R&B singer R. Kelly has been found guilty on all counts of indictment, including sex trafficking, kidnapping, forced labour, bribery, and extortion of multiple girls and women.
The verdict came after a month long trial, with a jury of seven men and five women returning the verdict on Monday afternoon after less than two days of deliberations in a Brooklyn Federal Court.
The 54-year-old was found guilty on one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, an interstate anti-sex trafficking law.
The New York Times reported Kelly “sat motionless in the courtroom” as the verdict was read.
Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, released a statement:
“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,” the statement read.
“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. To the victims in this case, your voices were heard, and justice was finally served. We hope that today’s verdict brings some measure of comfort and closure to the victims.”
After the jury released its verdict, Gloria Allred, famed women’s rights attorney who represented several of Kelly’s accusers and has previously represented women who have been victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault by powerful men including Harvey Weinstein, faced the media outside the federal courthouse in Brooklyn and remarked that “justice has been done.”
“Of all the predators that I have pursued, Mr. Kelly is the worst,” Allred added.
“Let this be a message to other celebrities who also use their fame to prey on their fans,” Allred said. “The issue is not if the law will catch up to you, the only question is when.”
The trial was delayed several times due to the coronavirus pandemic, and closes the chapter on decades of suspicions and accusations against Kelly, many of which were revealed in the 2019 documentary Surviving R. Kelly.
The singer has consistently denied the allegations against him.
Prosecutors argued Kelly “used lies, manipulation, threats and physical abuse to dominate his victims” and that his close network “served as enablers for his criminal conduct” while he ran his criminal enterprise.
They further claimed that Kelly took advantage of his fame to recruit his victims, who were mostly black women — many whom were aspiring singers and fans.
According to testimony during the trial, Kelly issued “Rob’s rules” that many of his sexual partners were required to follow, which included enforcing the women and girls to call him “daddy” and mandating they ask for permission to eat or visit the bathroom.
Prosecutors also revealed that he isolated his victims from their friends and family to make them dependent on him for their financial stability.
Most of his victims were forced to have sex with him and other people, and he video recorded many of the sexual encounters.
The entire trial lasted almost six weeks. In total, eleven accusers took to the stand against Kelly, six were underage when the alleged abuse took place, and two of them were male.
One accuser said she had experienced coerced and recorded sexual encounters with Kelly commencing when she was 17.
Kelly has also been charged for crimes related to six women, including the late singer Aaliyah, who prosectuors proved that Kelly had bribed an Illinois official in 1994 to obtain fake identification for Aaliyah (Jane Doe No. 1) and whose marriage licence showed her age as 18, for them to get married.
He was 27 and she was 15.
Kelly will be sentenced in Brooklyn federal court on May 4, 2022.