A New York jury on Monday found R&B singer R. Kelly guilty on all charges in his racketeering trial. Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, could face decades in prison.Kelly, 54, was accused by multiple witnesses of targeting, grooming and exploiting young women and men “for his own sexual gratification” and running a “sex cult” by trafficking people across state lines. He also allegedly bribed a government worker to help him marry late R&B singer Aaliyah when she was 15 years old.
The jury in Brooklyn federal court began deliberations on Friday, September 24, after hearing from 50 witnesses throughout the trial, only five of whom testified for the defense. Accusers testified that Kelly controlled their day-to-day lives, including when they could use the restroom, and forced them to complete sexual acts.
He was charged with one count of racketeering, encompassing 14 specific acts, and eight counts of violating the Mann Act for allegedly coercing and transporting victims across state lines.
In closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Geddes said Kelly “used lies, manipulation, threats and physical abuse to dominate his victims” and took advantage of his “money and public persona to hide his crimes in plain sight.”
Kelly himself never took the stand. He has denied wrongdoing and his lawyers said the allegations were nothing more than “lie after lie after lie” from “disgruntled groupies” trying to bring him down.
But prosecutors said Kelly followed “the predator playbook.” He “believed the music, the fame and the celebrity meant he could do whatever he wanted,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nadia Shihata said in a fiery rebuttal to the defense’s closing arguments.