R Kelly found guilty in sex abuse trial

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R Kelly found guilty in sex abuse trial - Jane Rosenberg/Reuters
R Kelly found guilty in sex abuse trial - Jane Rosenberg/Reuters

R Kelly, the R&B singer, has been convicted in a sex trafficking trial after prosecutors accused him of leading a decades-long scheme to abuse underage girls and women.

Jurors in Brooklyn federal court deliberated for a little more than one day before finding the 54-year-old guilty on all nine counts he faced. He could face decades in prison.

The singer, whose legal name is Robert Kelly, is one of the top-selling recording artists of all time. But his career began to crumble in 2019 when the docuseries "Surviving R. Kelly" re-examined the accusations of sexual abuse that have dogged him for decades.

In an almost six-week trial, the prosecution portrayed Kelly as a sexual predator and control freak who ordered his victims to call him "Daddy" and submit to violent spankings if they disobeyed his rules.

Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez branded the singer a serial abuser "maintained control over these victims using every trick in the predator handbook."

Prosecutors had argued that the entourage of managers and aides who helped Kelly meet girls, and keep them obedient, amounted to a criminal enterprise.

Dozens of accusers testified in lurid detail during the trial, alleging that Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage.

Some of the most harrowing testimony came from a woman who said the R&B super star took advantage of her in 2003 when she was an unsuspecting radio station intern.

She told the court that he took her to his Chicago recording studio, where she was kept locked up and was drugged before he sexually assaulted her while she was passed out.

"I was scared. I was ashamed. I was embarrassed," she told the court.

Jurors were also shown homemade videos of Kelly engaging in sex acts that prosecutors said were not consensual.

Kelly had pleaded not guilty to a racketeering charge and eight counts of violating a federal law making it illegal to transport people across state lines for prostitution.

The defence argued that Kelly's accusers were "groupies" and "stalkers" who were hoping for a payout.

The singer's lawyer, Deveraux Cannick, questioned why the alleged victims stayed in relationships with Kelly if they thought they were being exploited.

"You made a choice," he told one woman who testified, adding, "You participated of your own will."

The trial and conviction are the first of the 'MeToo' era to involve a group of mostly black women accusers.

It is the first criminal consequence to the decades-long accusations surrounding Kelly, who was acquitted in a child pornography case in 2008.

Kelly remained motionless, eyes downcast as the verdict was read.His lawyer said he was "disappointed" by the verdict.

He faces further sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota in which he has pleaded not guilty.

His sentencing is scheduled for May 4.

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