E. Jason Wambsgans via AP
R. Kelly, the R&B singer who rose to fame in the 1990s, has been found guilty on all counts by a jury in the Brooklyn federal case against him for racketeering and charges relating to sex trafficking.
After nine hours of deliberation, a jury of seven men and five women found Kelly guilty on one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting individuals across state lines for the purpose of prostitution. The verdict came in around 3:15 p.m. Eastern on Monday afternoon during the seventh week of the trial.
Kelly was wearing a blue suit and blue tie as the all-guilty verdict came in. The R&B singer showed little emotion while wearing a white mask to protect himself from COVID-19.
The sentencing is set for 10 a.m. Eastern on May 4, 2021.
The trial, which began mid-August, lasted six weeks. The jury heard testimony from 50 witnesses; 45 were called by the prosecution and only five were called by the defense. Out of the 45 witnesses who testified for the prosecution, 11 were accusers, six of whom testified they were underage at the time of their alleged sexual encounter with Kelly. Witnesses for the defense included a former security guard, Kelly’s accountant and an up-and-coming artist who says he worked with Kelly for over a decade.
The testimonies of the eight Jane Does and two John Does were the most memorable parts of the trial. Nearly all of the accusers described a terrifying environment of control and fear when they were in a sexual relationship with the R&B singer. Several testified that Kelly implemented strict rules that included calling him “Daddy,” subjected them to physical beatings, and controlled the clothes they wore, what they ate and where they were allowed to travel. One Jane Doe said Kelly punished her by making her smear her own feces on her face and in her mouth as he recorded her.
“He could put the fear of God in me very quickly,” one victim said of Kelly during her testimony.
The six Jane Does at the center of the government’s case were referred to as Stephanie, Sonja, Jerhonda, Jane, Faith and Aaliyah, with the first five taking the stand to testify about the alleged physical, sexual and emotional abuse they endured at the hands of the R&B singer. Aaliyah was the only victim who didn’t take the stand since she died in a plane crash in 2001. Three of the six, including Aaliyah, were minors when Kelly started to abuse them, prosecutors noted.
Two John Does also took the stand and testified. One man, named Louis, said Kelly sexually abused him when he was 17 years old. The other John Doe, Alex, testified that he began having sexual encounters with Kelly and others at Kelly’s direction at the age of 20.
Defense attorneys for Kelly repeatedly painted the accusers as liars, stalkers and groupies, dismissing their claims of physical and sexual abuse as a way to get money out of Kelly. “A lot of people watched ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ and now a lot of people are surviving off R. Kelly,” said defense attorney Deveraux Cannick in closing statements, referring to the explosive Lifetime documentary series that brought public attention back to Kelly’s alleged crimes.
Kelly’s criminal case in New York is only the first of his upcoming court battles. He is also facing several other sexual abuse charges, including in a federal case in Chicago and in two local cases in Chicago and Michigan.