(Trigger warning: Witness accounts of sexual abuse, grooming)
R&B singer R Kelly was found guilty on all counts in his federal court trail on Monday. He was found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking charges. During the trial, that lasted more than five weeks, 11 witnesses, who had accused Kelly of abuse and mistreatment, took the stand. He will be sentenced on 4 May and faces 10 years to life in prison.
Kelly has been found guilty on eight Mann Act counts. The Mann Act criminalises the transport of people for "any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense."
Several witnesses described Kelly as controlling and violent. Kelly’s accusers recounted instances of abuse and many said that he engaged in sexual activity with them when they were minors; some of them were 17.
Three witnesses, including one named ‘Jane Doe No. 5’ in Kelly’s indictment also accused Kelly of giving them an STD, which they said he was legally required to disclose but didn’t.
The victims also recounted instances where Kelly controlled their daily activities, and one witness recalled being punished if she didn’t ‘address him quickly enough’ if he entered a room. Other witnesses also recount being penalised for not following ‘his rules’. Some women alleged that they were ‘forced’ to write false confessions.
A man, Louis (pseudonym) said that he met Kelly in 2006 when he was a teen, and the singer invited him home. Another man, using the pseudonym Alex, accused Kelly of ‘forcibly’ kissing him and saying, “Just be open-minded.”
R Kelly's Illegal Marriage to Late R&B Singer Aaliyah
During the trial, Kelly’s former tour manager Demetrius Smith alleged that Kelly ‘bribed’ a welfare-clerk to issue a fake ID to late R&B singer Aaliyah. Smith said he had reservations about Kelly’s relationship with Aaliyah but Kelly denied any wrongdoing.
Kelly, then 27, illegally married Aaliyah in August 1994, when she was 15. Aaliyah once told an interviewer, "We're close and people took it the wrong way." Their marriage was annulled in 1995.
In the documentary Surviving R Kelly, Demetrius said, “That's the way it was. We worked for him. This is what he wanted and so this is what we were supposed to give him."
R Kelly's Lawyer Says They Will Be Appealing
R Kelly was charged in relation to six women: Jerhonda Pace, Jane, Stephanie, Sonja, Faith, and Aaliyah, according to a report in Vulture. In June 2002, R Kelly was charged with 21 counts of making child pornography but was later found not guilty.
“Of course Mr Kelly is disappointed. He was not anticipating this verdict,” Kelly’s defense lawyer Devereaux Cannick said to reporters outside the courthouse. He also accused the government of ‘cherry-picking’ a version of the narrative. Cannick added that they will be appealing.
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