The United States case against Robert Sylvester Kelly, better known as R. Kelly, appears to be concrete and thorough. In a blockbuster case that has rocked the music and entertainment industry, a federal grand jury came to the conclusion that the government’s case against Kelly was substantial enough to convict the R&B singer on nine counts of racketeering, forced labor, sexual exploitation of children, and violating the Mann Act.
“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 Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis for the Eastern District of New York. “A predator who used his inner circle to ensnare underage teenage girls, and young women and men, for decades, in a sordid web of sex abuse, exploitation and degradation. To the victims in this case, your voices were heard, and justice was finally served. We hope that today’s verdict brings some measure of comfort and closure to the victims.”
The Mann Act centers around prostitution and child pornography. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Kelly, known for musical hits such as “I Believe I Can Fly, “Bump N’ Grind,” “When A Woman’s Fed Up,” “Step in the Name of Love,” and “If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time,” among others, used his fame to recruit women and girls for illegal sexual activity.
The government’s case brought forth from the Eastern District of New York stated that Kelly was the leader of The Enterprise for nearly 30 years, inducing women and girls with travel and lodging arrangments so that he could engage in alleged illicit sexual activities with the help of managers, bodyguards, runners, accountants, and drivers.
“Robert Kelly is a serial sexual predator who used his fame and musical tours as his personal hunting grounds to find his victims,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Peter Fitzhugh of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York. “Mr. Kelly ran a criminal enterprise whose mission was to serve his sexual gratification by setting up a complex organization of enablers and handlers.”
Fitzhugh continued, “When his victims tried to escape, Mr. Kelly and his accomplices silenced them through bribery, intimidation and physical violence. The brave survivors who overcame Mr. Kelly’s abuse deserve our upmost respect for telling their stories and bringing an end to his 30-year reign of terror over the young and vulnerable.”
In 2008, Kelly was acquitted in a child pornography case. The Grammy Award winner would not get such a reprieve this time around. The federal case against Kelly was stacked with the government lining up its case with as many as 45 witnesses, including victims and some of his employees testifying.
Video and audio recordings, as well as text messages and phone records, and photos, were used as evidence against Kelly. In the summarization of its case, the government alluded that Kelly ran an iron-clad criminal enterprise, including having the women and girls in this “enterprise” refer to him as “Daddy,” and did not allow them to eat or go to the bathroom without his permission.
His victims were also not permitted to speak or look at other men and were forced to engage in sex with him and other people. The “Trapped in the Closet” singer was also accused of keeping the women and girls away from family and their friends.
The breakdown of the government’s case against Kelly is graphic in detail. In one count, Kelly is accused of bribing an Illinois state employee for a fake ID card for a would-be 15-year-old bride because he thought that she was pregnant.
According to the rumor mill, that 15-year-old girl was singing superstar Aaliyah. The victim, however, is only identified as Jane Doe #1. Part of the Mann Act, which he violated multiple times, Kelly failed to disclose to Jane Doe #5 and Jane Doe #6 that he had an incurable sexually transmitted disease (STD) before he engaged in sex with them, which is illegal.
Kelly was also charged and convicted of using violence to force multiple victims into having sex with him. Kelly could be behind bars for 10 years minimum with the possibility of receiving the maximum sentence of life in prison.
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