girls, boys and young women.

“With this verdict, it is my sincere hope that it will also begin the healing process for these brave survivors.”

A jury of seven men and five women found R. Kelly guilty of all nine counts charged in the case, on their second day of deliberations. Kelly, wearing a face mask, remained motionless, eyes downcast as the verdict was read in federal court in Brooklyn, according to news reports.

The charges were based on claims that an entourage of managers and aides who helped the singer meet girls, and kept them obedient and quiet, amounted to a criminal enterprise. Two others have been charged with Kelly in a separate federal case that is pending in Chicago.

Several accusers testifying at trial said that Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage.

His accusers said they were under orders to call him “Daddy,” expected to jump and kiss him anytime he walked into a room, and to cheer only for him when he played pickup basketball games in which they said he was a ball hog.

The accusers alleged that they also were ordered to sign non-disclosure forms and were subjected to threats and punishments such as violent spankings if they broke what one referred to as “Rob’s rules.”

Some said they believed the videotapes he shot of them having sex would be used against them if they exposed what was happening.

Victims testified that R. Kelly kept a gun by his side while berating one of his accusers before forcing her to give him oral sex in a Los Angeles music studio. He also reportedly gave several of his victims the Herpes virus without telling them he was infected with the STD.

There was testimony regarding his marriage to an underage Aaliyah, a young and popular performer who died tragically in a plane crash in 2001. Witnesses testified he falsified identification to give the false impression she was 18 when they married because he thought she was pregnant at the time.

One witness claimed he saw R. Kelly sexually abusing Aaliyah when she was only 13 or 14 years old.

Kelly was also convicted of criminal counts accusing him of violating the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to take anyone across state lines “for any immoral purpose.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis commented on the conviction:

“To the victims in this case, your voices were heard, and justice was finally served.”

Kelly faces up to 20 years in prison, with sentencing scheduled for May 4. His attorney, Deveraux Cannick, said he was disappointed by the verdict:

“I think I’m even more disappointed the government brought the case in the first place given all the inconsistencies.”

Gloria Allred, an attorney representing some of the victims in the case, said that R. Kelly was one of the worst offenders she has fought against, including Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein:

“Mr. Kelly is the worst. R. Kelly thought that he could get away with all of this, but he didn’t.

“Despite the fact that he thought he could control all this, he was wrong.”

Allred also read a statement from one of the women, identified as Sonya:

“I’ve been hiding from Robert Kelly in fear due to threats made against me and I’m ready to start living my life free from fear and to start the healing process.

“I want to thank the jury for considering the evidence and truly listening to my testimony.”

As the verdict was read, R. Kelly’s fans were blaring his music outside the courtroom. Fans have stuck by the artist, even after he was arrested in 2002 and accused of making a recording of himself sexually abusing and urinating on a 14-year-old girl.

At the trial, several of Kelly’s accusers testified without using their real names to protect their privacy and prevent possible harassment by the singer’s fans. Jurors were shown homemade videos of Kelly engaging in sex acts that prosecutors said were not consensual.

The singer did receive support from celebrity Bill Cosby, who recently won his own freedom from prison following the overturning of his conviction for sex crimes.  The longtime comedian told TMZ through his spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, that “the guy (R. Kelly) was railroaded.”

Wyatt placed the blame for the “railroad” on systemic racism and on Gloria Allred. Allred represented the victims in Cosby’s case, as well as R. Kelly’s.

Sentencing is now set for May 4. Prosecutors said Kelly faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years behind bars and could get up to life in prison.

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R&B star R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of criminal sexual abuse

February 22, 2019
 
 

CHICAGO – R. Kelly was charged with 10 counts of criminal sexual abuse involving at least three underage victims in a Chicago court Friday after decades of rumors and allegations that the R&B star was abusing women and underage girls.Tandra Simonton, spokeswoman for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, announced in a press conference Friday charges had been filed against the 52-year-old Grammy winner. A bond hearing will be held for Kelly in Chicago Saturday afternoon, reported Fox News.

Kelly has denied allegations of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for decades. Neither Kelly’s legal representative nor the Cook County prosecutor’s office immediately responded to Fox News’ request for comment on the charges.

Kelly was charged a week after Michael Avenatti, the attorney whose clients have included porn star Stormy Daniels, said he recently gave Chicago prosecutors new video evidence of the singer having sex with an underage girl. It was not immediately clear if the charges were connected to that video.

The singer, whose full name is Robert Kelly, is one of the top-selling recording artists of all time. He has won multiple Grammys, including for his hit song “I Believe I Can Fly.” His arrest sets the stage for another #MeToo-era celebrity trial after Bill Cosby went to prison last year, as former Hollywood studio boss Harvey Weinstein is awaiting trial.

In 2008, a jury acquitted Kelly of child pornography charges over a graphic video that prosecutors said showed him having sex with a girl as young as 13. He and the young woman allegedly depicted with him denied they were in the 27-minute video, even though the picture quality was good and witnesses testified it was them, and she did not take the stand. Kelly could have gotten 15 years in prison.

Avenatti says he has evidence R. Kelly and his “enablers” paid witnesses and others to “rig” the outcome of the R&B star’s trial.

Avenatti told The Associated Press that’s one piece of information he’ll present at a news conference Friday in Chicago.

The news comes just one day after two more women came forward with allegations that Kelly singled them out at a party in 1996. They alleged he had his entourage give them alcohol and marijuana before inviting them to his hotel room where he allegedly raped one of them.

Kelly broke into the R&B scene in 1993 with his first solo album, “12 Play,” which produced such popular sex-themed songs as “Bump N’ Grind” and “Your Body’s Callin’.”

Months after those successes, the then-27-year-old Kelly faced allegations he married 15-year-old Aaliyah, the R&B star who later died in a plane crash in the Bahamas. Kelly was the lead songwriter and producer of Aaliyah’s 1994 debut album.

Kelly and Aaliyah never confirmed the marriage, though Vibe magazine published a copy of the purported marriage license. Court documents later obtained by The Chicago Sun-Times showed Aaliyah admitted lying about her age on the license.

Jim DeRogatis, a longtime music critic for the Sun-Times, played a key role in drawing the attention of law enforcement to Kelly. In 2002, he received the sex tape in the mail that was central to Kelly’s 2008 trial. He turned it over to prosecutors. In 2017, DeRogatis wrote a story for BuzzFeed about the allegations Kelly was holding women against their will in Georgia.

Despite accusations that span decades, the singer and songwriter who rose from poverty on Chicago’s South Side has retained a sizable following. He has written numerous hits for himself and other artists, including Celine Dion, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga. His collaborators have included Jay-Z and Usher.
 

 

 

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