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26 Oct 2021 22:11
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  •   Home > News > International

    R Kelly, R&B superstar, facing decades behind bars after being convicted in New York sex trafficking trial

    Prosecutors said Kelly took advantage of his fame and charisma to recruit victims, including some plucked from crowds at his concerts, with the aid of people in his entourage.


    Singer R Kelly has been found guilty of all charges in his sex trafficking trial in New York.

    The R&B superstar, known for his anthem I Believe I Can Fly, was convicted by a jury of seven men and five women.

    Kelly had been charged with one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting people across state lines for prostitution.

    He now faces up to 20 years in jail.

    Prosecutors said Kelly took advantage of his fame and charisma to recruit victims, including some plucked from crowds at his concerts, with the aid of people in his entourage. 

    "Today's guilty verdict forever brands R Kelly as a predator, who used his fame and fortune to prey on the young, the vulnerable and the voiceless for his own sexual gratification," Acting US attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis said. 

    "[Kelly is] a predator who used his inner circle to ensnare underage girls, young men and women for decades in a sordid web of sex abuse, exploitation and humiliation.

    "To the victims in this case, your voices were heard, and justice was finally served."

    Several accusers testified in lurid detail during the trial, alleging that Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage. 

    Witnesses said some victims had hoped Kelly could jump-start their careers, only to find he demanded their strict obedience and would punish them if they failed.

    His alleged victims included the late singer Aaliyah, who Kelly briefly and illegally married in 1994 when she was 15. 

    Many accusations against Kelly were included in the January 2019 documentary Surviving R Kelly.

    Several witnesses testified that Kelly instilled fear if his victims did not fulfil his every need, sexual and otherwise.

    Assistant US attorney Maria Cruz Melendez argued Kelly was a serial abuser who "maintained control over these victims using every trick in the predator handbook".

    Kelly did not testify in his defence, which lasted about two days. 

    During cross-examinations of several witnesses, his lawyers tried to portray Kelly's accusers as former fans who felt jilted when they fell from his favour, and argued that their sex with Kelly was consensual.

    Kelly still faces federal charges in Chicago on child pornography and obstruction, and state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

    He is expected to be sentenced on May 4. 

    A lawyer for some of Kelly's accusers, Gloria Allred, has also been involved in the cases against Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein.

    But she said: "Mr Kelly is the worst." 

    "R Kelly thought that he could get away with all of this, but he didn't," she said.

    "Despite the fact that he thought he could control all this, he was wrong."

    The singer, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is one of the most prominent people tried on sex charges during the #MeToo movement, which amplified accusations that had dogged him since the early 2000s.

    "To the victims in this case, your voices were heard and justice was finally served," Ms Kasulis said after the verdict.

    One of Kelly's lawyers, Deveraux Cannick, said he was disappointed and hoped to appeal.

    Reuters/AP 

    © 2021 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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