Criminal Justice

Singer R. Kelly is found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking

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R. Kelly AP photo

Singer R. Kelly appears during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago in September 2019. Photo by Antonio Perez/The Chicago Tribune via the Associated Press.

Jurors in Brooklyn, New York, have found singer R. Kelly guilty of all nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking following a six-week trial in which witnesses testified about an abusive scheme to exploit women and underage girls for sex.

Kelly could face decades in prison when he is sentenced May 4, 2022, the New York Times reports. Jurors deliberated for nine hours.

The Associated Press, CNN, the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post also have coverage.

According to a 2019 press release, Kelly could face up to 20 years in prison on the RICO count and up to 10 to 20 years in prison for each of eight counts alleging violating of the Mann Act, which bans sex trafficking across state lines.

The RICO count was based on allegations that Kelly was part of a criminal enterprise that preyed on women and teenage girls with the assistance of managers, bodyguards, drivers and personal assistants.

Eleven accusers testified at trial about psychological manipulation, controlling and abusive conduct, and punishment such as spankings for violating his rules. Accusers said they had to call Kelly “Daddy.” One woman said she couldn’t leave the room without permission. One said Kelly forced her to have an abortion. One said Kelly choked her until she passed out.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez had argued that Kelly had “maintained control over these victims using every trick in the predator handbook.”

Jurors found that Kelly committed 12 of 14 criminal acts in the racketeering scheme, the Chicago Tribune reported. Only two were needed for conviction, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The racketeering charge was unusual in a sexual abuse and exploitation trial. According to the Washington Post, it made it possible for prosecutors to present additional evidence that would not have been possible in a trial alleging sexual assault or abuse.

Kelly also faces federal charges in Chicago and state sex crime charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

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