Kelly will face a mandatory minimum of 10 years behind bars, and could face up to life in prison at his May 4, 2022, sentencing.
Trigger Warning: This story mentions abuse and assault that may be disturbing to readers.
Multiplatinum R&B artist R Kelly, whose career has been intertwined with dozens of accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse, was finally found guilty of his crimes in New York on September 27, 2021. He has been charged for serving as the ringleader of a decades-long scheme to recruit women and underage girls for sex, reports New York Post.
The jury deliberated for about nine hours before charging the singer with all nine counts against him, including racketeering and eight violations of an anti-sex trafficking law known as the Mann Act. This law bars transporting people across state lines "for any immoral purpose," reports NBC News.
"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," acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis said in a statement.
"To the victims, in this case, your voices were heard, and justice was finally served. We hope that today's verdict brings some measure of comfort and closure to the victims," Kasulis added.
The trial was centered around the allegations of six people, and the prosecutors involved said that Kelly was a serial sexual predator who abused young women, as well as underage girls and boys, for more than two decades. They further alleged that Kelly, along with his entourage led a criminal enterprise, where they recruited and groomed victims for sex.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Geddes accused Kelly and his entourage of using tactics from "the predator playbook" to control his victims. Kelly instilled fear if his victims did not fulfill his every need, both sexual and otherwise. He also followed "Rob's rules," including that they call him "Daddy" and get permission to eat or go to the bathroom, given how he'd confine them to hotel rooms or his recording studio.
"It is now time to hold the defendant responsible for the pain he inflicted on each of his victims," Geddes said in court Thursday. "It is now time for the defendant, Robert Kelly, to pay for his crimes. Convict him."
This decision is the first actual punishment against The World's Greatest singer, even though women have been accusing him of abuse for more than a quarter-century! The 54-year-old singer sat in the courtroom in a navy blue suit and glasses, with his facial expression hidden behind a mask. Kelly "didn't say much of anything" after the verdict was announced, his attorney Deveraux Cannick told reporters. "He was shocked."
The I Believe I Can Fly singer, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, did not take the stand in his own defense. However, he did plead not guilty to all charges. Reuters reports that Kelly will face a mandatory minimum of 10 years behind bars, and could face up to life in prison at his May 4, 2022, sentencing.
Meanwhile, Gerald Griggs, a lawyer who reportedly represents several of Kelly's accusers and their families, thanked his clients for their "immense strength" and expressed his gratitude to prosecutors. "This is just the beginning. We've been fighting this battle since 2017, and many of the victims have been fighting this battle for years," Griggs said. "Finally, their voices were heard."
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Scott Olson