R Kelly has been found guilty of racketeering in his federal trial.
A jury of seven men and five women reached the verdict on Monday afternoon after less than a day of deliberations. Kelly remained motionless, eyes downcast as the verdict was read.
Kelly had pleaded not guilty to racketeering predicated on criminal conduct including sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labour, and Mann Act violations involving the coercion and transportation of women and girls in interstate commerce to engage in illegal sexual activity.
He was also convicted of criminal counts accusing him of violating the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to take anyone across state lines “for any immoral purpose.”
Kelly’s lawyer Deveraux Cannick said he was disappointed by the verdict, telling The Associated Press: “I think I’m even more disappointed the government brought the case in the first place given all the inconsistencies.”
The verdict came after decades of allegations of sexual misconduct on Kelly’s part.
Kelly’s trial opened in Brooklyn in August. Several accusers testified in detail during the proceedings, alleging that Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage. They spoke without using their real names in order to protect their privacy and prevent possible harassment by the singer’s fans. Jurors were shown homemade videos of Kelly engaging in sex acts that prosecutors said were not consensual.
Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez argued that Kelly was a serial abuser who “maintained control over these victims using every trick in the predator handbook.”
Kelly did not testify in his defense, which lasted about two days. His legal team had sought to paint his accusers as “groupies” who pursued Kelly.
Allegations had trailed the singer for years but gained prominence when the documentary Surviving R Kelly aired in 2019.
Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, has been jailed without bail since in 2019. The trial was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and Kelly’s last-minute shake-up of his legal team.
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When proceedings finally started on 18 August, prosecutors painted the 54-year-old singer as a pampered man-child and control freak. His accusers alleged they were under orders to call him “Daddy,” expected to jump and kiss him anytime he walked into a room, and to cheer only for him when he played pickup basketball games.
The accusers alleged that they also were ordered to sign nondisclosure forms and were subjected to threats and punishments such as violent spankings if they broke what one referred to as “Rob’s rules.” Some said they believed the videotapes he shot of them having sex would be used against them if they exposed what was happening.
Kelly has pleaded not guilty to other sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota. Trial dates in those cases have yet to be set.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report