The singer was recognized as a couple for having led for years a “system” of sexual exploitation of young women, including minors.
allen American R&B star Robert Kelly was found guilty on Monday, September 27 by a New York court of a series of sex crimes , including that of running an exploitative “system” for years sexuality of young women, including minors.
The 54-year-old singer, known for his world hit “I Believe I Can Fly”, was also found guilty by the Brooklyn Federal Court jury of the crime of “sex trafficking”.
R. Kelly had been tried for more than a month, including extortion, sexual exploitation of a minor, kidnapping, corruption and forced labor, over a period from 1994 to 2018.
This lawsuit is considered a major milestone in the #MeToo movement: it is the first time that the majority of the plaintiffs are black women and that they accuse a black artist.
Risk of life imprisonment
The former African-American R&B star, wearing a jacket and tie, showed no particular emotion at the statement of his guilt. Masked, he contented himself with lowering his head and closing his eyes. One of his lawyers, Deveraux Cannick, told reporters they were “disappointed with the verdict” and were considering appealing.
As is very often the case in criminal proceedings in the United States, the prison sentence will be handed down much later, in this case on May 4, 2022 for R. Kelly who is already in custody. He faces life imprisonment.
During the six-week trial in Brooklyn – in relative indifference to the mainstream American media – nine women and two men testified that R. Kelly had sexually abused them, describing rape, forced drug use, imprisonment or even child pornography.
Robert Sylvester Kelly is accused of having perpetrated these crimes with impunity, taking advantage of his notoriety. He has always denied the facts.
Eleven accusers – nine women and two men – took the stand over the searing six-week trial to describe sexual humiliation and violence at his hands.
After two days of deliberation, the jury found the US star guilty on all nine charges he was facing.
Sentencing is due on 4 May and he could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
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 singer – most famous for the hit songs I Believe I Can Fly and Ignition (Remix) – was also found to have trafficked women between different US states.
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.
The court also heard how Kelly had illegally obtained paperwork to marry Aaliyah when she was 15 in 1994, seven years before the singer died in a plane crash.
The certificate, leaked at the time, listed Aaliyah’s age as 18. The marriage was annulled months later.
Her 1994 debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number, was produced and written by R. Kelly.
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, Lizette Martinez, said she was “relieved” by the verdict.
“I’m so proud of the women who were able to speak their truths,” she added.
Legal documents have revealed the mental torment that Kelly subjected his victims to. They were not allowed to eat or use the bathroom without his permission, he controlled what clothes they wore and made them call him “Daddy”.
Gloria Allred, a lawyer who represented several victims, told reporters: “I’ve been practising law for 47 years. During this time, I’ve pursued many sexual predators who have committed crimes against women and children.
“Of all the predators that I have pursued, Mr Kelly is the worst.”
At a news conference outside the court on Monday, prosecutor Jacquelyn Kasulis said that the jury had sent a message to other powerful men like Kelly.
“No matter how long it takes, the long arm of the law will catch up with you,” said Ms Kasulis.
The verdict comes 13 years after Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges after a trial in the state of Illinois.