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“I Believe I Can Fly” singer R. Kelly has been found guilty of exploiting his superstar status to run a scheme to sexually abuse women and children for over two decades. He has been sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty on all accounts from his eleven accusers, who took the stand over the grueling six-week trial to describe sexual humiliation and violence at the hands of R. Kelly.
After two days of deliberation, the jury found the ’90s R&B star guilty on all nine charges he was facing. The jury found R. Kelly to be the ringleader of a violent and coercive scheme that lured women and children for him to sexually abuse. It was also discovered that he had trafficked women between different US states for sexual purposes.
Along with eight counts of sex trafficking, Kelly was found guilty of racketeering. During the trial, prosecutors detailed how his managers, security guards, and other entourage members worked to assist him in his criminal enterprise.
A woman who testified that R. Kelly imprisoned, drugged, and raped her said in a written statement after the verdict that she had been hiding from the singer due to threats made against her life since she publicly accused Mr. Kelly. “I’m ready to start living my life free from fear and to start the healing process,” added the woman, identified in court as Sonja.
Another woman who testified in court, Lizette Martinez, said she was “relieved” by the verdict.
“I’m so proud of the women who were able to speak their truths,” she added. Legal documents have revealed the mental torment that Kelly subjected his victims to. They were not allowed to eat or use the bathroom without his permission. He controlled what clothes they wore and made them call him “Daddy.”
Gloria Allred, a lawyer who represented several victims, told reporters: “I’ve been practicing law for 47 years. During this time, I’ve pursued many sexual predators who have committed crimes against women and children. “Of all the predators that I have pursued, Mr. Kelly is the worst.”
The guilty verdict comes 13 years after R. Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges after a trial in the state of Illinois. Most of the current allegations heard in the trial were on full display in the 2019 documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly.”
In the documentary, it is shown that R. Kelly usually selects his victims from his concert audiences or women who were enticed to join him after being offered help in their upstart music careers. After joining his entourage, the women soon found out that they were subjected to strict rules and aggressively punished if they violated what his team had dubbed “Rob’s rules.” It’s a chilling depiction of sexual abuse, and it’s one that should not be taken lightly.
R. Kelly’s guilty verdict is a strong message from the jury to other powerful men who abuse their power at the expense of others. “No matter how long it takes, the long arm of the law will catch up with you,” said prosecutor Jacquelyn Kasulis in a news conference outside the court.