R. Kelly convicted in sex trafficking trial after decades of allegations – Toronto CityNews

NEW YORK (AP) – R. Kelly, the R&B superstar known for his anthem “I Believe I Can Fly,” was convicted in a sex trafficking trial Monday after decades of avoiding criminal liability for numerous misconduct allegations. with young women and children.

A jury of seven men and five women found Kelly guilty of racketeering on its second day of deliberations.

Jurors began the day by sending the judge a note requesting transcripts of testimony from two former Kelly employees and legal clarification.

Kelly, 54, has pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges that accused him of sexually abusing women, girls and boys for more than two decades.

The charges were based on the argument that the entourage of managers and assistants who helped the singer meet girls, and keep them obedient and quiet, amounted to a criminal enterprise.

For years, the public and the media seemed more amused than horrified by allegations of inappropriate relationships with minors, beginning with Kelly’s illegal marriage to R&B phenomenon Aaliyah in 1994 when she was just 15 years old.

His records and concert tickets continued to sell. Other artists continued to record his songs, even after he was arrested in 2002 and charged with making a recording of himself sexually abusing and urinating on a 14-year-old girl.

Widespread public condemnation did not come until a widely viewed documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” helped turn her case into a MeToo era signifier and gave a voice to alleged victims who wondered if their stories had previously been ignored because they were black women.

At the trial, several of Kelly’s accusers testified without using their real names to protect their privacy and prevent possible harassment from Kelly’s fans. Jurors were shown home videos of Kelly engaging in sexual acts that prosecutors said were not consensual.

Assistant US Attorney María Cruz Meléndez argued that Kelly was a serial abuser who “maintained control over these victims using all the tricks in the predator manual.”

The defense labeled the accusers “groupies” and “stalkers.”

Defense attorney Deveraux Cannick questioned why the alleged victims were in a relationship with Kelly if they thought they were being exploited.

“You made a choice,” Cannick told a woman who testified, adding, “You participated of your own free will.”

Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, has been incarcerated without bail since 2019. The trial was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and Kelly’s last-minute reorganization of his legal team.

When it finally began on August 18, prosecutors described the 54-year-old singer as a spoiled child and a control freak.

His accusers said they were under orders to call him “dad,” that they expected to jump up and kiss him every time he entered a room, and that they would only cheer him on when he played basketball games in which they said he was a fan of balls.

The accusers alleged that they were also ordered to sign nondisclosure forms and were subjected to threats and punishments such as violent flogging if they broke what one referred to as “Rob’s rules.” Some said they believed the videotapes he made of them having sex would be used against them if they exposed what was happening.

Among the other more disturbing paintings: Kelly keeps a gun by her side as he reprimanded one of her accusers as a prelude to forcing her to give him oral sex in a Los Angeles music studio; Kelly gave several alleged victims herpes without disclosing she had an STD; Kelly coercing a teenage boy to join him in having sex with a naked girl who emerged from under a boxing ring in his garage; and Kelly filming an embarrassing video of an alleged victim that shows her smearing feces on her face as punishment for breaking their rules.

FILE – In this Sept. 17, 2019, file photo, R. Kelly appears during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago. Federal prosecutors in New York on Friday asked a judge for permission to admit what they said was evidence for which Kelly has not been charged, in his upcoming Brooklyn sex trafficking trial.

Some of the most heartbreaking testimonies come from a woman who said Kelly took advantage of her in 2003 when she was an unsuspecting intern for a radio station. She testified that he rushed her to his Chicago recording studio, where she was kept locked up and drugged before he sexually assaulted her as she passed out.

When she realized she was trapped, “I was scared. I was ashamed. I was embarrassed, ”she said.

He said one of R. Kelly’s employees warned him to keep his mouth shut about what had happened.
Another testimony focused on Kelly’s relationship with Aaliyah. One of the last witnesses described seeing him sexually abusing her around 1993, when Aaliyah was only 13 or 14 years old.

Jurors also heard testimony about a fraudulent marriage scheme devised to protect Kelly after she feared she had Aaliyah pregnant. Witnesses said they married in matching jogging suits and used a license that falsely indicated their age was 18; I was 27 at the time.

Aaliyah, whose full name was Aaliyah Dana Haughton, worked with Kelly, who wrote and produced her 1994 debut album, “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number.” He died in a plane crash in 2001 at the age of 22.

In at least one case, Kelly was accused of abusing a victim while under investigation in a child pornography case in Chicago. He was acquitted in the 2008 trial.

He is charged with multiple violations of the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to transport anyone across state lines “for any immoral purpose.”


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