After a six-week trial featuring grueling testimony from women impacted by R. Kelly’s decades-long schemes involving sex trafficking and allegations of sexual abuse, a jury in Brooklyn reached a verdict Monday, reports the New York Times. The disgraced singer was found guilty of all nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking charges against him, and he faces decades in prison.
Over the course of the trial’s six-week run, the news that trickled out from the court room each day was horrifying in both detail and scope. According to the testimony, Kelly’s pattern was to use his fame to promise his victims the chance of a career in the entertainment industry, luring them in so that he could sexually abuse them. A woman who identified herself as Addie testified that Kelly raped her when she was 17, some days after he married Aaliyah. Another accuser testified that Kelly coerced her into lying about how he treated her to Gayle King, and also detailed how controlling Kelly was, ordering the girls he and women that lived with him at his home to turn off the TV or change the channel when his name and the various allegations against him came up in the press. Prosecutors also introduced the testimony of another accuser, a man who was 17 at the time when Kelly met him in a McDonald’s and invited him back to his studio, asking him what he would be willing to do to further his music career.
The trial has been one of the more high-profile cases that spawned from the MeToo movement. Allegations and rumors about R. Kelly have hounded the man for decades with little impact to his career; though he was on trial for charges of child pornography in 2008, he was eventually acquitted. In 2018, Lifetime released a three-part documentary series, Surviving R. Kelly, that documented the pattern of abuse Kelly participated in over the course of his career, bolstered by testimony and appearances from his victims, all of whom were young Black women. Despite the years of rumors and whispered gossip around what was then a fairly well-known industry secret, Kelly continued to enjoy a career well into the 2000s. But now he is finally being forced to face the punishment for his crimes.
Sentencing for Kelly will take place on May 4.