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A Federal jury found Robert Sylvester Kelly, the R&B singer also known as R. Kelly, guilty on all counts in the Eastern District of New York. the 54-year-old defendant was convicted of one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act on Sept. 27, 2021.
Included in the trial evidence was the testimony of 45 government witnesses. These included more than 10 victims, the defendants’ employees, text messages, and photographs. Additionally, the prosecution presented DNA evidence, expert witnesses, phone and travel records, as well as video and audio recordings.
The formal announcement of Kelly’s verdict was made by Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (HSI). Kasulis proclaimed:
[Kelly is] a predator who used his inner circle to ensnare underage teenage girls, and young women and men, for decades, in a sordid web of sex abuse, exploitation, and degradation. 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.
Under the racketeering count were 14 acts including sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery, and sex trafficking. Of the underlying actions, the jury only needed to find Kelly guilty of at least two charges to be convicted. The jurors determined the prosecutors had proven 12 or the underlying acts.
Typically, racketeering is used in cases against organized crime — also known as the RICO Act — but it is also applied to any continuing coordinated illegal plot or criminal activity to carry out a common purpose, reports The New York Times. In Kelly’s case, the prosecution asserted that the defendant and his cohorts worked to advance the R&B singer’s brand. They recruited girls, and young women for sexual exploitation over a period of nearly 30 years in multiple states.
HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Fitzhugh referred to the defendant as a serial sexual predator. He explained that “Kelly ran a criminal enterprise whose mission was to serve his sexual gratification by setting up a complex organization of enablers and handlers.”
The Mann Act, a sex trafficking statute established in 1910, “criminalizes the transportation of any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery or for any other immoral purpose.” Three Jane Doe testimonies included details of being transported from their homes to other states where the age of consent was lower for the purposes of engaging in sexual activities. Kelly also failed to disclose he had herpes, which is also illegal.
Acting U.S. Attorney Kasulis expressed gratitude to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Nothern District of Illinois and the States’ Attorney’s Office of Cook County for their assistance with the case.
Both Kasulis and HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Fitzhugh offered their hope that this case will help bring closure to Kelly’s victims and acknowledged their bravery. Fitzhugh said:
The brave survivors who overcame Mr. Kelly’s abuse deserve our upmost [SIC] respect for telling their stories and bringing an end to his 30-year reign of terror over the young and vulnerable.
The singer’s sentencing is scheduled for May 4, 2022. However, Kelly faces a mandatory of 10 years in prison and could be sentenced to life in prison. There are two additional trials in the 52-year-old’s future; another Federal case and one in the state of Illinois.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
CNN: R. Kelly convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking by a federal jury in New York; by Sonia Moghe
The New York Times: Here’s a breakdown of the charges R. Kelly faced. By Alexandra E. Petri and Rebecca Davis O’Brien
United States Department of Justice; U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York: “R. Kelly” Convicted of All Counts by a Federal Jury in Brooklyn
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