R. Kelly was found guilty of all nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking by a federal jury on Monday during his sex trafficking trial where prosecutors accused the R&B singer of exploiting his stardom over a quarter-century to lure women and underage girls into his orbit for sex.
A jury of seven men and five women reached the verdict after two days of deliberation and a six-week long trial featuring lurid testimony.
Prosecutors say Kelly orchestrated a sex crimes ring for nearly three decades. He faces between 10 years and life in prison.
The jury began deliberating federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges against the superstar on Friday in Brooklyn, after prosecutors and defense attorneys finished their closing arguments.
Robert Sylvester Kelly, 54, was accused of running a Chicago-based criminal enterprise that prosecutors say he used to ‘target, groom and exploit girls, boys and women’ for unwanted sex and mental torment.
The witnesses said Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage. He has denied any wrongdoing.
The guilty verdict follows 21 days of evidence including 50 witnesses and hours of searing testimony.
To convict Kelly on racketeering, jurors had to find him guilty of at least two of 14 ‘predicate acts’ — the crimes elemental to the wider pattern of illegal wrongdoing.
Disturbing testimony intended to prove those acts included accusations of rape, druggings, imprisonment and child pornography.
He was also charged with multiple violations of the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to transport anyone across state lines ‘for any immoral purpose.’
Throughout the trial, prosecutors argued that Kelly’s accusers were ‘indoctrinated’ into his world, groomed for sex and kept in line by ‘coercive means of control’ including isolation and cruel disciplinarily measures.
They argued that Kelly, with the help of members of his entourage, used tactics from ‘the predator playbook’ to sexually exploit his victims.
‘The defendant set rules, lots of them, and he demanded complete obedience,’ Assistant US Attorney Elizabeth Geddes said during closing statements Wednesday. That meant ‘for many years what happened in the defendant’s world stayed in the defendant´s world. But no longer.’
Many of his accusers shared stories echoing that tone, saying they met the singer at concerts or mall performances, and were handed slips of paper with Kelly’s contact by his entourage.
Several said they were told he could help them achieve careers in the music industry.
The singer did not testify in his own defense during the trial, likely to avoid a damaging cross-examination.
The defense, however, argued that his accusers lied in their testimonies and that Kelly was a ‘sex symbol’ and ‘playboy’ who was being attacked by scorned exes and money-hungry fans.
Defense attorney Deveraux Cannick told the jury there was no evidence Kelly’s accusers were ever forced to do anything against their will.
He also noted that the accusers — also known as Kelly’s girlfriends — maintained a relationship with him because he spoiled them with travel, shopping sprees and five-star dining and other luxuries.
‘He gave them a lavish lifestyle,’ he said. ‘That’s not what a predator is supposed to do.’
Kelly’s trial centered around six women: Jerhonda, Stephanie, Faith, Sonja and a woman who testified under a pseudonym, along with the R&B star Aaliyah, who died in a plane crash in 2001.