the R. Kelly trial
R. Kelly, the disgraced R&B star who has long faced allegations of sexual abuse, has been convicted on racketeering and sex trafficking charges.
The jury in Kelly's criminal trial on Monday found the "I Believe I Can Fly" singer guilty on all counts, CBS News reports. Prosecutors charged Kelly with racketeering and sex trafficking, accusing him of running a criminal enterprise that for two decades allowed him to recruit victims to sexually abuse.
Jurors heard testimony from eleven witnesses who accused Kelly of abuse, and the trial also included testimony regarding his illegal underage marriage to the late singer Aaliyah when she was 15. During a closing argument, assistant U.S. attorney Elizabeth Geddes emphasized that Kelly was allegedly able to abuse his victims due to his circle of "enablers," arguing that "without his inner circle, the defendant could not have carried out the crimes he carried out for as long as he did." Kelly's defense contended that the accusers "knew exactly what they were getting into" and engaged in consensual sexual relationships with him.
Kelly denied all of the allegations of underage sexual abuse against him, which gained additional scrutiny in the wake of a 2019 Lifetime documentary series, Surviving R. Kelly, that included interviews with his accusers. A 2017 BuzzFeed News report on the singer's alleged "mental and physical abuse of several women" also fueled calls to boycott Kelly's music and the hashtag #MuteRKelly. He was charged in 2019, but the trial was delayed due to the pandemic.
This was Kelly's second time on trial. He previously faced child pornography charges in connection with a tape that allegedly showed him engaging in sexual conduct with an underage girl, but he was acquitted in 2008. After being convicted in this latest trial, though, Kelly could be facing potential life in prison. According to CNN, his sentencing is scheduled to take place on May 4.