R. Kelly has been found guilty.
A verdict was reached on Monday (September 27) for the singer’s federal racketeering and sex trafficking trial, convicting Kelly on nine counts including bribery and sexual exploitation of a child and kidnapping.
“Today’s guilty verdict forever brands R. Kelly as a predator, who used his fame and fortune to prey on the young, the vulnerable, and the voiceless for his own sexual gratification,” said Jacquelyn Kasulis, acting US attorney from the Eastern District of New York.
Kelly’s conviction has been a long one coming, over the years, he’s topped headlines for the sexual abuse of underage girls since his 1994 marriage to the late Aaliyah. At the time, the rising R&B star was 15 years old, Kelly was 27. The marriage was soon annulled in 1995, but this would only kick off an influx of sexual abuse allegations that followed Kelly throughout his successful career.
R. Kelly made headlines again in 2000 after the Chicago Sun-Times published their first report on allegations of Kelly having sexual relations with teenage girls as young as 15, citing his inappropriate relationship with Aaliyah and prior allegations from other victims.
“Chicago singer and songwriter R. Kelly used his position of fame and influence as a pop superstar to meet girls as young as 15 and have sex with them, according to court records and interviews,” Staff Reporters Jim DeRogatis and Abdon M. Pallasch reported in the article.
Next came the infamous videotape that surfaced in 2001. The video appeared to show Kelly having sex with a young girl believed to be underaged. A media frenzy arose around the nature of the tape, as well as a trial in which a jury found Kelly not guilty.
Throughout the years the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer would continue to face several indictments on many of the same sexual abuse allegations, yet he remained untouched, settling for undisclosed amounts outside of court.
Now the day has come where he will pay for the crime he committed before ultimately earning the reputation as a known predator in the entertainment industry.
Although Kelly would plead innocence, the surge of victims coming forward began to raise eyebrows at a bigger concern for women and underaged girls: how did the singer’s career continue to skyrocket if his nefarious acts were well-known?
Fast forward to January 2019. “Surviving R. Kelly”, the two-part Netflix docuseries in which alleged victims gave detailed accounts of the mental and sexual abuse they endured at the hands of Kelly debuts— most of them having been minors when they began being groomed by the singer.
Kasulis described Kelly as “a predator who used his inner circle to ensnare underage girls and young men and women for decades, in a sordid web of sex abuse, exploitation, and humiliation.”
The docuseries revealed the perverted nature of Kelly even within his music, with personal acquaintances noting that the lyrics to many of his hit songs were about underaged girls. The media soon began to cut ties with Kelly, refusing to separate the artist from the “art”. The singer’s music was quickly removed from streaming platforms, planned performances were canceled, and even radio stations have banned his music.
Oronike Odeleye of Creative Currents Artist Collaborative in Atlanta and child pornography survivor and activist Kenyzette Barnes created a new initiative, #MuteRKelly to address the Black and Brown girls who have been his victims for decades. Many celebrities would swiftly join in on #MuteRKelly in support of his victims including Amanda Seales, Jurnee Smollett, John Legend, Shonda Rhimes, and Ava DuVernay.
— John Legend (@johnlegend) April 30, 2018
We join the campaign to #MuteRKelly. We’re calling on corporations to cut all ties with R. Kelly and insist on safety and dignity for women of all kinds. @RCARecords @Spotify @AppleMusic @Ticketmaster #MuteRKelly #TIMESUP #WOC pic.twitter.com/ON9EkbpumD
— jurnee smollett (@jurneesmollett) April 30, 2018
“Surviving R. Kelly” would be the catalyst of the August 18, 2021 racketeering and sexual abuse trial, as it renewed a call from the public for Kelly to be investigated and finally brought to justice. The verdict was a victory for those who had been campaigning for Kelly’s conviction since the 1990’s.
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