(NEW YORK), R. Kelly, the R&B star and R&B icon, was convicted Monday in a sextrafficking trial. He had been avoiding criminal liability for decades for misconduct allegations against young women and children.
Kelly was found guilty by a jury consisting of seven men, and five women, on the second day of their deliberations.
The accusations were based upon the argument that the entourage made up of managers and aides who helped singer meet girls and keep them quiet constituted a criminal enterprise.
Continue reading: The Complete Timeline of Sexual Abuse Allegations against R. Kelly
During the trial, several accusers gave lurid testimony. They claimed Kelly made them subject to perverse and sadistic whims while they were minors.
The public and the news media were more interested than shocked by the allegations of inappropriate relationships between minors for years. This started with Kelly's illegal marriage to Aaliyah, an R&B superstar, in 1994, when she was only 15. His albums and concert tickets continued to sell. His songs were recorded by other artists even after he was arrested for sexually abusing and urinating upon a 14-year old girl in 2002.
The widespread public condemnation of Kelly's actions didn't happen until Surviving R. Kelly, a docuseries that was widely watched, made his case a symbol of the #MeToo era. Kelly also gave voice to alleged victims who were wondering if their stories had been ignored before they were Black women.
Kelly's accusers were not allowed to use their real names at the trial. This was in order to protect their privacy, and avoid harassment by Kellys fans. Jurors were shown videos of Kelly performing sex acts that were homemade and not consented to by Kelly's lawyers.
Maria Cruz Melendez, Assistant U.S. attorney, argued Kelly was a serial abuser and maintained control over the victims by using every trick in The Predator Handbook.
Deveraux Cannick, defense attorney, asked why Kelly's alleged victims continued to be in relationships with Kelly, if they believed they were being exploited.
Cannick said that you made a decision and added, "You participated at your own will."
Kelly was born Robert Sylvester Kelly and has been held without bail since 2019. Kelly's last-minute changes in his legal team and the coronavirus pandemic delayed the trial.
The 54-year old singer was accused of being a control freak and pampered man-child when the trial began on Aug. 18. They claimed that he was supposed to be called Daddy and expected to kiss and jump on him whenever he entered a room.
They claimed that they were also required to sign nondisclosure agreements and subject to threats and punishments, such as spankings, if they revealed what was going on.
Kelly was also seen with a gun beside him while he berated a victim to force her to have oral sex in Los Angeles. Kelly gave herpes to several victims without telling them he had a STD. Kelly forced a teenage boy to go out with Kelly to have sex. Kelly even filmed a shameful video showing one alleged victim smearing urine on her face.
One woman testified that Kelly had taken advantage of her as a radio station intern in 2003. This was some of the most disturbing testimony. She said that Kelly took her to Chicago's recording studio and drugged her before she was raped.
I was terrified when she realized that she was in danger. I was embarrassed. She said that I was ashamed.
She claimed that one of R. Kellys employees advised her to keep quiet about what had occurred.
Kelly's relationship with Aaliyah was also a focus of other testimony. One witness described Kelly sexually abusing Aaliyah around 1993 when Aaliyah was just 13 or 14. Jurors heard testimony about a fraud marriage scheme Kelly devised to protect Aaliyah after he was afraid he had conceived Aaliyah. Witnesses claimed that they were married in matching jogging outfits using a license that falsely listed her age as 18. He was 27 at the time.
Aaliyah, also known as Aaliyah Dana Haaughton, was a producer and writer for Kelly's 1994 debut album Age Aint Nothing but A Number.
Kelly was indicted in at least one instance of sexual abuse of a victim during his investigation into a Chicago child pornography case. In 2008, he was acquitted.
In what U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly called a coronavirus precaution, she barred all persons not involved in the Brooklyn trial from the courtroom. Reporters and others were required to view the proceedings from another room within the same building.
The New York case is just one of many legal problems facing the singer. He has also pleaded not guilty in Minnesota and Illinois to sex-related offenses. The trial dates for these cases are still to be determined.
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