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YouTube removes channels of R Kelly, convicted of sex crimes

YouTube has taken down two channels linked to American singer R. Kelly, who was convicted of sex crimes in late September.

The YouTube video-sharing platform withdrew the official channels of American singer R. Kelly , convicted of sex crimes at the end of September. “We can confirm that we have removed two channels linked to R. Kelly in accordance with our rules on the liability of creators,” a spokesperson for YouTube told AFP on Wednesday.

The catalog of  the fallen R&B star, however,  remains accessible on the audio streaming service YouTube Music, where the artist has 137,000 subscribers . The platform, a subsidiary of Google, says it authorizes content posted before the removal of R. Kelly’s two official channels. Likewise, she does not intend to remove the singer’s clips shared by third-party users .

His albums and tracks are also still available on other major audio streaming platforms like Apple Music, Spotify or Amazon Music. Contacted by AFP, these three companies did not respond immediately.

R. Kelly, 54, was convicted by a New York court of having run for years  a “system” of sexual exploitation of young people , including minors. His prison sentence will be handed down on May 4, 2022 . In pre-trial detention, he faces life imprisonment.

YouTube has taken down R. Kelly’s official channels after the singer was convicted of sex trafficking last month. The RKellyTV and RKellyVevo channels no longer exist and Kelly will not be allowed to create or own any other channel on the platform, as Reuters first reported.

“We can confirm that we have terminated two channels linked to R. Kelly in accordance with our creator responsibility guidelines,” YouTube told Engadget in a statement. If the owner of a channel is convicted of or pleads guilty to a serious crime, YouTube might delete the channel if it’s closely related to the crime in question. In this case, according to YouTube, prosecutors claimed that Kelly used the fame and power he accrued in the music industry to exploit women and underage girls.

However, this isn’t a blanket ban. Kelly’s music will still be available on YouTube Music. Kelly videos that other users have uploaded to YouTube before now will remain, as they aren’t considered reuploads. The responsibility guidelines are only enforced on channels that are connected to the creator.

Two women started a campaign in 2017 to have Kelly’s music removed from streaming services and radio. Accusations about have been made against Kelly for decades. He was arrested in 2002 for depicting making videos containing sexual abuse of a child, but the jury in that case found him not guilty after it wasn’t proven the girl on the tapes was a minor.

Kelly’s sentencing hearing will take place in May. The mandatory minimum sentence is 10 years in prison, though he faces up to life behind bars.

Victims of sexual assault and abuse can contact RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. For information on reporting child sexual exploitation, call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678 or visit missingkids.org.

YouTube has removed two of R. Kelly’s official channels, saying that the singer’s alleged history of abuse and recent conviction can cause harm to the company’s community and potentially damage creator and user trust, the company told CBS News. The move comes a week after Kelly was found guilty of sex trafficking and racketeering.

A YouTube spokesperson said the decision was based on the singer abusing his power in the music industry to commit crimes, and that his actions were a violation of the company’s creator responsibility guidelines. Two of his channels, RKellyTV and RKellyVevo, were removed.

Kelly will not be allowed to create or own any other channel going forward, a YouTube spokesperson said, but his removal does not prevent other creators from uploading content related to Kelly or his music. Kelly’s music will also remain available on YouTube Music.

YouTube guidelines say that creators are expected to behave responsibly both on and off the platform. Actions such as intending malicious harm or participating in abuse or violence, the company says, are considered violations of policy.

Kelly, 54, was found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking on September 28 after being accused by multiple witnesses of grooming and exploiting young women and men “for his own sexual gratification.”

One of Kelly’s accusers, Azriel Clary, testified the singer had started sexually abusing her when she was 17. Speaking to “CBS Mornings,” Clary said Kelly had strict rules about what she and others were allowed to wear, who they could talk to, and how they could leave rooms.

“It was not only me, it was other women, other women who were older than me. You know, when I met him at 17, he had four other women. And so these women are all normalizing his actions. And then you have assistants normalizing his actions,” she said. “And you have workers and security and everyone else that normalizes it. So, me being very young at that time, I just learned to normalize it.”

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