He was found guilty of sex crimes in spite of the public nature of his marriage to Aaliyah, multiple encounters with police, and the elevation of the urination video into a pop culture joke. The federal charges came after parents told police that Kelly was holding their children against their will in a sex cult. Multiple other women were detailed in Surviving R. Kelly.
Prosecutors laid out a detailed case to prove Kelly's guilt, even though the charges against him were related to just six women. They brought hundreds of pieces of evidence to argue that the scope of Kelly's actions constituted racketeering. Prosecutors argued that Kelly exploited his fame, wealth, and power to prey on victims. He was found guilty on all counts after just nine hours of deliberations by the jury.
Kelly's defense attorney wrote a letter to the judge asking that he be sentenced to less than 10 years in prison.
Throughout the trial, witnesses, including victims, as well as employees, associates, and many others, detailed the extreme control the singer had over his victims. Many of the victims said that Kelly made them have sex with him and his other girlfriends whenever and however he wanted. Kelly's doctor testified that Kelly, who has had genital herpes for over 20 years, knew that he had to use condoms, but he didn't tell anyone.
He made his victims follow a strict set of rules, including not being allowed to leave a room without his consent. They were not allowed to talk to their loved ones. They had to wear baggy clothes and hide their bodies from everyone except Kelly. They weren't allowed to make eye contact with other men, even if that meant looking at the floor.
R. Kelly used threats to keep people around him from talking. Both victims and employees of Kelly's were made to write "collateral" letters containing embarrassing lies, such as claiming they'd stolen money from Kelly or been molested by family members, that could be used to blackmail them in case he was ever arrested. One woman who testified that she was drugged and sexually assault by Kelly after spending days locked in a recording studio room without food or water said employees made her sign two non-disclosure agreements and copied information from her phone. Faith claimed that one of Kelly's employees threatened to leak nude photos of her if she told her story. The photos from the docu series were posted on a Facebook page.
For the first time during the trial, many previously unknown details about Kelly's relationship with Aaliyah came to light. A witness who worked as a backup singer for Aaliyah and toured with her and Kelly testified that she was sexually abused by Kelly when she was a teenager. She walked in on Kelly having sex with Aaliyah, who would have been 13 or 14 at the time.
In her victim impact statement on Tuesday, she referred to herself as Javonte. My name is Tiffany. My name is Aaliyah Dana Haughton. Every woman, boy, child, man you have ever afflicted with has been represented by me.
She said that they reclaimed their names today.