Illinois congressman Danny Davis backtracked on comments he made earlier this week implying disgraced singer R. Kelly could be conditionally “welcomed back” to his home city despite his sex trafficking conviction.
The Congressional District the Democratic lawmaker represents covers a large area of Chicago – which is R. Kelly’s hometown, The Hill reported. “As an artist, one who … is gifted, I think he’ll be welcomed back into Chicago as a person who can be redeemed,” Davis said in the video that was shared by TMZ on Tuesday. “You know I’m a big believer in what is called second chances … so it all will really depend upon him.
A New York jury on Monday convicted Kelly on all nine counts of sex trafficking and racketeering after less than two days of deliberations. Kelly had been accused of grooming and sexually abusing women and underage girls. Nine women and two men appeared in court to testify against the singer, claiming that he sexually abused them.
But Davis in Monday’s interview said the 54-year-old convicted musician should try and find “peace with his maker, peace with himself and reconcile with the universe for the acts that he may have committed.”
The lawmaker’s comments were, however, sharply condemned by his primary party challenger Kina Collins, saying his statement was “thoughtless, distasteful, and incredibly disappointing for a man charged with representing thousands of Black women and girls in our district.”
“I’m shocked that my Congressman would choose today of all days to focus on second chances for a serial abuser rather than uplifting survivors,” Collins added in the statement. “Second chances for those reentering communities from prison are critical. But by holding R. Kelly — a man who leveraged his wealth and power to evade justice and harm Black girls — as an example of what second chances look like, Davis is undermining the broader fight for justice.”
In the wake of the backlash, Davis released a statement to offer some clarity on his comments. “Kelly has been accused of criminal acts, gone through a court of law, been convicted, and must serve whatever time the court decides,” Davis said in a statement to The Hill.
“Yes, he has lived in Chicago, I am a law and order policymaker; therefore, I am focused on trying to arrest the coronavirus, raising the debt limit, passing a budget, maintaining and rebuilding our infrastructure, feeding the hungry, meeting the health needs, taking care of children, and improving the quality of life for all. Women and children must be respected and protected at all times and at all costs.”
Kelly will face a “mandatory minimum” of 10 years behind bars and could face life in prison for crimes including violating the Mann Act, an anti-sex trafficking law that prohibits taking anyone across state lines “for any immoral purpose.”
And although Kelly was found guilty of the charges filed against him in New York, he faces similar charges in three federal and state cases in Illinois and Minnesota, Face2Face Africa reported.