Following weeks of graphic and emotional testimony, R. Kelly was finally convicted yesterday (28 Sept) on all counts in his New York sex-trafficking trial. The R&B superstar known for his anthem ‘I Believe I Can Fly’, was convicted after decades of avoiding criminal responsibility for numerous allegations of misconduct with young women and children.
Eleven accusers – nine women and two men – took the stand over the heartbreaking six-week trial to describe sexual humiliation and violence at his hands.
After two days of deliberation, the jury found Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, was the ringleader of a violent and coercive scheme that lured women and children for him to sexually abuse.
The 54-year-old now faces ten years, the mandatory minimum, to life in prison for the charges related.
Along with eight counts of sex trafficking, Kelly was found guilty of racketeering – a charge normally used against organised crime associations. During the trial, prosecutors detailed how his managers, security guards and other entourage members worked to assist him in his criminal enterprise.
One woman who testified that Kelly imprisoned, drugged and raped her said in a written statement after the verdict that she had “been hiding” from Kelly due to threats made against her since she went public with her accusations.
“I’m ready to start living my life free from fear and to start the healing process,” added the woman, identified in court as Sonja.
Another woman who testified in court, Jerhonda welcomed the verdict against her abuser.
“Today, my voice was heard,” she wrote on Instagram.
“For years, I was trolled for speaking out about the abuse that I suffered at the hands of that predator. People called me a liar and said I had no proof. Some even said I was speaking out for money. Speaking out about abuse is not easy, especially when your abuser is high-profile,” she added.
Besides being illegally married to late-singer Aaliyah when she was just 15 year’s old, Kelly had a long history of shady acts.
Back in June 2002, he was indicted in Chicago on child pornography charges stemming from a sex tape. He pleaded not guilty and was released on bail.
Seven months later, he was arrested at a Florida hotel on additional child pornography charges after investigators said they found photos of him having sex with a girl. Charges were later dropped after the judge ruled police didn’t have a warrant to search his house.
It took another six years before the case would come to trial, seeing him in that time recruit many more victims like Jerhonda.
It was long overdue as the first documented cases of Kelly’s abuse dated back to the early 1990s.