US Jury Reaches Verdict on R. Kelly: Finds Singer Guilty of Racketeering in Sex Trafficking Case
19:16 GMT 27.09.2021 (Updated: 21:34 GMT 27.09.2021)
Kelly, 54, earlier pleaded not guilty to a racketeering charge and eight counts of violating a federal law making it illegal to transport persons across state lines for prostitution. The singer is best known for the Grammy-winning hit "I Believe I Can Fly" from 1996.
US R&B musician R. Kelly was found guilty of racketeering by a federal jury in his sex trafficking trial on Monday, Reuters reported.
The jury of seven men and five women reportedly deliberated for almost nine hours over two days before reaching a unanimous decision on the charges of racketeering.
Kelly now faces up to 100 years in jail, including 20 years for racketeering and 10 years for each of the sex trafficking counts.
Prosecutors have characterized the singer as a "predator" who preyed on teenage victims using his celebrity and a ring of staffers since the start of the month-long trial in the federal courthouse in Downtown Brooklyn, according to The New York Post.
“This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot,” Maria Cruz Melendez, assistant US Attorney is quoted in the report as saying at the time. "This case is about a predator."
Prosecutors reportedly disclosed to the jury how a network of friends and employees in Kelly's "inner circle" transferred his victims across state lines, controlled their behavior, and arranged the sexual abuse, in order to prove the racketeering case against him.
According to the outlet, the Eastern District of New York prosecutor invited a slew of witnesses to testify about the abuse the disgraced singer had inflicted on them.
Kelly's lawyers reportedly attempted to portray his accusers as frenzied admirers who made up allegations about him after he turned down their overtures.
As revealed by the trial, Kelly unlawfully married R&B singer Aaliyah in a Chicago hotel room when she was 15 years old in 1994, and she was one of his victims.
One of the singer's ex-tour managers reportedly testified before the court that he was asked to bribe a Chicago-area welfare office staffer to create a phony ID for Aaliyah with her age recorded as 18. Kelly, at the time, was 27 years old. The prosecution alleged that by this action Kelly tried to evade possible charges of intercourse with minors and prevent her possible testimony, and also supposedly because he feared the singer's pregnancy.
Kelly reportedly faces additional criminal charges outside of New York after refusing to take the stand and testify in his own defense during this trial. State prosecutors in Minnesota charged him with prostitution with a minor, while federal prosecutors in Illinois charged him with child pornography and obstruction.