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R. Kelly Faces Life In Prison After He Is Found Guilty Of Racketeering And Sex Trafficking

"Despite the fact that he thought he could control all this, he was wrong."

Content warning: this article discusses sexual assault and violence and may be distressing to some readers. If you are experiencing sexual abuse or other unwanted behaviour, please contact Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia.

Since being charged and indicted for nine federal offences, R. Kelly (whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly) has been found guilty of sex trafficking and racketeering in a New York City courtroom.

Facing a potential life sentence, the trial began in mid-August and saw Kelly and his legal team try to deny the extensive list of claims that were made against the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer over the past few years. Throughout the trial, 50 different witnesses testified in court, but after Kelly pleaded not guilty to the charges laid against him, the seven-person jury found the singer guilty of at least one charge of racketeering and eight charges of sex trafficking, through violating the Mann Act, which forbids the transportation of people across state lines for means of prostitution.

Prosecutors for the case claimed that Kelly took advantage of his famous social status to lure in his victims, that even saw the musician choosing young people from the crowds of his own concerts, with the help of his entourage.
“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,” Acting US attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis explained. 

“[Kelly is] a predator who used his inner circle to ensnare underage girls, young men and women for decades in a sordid web of sex abuse, exploitation and humiliation,” adding, “To the victims in this case, your voices were heard, and justice was finally served.”

Jacquelyn Kasulis
(Credit: Getty Images)

In the trial, many of his accusers testified to the court and described in detail how Kelly had subjected them to his perverse and disgusting desires while they were underage.

Some of Kelly’s victims also revealed that they’d hoped agreeing to Kelly’s whims would help elevate their career prospects, but were instead forced to ‘obey’ Kelly, who would punish them if they failed to do so.

One of his alleged victims was the late singer Aaliyah, who Kelly illegally married in 1994 and reportedly engaged in sexual acts with while underage. However, on August 25, 2001, on the way home from shooting her music video for her hit single, “Rock The Boat”, a 22-year-old Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash that occurred shortly after takeoff from the Bahamas, where she was among eight people killed.

Maria Cruz Melendez, assistant US attorney, also explained that Kelly was a serial abuser who “maintained control over these victims using every trick in the predator handbook”.

Gloria Allred, who serves as a lawyer for some of Kelly’s victims—and has also been involved in the trials against Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein—shared her thoughts on the verdict against the musician, saying: “Mr Kelly is the worst.” 

“R. Kelly thought that he could get away with all of this, but he didn’t,” she said. “Despite the fact that he thought he could control all this, he was wrong.”

The official sentencing for Kelly will take place on May 4, 2022, where a judge will have the power to sentence him to life in prison.

Additionally, while Kelly’s New York trial is close to ending, he is still set to be tried for other charges in his home state of Illinois—where he’s been charged with 13 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and aggravated sexual assault—as well as Minnesota, that saw Kelly charged with two counts of engaging in prostitution with an underage person.

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for further updates on R. Kelly and his trials.

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