“A verdict that brings an end to Robert Kelly’s decades-long reign of terror over many vulnerable girls, boys, and young women.” That is how a special agent in charge of the investigation described the guilty verdict handed down by a New York jury yesterday on all nine counts faced by R&B singer R. Kelly.
The disgraced Grammy-winner faced charges including racketeering and eight counts of violating the anti-sex-trafficking Mann Act which prohibits the transporting of people across state lines for prostitution.
Kelly is reported to have sat motionless when the verdict was read out in court, his facial expression hidden behind a mask, as the prospect of him spending his life behind bars began to dawn on him.
Pete Fitzhugh, the Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations in New York, said, “Today’s verdict brings an end to Robert Kelly’s decade-long reign of terror over many vulnerable girls, boys, and young women. With this verdict, it is my sincere hope that it will also begin the healing process for these brave survivors. Today’s decision demonstrates that our system of justice knows no boundaries and will hold criminals accountable regardless of their fame or fortune. Mr. Kelly once said, ‘I’m no angel, but I’m no monster either.’ I wholeheartedly disagree with that.”
R Kelly found guilty of sex trafficking:
Prosecutors argued during the trial that Kelly used his fame and charisma to recruit victims, including some plucked from crowds at concerts with the help of aides in his entourage. Witnesses testified that some victims hoped Kelly would help jumpstart their careers only to find themselves trapped in an orbit where he demanded their strict obedience, risking punishment if they didn’t comply.
“A predator who used his inner circle to ensnare underage girls and 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. This conviction would not have been possible without the bravery and resilience of R. Kelly’s victims. I applaud their courage in revealing in open court the painful, intimate, and horrific details of their lives with him. No one deserves what they experienced at his hands,” says Acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Jacquelyn Kasulis.
Kelly has repeatedly denied the sexual abuse accusations but refused to testify in his own defence.
“The government proved that Mr. Kelly had genital herpes, that he knew that he had it, but failed to disclose it to his underage victims and adults and that he failed to use condoms to protect them and lower the risk of contracting it. As a result, many of his victims contracted this sexually transmitted infectious disease from him and will be forced to suffer from it for the rest of their lives,” says an attorney for the alleged victims Gloria Allred.
R Kelly disappointed
The singer’s defence lawyers sought to portray his accusers as jilted lovers who turned on Kelly when they fell from his favour. One of his lawyers Deveraux Cannick spoke after the verdict where he indicated that they’d likely be appealing the decision.
“Of course, Mr. Kelly is disappointed. He was not anticipating this verdict because based on the evidence, why should he anticipate this verdict? When you go over the discovery, you saw witness after witness giving three, four, five different versions as to what they said happened here. The government cherry-picked the version that they thought would be a continuation of the narrative that was first put out by Cheryl Mack and ‘Surviving R. Kelly.’ And they cherry-picked a version and ran with that version. They totally ignored the inconsistencies that all of these witnesses gave.”
Kelly’s career spanned three decades, with highlights including multiple Grammy wins for the 1996 hit ‘I believe I can Fly’. On top of this conviction, he still faces federal charges in Chicago on a series of allegations related to child pornography and obstruction in addition to state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.
Sentencing is due only in May next year where he faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.