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US singer R Kelly has been found guilty of running a scheme to exploit his fame to sexually abuse eleven people over two decades.
Nine women and two men took the stand in a six-week trial in which victims described sexual humiliation and violence inflicted by the Grammy winner.
He had pleaded not guilty to racketeering and eight counts of violating a federal law making it illegal to transport people across state lines for prostitution.
Kelly, whose face was shielded by a white mask required by covid rules, kept his head down as the verdict was read in the courtroom in Brooklyn, New York,
The singer, known for his anthem ‘I believe I can fly’ is due to be sentenced on 4 May, and faces decades behind bars.
Prosecutors accused Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, of using his riches and status in the music business to snare victims with promises to help promote their careers but then exploiting and abusing them.
Several of his victims testified that they were underage when he sexually abused them.
Witnesses said Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims, believing “the music, the fame and the celebrity meant he could do whatever he wanted”, assistant US attorney Nadia Shihata had told the court.
He was also found guilty of violating the Mann act, which which bans interstate sex trafficking.
The conviction comes 13 years after Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges after a trial in the state of Illinois.
Many of the allegations were first laid out in the 2019 documentary Surviving R Kelly.
Accusers were sometimes selected from his concert audiences, or were enticed to join him after being offered help with their fledgling music careers after change encounters with the singer.
But after 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”.