R.Kelly might be sentenced to life imprisonment after he was found guilty of racketeering in a high-profile sex-trafficking case after being trailed by accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse for a long time.
The singer has been in custody and on trial in New York for one count of racketeering since he was formally charged in 2019, with 14 underlying acts that included sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery and sex trafficking charges. He was also charged with eight additional counts of violations of the Mann Act, a sex trafficking law that bars the transport of people across state lines “for any immoral purpose.”
Though R.Kelly who is best known for the 1996 hit “I Believe I Can Fly” pleaded not guilty to all charges in the case and did not take the stand in his own defense, prosecutors in the trial which centered around the allegations of six people, alleged that the singer was a serial sexual predator who abused young women as well as underage girls and boys for more than two decades.
Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York successfully proved to a jury of seven men and five women that Kelly had been the head of a criminal enterprise, whose purpose was to lure girls, boys and women to the R&B singer for his sexual gratification.
In a closing argument that lasted two days, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Geddes accused Kelly and his entourage of using tactics from “the predator playbook” to control his victims.
It was alleged that his tactics include confining victims in hotel rooms or his recording studio, managing when they could eat and use the bathroom, and forcing them to follow various “rules,” including demanding they call him “Daddy.”
Fifty prosecution and defense witnesses took the stand during the five-week trial, including victims who were identified as “Jane Does” in Kelly’s indictments. There were 45 prosecution witnesses.
He was found guilty of charges including sexual exploitation of a child, bribery, kidnapping, racketeering and sex trafficking involving six victims. His sentencing in New York is scheduled for May 4, 2022. Kelly faces a possible sentence of 10 years to life in prison.
Additionally, Kelly faces outstanding criminal charges in both Cook County, Ill., where he was indicted by the state attorney in February 2019 for aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims (three of them minors), and in Minnesota, where he was charged in August 2019 with engaging in prostitution with a minor.
The singer will face a second federal trial on charges of child pornography and obstruction of justice in Illinois. Some of those accusations are related to a 2008 child pornography trial in Chicago, in which he was acquitted of all charges.
In the 1990s and 2000s, Kelly was considered one of the kings of R&B. He was widely credited with helping to redefine the genre with popular tracks like “Bump N’ Grind,” “I’m a Flirt (Remix)” and the “hip-hopera” project “Trapped in a Closet.”
His actions behind-the-scenes attracted greater public scrutiny with the rise of the #MeToo movement, leading to the #MuteRKelly social media campaign, boycotts of his records and protests across the United States.
“Surviving R. Kelly,” a Lifetime documentary series released in 2019 that featured testimony from several accusers, intensified calls for the singer to face legal consequences for his alleged pattern of abuse.