After six weeks of disturbing testimony, nine hours of deliberation over the course of two days, a jury of five women and seven men have found R&B singer Robert Sylvester Kelly aka R. Kelly guilty on all counts of sex trafficking and racketeering.
The jury on Monday found the I Believe I Can Fly crooner guilty on all nine charges, including the most serious of racketeering. According to findings, Kelly was the ringleader of a violent and coercive scheme assisted by his security guards, manners and entourage who lured women and children for him to sexually abuse. They were trafficked between different US states.
Victims were sometimes lured from his concert audiences, or were enticed to with offer to help their music careers. Upon joining his entourage, they found that they were subjected to strict rules and aggressively punished if they violated what his team had dubbed “Rob’s rules”
A woman who testified that Kelly imprisoned, drugged and raped her said in a written statement after the verdict that she had “been hiding” from Kelly due to threats made against her since she went public with her accusations.
“I’m ready to start living my life free from fear and to start the healing process,” added the woman, identified in court as Sonja.
Another woman who testified in court, Lizette Martinez, said she was “relieved” by the verdict.
“I’m so proud of the women who were able to speak their truths,” she added, BBC reports.
Legal documents, revealed the agonising mental torment that Kelly subjected his victims to. They were not allowed to eat or use the bathroom without his permission, he controlled what clothes they wore and made them call him “Daddy”.
Gloria Allred, a lawyer who represented several victims, told reporters: “I’ve been practicing law for 47 years. During this time, I’ve pursued many sexual predators who have committed crimes against women and children.
“Of all the predators that I have pursued, Mr Kelly is the worst.”
Speaking at a news conference outside the court on Monday, prosecutor Jacquelyn Kasulis said that the jury with the verdict had sent a message to other powerful men like Kelly.
“No matter how long it takes, the long arm of the law will catch up with you,” said Ms Kasulis.
This comes 13 years after Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges after a trial in the state of Illinois.
R. Kelly faces up to life in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for May 4.
“We’re disappointed with the verdict,” Kelly’s attorney Deveraux Cannick told journalists outside the courtroom.
He said they would be “considering” an appeal.
Kelly still faces prosecution in three other jurisdictions, including Illinois federal court.