NEW YORK (AP) — After decades of allegations about sexual misconduct with minors, R&B star R. Kelly has been found guilty in his latest trial. Jurors in 54-year-old Robert Sylvester Kelly’s sex trafficking trial in New York said they reached a verdict on Monday afternoon.
Kelly, perhaps best known for the 1996 smash hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” had pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges accusing him of sexually abusing women, girls, and boys for more than two decades.
The judge summoned the parties to a Brooklyn courtroom for the verdict to be read. According to the verdict sheet, he was found guilty of racketeering and several Mann Act charges:
- Ccoercion and enticement
- Coercion of a minor
- Transportation of a minor
The Mann Act makes it illegal to transport anyone across state lines “for any immoral purpose.” The charges were based on an argument that the entourage of managers and aides who helped the singer meet girls—and keep them obedient and quiet—amounted to a criminal enterprise.
The verdict came after a month of emotional testimony accusing Kelly of locking victims in rooms, subjecting them to degrading rules, and filming sexual encounters as a means of control. Several accusers testified in lurid detail during the trial, alleging that Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage.
Prosecutors in the case said there was ample evidence to prove that the R&B star sexually exploited multiple victims over a period of two decades. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nadia Shihata said Kelly “believed the music, the fame, and the celebrity meant he could do whatever he wanted.”
Kelly had continually denied the allegations, and his defense team said Kelly’s accusers were never forced to do anything against their will. Kelly’s defense attorney, Deveraux Cannick, argued that Kelly could not be a predator because of the way he treated his accusers. “He gave them a lavish lifestyle,” he said during closing arguments. “That’s not what a predator is supposed to do.”
The jury resumed deliberations Monday morning, beginning the day by sending the judge a note asking for transcripts of testimony by two former Kelly employees and for a legal clarification. Deliberations first began on Friday at federal court in Brooklyn before the panel of seven men and five women took the weekend off.
The judge set a sentencing date of May 4. Kelly’s next court appearance will be on November 1, when the judge will hear any defense motions in the case. Kelly faces additional sex-related charges in both Illinois and Minnesota.
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