R&B superstar R. Kelly convicted in sex trafficking trial

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New York – R. Kelly, the R&B superstar best known for her anthem “I Believe I Can Fly,” was indicted on Monday in a sex trafficking trial on multiple charges of mistreatment of young women and children over the decades. was after evading criminal responsibility for.

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A jury of seven men and five women found 54-year-old Kelly guilty of all nine counts, including racketeering, on the second day of their deliberations. Kelly, wearing a face mask, remained motionless, eyes lowered as the verdict was read out in federal court in Brooklyn.

Prosecutors alleged that the team of managers and associates who helped Kelly meet the girls – and kept them obedient and calm – amounted to a criminal enterprise. Two men have been charged with Kelly in a separate federal case pending in Chicago.

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Kelly was also convicted of criminal charges accusing him of violating the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to transport anyone “for any immoral purpose” across state lines.

Acting US Attorney Jacqueline Kasulis said, “For the victims in this case, your voice has been heard and justice is finally served.”

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Homeland Security Investigations Agent Peter Fitzhugh said the verdict ended Kelly’s “decade-long reign of terror over many vulnerable girls, boys and young women.”

Kelly could face up to 20 years in prison. The sentence has been fixed on May 4.

Kelly’s attorney, Deveraux Canick, said he was disappointed with the verdict.

“I think I am even more disappointed that the government, given all the discrepancies, brought the matter up in the first place,” Canick said.

Several of the accused testified in vague detail during the trial, alleging that Kelly subjected them to perverted and sadistic whims at an early age.

Gloria Allred, attorney for some of Kelly’s accusers, said she’s gone after all the poachers — a list including Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein — “Mr. Kelly is the worst.”

“R. Kelly thought he could get away with it all, but he didn’t,” Allred said outside the courthouse. “Despite the fact that he thought he could control it all, he was wrong.”

For years, the public and news media seemed more than happy to be intimidated by allegations of inappropriate relationships with minors, starting with Kelly’s illicit marriage to R&B phenom Aaliyah in 1994, when she was just 15 years old. Was.

His records and concert tickets continued to be sold. Other artists continued to record her songs even after she was arrested in 2002 and accused of sexually abusing and urinating a 14-year-old girl.

There was no widespread public condemnation until the widely watched documentary “Surviving Are Kelly” helped make his case an indicator of the #MeToo era, and gave voice to the accusers who thought whether their stories had previously been ignored because they were black women.

At trial, several of Kelly’s accusers testified without using their real names to protect their privacy and to prevent potential harassment by the singer’s fans. Juries were shown homemade videos of Kelly engaging in sex acts, which prosecutors said were not consensual.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez argued that Kelly was a serial abuser who “maintained control over these victims by using every trick in the hunter handbook.”

The defense dubbed the accusers a “group” and a “hunter”.

Canick questioned why the alleged victims stayed in a relationship with Kelly if they felt they were being exploited.

“You made a choice,” Canick told a woman who testified, “you parted with your own will.”

Born as Robert Sylvester Kelly, Kelly has been in jail without bail since 2019. The trial was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and Kelly’s last-minute shakeup from his legal team.

When it finally debuted on August 18, prosecutors portrayed the singer as a pampered child and control freak. His accusers said that they were under orders to call him “daddy,” expected to jump and kiss him whenever they walked into a room, and when he played pickup basketball games, in which he said he There was a ball hog.

The accusers alleged that they were also ordered to sign non-disclosure forms and subjected to threats and punishments such as violent beatings if they were referred to as “Rob’s Law”. Some said they believed the videotape they had shot would be used against them if they uncovered what was happening.

Among other more disturbing scenes: Kelly keeping a gun by his side while he reprimanded one of his accusers as a prelude to forcing him to perform oral sex in a Los Angeles music studio; Kelly without telling many of the accusers that she has an STD; Kelly forces a teenage boy to have sex with a naked girl who came out from under a boxing ring in his garage; And Kelly shot an embarrassing video of an alleged victim showing feces on her face as punishment for breaking her rules.

Some of the most painful testimony came from a woman who said Kelly took advantage of her in 2003 when she was an unsuspecting radio station intern. He testified that he took her to his Chicago recording studio, where she was held and drugged, before sexually assaulting her during his exit.

When she realized she was trapped, “I was scared. I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed,” she said.

She said that one of R. Kelly’s employees had warned her to keep her mouth shut about what had happened.

Other testimony focused on Kelly’s relationship with Aaliyah. One of the last witnesses to see him sexually abused was around 1993, when Aaliyah was only 13 or 14 years old.

The jurors also testified about a fraudulent marriage plan designed to protect Kelly, because he feared he had impregnated Aaliyah. Eyewitnesses said they were married using a license matching jogging suit, which stated her age as 18; He was 27 years old at that time.

Aaliyah, whose full name was Aaliyah Dana Houghton, worked with Kelly, who wrote and produced her 1994 debut album, “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number”. He died in a plane crash in 2001 at the age of 22.

In at least one instance, Kelly was accused of abusing a victim in a child pornography case in Chicago. He was acquitted of the trial in 2008.

For the Brooklyn trial, US District Judge Ann Donnelly barred those not directly involved in the case from the courtroom in what she called a coronavirus precaution. Reporters and other onlookers were to watch on the video feed from another room in the same building.

The New York case is only one part of the legal crisis facing the singer. He has also pleaded not guilty to sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota. The hearing dates in those cases have not yet been fixed.

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