Singer R. Kelly (54) has been found guilty of human trafficking by the court. He has recruited women and underage girls for sex for decades. He was convicted of nine federal offenses including racketeering, sex crimes, human trafficking, obstruction of justice and kidnapping.
The jury in the case says the singer was guilty of criminal acts. The singer is said to have led a group that abused women and girls for decades. Kelly would have been an important linchpin and he would have used his celebrity to influence the women and girls. In the end, the victims were driven to several places in vans to be abused there.
Witnesses stated that Kelly’s entourage recruited potential victims at concerts, shopping malls and even fast food restaurants, among other places.
Test for Me Too era
The high-profile trial was the first in the Me Too era in which a large majority of the victims were black women. The trial was widely seen as a test of the inclusiveness of the wider movement to hold powerful men accountable for sexual misconduct.
The lawsuit ultimately lasted more than five weeks. The verdict was brief and unanimous, with all twelve jurors in agreement. The prosecution thanked the 11 R. Kelly victims who came forward. “No one deserves to go through the abuse they endured and the threats they received after they went out. We hope that after today they can close it a bit more and that they can find peace.” Many more people spoke for the prosecution than for the defence. Kelly’s team called just five witnesses in a few days. He himself did not speak.
The verdict comes just over two years after Kelly was arrested in Chicago for multiple federal sex crimes. The R&B artist now faces several decades in prison.
According to a reporter for The New York Times, Kelly sat unmoved in the room when the verdict was handed down. His face could not be seen through a mask. The singer previously said he was not guilty and he called this an attempt by the victims to generate attention for themselves. A lawyer for Kelly says he is disappointed with the verdict and is considering an appeal.
Outside the court were supporters and opponents of the singer. Fans of R. Kelly screamed that he was innocent. In other cases, he is also suspected of child abuse and forging ID in order to marry a minor. This verdict comes 13 years after he was acquitted of child pornography charges.