It appears that if R. Kelly (aka Robert Sylvester Kelly) ever makes music again, it will be from behind bars. The Grammy-winning singer/songwriter who has sold over 75 million records worldwide—including such hits as “I Believe I Can Fly” and “Bump N’ Grind”—was convicted by a New York Court of racketeering under the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) statute, generally used to prosecute those involved in organized crime enterprise.
According to the indictment, the purpose of the R. Kelly “enterprise” was to not only promote his music and the R. Kelly brand, “to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with Kelly and to produce pornography, including child pornography.”
Kelly’s racketeering conviction included one act of bribery, three acts of sexual exploitation of a child, one act of kidnapping and three acts of forced labor. Kelly also faced eight additional violations of the Mann Act. Also known as the “White-Slave Traffic Act”, the Mann Act made it a felony to engage in interstate or foreign commerce transport of “any women or girl for the purpose of debauchery or prostitution, or for any other immoral purpose.”
Criminal charges against the singer hinged on accusations related to six women, five of whom testified (the sixth, the singer Aaliyah, died in a plane crash in 2001).
“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. 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,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis, speaking to the press outside of the court where the conviction was handed down.
“This conviction would not have been possible without the bravery and resilience of R. Kelly’s victims. I applaud their courage in revealing in open court, the painful, intimate and horrific details of their lives with him,” Kasulis said. “No one deserves what they experienced at his hands or the threats or harassment they faced about telling the truth about what happened to them.”
Famed attorney Gloria Allred, who represented three of the six victims in the case, called him the worst sexual predator she has ever pursued.
“To use the power of his business enterprise and many of his inner circle employees to assist him and enable him in his plan and his scheme to lure his victims to him, isolate them, intimidate them, control them, indoctrinate them, punish them, shame them, and humiliate them,” Allred told reporters. “All of which made Mr. Kelly more powerful and more dangerous than many other sexual predators who operate without a network of financial and businesses to support and enable them.”
On May 4, 2022, the 54-year-old singer will hear from the judge on his sentence. He faces 10 years to life in prison. Kelly also faces a trial in Chicago on federal charges of child pornography and obstruction and yet another trial on additional sex crime charges in Minneapolis.
His lawyers say he will appeal the verdicts, but according to one of his lawyers, his finances have been depleted.