R&B star R. Kelly was sentenced in New York after a six-week trial featuring explicit testimony from dozens of accusers.
A jury of seven men and five women found the 54-year-old guilty on Monday on the nine counts sex trafficking and racketeering, from the second day of deliberations. Kelly remained motionless, her eyes lowered as she read the verdict.
The charges were based on the argument that the entourage of managers and assistants who helped the singer meet girls – and keep them obedient and silent – amounted to criminal enterprise under federal laws aimed at the origin to stop organized crime.
Kelly was also convicted of criminal charges accusing him of breaking Mann’s Law, which prohibits anyone from crossing state borders “for immoral purposes.”
Kelly’s attorney, Deveraux Cannick, said he was disappointed with the verdict. “I think I’m even more disappointed that the government brought the matter up in the first place given all the inconsistencies,” Cannick said.
The charges go back decades and stem from six plaintiff witnesses, including the late singer Aaliyah, referred to as Jane Doe No.1 by prosecutors. Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, did not testify at his trial.
Kelly, who has been behind bars since his arrest in July 2019, faces up to 20 years in prison. Judgment is scheduled for May 4.
The verdict comes 13 years after he was acquitted of 14 counts of child pornography in 2008 by a jury that deliberated less than eight hours over two days.
The trial of R. Kelly for sex trafficking:Here’s everything that happened so far
Kelly still faces similar federal and state charges in Illinois and Minnesota; it is not yet clear how the Brooklyn verdict will affect these cases or when they might end up in trial.
Prosecutors have filed their case against the R&B singer after six weeks of testimony from several witnesses accusing him of sexual and physical abuse. Their accounts included secular video and audio recordings which prosecutors say document how he threatened accusers with violence.
“Now is the time for the accused, Robert Kelly, to pay for his crimes. Convict him,” Deputy US lawyer Elizabeth Geddes told jurors on Thursday in closing arguments in federal court in Brooklyn.
Kelly “felt that music, fame and fame meant he could do whatever he wanted,” Assistant US Attorney Nadia Shihata said in the courtroom.
But, she added, “He’s not a genius, he’s a criminal. A predator. “She added that her alleged victims” are not groupies or gold diggers. They are human beings.
The defense fired back Thursday, telling the jury they had been misled by opportunistic accusers about consensual relationships.
In his conclusion, defense attorney Cannick told the jury that the testimony of several accusers was full of lies and that “the government had let them lie.”
Cannick argued that there was no evidence that Kelly’s accusers were ever forced to do anything against their will. Instead, Cannick said, Kelly’s girlfriends stayed because he spoiled them with free plane trips, shopping sprees and fancy dinners – a treatment that belied the predator label.
“He gave them a lavish lifestyle,” he said. “That’s not what a predator is supposed to do.”
R. Kelly:Jury begins deliberation on singer’s sex trafficking and racketeering charges
More than 45 witnesses testified, including five complainant witnesses who said Kelly subjected them to evil and sadistic whims when they were minors.
The first complainant witness to appear was Jerhonda Johnson Pace, who had previously shared her story in the “Surviving R. Kelly” lifelong docuseries. In court, she alleged that she had sex with the singer when she was 16, although she initially told him she was 19.
Pace said Kelly recorded their sex sessions, later showing her the recordings to indicate where she could use “the enhancement.” She said she “ended up contracting herpes” while with Kelly in 2009.
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The second accuser, who called himself “Jane” on the stand, said that by the time she first met Kelly, he pressured her to have sex before a hearing. She said she moved in with him while she was still in high school and testified that Kelly berated or punished her for various reasons during their time together, including forcing her to have sex with another man for a while. that Kelly was recording it on an iPad. She was also forced to have an abortion in 2017 after Kelly said he was not ready to have a child with her, she said, and testified that the star gave her herpes. .
She also alleged that Kelly forced her girlfriends to practice answering questions about her to better defend him during her volatile CBS interview with Gayle King.
The third complainant witness, who was named “Stephanie”, said in 1999 that she asked Kelly to help a friend with her singing aspirations. Kelly subjected her to sexually abusive sex for several months at the age of 17, during which he frequently filmed their intercourse, she said. Her sexual demands and the video recording of her in humiliating positions left her “disgusted,” she told the jury.
Another complainant witness, “Faith,” said she was exposed to a sexually transmitted disease after meeting Kelly at a backstage after-party in 2017 when she was 19. She said the singer paid for her flights and hotel rooms to attend her concerts in the cities. where he asked her for sex. When questioned by the prosecution, she said Kelly did not tell her he had herpes and that he was not wearing a condom.
The fifth complainant witness alleged that Kelly had locked her in a dark, windowless room for days and raped her while she was unconscious. The witness said he spent two days in captivity before finally being given something to eat.
Kelly’s former assistant and tour manager Demetrius Smith testified under subpoena and immunity from prosecution that he helped facilitate Kelly’s illegal marriage in 1994 to late singer Aaliyah, then aged 15 years, after having started sex with her and believed that she had become pregnant.
Prosecutors said Kelly, then 27, wanted to use the marriage, which was later called off, to protect herself from criminal charges related to sex with a minor and to prevent her from testifying against him. Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001 at the age of 22.
Contribution: The Associated Press, Charles Trepany