R. Kelly, the disgraced R&B singer who for decades dominated R&B and pop with sexually charged hits, was convicted of being the ringleader of a decades-long scheme to recruit women and underage girls for sex on Monday (September 27).
The jury found Kelly, 54, guilty of racketeering after only two days of deliberations. The trial was the first regarding a high-profile celebrity and his victims, who were majority Black. The guilty verdict represents the first actual consequence for Kelly after he was found not guilty of child pornography charges in 2008 amid decades of rumor, innuendo and speculation regarding his actions towards young women.
Kelly was on trial in New York for one count of racketeering, with 14 underlying acts that included sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery and sex trafficking charges. Additionally, he was hit with eight additional counts of violations of the Mann Act, a sex trafficking law.
He was found guilty on all charges.
A documentary series, Surviving R. Kelly dope deep into those allegations, from Kelly’s upbringing in Chicago to his relationship with a then 15-year-old Aaliyah, who he married in a secret ceremony when he was 27. The marriage between the two was later annulled.
Prosecutors called over 40 witnesses during the six-week-long trial, many of who described various acts by Kelly and his team in graphic detail regarding secrecy, abuse and more. Most of those who testified alluded to Kelly’s public persona as a charismatic singer and songwriter who used his public standing to lure underage women into his company, promising record deals and a start in the music business. Instead, he was a controlling predator who now faces being behind bars for the rest of his life.