By Danielle Sanders, Interim Managing Editor
Jurors convicted disgraced R&B star R. Kelly on all nine counts, including sex trafficking, racketeering, sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, and bribery. Seven men and five women sealed his fate after deliberating for two days. Kelly now faces decades in prison.
For his victims, known and unknown, this verdict is a victory they have waited over a decade for. R. Kelly was previously acquitted of child pornography charges in Illinois 13 years ago. During the five-week trial, over 50 witnesses for the prosecution and defense took the stand. 45 of those witnesses were for the prosecution and included 11 victims.
Jurors heard testimony from multiple witnesses about his marriage to deceased singer, Aaliyah in 1994. Kelly was 27 and she was 15. The marriage was later annulled. Other accusers testified to the abuse they endured while held by Kelly.
Kelly’s attorney, Deveraux Cannick, said he was disappointed by the verdict and is considering an appeal. His defense team characterized R. Kelly’s accusers as groupies and stalkers, even telling one of the witnesses, “you participated of your own free will.” He even invoked Martin Luther King, Jr. in his closing argument, telling jurors that acquitting R. Kelly would display the same moral courage as the civil rights leader. Of today’s, verdict, Cannick said, “I think I’m even more disappointed the government brought the case in the first place, given all the inconsistencies.”
Kelly’s conviction is seen as a major win for the #MeToo movement, where the victims are mostly Black women. Despite decades of rumors and rumblings about R. Kelly’s exploits, including a much publicized sex tape, he continued to sell records and book tours with many in the industry seemingly choosing to overlook his misdeeds. Prior to his incarceration in 2019, it was not uncommon to see R. Kelly online and in person partying with friends and supporters around the city.
It wasn’t until the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” that his exploits were fully exposed for the world to see. The public outrage from the contents of the documentary and eyewitness accounts gave voice to the black women and girls, R. Kelly abused for decades. Attorney for some of the accusers, Gloria Allred said of all the predators she’s gone after, “Mr. Kelly is the worst.” She has worked with Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein and Bill Cosby accusers.
This is not the last of R. Kelly’s legal troubles. He faces obstruction and child pornography charges in a federal court in Illinois and outstanding criminal charges in Cook County on charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuses. He also faces more charges in Minnesota, where he was charged with two counts of engaging in prostitution with a minor. Court dates have not been set for these pending cases. R. Kelly has pled not guilty to all charges.
While R. Kelly and his supporters continue to maintain his innocence, his legacy is forever tainted and he will be labeled a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Kelly is scheduled to be sentenced on May 4.
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