R. Kelly, the R&B superstar who has long been trailed by accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse, was found guilty in New York on Monday on all counts in a high-profile s.e.x-trafficking case, capping a trial that featured hours of graphic testimony from the singer’s accusers.
Kelly, who has been in custody for much of the time since he was formally charged in 2019, was convicted on one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, a law that bars the transport of people across state lines “for any immoral purpose.”
Kelly, who faces decades in prison when he is sentenced on May 4, appeared stoic and wore a mask as the verdict was read aloud in the Brooklyn federal courtroom.
Kelly, best known for the 1996 hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” pleaded not guilty to all charges in the case. The singer, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, did not take the stand in his own defense.
Gerald Griggs, a lawyer who said he represents several Kelly accusers and their families, thanked his clients for their “immense strength” and expressed his gratitude to prosecutors.
“This is just the beginning. We’ve been fighting this battle since 2017 and many of the victims have been fighting this battle for years,” Griggs said. “Finally, their voices were heard.”
The prosecutors in the trial, which centered around the allegations of six people, alleged that the singer was a serial sexual predator who abused young women as well as underage girls and boys for more than two decades.
Prosecutors further alleged that the singer and his entourage led a criminal enterprise that recruited and groomed victims for sex, arranging for them to travel to concerts and other events across the U.S.
In a closing argument that lasted two days, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Geddes accused Kelly and his entourage of using tactics from “the predator playbook” to control his victims.
Kelly’s alleged tactics included confining victims in hotel rooms or his recording studio, managing when they could eat and use the bathroom, and forcing them to follow various “rules,” including demanding they call him “Daddy.”
“It is now time to hold the defendant responsible for the pain he inflicted on each of his victims,” Geddes said Thursday in federal court in Brooklyn. “It is now time for the defendant, Robert Kelly, to pay for his crimes. Convict him.”
Geddes characterized one of several explicit videos in evidence, which was seen by the jury during testimony but not made available to the public. She said the video showed Kelly grabbing a victim by the hair and forcing her to perform oral sex on another man.
The woman’s “will had been broken,” Geddes said.
The singer’s lawyers attempted to portray his accusers as “groupies” who sought to exploit his fame and take advantage of the #MeToo movement.
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