Jurors have found R. Kelly guilty of racketeering and eight counts of sex trafficking after a trial in which 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.
The jury of five women and seven men reached the verdict on Monday during their second day of deliberations.
Kelly, 54, had been on trial in Brooklyn Federal Court since Aug. 18, facing allegations from as far back as the mid-1990s.
The charges were based on an argument that the entourage of managers and aides who helped the singer meet girls — and keep them obedient and quiet — amounted to a criminal enterprise.
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.
Punishment for non-compliance
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.
They testified that Kelly instilled fear if his victims did not fulfil his every need, sexual and otherwise.
Attorney Allred representing victims: I have been with these cases for 46 years, Mrs Kelly is the worst, he used his celebrity power, more powerful more dangerous than others for under age victims, thank to jury, them for trusting, for the courage<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RKellyTrial?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RKellyTrial</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RKelly?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RKelly</a> <a href="https://t.co/NSaeEL7Oig">pic.twitter.com/NSaeEL7Oig</a>
One witness hoping to interview him for a radio station said he locked her up for at least two days without food or water before assaulting her.
"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," Jacqueline Kasulis, the acting U.S. attorney in Brooklyn in the case, told reporters.
Lawyer Gloria Allred, who represented some of the women accusing the singer of abuse, said outside the courthouse that, in her 47 years of practising law, she has "pursued many sexual predators," but Kelly "is the worst" of them.
Kelly faces up to 20 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for May 4, 2022.
Defence lawyer Deveraux Cannick said he was disappointed by the verdict.
"I think I'm even more disappointed the government brought the case in the first place given all the inconsistencies," Cannick said.
The singer, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly and is perhaps best known musically for his 1996 Grammy-winning song , had pleaded not guilty to the charges of racketeering and of violating a federal law making it illegal to transport people across state lines for prostitution. He also repeatedly denied sexual abuse accusations.
Prosecutors spent four and a half weeks offering testimony from several accusers, including women who claim they were underage when Kelly abused them, and people who worked for the singer.
Kelly did not testify in his defence. However, four witnesses testified for the defence team in an effort to show jurors that people Kelly employed knew nothing of his alleged abuses.
Though Kelly has been dogged by abuse accusations for nearly two decades, his music career stalled only after scrutiny increased during the #MeToo movement, and after Lifetime aired the documentary in January 2019.
Kelly has been jailed for more than two years, and also faces federal charges in Chicago of child pornography and obstruction, and state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.
With files from The Associated Press and CBC News
Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca