R Kelly found guilty in sex trafficking trial

US singer R Kelly has been found guilty of running a scheme to exploit his fame to sexually abuse women and children over two decades.
 
 
Eleven accusers, nine women and two men, took the stand over the searing six-week trial to describe sexual humiliation and violence at his hands.

After two days of deliberation, the jury found Kelly guilty on all the charges he was facing.

Sentencing is due on 4 May. He could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Prosecutors accused Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, of using his fame and fortune to lure in victims with promises to help their musical careers. Several of his victims testified that they were underage when he sexually abused them.

He was also found guilty of violating the Mann act, a law which bans interstate sex trafficking.

Unlike the convictions of other celebrities like comedian Bill Cosby and film producer Harvey Weinstein, most of the victims that helped convict Kelly were black.

As the verdict was read out in court, Kelly sat still at his desk, according to reporters.

His facial expression was hidden by a face mask that he was required to wear due to the judge’s pandemic rules.

The verdict comes 13 years after Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges after a trial in the state of Illinois.

Many of the allegations were first laid out in the 2019 documentary Surviving R Kelly.

Accusers were sometimes selected from his concert audiences, or were enticed to join him after being offered help with their fledgling music careers after chance encounters with the singer.

But after joining his entourage, they found that they were subjected to strict rules and aggressively punished if they violated what his team had dubbed “Rob’s rules”.

Along with sex trafficking, Kelly was also found guilty of racketeering – a charge normally used against organized crime associations.

During the federal trial, the court also heard how he had illegally obtained paperwork to marry underage singer Aaliyah, who died in a plane accident in August 2001 after marrying Kelly at age 15.

“No matter how long it takes, the long arm of the law will catch up with you,” said Assistant US prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes at a news conference outside the court after the verdict was read.

Kelly is separately facing trial in Chicago on child pornography and obstruction charges. He is also due to face sex abuse charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

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