R. Kelly was convicted Monday on all counts in his New York sex-trafficking trial. A jury convicted the 54-year-old singer on all nine counts of sex trafficking and racketeering after less than two days of deliberations. “R. Kelly has been convicted of racketeering by a federal jury in Brooklyn,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York (USAO-EDNY) said in a Monday tweet. “R. Kelly found guilty on ALL COUNTS,” a second tweet added.
“Today’s guilty verdict forever brands R. Kelly as a predator, who used his fame and fortune to prey on the young, the vulnerable, and the voiceless for his own sexual gratification,” Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the EDNY, said in a news release following the verdict.
Kelly had been accused of grooming and sexually abusing women and underage girls. The charges include one count of racketeering and eight counts of illegally transporting people across state lines for the purpose of sex. Nine women and two men appeared in court to testify against the singer, claiming that he sexually abused them.
Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, denied all the charges against him. But prosecutors accused him of being a predator who used his fame and influence to attract fans into his circle, where he would demand them to either obey him or be punished.
After six weeks, his sex-trafficking trial in New York came to a close on Monday. Kelly, who has been behind bars since his arrest in July 2019, will not be sentenced until May 4. The singer 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.”
The Mann Act charges were brought against Kelly due to allegations “involving the coercion and transportation of women and girls in interstate commerce to engage in illegal sexual activity,” according to the USAO-EDNY’s initial charges.
The USAO-EDNY said in its release on Monday that Kelly had for almost three decades served as the “leader” of a “criminal enterprise” that also consisted of others including personal assistants, bodyguards and managers.
“As the leader of the Enterprise, Kelly used his fame to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with him,” the USAO-EDNY said.
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. So what happens now?
In Illinois, the singer still faces child pornography charges while in Minnesota, he faces charges related to prostitution involving a minor. Both of those charges were brought against him in 2019. However, those trials have yet to move forward largely due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Newsweek. No trial dates have been set as of Monday.
In the trial in Illinois, Kelly has co-defendants, who want to move forward to a trial as soon as possible, probably in January, Michael Irving Leonard, one of Kelly’s lawyers, told USA Today. It is unclear how the verdict in New York will affect the cases in Illinois and Minnesota. But during the last status hearing in Illinois’ federal case, Kelly’s defense attorney Steve Greenberg said the New York verdict could be key to how the Illinois case moves forward, according to Chicago Sun Times.
“If [Kelly] wins the case in New York, I’m certain that he’ll want to litigate the case in Chicago [Illinois],” he told the judge. But if convicted in New York, Greenberg said, “I don’t know what [Kelly’s] position would be.”
Before charges were brought two years ago against Kelly in Illinois, New York and Minnesota, he was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008. Later, in a documentary aired by Lifetime in 2019 called Surviving R. Kelly, several women accused Kelly of sexually abusing them for years. Within months of the documentary being shown, Kelly was arrested, setting the stage for a #MeToo-era celebrity trial.
Erinn Robinson, press secretary for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, told USA Today that Monday’s verdict “sends a loud message to survivors of sexual violence.”
“Today’s verdict was made possible by their courage and persistence in being heard, and we thank them for their resilience during a difficult and very public process.”
But in a text message to Chicago Sun Times, Kelly’s defense attorney Greenberg said Monday’s verdict was “a reflection of the hysteria whipped up by a couple of TV shows.”
“We intend to continue to fight on R. Kelly’s behalf to ensure that everything is being done that can possibly be done,” he added.