R. Kelly found guilty in sex-trafficking trial
Disgraced singer R. Kelly waits for a verdict in his sexual abuse case on September 27, 2021.ANTONIO PEREZ/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
R. Kelly was found guilty Monday of sexually abusing women, boys and girls for decades — capping the ’90s R&B superstar’s stunning fall from grace.
The “I Believe I Can Fly” crooner, 54, was convicted on all nine counts including racketeering and violations of the Mann Act, which prohibits the transport of “any woman or girl” across state lines for any “immoral purpose.”
He faces 10 years to life in prison.
The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for about nine hours across two days before reaching their unanimous verdict.
From the beginning of the month-long trial in the federal courthouse in downtown Brooklyn, prosecutors painted Kelly as a “predator” who used his fame and a cadre of employees to prey on young victims.
“This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot,” Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez said in her opening statement last month.
“This case is about a predator,” she said.
R. Kelly sits with his attorneys Nicole Blank (left) Becker and Thomas Farinella (right) during his sex abuse trial at Brooklyn’s federal district court.REUTERS/Jane RosenbergTo prove the racketeering charge against him, prosecutors showed jurors how Kelly used a network of friends and employees in his “inner circle” to transport his victims across state lines, control their actions and facilitate the sexual abuse.
Prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York called a parade of witnesses who testified about the abuse the disgraced singer subjected them to.
The first to take the stand was accuser Jerhonda Pace, who said Kelly repeatedly had sex with her over the course of several months after the two exchanged numbers at a party at the singer’s suburban Chicago mansion when she was under 18 years old.
Defense attorney Calvin Scholar questions witness Dhanai Ramnaran during Kelly’s trial.REUTERS/Jane RosenbergDuring their last encounter, Kelly, whose full name is Robert Kelly, allegedly became enraged at Pace because she was texting on her cellphone and did not address him when he walked into the room she was in, she told jurors.
Kelly smacked her in the face and forced her to perform oral sex on him after berating her, she said in court.
During her testimony, she read from a journal, at times pausing to wipe away tears.
Kelly’s defense lawyers Thomas Farinella (left) and Deveraux Cannick (right) arrive at court on September 27, 2021.REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz“I went to Rob’s house and he called me a bitch,” Pace said. “He said I was a silly bitch. He slapped me three times and said if I lied to him again it’s not going to be an open hand next time.
“He spit in my face and mouth,” she said. “He choked me during an argument. I had sex with him. I had oral sex with him. I went home and confessed.”
Pace said Kelly ejaculated on her face, and said she used her Aeropostale T-shirt to wipe off the semen.
Kelly’s attorneys sought to cast Pace — and his other accusers — as hysterical fans who were obsessed with Kelly and concocted stories about him because he refused their advances.
One of his victims was R&B singer Aaliyah, whom Kelly illegally wed in a Chicago hotel room in 1994, when she was 15 years old.
For the illicit nuptials to move forward, Kelly relied on his entourage, prosecutors showed.
Members of the prosecution team arrive at the Brooklyn federal court. REUTERS
Kelly’s defense lawyers Thomas Farinella (left) and Deveraux Cannick (right) arrive at court on September 27, 2021.REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
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