United States former World Greatest R&B singer R. Kelly has been convicted by a federal jury on Monday in his sex trafficking trial and found guilty on all counts.
The prosecutors accused R. Kelly of exploiting his superstar status to run a scheme to sexually abuse women and children over a quarter-century.
Eleven accusers, nine women and two men, took the stand over the searing six-week trial to describe sexual humiliation and violence at his hands. After two days of deliberation, the jury found Kelly guilty on all the charges he was facing.
Sentencing is due on 4 May and he could spend the rest of his life behind bars. The jury found Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, was the ringleader of a violent and coercive scheme that lured women and children for him to sexually abuse.
The singer – most famous for the award-winning song I Believe I Can Fly – was also found to have trafficked women between different US states and produced child pornography. Along with eight counts of sex trafficking, Kelly was found guilty of racketeering – a charge normally used against organised crime associations.
During the trial prosecutors detailed how his managers, security guards and other entourage members worked to assist him in his criminal enterprise. One woman who testified that Kelly imprisoned, drugged and raped her said in a written statement after the verdict that she had “been hiding” from Kelly due to threats made against her since she went public with her accusations.
“I’m ready to start living my life free from fear and to start the healing process,” added the woman, identified in court as Sonja.
Another woman who testified in court, Lizette Martinez, said she was “relieved” by the verdict.
“I’m so proud of the women who were able to speak their truths,” she added.
Legal documents have revealed the mental torment that Kelly subjected his victims to. They were not allowed to eat or use the bathroom without his permission, he controlled what clothes they wore and made them call him “Daddy”.
Gloria Allred, a lawyer who represented several victims, told reporters: “I’ve been practicing law for 47 years. During this time, I’ve pursued many sexual predators who have committed crimes against women and children.
“Of all the predators that I have pursued, Mr Kelly is the worst.”
At a news conference outside the court on Monday, prosecutor Jacquelyn Kasulis said that the jury had sent a message to other powerful men like Kelly.
“No matter how long it takes, the long arm of the law will catch up with you,” said Ms Kasulis.
The verdict comes 13 years after Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges after a trial in the state of Illinois.
Many of the allegations heard in the trial were first laid out in the 2019 documentary Surviving R Kelly.
Victims were sometimes selected from his concert audiences, or were enticed to join him after being offered help with their fledgling music careers after chance encounters with the singer.
But after joining his entourage, they found that they were subjected to strict rules and aggressively punished if they violated what his team had dubbed “Rob’s rules”.